Skip to main content

Lil Baby’s ‘Low Down’ Is a March Madness Winner on TikTok and Streaming

This week's Trending Up features Lil Baby's NCAA tournament-revived My Turn cut, as well as songs getting a John Wick bump and a Spring Break-ready breakout rap hit.

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: A college team’s locker room pre-game ritual helps Lil Baby score a breakout hit from two solo albums ago, the new
John Wick blockbuster gives boosts to its soundtrack cuts, Sexyy Red enjoys an X-rated breakout hit and much more.


Lil Baby’s ‘Low Down’ Soars High Thanks to March Madness

Although the Kansas State men’s basketball team may have had their hopes for a national championship dashed last weekend when they lost a heartbreaker to the upstart Florida Atlantic University team to miss out on the Final Four, hopefully the Wildcats can take solace in the fact that they’ve actively helped Lil Baby score an out-of-nowhere viral hit.

During their run to the Elite 8, the Kansas State squad used “Low Down,” a deep cut from the deluxe edition of Baby’s 2020 chart-topper My Turn (via Capitol/Motown/Wolfpack/Quality Control) as their pump-up anthem, sharing videos of team meetings in which the whole team is clapping along to the song’s beat (with the coaching staff sometimes doing a little more dancing than clapping!). TikTok users ran with the association between the team and the song, and during the week-and-a-half in which Kansas State competed in March Madness, dozens of clap-along clips were posted — and “Low Down” started rising on streaming charts.

During the week ending Mar. 16, “Low Down” earned a total of 2.44 million U.S. on-demand streams, according to Luminate. Then, when March Madness officially kicked off on Mar. 16, weekly streams for “Low Down” dramatically rose 84%, up to 4.44 million during the week ending Mar. 23. While Kansas State’s run may have ended, “Low Down” is still holding strong in the top 10 of Apple Music’s Top 100 chart, and will still be racking up streams by the time a new NCAA champion is crowned early next week. – JASON LIPSHUTZ

John Wick Songs Light Up on Search and Streaming

To the delight of action film fans and dog lovers everywhere, the fourth chapter in the John Wick franchise was released last Friday (March 24) to rave reviews and excellent box office returns. Though the series has never really produced a breakout sync, interest in the dark-hued dance music used in the films remains high: Chapter Four has dominated the TuneFind Trending Music page (which indexes music and songs appearing in popular TV shows, movies and video games), occupying at least three of the top five spots in the days following its release.

That newly piqued interest has resulted in modest streaming bumps for some of the songs involved, as well. Gesaffelstein’s “Hate or Glory” has steadily risen from just over 1,000 daily on-demand official U.S. streams on March 23 (before the movie’s release) to over 7,000 on March 27 – a 417% gain, according to Luminate – while Le Castle Vania’s “LED Spirals” is up from under 10,000 to over 20,000 (a 107% gain) and Justice’s “Genesis” is up from under 9,000 to nearly 12,000 (a 38% gain). And the songs are still climbing, as more fans see the movie and are inspired to soundtrack their own imaginary assassin battle scenes. – ANDREW UNTERBERGER

Sexyy Red Scores an Explicit Hit

St. Louis rapper Sexyy Red has been delivering raunchy singles over the past three years, turning herself into a quotable local star with songs like “Throw That Mf” and “Hood Bitch.” Yet the MC is primed to break out of the midwest thanks to the X-rated anthem “Pound Town,” with weekly streams for the track starting to soar in recent weeks following the single’s late January release.

With an eerie piano line courtesy of all-star producer Tay Keith (Drake, Travis Scott), “Pound Town” (released independently via Open Shift Distribution) has expanded its audience thanks in part to a sex-positive, ladies-first TikTok challenge. Meanwhile, multiple versions of the song — some with Sexyy Red solo, others with Tay Keith listed as a guest artist — have popped up on streaming platforms, and both a dating-show-spoofing official video and “spring break edition” of the song are listed on YouTube. 

Regardless of how it’s being consumed, “Pound Town” looks like a breakthrough: after earning 121,000 U.S. on-demand streams during the week ending Feb. 23, according to Luminate, the single was up to 1.16 million streams for the week ending Mar. 23. Sexyy Red has yet to score a Billboard Hot 100 hit, but if that growth continues, that’s a challenge she’ll have completed soon enough. – JL

The “Poetic Rizz” of French ‘60s Soundtrack Composers

The phrase “rizz” may sound either eye-rollingly done-to-death or totally unfamiliar to you depending on your age and/or degree of onlineness, but it’s helped a theme song from a 1960s French drama become an unlikely viral sensation in recent weeks. The theme is from 1968 drama La Leçon Particulière (The Private Lesson), and it’s a rousing orchestral instrumental composed by Oscar winner Francis Lai. 

