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: Lil Baby makes inroads at pop radio, Suki Waterhouse scores a new hit with an old single, and ‘Moon Knight’ brings back a top 20 hit from 1968..
Is Lil Baby Approaching a Top 40 Breakthrough?
Since entering hip-hop’s elite class in 2020 with My Turn, Lil Baby has stayed relatively active with collaborative projects (his chart-topping Lil Durk team-up The Voice of the Heroes), guest appearances (hopping on tracks headlined by Nicki Minaj, Kanye West and Meek Mill) and mainstream-adjacent detours (the kid-friendly Space Jam: A New Legacy anthem “We Win”). Last month, a string of solo singles – “Right On,” “In a Minute” and “Frozen” – and a summer tour announcement with Chris Brown hinted that Lil Baby was gearing up for My Turn’s proper follow-up. If that’s the case, the Atlanta superstar will likely precede that highly anticipated project with an unexpected yet significant step forward at pop radio.
In addition to his three solo tracks last month, Lil Baby hopped on a new version of Ed Sheeran’s = song “2Step,” a romantic, rhythmic pop-rock track that has quickly entered the song of the summer discourse in its updated incarnation. That’s because “2Step,” while slipping to No. 70 on the Hot 100 chart after debuting at No. 51 in the previous frame, reaches new peaks this week on Adult Pop Airplay (No. 20), Rhythmic Airplay (No. 38) and Pop Airplay (No. 20). The lattermost ranking represents Lil Baby’s highest-charting Pop Airplay hit to date – “2Step” jumps up nine spots from No. 29 last week, surpassing the No. 28 peak of his DJ Khaled collaboration from 2021, “I Did It.”
Lil Baby’s highest-charting Hot 100 hits, from “Drip Too Hard” to “The Bigger Picture” to “Do We Have a Problem?,” helped make him an A-list rapper, but also contained limited appeal to pop radio programmers. By teaming up with Sheeran – on his own top 40 radio hot streak, thanks to smashes like “Bad Habits” and “Shivers” – and dropping sensual come-ons like “I don’t see nobody in here but us, for real, for you I’m blind / We go anywhere, don’t take much for us to catch a vibe,” Lil Baby may have unlocked a whole new format in which to thrive. – JASON LIPSHUTZ
Suki Waterhouse “Looking” Up With 2017 Single
Once again proving its power to mint overdue hits from alt-pop gems of the previous decade, TikTok has made a viral hit in the past couple weeks out of “Good Looking,” a dreamy, indie-leaning waltz from model-actress-singer Suki Waterhouse. The 2017 single has been revived both in its original form and a sped-up edit, with the pair soundtracking many popular videos, some of which the multi-platform star has been engaging with on her own page. The result has been the song increasing 146% in streams the past chart week (ending May 5), collecting 1.3 total million spins, according to Luminate, with her daily numbers continuing to increase – culminating in the song topping the Spotify US Viral 50 chart on Monday, a watershed moment for Waterhouse’s unlikely breakout. – ANDREW UNTERBERGER
The Weeknd Not “Out of Time” for a Dawn FM Pop Hit
Though pop superstar The Weeknd has conquered top 40 radio and the Billboard charts for a full two years with his 2020 blockbuster set After Hours, this January’s Dawn FM follow-up has not yet had the same shelf life. Despite rebounding to No. 2 on the Billboard 200 this week following its physical release, the set’s songs have yet to demonstrate anywhere near the longevity of After Hours. Whereas “Blinding Lights” and “Save Your Tears” both hit No. 1 and spent a combined 159 weeks on the Hot 100, Dawn FM’s single “Sacrifice” has made the biggest impact thus far with just a No. 11 peak and 10 total weeks on the chart.
The Weeknd’s best hope for a breakout hit from the LP may be with current single “Out of Time,” which debuted at No. 32 on the Hot 100 in its release week, and after being MIA for several months, finally re-entered the chart last week (dated May 7) at No. 92. It’s back off the chart again this week – likely supplanted by the 16 new entries launched by Future’s well-received I Never Liked You album – but it continues to gain in a crucial metric, rising from 31-27 on Billboard‘s Pop Airplay chart. If the sublimely chirping, city pop-sampling “Out of Time” can get a real foothold on top 40, it would be a good sign for its Hot 100 prospects – and would come just in time for The Weeknd, since “Save Your Tears” finally falls off the chart this week, making for the first Hot 100 in well over two years without a single After Hours track present. – AU
Engelbert Humperdinck Shoots the Moon With Revived ’60s Hit
It’s unlikely much of the target audience for the new Disney+ Marvel series Moon Knight was widely familiar with Engelbert Humperdinck’s “A Man Without Love” – a No. 19 Billboard Hot 100 hit for the British pop crooner in 1968, based on the Italian-language ballad “Quando m’innamoro” – before it was used in the show’s series premiere on March 30. But a whole lot more of them were familiar with the song by the time it was used again in the show’s season finale this past week.
