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: As The Batman makes a classic Nirvana deep cut a contemporary hit for the first time, new versions of old hits catch on radio and streaming, and a New York Knicks catchphrase gets flipped for a TikTok trend.
Nirvana’s ‘Something’ on the Way Up
The Batman film franchise producing smash singles is nothing new — it’s already been responsible for a pair of Billboard Hot 100-toppers in Prince’s “Batdance” (from the 1989 Tim Burton Batman reboot) and Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” (from 1995’s Batman Forever). But Nirvana‘s “Something in the Way” is a new kind of Batman hit: a decades-old non-single, resurrected and brought to chart relevance for the first time after the latest film’s release earlier this month.
Not that the song is an obscurity: Nevermind, the culture-shifting 1991 grunge classic album that features “Something in the Way,” famously topped the Billboard 200 albums chart in early 1992, and has spent a staggering 566 weeks on the chart since. But while the album produced a trio of Hot 100 hit singles (led, of course, by the epochal No. 6-peaking “Smells Like Teen Spirit”), the mournful closer “Something” was left as a deep cut. However, after its two synchs in The Batman — for which Robert Pattinson was said to be largely inspired by late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain — the song is now the rock icons’ hottest streaming commodity, with 7.9 million streams in the tracking week ending March 10 (a 1,508% increase, according to Luminate, formerly MRC data), as well as one of the most consumed rock songs in the country, debuting at No. 6 on Billboard‘s Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart this week.
Will it give Nirvana their fourth Hot 100 hit off Nevermind, a full 30 years later? Not yet, anyway: The song missed the chart (dated March 19) this week, with Billboard rules stipulating that a catalog entry has to rate in the top 50 to enter it anew. But “Something” isn’t slowing down: It racked up over 4.5 million streams across the first three days of this tracking week, and Glass Animals’ current Hot 100 topper “Heat Waves” stands as the only thing in the way of it being Spotify’s most-streamed song in the U.S. on the service’s daily charts. Meanwhile, Nevermind is up 54 spots to No. 17 on the Billboard 200 — its second straight year of reaching the chart’s top 20, following a 30th anniversary reissue-boosted jump to No. 12 last November. – Andrew Unterberger
What’s Old Is New (And Slightly Different): The ‘Cold Heart’ Effect
Elton John’s “Cold Heart (Pnau Remix),” featuring Dua Lipa, has been one of the most unlikely Hot 100 top 10 hits of 2022 when considering its origin story: Australian production trio PNAU effectively mashed up four of John’s songs — 1972’s “Rocket Man,” 1976’s “Where’s The Shoorah?,” 1983’s “Kiss the Bride” and 1989’s “Sacrifice” — into a lush disco single, added modern superstar Lipa into the mix for hook duties, and helped John score his first top 10 hit on the Hot 100 in nearly 24 years when “Cold Heart” reached No. 7 in January.
“Cold Heart” is now the standard-bearer of hit song remakes (or, in this case, hit songs) featuring the original artist and sporting a new title, playing off a memorable lyric, to make the whole affair feel fresher. In recent months, other singles following a similar revival-with-a-twist blueprint have begun to hit the chart: Last month, Swedish House Mafia released their new single “Redlight,” a club riff on The Police’s 1979 top 40 hit “Roxanne” that boasts Sting himself delivering his timeless “You don’t have to put on the red light!” refrain. “Redlight” debuted at No. 20 on the Mar. 12 Hot Dance/Electronic Songs… the same chart that “Cold Heart” has spent 22 weeks atop.
Of course, some recent song remakes have kept things simple by duplicating the classic song titles. “Down Under,” Australian producer Luude’s drum-n-bass redo of the Men at Work classic, features Colin Hay’s re-recorded vocals and structurally functions more like a remix of the 1981 original; the song has taken off internationally, peaking at No. 61 on the Global Excl. U.S. chart dated Mar. 12. And last week, Madonna added Fireboy DML to her 2021 Sickick remix of her 1998 single “Frozen” (got all that?), injecting new life into her Ray of Light hit by recruiting a Toronto producer and ascendant Nigerian star who was two years old when it was originally released. With a legendary pop artist, current star and international producer all in the mix, “Frozen (Fireboy DML Remix)” is trying to heat up the summer the same way “Cold Heart (Pnau remix)” did this winter. – Jason Lipshutz
Is “Bong Bing” The Next “Bing Bong”?
“Bing bong,” the vocally approximated sound of the New York City subway’s closing doors, has become a rallying cry for Knicks fans during an otherwise dismal season after being used by a fan and taking off as a catchphrase on video interview series Sidetalk NYC. Now, Jamaican dancehall artist Laa Lee and London rapper Cristale, have flipped the exclamation — literally — and are starting to go viral themselves.
