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Trending Up: Eight Years Later, Another Pharrell ‘Despicable Me 2’ Hit — Plus Anitta’s Breakthrough, ‘Birthday Cake’ & More

Also, a Spanish-language ballad is making moves on the streaming charts, and TikTok's William Gruger tells us what's exciting him on the platform.

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: Pharrell Williams enjoys another Despicable Me 2 soundtrack hit — eight years after its release — Anitta may have found her unlikely breakout smash, and — out of nowhere — a Spanish-language ballad is making noise on the streaming charts. 

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Pharrell’s Got Sunshine on a “Cloud”-y Day

Back in 2014, Pharrell Williams — by then long-renowned as one of modern pop and hip-hop’s most vital writers, producers and hook singers — officially added “solo star” to his resume with “Happy,” the ubiquitous 10-week Hot 100 No. 1 from the soundtrack to the animated sequel Despicable Me 2. But over the past week, a much lesser-known song from that same soundtrack has suddenly been everywhere, as the mid-tempo swayer “Just a Cloud Away” — never released as an official single back in the ’10s — has become a hit for the first time.

Unsurprisingly, TikTok was the culprit, as users deployed the song’s jaunty intro and opening lyrics (“This rainy day is temporary…”) mostly to soundtrack videos of them being unexpectedly cheered up by someone or something. The results were resounding: After pulling just 77,000 U.S. streams for the chart week ending March 17, that number skyrocketed to 4.5 million for the following chart week (ending March 24), a whopping gain of 5,776%, according to Luminate (formerly MRC Data). Some radio stations are even testing the waters with it as a current — though for now, the only station surveyed by Luminate (which tracks data for Billboard‘s charts) that’s given “Just a Cloud Away” double-digit plays in the past week is SiriusXM’s TikTok Radio, with 41 spins. — Andrew Unterberger


Anitta Dances Her Way to a Breakthrough

Over the past six months, Brazilian pop star Anitta has released a string of singles with an eye toward a U.S. breakout hit: in October, she issued the handclap-heavy dance track “Faking Love” featuring Saweetie, and in January, “Boys Don’t Cry” served as an ’80s-indebted synth-pop showcase. Yet “Envolver,”the sensual, Spanish-language reggaetón track that Anitta released in between the two English-language singles last November, may result in her biggest stateside moment to date — thanks in part to a TikTok challenge that’s helped the song explode in recent weeks.

The “Envolver”dance challenge, in which users combine a booty-pop and a plank during the song’s chorus, has earned over 1.2 million views on TikTok since taking off earlier this month, and the single’s streaming consumption has followed suit — from 2.1 million on-demand streams in the week ending Mar. 10 to 4.6 million two weeks later, according to Luminate. “Envolver” has yet to hit the Hot 100 chart, but reaches the top 10 on this week’s Hot Latin Songs tally, bumping up five spots to No. 7; if the song does crack the Hot 100 in the coming weeks, it would mark Anitta’s first entry as a solo artist — her 2020 single “Me Gusta” with Cardi B and Myke Towers peaked at No. 91 — and a nice feather in her cap as she preps her debut album for Warner Records. — Jason Lipshutz 


Dylan Conrique Rises With “Birthday Cake”

It’s celebratory, but not in the way that you’d think: “Birthday Cake,” the breakout hit from pop singer-songwriter Dylan Conrique, features her encouraging a friend who recently lost her mother to continue living life as her mom would want if she were still around (“like she made it to 48, still made your birthday cake”). Written by Conrique for her best friend, “Cake” resonated with countless listeners on TikTok — where she has 2.8 million followers, and has posted reactions from both the best friend and her own family members to the heartbreaking piano ballad.

The viral success has resulted in the song picking up millions of streams per week and still rising, with its 2.9 million plays in the most recent tracking week (ending Mar. 24) marking a 23% gain over the prior tracking week. Conrique, who is signed to hybrid management company/record label KYN Entertainment (a joint venture with Live Nation), next plans to release a live version of the song using male pronouns — by fan request, and in tribute to another friend of hers who also suffered a recent familial loss. — AU


Yahritza y Su Esencia’s Viral “Soy” Bomb

You don’t see many Spanish-language ballads near the top of the U.S. streaming charts — let alone from teenagers who have never officially released a full song before — but that’s what happened on the daily Spotify and Apple Music U.S. charts over the weekend, following the release of “Soy El Unico” (I’m the Only One), the debut single by Mexican-American family outfit Yahritza Y Su Esencia (Yahritza and Her Essence).

