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: Sam Smith and Kim Petras team up for a new smash after a prolonged tease, a Netflix movie is producing a streaming hit, and Katy Perry’s 2011 single gets a 2022 makeover.
Sam Smith & Kim Petras Soar After Weeks of Teases
“Unholy,” the new sultry, hyperpop-adjacent collaboration between Sam Smith and Kim Petras, is off to a red-hot start at streaming following its release last week. The song has sat atop Spotify’s Top 50 U.S. and Global charts, as well as the Apple Music and iTunes Charts, for much of the past week, with a combined 10.1 million U.S. on-demand streams between Friday and Sunday, according to Luminate. And it’s been getting plenty of pop radio promotion, too, with 629,000 airplay audience impressions between Sept. 23 and 26.
Part of the reason why “Unholy” is working so well out of the gate: fans were ready for its arrival after weeks of strategically executed teases. Pop stars offering snippets of upcoming singles on social media is nothing new, but Smith and Petras, who have a combined 15.3 million Instagram followers and 5.6 million TikTok followers, went above and beyond to get “Unholy” to go viral before it was even released. Hooks were teased, studio footage was posted, and Smith and Petras even created choreography for “Unholy’s” chorus a month before the song was released in full, to the tune of 23 million views.
The success of “Unholy” will likely give Smith their biggest Billboard Hot 100 hit since the 2019 Normani team-up “Dancing With a Stranger,” which peaked at No. 7, and give their upcoming fourth album a strong lead-in single; meanwhile, Petras could be in store for her first Hot 100 hit. More broadly, expect label execs to pore over the extended “Unholy” rollout campaign with hopes to replicate its excitement-stoking formula. – JASON LIPSHUTZ
Mazie Does ‘Revenge,’ Scores a Viral Hit
Good Boy Records/Virgin artist Mazie has seen more than a 2,100% increase in U.S. on-demand streaming over the last week for her song “dumb dumb,” according to Luminate. Originally released in July 2021, the catchy bedroom-pop tune took off after it was placed in the popular Netflix movie Do Revenge, starring Maya Hawke and Camila Mendes. More gasoline was thrown on the fire once TikTok got hold of the song just after the release of Do Revenge: multiple versions of the track, including a pitched-up take, have fared well on the platform. The result is “dumb dumb” becoming this week’s biggest gainer on Spotify’s Top Songs USA, up 52 spots this week to No. 112.
The Do Revenge soundtrack has proven popular among its Gen Z audience, with many viewers taking to social media to express their love for its array of songs. Music supervisor by Rob Lowry — known best for his work on the Gossip Girl reboot, Ramy and Cha Cha Real Smooth – is behind the soundtrack, which features work almost entirely by female artists, including “brutal” by Olivia Rodrigo, “Silk Chiffon” by MUNA and Phoebe Bridgers, “happier than ever” by Billie Eilish and “Blondes” by Blu DeTiger. – KRISTIN ROBINSON
Katy Perry Gets ‘One’ Heck of a TikTok Boost
Hot 100 chart obsessives know that, when it came to Katy Perry trying to make history with her Teenage Dream album, “The One That Got Away” more than lived up to its title. The first five singles from Perry’s 2010 sophomore LP — “California Gurls,” “Teenage Dream,” “Firework,” “E.T.” and “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” — all reached No. 1 on the Hot 100, tying the record set by Michael Jackson’s Bad for the most chart-topping songs on a single album. The sixth single, “The One That Got Away,” got close to breaking the tie… but could only climb as high as No. 3 on the chart in 2011, and a new record was not able to be set.
Fast-forward 11 years, however, and KatyCats can celebrate “The One That Got Away” getting its way back into the public consciousness, thanks to a viral boost from a TikTok dance challenge (here’s a handy tutorial of the moves). “The One That Got Away” has been a TikTok staple for years, but a new sped-up version of the track, combined with the choreography, has led to a significant streaming boost: the song is up 32% week-to-week in U.S. on-demand streams, earning nearly 2 million streams in the week ending Sept. 22, according to Luminate. “The One That Got Away” may never top the Hot 100, but more young listeners are discovering the song every day. – J.L.
Q&A: AJ Ramos, head of artist partnerships, Latin music & culture at YouTube Music/Google, on What’s Trending Up in His World
What’s been the most exciting initiative for YouTube Music during this Hispanic Heritage Month?
One of the most exciting initiatives for YouTube Music during this Hispanic Heritage Month is launching our ‘Representado La Cultura’ campaign that celebrates our culture with the artists that are elevating our music and setting the vibes. The campaign is highlighting artists like Eslabon Armando, Ivan Cornejo, Yahritza y Su Esencia, Kevin Kaarl, Young Miko, Chico Curly Head, J Fab and Paola, Villano Antillano, Foreign Teck, The Marias, Elena Rose, Dowba Montana, Silvana Estrada, Ela Minus and Robi, just to name a few. YouTube has always been at the forefront of supporting new artists and we are doing just that with ‘Representado La Cultura.’
How are the different aspects of the company, including original programming, being utilized this month?
Every day at YouTube and Google we celebrate our culture. Months like this are special because we get to work closer with Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) across the company to curate moments that celebrate creativity, identity and diversity, both internally and externally. In my role as a member of our Latin ERGs, it’s important for me to advise and connect the dots with music and culture within our Google ecosystem through intersectionality. Whether it’s a Google speaker series or mental health conversations as a part of our Youtube Music ‘Representando La Cultura’ campaign, Cultura is always first and it’s amazing to work closely together with people that represent us from all areas of the world.
YouTube has been a champion of Latin music for years. What notable stylistic changes in music videos and short-form content have you witnessed over that period?
Whether it’s a visualizer, premium music video, lyric video, user generated content, alternative music videos, evergreen content, or YouTube Shorts, artists have more options than ever to creatively engage with their fans. There has been a lot of growth and discoverability with artists using YouTube Shorts, which gives artists the ability to curate short-form content to their channel – from a dance or lifestyle challenge, sharing a song, inviting fans to make their own remix of the song or sharing snippets of their premium music video. A great example is the recently launched YouTube Shorts campaign with Camilo, who is on the cover of Billboard Español. It’s beautiful to see the immense creativity coming from artists today.
As head of artist partnerships, what’s the Latin industry trend that artists and their teams have been talking about in recent weeks?
When it comes to songs, I think the fusions of genres and transitions in one song keep it fresh and engaging, like Rauw Alejandro’s “Lokera.” When it comes to the type of songs, it feels like more artists are speaking on faith and spirituality, like DJ Khaled’s God Did, and Farruko with Nazarenzo.
We also love everything that’s happening with Mexican music and Generation Z. You are seeing more fusion genres and artists experimenting with different sounds. Artists like Danny Lux, Eslabón Armado and Yahritza y Su Esencia are setting new rules. Tropical music is having another moment, especially after the release of Romeos Santos’ new album Fórmula, Vol 3. It’s amazing to see more artists being truly authentic and genuine with themselves and owning their identity. Cultura wins. – J.L.