The song found unexpected new life on TikTok thanks to its frequent accompaniment of videos demonstrating “poetic rizz” – or basically, users trying to show off their game at being seductively romantic in a particularly lyrical manner. (Often sarcastically.) In any event, the song’s sweeping melodrama has made the jump to streaming – the clip has exploded from around 31,000 on-demand official U.S. streams for the tracking week ending to over 496,000 four weeks later, a 1,500% hike, according to Luminate. Now, just wait till Gen Z discovers Love Story. – AU

Q&A: Priyanka Khimani, founder of Khimani & Associates, on What’s Trending Up in Her World

As one of India’s most prominent entertainment lawyers, what issues has your firm focused on most recently?

With the increasing presence of global digital streaming and social media services in India, coupled with growing consumption of Indian-language music across territories, we have had to extensively focus on navigating the music rights licensing landscape.

India often becomes a challenging territory, for three reasons:- (i) the various complexities around publishing rights; (ii) the tumultuous relationship between record labels (who double up as publishers) and authors (who, for the most part, do not control any copyright, but are entitled to receive their share of royalties); and (iii) the lack of uniformity in the relationship between major labels and the primary Indian PROs. Generally educating songwriters and artists on the relevance of publishing, its long-term value proposition and why holding on to it is essential to their future, has been another focus area.

Sync music licenses and music clearance generally have also seen a sharp increase in India, with the continued intersection of film and TV with music. Sync licensing has breathed new life into the non-film and independent music sector, giving artists greater control over when, and how, their music is placed or used.

What’s the biggest change that needs to take place within India’s music industry deals?

In so far as digital licensing deals are concerned, there needs to be a clear path towards licensing on all sides of music copyright, especially on the music publishing front. Rights ownership and administration is so uniquely structured in India that licensees often find themselves caught between conflicting interests of record labels (doubling as publishers), authors and the Indian PROs. There’s a pressing need for increased efficiency, better licensing models and structures, as well as clarity on which stakeholder collects what and through which route. This will lead to increased revenue generation, and generally boost confidence in India as an important emerging market.

When it comes to artist/songwriter deals in India, there needs to be a more equitable approach to ownership of publishing rights, as opposed to the traditional buy-out model. Thankfully, there’s been a gradual shift in the recent past as talk and awareness around publishing generally has become more informed and collaborative.

What’s the most common misconception about the Indian music industry?

There are two, actually. First, that the Indian film and music industry is only “Bollywood.” This is obviously untrue – not only are there multiple big film, TV and music industries in India covering different regions and languages, but, more importantly, music is no longer necessarily tied to film & TV. There’s a thriving, stand-alone, non-film, independent music sector which is taking root in India, as well as with the South-Asian diaspora across the world. In fact, most of the current artists that are on top of the India charts are all largely independent and didn’t come out of “Bollywood” or any other Indian film industry. Quite to the contrary, the film and TV industry has been leaning in to the non-film and independent music artists/labels and increasingly licensing or adapting or eventually even buying out their music for on-screen projects.

The other misconception is that we are not a touring market for international artists or festivals. Perhaps the reason for this is the misguided perception that we don’t consume Anglo-American/non-Indian music. I believe this is untrue. There might be other on-ground challenges from the lens of production, infrastructure, and even price points for ticket sales. The rupee value against the dollar doesn’t help either. However, if one is able to take these factors into consideration and tailor the offering to a local audience, organizers may be surprised to discover how much of a demand the market holds.

Fill in the blank: artists attempting to break through on a global stage need to pay closer attention to _______.

Getting their house in order – every artist needs to be equipped with the right team. An agent, manager, attorney, business manager – all have a separate and distinct role to play, and yet must work closely and in sync with each other, because everyone’s playing on the same team. Eliminating a needless string of middlemen, investing in and surrounding yourself with professionals who understand the business, is the key to long-term sustainability of your music and entrepreneurial career. – JL

Season’s Gainings: Future’s Perennial “March Madness”

You’d have to ask the man born Nayvadius Wilburn about how his bracket is doing this upset-heavy NCAA season, but whenever the calendar turns to its third month, you can bet that Future is winning in at least one respect. His 56 Nights fan favorite (and one of Billboard’s Songs That Defined the 2010s) “March Madness” is guaranteed to tick up this time of year – and so far it has, growing from 2.3 weekly million on-demand official U.S. streams for the week ending Feb. 23 to 2.7 million a month later, a gain of 18% – a number that could climb even higher with the Final Four matchups on the docket for this weekend. In any event, it’s already well ahead of “One Shining Moment.”AU