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: It’s an all-’80s edition of Trending Up, as ‘Stranger Things,’ and ‘Top Gun’ send Reagan-era pop smashes spiking in sales and streams, and we celebrate the anniversary of a ‘Rocky III’ soundtrack classic getting in the ring for the first time.
Even ‘Stranger’ Bumps From New Season
Though Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” has gotten all of the attention – understandably so – of the ’80s songs used in season four of Netflix’s Stranger Things, it’s far from the only one enjoying a major gain in consumption the past week.
The best of the rest is British-Jamaican reggae group Musical Youth’s ’80s perennial “Pass the Dutchie,” which is used as a sort of stoner theme for the new season (particularly for new character Argyle, played by Eduardo Franco). The song, a No. 10 Hot 100 hit in 1983, jumped a massive 1,437% in streams for the past chart week (ending June 2) to 1.998 million, according to Luminate. In addition, Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me ‘Round (Like a Record),” a No. 11 hit in 1985, was up 78% in streams to 1.131 million, Baltimora’s “Tarzan Boy” (No. 13 in 1986) was up 89% to 502,000, and Extreme’s “Play With Me” (which never reached the Hot 100) saw an enormous 842% spike in streams, albeit to a more modest 222,000 total. – ANDREW UNTERBERGER
Beyond “That Hill”: Kate Bush’s Catalog Runs Up, Too
Stranger Things not only helped “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” become the first top 10 Hot 100 hit of Kate Bush’s career this week (chart dated June 11), but naturally boosted the entire discography of the legendary singer-songwriter – as viewers rushed to learn more about the artist so crucial to the personality (and safety) of Sadie Sink’s Max Mayfield in the series’ new season. In the tracking week ending June 3, Bush’s full catalog earned 20.6 million U.S. on-demand streams, according to Luminate — a whopping 2,506% gain from the previous week, prior to the Stranger Things season four premiere on May 27. Even removing “Running Up That Hill” and its 17.5 million streams from that total, the rest of Bush’s catalog earned 3.1 million streams, up 1,789% from 163,000 during the prior week.
Not surprisingly, the biggest non-“Hill” recipients of streaming boosts were the Bush songs that were already featured near the top of artist page on streaming services like Spotify – with plenty of unfamiliar listeners no doubt poking around her most notable songs after embracing her biggest hit. From that group of songs, “Babooshka” earned the most on-demand streams last week with 470,000, followed by “Wuthering Heights” with 311,000, “Cloudbusting” with 290,000, “Hounds of Love” with 287,000 and “This Woman’s Work” with 158,000. As for Hounds of Love, Bush’s classic 1985 album that opens with “Running Up That Hill” and which Max shows off in cassette form throughout season 4, the full-length enjoyed a huge jump in consumption — 17,000 equivalent album units, up by 2,086% — and leapt to the summit of the Top Alternative Albums chart, giving Bush her first career No. 1 album on a Billboard chart. – JASON LIPSHUTZ
Gunning for the Top
The release of the box office-topping sequel Top Gun: Maverick on May 27 resulted in some serious climbs in elevation for a few ’80s classics from the original Top Gun soundtrack.
Kenny Loggins’ action classic “Danger Zone,” a No. 2 Hot 100 hit in 1986 which also kicks off Maverick’s opening scene, saw both a 142% climb in streams to 3.875 million and a 235% gain in sales to 6,000 during the last chart week according to Luminate. Meanwhile, “Top Gun Anthem,” the original credits theme by Harold Faltermeyer and Steve Stevens, was up 169% in streams to 692,000 and 277% in sales to nearly 2,000 – while the updated version of the theme used in the sequel, by the two original composers as well as Lady Gaga and Hans Zimmer, debuted with 606,000 streams and over 1,000 in sales. And despite not being used at all in the new movie, Belin’s Hot 100-topping “Take My Breath Away” love theme from the original Top Gun also rose 103% in streams to 2.249 million, and 189% in sales to nearly 2,000.
