Welcome to Billboard Pro’s Trending Up newsletter, where we take a closer look at the songs, artists, curiosities and trends that have caught the music industry’s attention. Some have come out of nowhere, others have taken months to catch on, and all of them could become ubiquitous in the blink of a TikTok clip.
This week: Drake and 21 Savage’s Her Loss album spurs gains for its sample sources, pop radio embraces TikTok hits with ever-accelerating velocity, and Christmas season is officially underway on streaming.
‘Her Loss’ is Daft Punk’s Gain
collaborative album Her Loss has already proven a streaming juggernaut, even by the standards of the two hip-hop superstars. The 16 songs on Her Loss — a return to form for Drake, following his dance detour Honestly, Nevermind earlier this year — still make up the entire top 16 of the current iTunes songs chart this Wednesday (Nov. 9), and every song is in the top 25 of the daily Spotify tally. The set (released via OVO/Republic/Slaughter Gang/Epic) is doing so well, in fact, that its success is even rolling over to its samples.
Tracks like The Isley Brothers’ “Ballad For the Fallen Soldier,” The Diplomats’ “Real N—as” and Ginuwine’s “Lonely Daze” are all sampled on Her Loss, but the standout lift is of Daft Punk’s eternal dance floor classic “One More Time,” which gets slowed down and paired with percolating percussion on “Circo Loco.” The sample has caused some listeners to seek out Daft Punk’s 2000 original – and as a result, daily U.S. on-demand streams of “One More Time” increased 55% (from 117,000 to 182,000, according to Luminate) upon the Her Loss release, and stayed relatively high throughout the following weekend. Daft Punk may have officially broken up early last year, but it’ll be cause for celebration to have Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo’s names appear as songwriters again on the Hot 100 soon enough. — JASON LIPSHUTZ
Is Pop Radio Adopting TikTok Hits More Quickly?
The Sam Smith–Kim Petras collaboration “Unholy” reaching the top five of Billboard’s Pop Airplay chart shouldn’t be a surprise: the Capitol/EMI team-up has been a smash since its September release and last month becoming both artists’ first career Hot 100 chart-topper. Smith has been a top 40 fixture for years, and “Unholy” is built around a tenaciously catchy hook that’s ripe for the format. Yet “Unholy” — which climbs four spots to No. 5 on the Pop Airplay chart in the week ending Nov. 6 after a 17% gain in plays at U.S. monitored top 40 stations, according to Luminate — started off squarely in the TikTok-hit range, with Smith and Petras teasing the track weeks ahead of its official release; the fact that it’s already a top five Pop Airplay hit, in only its sixth week on the chart, suggests that the format is starting to react to and adopt these sort of viral singles more rapidly than ever before.
Smith may have been a proven commodity at pop radio — albeit mostly with songs significantly more stately than the cacophonous and sexed-up “Unholy” — but Steve Lacy certainly wasn’t, and his “Bad Habit” has become a top 40 smash for RCA after growing on TikTok and streaming, up one spot to No. 2 on Pop Airplay. Meanwhile, The Weeknd’s “Die for You,” a song from his 2016 Republic release Starboy that has recently been revived online, reaches a new high of No. 10 on Pop Airplay this week, taking 11 weeks for programmers to switch attention away from more recent Weeknd fare and toward the resurrected fan favorite. Other songs with TikTok origins, from Stephen Sanchez’s “Until I Found You” to Jax’s “Victoria’s Secret” to Rosa Linn’s “Snap,” are also making waves on pop radio, sitting comfortably on the chart alongside new A-list radio singles from artists like Taylor Swift and Rihanna.
TikTok’s influence on popular music has been common knowledge for years, but the current Pop Airplay chart nods to the fact that viral hits no longer require multiple months to cross over to radio listeners. Expect that pipeline to keep speeding up, and more songs like “Unholy” to make that leap in a matter of weeks. – J.L.
Eminem’s “Mockingbird” Flies Again
Just when you thought TikTok’s predilection for sped-up versions of distinctly low-energy older songs couldn’t get any stranger, here comes Eminem’s “Mockingbird.” The dolorous 2005 single (from the rapper’s fourth Aftermath/Interscope LP Encore), written as an ode to daughter Hailie, has picked up steam on the service thanks to multiple faster versions of the track making the rounds – inspiring everything from sing-along challenges to clips of teens taking care of their younger siblings. Whatever the logic behind the trend, the song has subsequently soared on streaming, going from 1.5 million official on-demand U.S. streams the week ending Oct. 6 to over 3.1 million streams four weeks later – a gain of 104%, according to Luminate. – ANDREW UNTERBERGER
20-Something Singer-Songwriter’s “QUARTER LIFE CRISIS” Strikes a Viral Chord
As All Time Low, Wheatus and countless other acts have discovered over the past couple years, there are few more proven recipes for TikTok success than a song that allows users to flash back to past photos – often providing contrasting juxtaposition with their more adult current look and life. Taylor Bickett is the latest artist to benefit from this. The unsigned Nashville singer-songwriter’s post-adolescent lament “QUARTER LIFE CRISIS” has inspired countless such clips with its “I swear sixteen was yesterday/ But now I’m closer to twenty-eight” lyrics. The 23-year-old’s clever track has already spiked 158% to nearly a million official on-demand U.S. streams for the week ending Nov. 6, according to Luminate — presumably making Bickett’s mid-20s look a lot brighter than they might have seemed when she wrote the song. – A.U.
Season’s Gainings: The Christmas Season Kicks Off Right on Time
If you had any doubt that the end of Halloween is now officially the start of pop music’s holiday season, the numbers this year make the trend pretty unmistakable. As we waved goodbye to Michael Jackson, Ray Parker Jr. and Bobby “Boris” Pickett this Nov. 1, holiday perennials from Brenda Lee, Bobby Helms and (of course) Mariah Carey all exploded with triple-digit percentage gains in official on-demand U.S. streams: “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” was up 176% to 615,000, “Jingle Bell Rock” up 185% to 602,000, and “All I Want for Christmas Is You” up a whopping 236% to nearly 1.3 million streams. In other words, if you’re getting dirty looks from your neighbor for already putting up your Christmas decorations this week, point them to the Spotify or Apple Music charts and let them know that you’re not starting early – they’re just already late. – A.U.