As expected, Taylor Swift soared onto radio airwaves with her highly anticipated new single “Shake It Off.”
Swift released the high-energy, anti-haters pop anthem Tuesday during her Yahoo! live stream shortly after 5 p.m. ET. The song quickly tallied 1,139 first-day plays on 229 stations that report to the Billboard Hot 100‘s radio airplay panel, according to Nielsen BDS. The plays translated to nearly 9 million in first-day all-format radio audience.
“Shake” introduces 1989, Swift’s fifth studio album and first in nearly two years. The set arrives Oct. 27 on Big Machine Records.
The live stream aired on more than 140 Clear Channel Media and Entertainment-owned radio stations, with participating pop stations in the chain spinning “Shake” hourly the rest of the day. The song’s hourly exposure (which has become a Clear Channel signature for high-profile releases) has continued Tuesday (Aug. 19), including on major-market tastemakers WHTZ (Z100) New York and KIIS Los Angeles. The pop stations played the song seven and 10 times Monday, respectively.
On BDS’ real-time building Pop Songs chart (which runs Monday-Sunday), “Shake” already ranks at No. 8. On the building Adult Pop Songs tally, it snares the No. 9 spot.
The song, which shot to the top of the Billboard + Twitter 140 chart Monday, could challenge for the top rank on the airplay/sales/streaming-based Billboard Hot 100 to be revealed on Aug. 27, following its first full week of sales and streaming. The song was released to retail digitally and its official video premiered Monday.
RADIO’S SWIFT ACCEPTANCE
Given her superstar status and catalog of hits, pop radio programmers have eagerly welcomed Swift’s effervescent and hooky new hit.
“I think it’s excellent,” says Mike Mullaney, assistant program director/music director at CBS Radio’s adult pop WBMX (Mix 104.1) Boston. “Pop music is supposed to be fun and, as far as I’m concerned … mission accomplished.”
“I cannot hear [‘Shake’] enough. I’ve had it on repeat since yesterday afternoon,” says Erik Bradley, assistant PD/MD of CBS Radio’s Pop Songs panelist WBBM (B96) Chicago. “I think it’s a mega-smash.”
“It’s fun, uptempo and infectious,” echoes MoJoe Roberts, PD of Cumulus-owned Pop Songs reporter KHOP in Stockton, Calif. “So far, audience reaction has been solid. The cool thing about Taylor is when her songs play, you know it’s Taylor. Her signature sound has definitely evolved, but she’s still true to who she is.
“What’s not to like about it?”?
NO TRIP TO THE COUNTRY
Among buzz for the new song and video is its all-out pop polish, complete with Swift’s spoken-word semi-rap breakdown, cheerleader chants and even (mild, family-friendly) twerking.
Swift has clearly segued to pop music after arriving in 2006 with her country ballad named after one of the genre’s most successful artists ever, “Tim McGraw.” While her last album, Red, yielded the country-exclusive hits “Begin Again” and the title cut, which rose to Nos. 3 and 7 on Country Airplay, respectively, it spun off three singles solely for pop radio, including “I Knew You Were Trouble.” With Swift having written the song with Max Martin and Shellback (Christina Aguilera, P!nk, Britney Spears), it roared to a seven-week reign on Pop Songs. Swift’s three prior Pop Songs entries (in 2011-12) were also pop radio-exclusive: “The Story of Us” (No. 21), “Eyes Open” (No. 20) and “Both of Us” (No. 24), on which she assists rapper B.o.B.
Continuing her evolution, and, unsurprisingly, given her new song’s sound, of the track’s 1,139 first-day plays, a mere 12 belonged to country stations. Still, Cumulus’ country WNSH (Nash FM 94.7) New York sampled the song with a pair of opening-day plays. (Swift has notched 18 Country Airplay top 10s, including seven No. 1s. She led as recently as June 2013, with McGraw, on “Highway Don’t Care.”)
Despite its push to pop formats, “Shake” dents the building Country Airplay chart at No. 49.
“We took to social media to see what listeners think,” explains WNSH PD Brian Thomas. “As you might expect, on Twitter they’re young and want us to play [‘Shake’]. On Facebook, where fans are a little older, they don’t think that this is a country record.”
Thomas also notes that Facebook fans don’t want a song not quite right for country taking potential airplay from more deserving titles, such as “Neon Light,” the lead single from Blake Shelton‘s new album; that song should make a high debut on next week’s Country Airplay chart. “The [‘Shake’] video may also move more people to consider it a pure-pop song,” Thomas adds.
Still, Thomas recognizes the unstoppable force that Swift has become and recognizes a hit when he hears one.
“It will sell and, most importantly, her fans love it.”