“Bong Bing,” released on Sony-owned Black Butter earlier this year, has inspired a viral dance routine after sampling the Sidetalk NYC audio and turning its titular phrase into a Patois hook. Although “Bong Bing” has yet to chart since officially hitting streaming services earlier this month, the single has soundtracked nearly 300,000 TikTok clips and also racked up 120,000 U.S. streams, according to Luminate, formerly MRC Data. If the Knicks can’t muster a late playoff push, at least they’ll have something to groove to this spring. – J.L.
“Tom’s Diner” Open Again For Business
It’s been one of the most strangely immortal songs of the past four decades: Suzanne Vega‘s “Tom’s Diner,” the unshakeable a cappella stream-of-consciousness opener to her 1987 album Solitude Standing, which hit No. 5 on the Hot 100 when laid over a mid-tempo shuffle by U.K. dance group DNA in 1990. The song has since been covered by artists ranging from R.E.M. to Britney Spears, and sampled or interpolated by everyone from Public Enemy to Fall Out Boy (who brought it back to the Hot 100 top 10 for the first time in 25 years with their 2015 hit “Centuries”).
Now, it may be headed back to the charts once more, thanks to a 2019 cover collab by German rock bands AnnenMayKantereit and Giant Rooks. The soulful new version has exploded on TikTok with users posting stunned reactions to a live video of the track, in which the entrance of AnnenMayKantereit singer Henning May’s unexpectedly gruff, powerful vocals comes as something of a shock. The song earned 1.5 million streams total in the last full tracking week, according to Luminate, formerly MRC data — up 182% from the prior week — and is still climbing, with the song rising from 408,000 to 505,000 daily streams over the first three days of this tracking week, making “Tom’s Diner” once again as unavoidable as old Seinfeld reruns. – A.U.
Q&A: Naomi Zeichner, YouTube’s Artist Partnerships Lead, on What’s Trending Up in Her World
Which trends across genres have you been keeping an eye on and think will be impactful in the near future?
In Eastern Europe, drift phonk producers like DVRST are returning to the infinite well of Memphis rap inspiration and creating long, ambient videos set to visuals of cars driving. While different, it reminds me of the Siren Jams trend that originated in New Zealand a couple years ago; the world and so many people are experiencing an in-betweenness right now, and I think both genres reflect that.
Which songs or artists have intrigued you over the past few weeks?
Bad Boy Chiller Crew’s “Always Be My Baby” is sparking a lot of joy! “Beauty in The Madness” from Rexx Life Raj and Fireboy DML, who were both a part of the #YouTubeBlack Voices Artist Class of 2021, is a sleeper hit. Robinson’s “Fayahh” instrumental and Fuerza Regida’s “Descansando” are perfect. Maria Becerra and Nicki Nicole are budding global stars, and I think 2022 will be a big year for them both. I’m also rooting for Dora Jar, Amindi, Lil Bean, Fresco Trey, Alemeda, and Eli Derby. I’m glad to see Muni Long, an actual genius, getting her flowers. And, all these months later, Jazmine Sullivan’s “BPW” and Farruko’s “Pepas” are still on replay and at the top of the charts in my alternate universe.
YouTube Music continues to flourish as a global platform. Which region(s) of the world are growing musically in ways that U.S. listeners need to better understand?
In Argentina and across Spanish-speaking Latin America, Bizzarap and the party Bresh are supporting the foundation of one of the world’s most alive-feeling rap scenes. Turkey and the Dominican Republic have long produced a wealth of incredible music, and I think we’ll continue to see crossover traction from artists in those countries; I’m excited about the one-and-only Tokischa and Emir Taha.
Fill in the blank: the most exciting thing happening in hip-hop this year is ________.
R&B! Jokes aside, drill remains the greatest worldwide, and I salute all the artists making perfect drill songs with hard-to-clear samples – like ShoBeatz’s Paramore flip, Wan Billz and B Lovee’s “Can’t Help It,” or the Triple01s rework of the ’00s masterpiece Calabria rhythm, “LIVID.” – J.L.
Trending Back Then: “We Are Young” Sets the Charts on Fire
In the pre-streaming days of the early 2010s, there were essentially three ways to make your underground hit a mainstream sensation overnight: Go viral with a music video, score a key commercial synch, or get covered in an episode of Glee. fun.‘s Janelle Monáe-featuring “We Are Young” didn’t have a video catchy enough for the first, but the alt-pop outfit’s breakout single was both bombastic and theatrical enough to get the other two: Chevy used it in a stunt-heavy ad that debuted during the Super Bowl, a couple months after the Glee cast performed it in a key moment of a third-season episode.
The dual placements sent the song skyrocketing — with seven straight weeks of digital sales over 300,000 units, virtually inconceivable numbers for a new song by a largely unknown act — and propelled it to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on the chart dated March 17, where it would stay for six weeks. fun. never got back to No. 1 on their own, and went on indefinite hiatus in 2015, though their guitarist — eventual pop writer/producer/confidant Jack Antonoff – returned to the top in 2017, within the credits to Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do,” on his way to becoming one of the most in-demand collaborators in popular music. – A.U.