Sung by 15-year-old Yahritza Martinez, and also featuring her brothers Armando (or “Mando”) and Jairo on guitar and bass, the heart-rending corrido tumbado created such a demand when it was teased on TikTok that it immediately posted blockbuster numbers upon its debut, getting streamed 2.9 million times stateside in its first day of release (Mar. 25), according to Luminate (formerly MRC Data). The song is likely to make its presence felt on the Billboard charts next week (dated Apr. 9), and the trio has already been signed to Lumbre Music, formed by Ramon Ruiz and Alex Guerra of the norteño group Legado 7. — AU


Q&A: William Gruger, TikTok’s Music Editorial Lead, on What’s Trending Up in His World

Which music-related TikTok trends have you been keeping an eye on and think will be impactful in the near future?

Songs being created directly on TikTok through community interaction has been the breakout trend of 2022 that is here to stay. The #openverse phenomenon, which was propelled into the mainstream through Zai1k using the duet feature to rap over verses of song snippets posted by emerging artists Sadie Jean and Stacey Ryan, has since been utilized by more established artists like Russ, Logic and 24kGoldn to produce new and original works. Gayle’s “abcdefu” was created as a response to a comment, and Charlie Puth’s “Light Switch” was built piece by piece through sequenced videos. The tools on TikTok have unlocked entirely new ways for fans to witness the creation of songs beyond what was once possible.

Which songs or artists currently blowing up on TikTok could you foresee having prolonged mainstream moments this year?

“Material Girl” has helped Saucy Santana experience a rise in popularity that is undoubtedly sure to continue if the song he’s featured on recently teased out by Lil Nas X ends up being a banger. And “Evolver,” already achieving charting records and climbing week over week, is already the biggest hit of Anitta’s career that we will continue to see a rise in relevance over the following weeks and months.

For some time, TikTok has been an important component to chart success, from unknown songs getting discovered to viral trends giving hits even more momentum. How do you foresee that relationship between TikTok and the charts progressing in the coming months and years?

The idea of a “TikTok song” is long gone, and we’re going to continue to see diverse genres and niche communities trend and rise in popularity as trends shift and change. Non-current songs (like Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”) impacted the charts by finding new cultural relevancy thanks to TikTok, soundtracks (like Encanto‘s) have created trends that have impacted the charts as well, and recently we’ve seen a dramatic trend in the rise of Latin music making waves on the platform that are impacting the chart’s rankings in exciting ways.

Fill in the blank: the most exciting thing happening on TikTok that no one is talking about yet is __________.

…the way TikTok has become a space for artists to share unreleased music with their fans. With the success of songs such as Sadie Jean’s “WYD NOW?” (150.9K+ creations) and GAYLE’s “abcdefu” (2.5M+ creations), the TikTok community has proven countless times that the platform is a perfect way for artists to test the temperature of unreleased music. Singer Rachel Chinouriri saw similar results when she posted a snippet of her song, “So My Darling (Acoustic).” Garnering over 172.7K+ creations to date, the mellow track inspires creators to share some of their sweetest moments with their loved ones. Recent videos find creators sharing a piece of fruit with their cats, locking eyes with their significant other, and filming adorable father-daughter moments. Rachel Chinouriri also interacted with the sound, encouraging her 306K TikTok followers to continue streaming the song. Now officially released on Spotify, the song continues to grow with nearly 10 million streams to date (acoustic and full version combined) and securing a spot on the Spotify Viral 50 chart. – JL


Trending Back Then: Linkin Park “End”s Its Chart Climb at No. 2

Despite turning into arguably the biggest crossover hit of the nu-metal era, “In the End” had to wait even to begin its chart climb, with Linkin Park holding the song until the fourth single released from their 2000 debut set, Hybrid Theory. For that reason, the song didn’t hit its Hot 100 peak until the chart dated March 30, 2002 — nearly a year-and-a-half after the album was released — as the despairing rap-rock power ballad built on the momentum of Theory‘s prior three singles and became the band’s first hit to catch on pop radio, topping Billboard’s Pop Airplay listing. The song that kept it from doing the same on the Hot 100? Jennifer Lopez’s “Ain’t It Funny,” thanks to a Ja Rule-assisted Murder Remix that could not have been more tonally different than Linkin Park’s signature song if it was titled “In the Beginning.” – AU