It’s not just the old songs from Top Gun that have benefited from the movie’s popularity, though. Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand,” the closing ballad for Maverick, jumps 33 spots to No. 54 on the Hot 100 this week (dated June 11), with a 44% bump in streams to 4.268 million and a 180% rise in sales to nearly 12,000. (The song is also starting to catch on the airwaves, climbing 44-36 on Billboard’s Radio Songs chart this week.) And OneRepublic’s “I Ain’t Worried,” which soundtracks a beach football scene in Maverick, is rising with supersonic speed, spiking 245% in streams to 2.538 million, and a whopping 624% in sales to nearly 4,000. – ANDREW UNTERBERGER
One Tears for Fears Perennial to “Rule” Them All
Among the many Top Gun– and Stranger Things-related ’80s smashes to experience considerable bumps, you might’ve noticed one Reagan-era Hot 100-topper without any obvious connection to either franchise: Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”
The U.K. new wave duo’s 1985 No. 1 hit rises to a new peak of No. 12 on Billboard’s Rock Streaming Songs chart this week, thanks to a 33% bump in streams to 4.728 million in the tracking week ending June 2, according to Luminate. If that gain doesn’t seem that enormous, it’s because the song’s recent virality (largely on TikTok) has been relatively gradual, and because the song is enough of a perennial favorite that it regularly racked up weekly streams in the high two millions and low three millions for most of 2022.
So what accounts for the slightly bigger-than-usual bump the past week? Well, it might not have taken much more than Stranger Things and Top Gun reminding people, “Hey, remember how great ‘80s pop was?,” and sending them back to their other faves from the period. (Unsurprisingly, “Rule” features prominently both Spotify’s official ‘80s Hits and ’80s Pop Rock playlists.) – A.U.
Q&A: YouTube’s Head of Catalog Music Ryan Thornton on What’s Trending Up in His World
How has your role evolved as more catalog songs are revived into the public consciousness as part of viral trends?
Part of what excites me about my role is the phenomenon and potential of any song to go viral. Whether it’s because of social trends, short form video or prominent syncs, the possibility of watching or taking part in a viral hit is an especially fun part of the catalog segment of the industry. I’m also excited about the role YouTube Shorts can play in amplifying these moments even more and for the full circle music discovery experience fans can have all within the YouTube ecosystem.
Which music catalog-related trend have you been keeping an eye on and think will be impactful in the near future?
The sped-up, slowed-down and reverbed versions of official songs are a trend I have noticed, like with Demi Lovato’s “Cool For the Summer [Sped Up Remix].” It’s been fascinating to see the reimagined versions of songs drive discovery of the original track, whether it’s from 2015, 2005, 1995 or 1985. I think this is definitely something we will continue to see more of.
How does YouTube prep for, and react to, something like the new season of Stranger Things, with Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” and other ’80s hits garnering enormous new interest?
Moments like this are really cool because “Running Up That Hill” is now resonating with a whole new generation of music fans. This week the track debuted at No. 7 on our US Top Songs and No. 26 on the Global Top Songs. Across the world, the song charted in 35 markets and saw 18.7 million global views during this charting period. It’s incredible to see!
For YouTube Music, prep mostly comes in the form of optimization and reaction comes by responding to the demand and being nimble. Every release is different and we work closely with our partners to strategize from a holistic perspective. That includes overall discoverability, video release planning, global accessibility of the music and so much more.
Fill in the blank: the most exciting thing happening with catalog songs on YouTube that no one is talking about yet is __________.
Demographic shifts in fandom. Because streaming has significantly reduced the barrier to discovery, digging deeper into an artist’s catalog is easier than ever. And when these viral moments happen, you generally see both the big spike in views up front and (hopefully) an increased baseline of listening afterwards. This can also result in the average age of the listener going down, which is a benefit for any artist with a catalog that has yet to be discovered by new generations of music fans. – J.L.
Trending Back Then: “Eye of the Tiger” Uncaged
On May 28, 1982, Rocky III, featuring Syvester Stallone’s Italian Stallion squaring off against Mr. T’s Clubber Lang and Hulk Hogan’s Thunderlips, was released to theaters. One week later, the movie’s theme song – the pulse-racing “Eye of the Tiger,” from then-up-and-coming Chicago rock outfit Survivor – debuted at No. 73 on the Hot 100 dated June 5. Seven weeks later, it was the No. 1 song in the country, becoming the second theme from the Rocky franchise to top the chart (after Bill Conti’s instrumental “Gonna Fly Now” from the original Rocky in 1977). If current trends are any indication, the song just might have a new bump in consumption to look forward to in early 2023, when the third installment of the Michael B. Jordan-starring Rocky follow-up series Creed is released. – A.U.