Together, the two placements have sent the song shooting into outer space. The weeks before the show’s premiere, “A Man Without Love” was racking up about 75,000 streams a week – but that number shot up to 1.1 million streams in the first full tracking week (ending April 7) following the Moon Knight premiere, according to Luminate. It has steadily climbed in the weeks since, as the show has caught more fans and the song has found an audience on TikTok. In the most recent chart week (ending May 5, a day after the finale), “Man” reached a new high of 2.2 million streams. The 86-year-old Humperdinck even joined in the fun himself, posting a TikTok where he reacts incredulously to hearing the song in the wild: “Is that my song?” – AU
Q&A: Frankie Yaptinchay, Amazon Music’s Senior Project Manager / Audience Development & Creative Partnerships, on What’s Trending Up in His World
Can you talk about your newly created role and how APAHM comprises part of that focus?
This new role at Amazon Music was created to amplify Asian and Asian American creators year-round across our various channels. I know there is so many unique stories that have yet to been told, having the opportunity to amplify these creators hits home on so many personal levels. Coming from an immigrant Filipino family, and being second generation I’ve always viewed my life with a dual identity, so working closely with all these creators from different backgrounds has truly been special.
In this new role we want to elevate the stories in new ways and build a home for artists on Amazon Music. It’s been amazing working on APAHM this year as several of the programs in this new role are highlighted during the month across our: editorial content, livestreams, playlists, merchandise and original songs. This new role has empowered our team to continue to develop new partnerships and opportunities within the artist community as Amazon Music continues to grow globally. This year for APAHM, we are working on programs with 88Rising, Asian American Girl Club, RISE: The Book, The GRAMMY Museum, Pacific Bridge Arts, Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter, CAPE, AEG and Goldhouse.
In addition to the Identity 2022 fundraiser/livestream, Amazon Music’s APAHM initiatives include Amazon Original songs and playlists. What has been the initial reaction to that content?
The reaction has been amazing! It’s an honor to partner with so many amazing creatives, and organizations that champion and amplify Asian and Asian American creators on such a large scale. This year we’ve partnered with the fashion line Asian American Girl Club on a custom APAHM T-Shirt and weekly playlist highlighting Asian American women in multiple genres curated by founder/actress Ally Maki. Ally has been instrumental in amplifying AAPI women creators across so many different industries. We also have a curated playlist from Rise [A Pop History of Asian America from the Nineties to Now], a New York Times bestseller. This book reflects on the history of Asian American contributions from the ‘90s to modern-day pop culture. We have the playlist introduced by co-author Jeff Yang and curated by contributor Richie “Traktivist” Menchavez.
In addition, we partnered with the Recording Academy LA Chapter and the GRAMMY Museum’s GRAMMY Camp on a scholarship program through the Pacific Bridge Arts Foundation. This scholarship is designed to provide opportunities for AANHPIs to break into the music industry through financial support, mentorship, and networking opportunities. We will be honoring the students at this year’s IDENTITY Festival on the Amazon Music Channel on Twitch on May 28. Amazon Music has been closely collaborating with 88rising, who recently delivered must-watch showcases at Coachella. What do you admire about the collective?
I really admire the authenticity in their work, And the care they have for their artists and the Asian community. The quality and innovation of their content from: music, films, clothing, food (they even have a hard seltzer!). They truly created a platform for global artists to intersect across so many avenues while embracing each artist’s culture. I love how 88rising continues to connect generations and always pushes the envelope to bring visibility to Asian artists on a global level. The Coachella sets were incredible! From witnessing Rich Brian, Joji and NIKI on a mainstage to 2NE1, Jackson Wang and Dumbfoundead as special guests, it was truly a historic moment! The past few years have been crucial for Asian visibility in North American pop. What trends do you foresee helping to continue that growth in the coming years?
I think Western audiences are beginning to see Asian artists as just artists and not solely defined as Asian artists, which is inspiring and long overdue. With every new trend, we’ve begun to see the importance and inclusion of Asian contributions. In the coming years I see the visibility of Asian artists continuing to grow to the point where visibility becomes normalized in North American Pop culture. In addition to 88rising having two mainstages on both weekends at Coachella, the inclusion of Asian artists in mainstream festivals and programming continues to grow. Last year we had the first Asian led Marvel movie and soundtrack and BTS continues to be everywhere, they even have a McDonalds meal. You can see the progression and growth of Asian stories being told at the highest level. – JL
Trending Back Then: Queen Again Sees a Little Silhouetteo of a Smash Thanks to Wayne’s World
Back before we had short, user-generated viral videos resurrecting decades-old smashes from seemingly out of nowhere, we had movie soundtracks and MTV to do the trick. In 1992, that meant Wayne’s World, the beloved Penelope Spheris-directed comedy spun off from Mike Myers and Dana Carvey’s popular Saturday Night Live sketch of the same name, and it meant Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the 1975 classic rock staple which the movie’s cast famously headbanged to in an extended car lip sync sequence. Thanks to Wayne and Garth — and enduring affection for Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, whose death from AIDS had shocked the world just months earlier — “Bohemian Rhapsody” became one of the year’s biggest MTV hits, and re-scaled the Hot 100, getting as high as No. 2 on the chart dated May 9, 1992. It was the group’s best chart showing since they topped the listing with “Another One Bites the Dust” in 1980 — and seven spots higher than the original single release’s No. 9 peak. – AU