Welcome to Billboard Pro’s Trending Up column, 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: Mariah the Scientist finds viral success through a very revealing TikTok trend, a classic KC and the Sunshine Band ballad is revitalized by its disquieting use in a hit Netflix series, and Megan Moroney cements herself as one of country’s most sought-after breakout artists — with perhaps the genre’s biggest star right now in her corner.
Mariah The Scientist’s ‘Spread Thin’ Soundtracks Post-Trauma TikToks
Rising R&B singer-songwriter Mariah The Scientist has seen “Spread Thin,” a song from her 2022 EP Buckles Laboratories Presents: The Intermission, earn a sizable streaming uptick over the past few weeks after TikTok users began synching the track with deeply upsetting personal anecdotes. One woman shared her story alleging that her partner physically attacked her to cause the loss of a pregnancy; the grisly photos not only provoked users to comment on her situation in reaction clips, but inspired others to share their own stories of recent trauma — often with the caption “How My Year Went” — set to the “Spread Thin” lyrics “You always think the only one who needs any attention is you/ Don’t be so conceited/ Hope you learned honesty was the only thing that could keep me from leaving.”
As a result, weekly U.S. on-demand streams for “Spread Thin” were up 196% for the week ending Sept. 29, with the song earning 944,000 streams in that span, according to Luminate. As for Mariah The Scientist, who announced an opening spot on Rod Wave’s fall tour last week, the Atlanta native appeared to acknowledge the trend over the weekend: “There is nothing more you can offer to an old situation except accountability and growth,” she posted to Twitter. “If these folks wanna cry 2 my song, let them.” – JASON LIPSHUTZ
Dahmer Gives KC & The Sunshine Band a Ballad Bump
‘70s disco outfit KC and the Sunshine Band were best known for floor-filling club scorchers like “That’s the Way (I Like It)” and “Get Down Tonight,” but their final Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 came with the lush, heart-rending ballad “Please Don’t Go.” in early 1980. The song has been revived a couple times in the decades since – most notably with a dance-pop cover from KWS that became a No. 6 Hot 100 hit in 1992 – and is finding new life again in 2022, thanks to its use in the popular but controversial Netflix series Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.
The ballad appears multiple times in the show, most memorably during a scene in the second episode – also titled “Please Don’t Go” – where Dahmer, played by Evan Peters, fondles a nude male mannequin stolen from a clothing store. The disturbing use of the sentimental song struck a nerve with listeners, who can be found all over Twitter and TikTok talking about how they’ll never hear the song the same way again. Regardless, they’ve clearly chosen to hear it again: According to Luminate, the song jumped from 124,000 on-demand US audio streams in the tracking week ending Sept. 22 to 344,000 in the week ending Sept. 29, following the season’s Sept. 21 debut – a gain of 177%. – ANDREW UNTERBERGER
Megan Moroney’s “Orange” Crush Goes Viral
Unsigned country singer Megan Moroney is certainly sparking a bidding war between the labels after her single “Tennessee Orange” went viral. The clever falling-in-love song’s success hinges, in part, on the story behind the song: Fans believe Moroney wrote “Tennessee Orange” about Morgan Wallen, who is a big-time UT fan. Wallen is certainly not discouraging that narrative: On Instagram, the country superstar is continuing to fuel the rumors by commenting with flirty messages on many of Moroney’s posts.
In the track, Moroney sings about being a proud UGA fan, but she is so head over heels for her new beau she would wear “Tennessee orange for him.” The phenomenon surrounding the track is like a country fan’s version of “drivers license” by Olivia Rodrigo: Both singers were newcomers when the track dropped, and while fans love the song itself, they might love the drama behind it even more. On TikTok, the audio is also being used by couples who are sharing their own unlikely love stories.
All this has amounted to a surge in streams for Moroney: The track is racking up anywhere from 550,000 to almost 700,000 official on-demand U.S. streams per day, according to Luminate, and the song is currently listed at No. 5 on Spotify’s Viral 50 chart. – KRISTIN ROBINSON