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Trending Up: Steve Lacy’s Catalog Gains, Wheatus Inspires Recovering ‘Dirtbag’s and d4vd’s Indie Swooner Takes Off

Also, a classic '70s slow song gets a primetime Starz revival, and R&B celebrates a big week on the charts from 30 years ago.

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: Steve Lacy’s Gemini Rights level-up spreads to his back catalog, Wheatus’ signature hit reaches a new self-effacing generation, and yet another dreamy indie ballad takes off on streaming — this one actually from 2022.


A Rising Smash Lifts All Tides for Steve Lacy

As it bumps up one spot to No. 6 on this week’s Billboard Hot 100 chart, “Bad Habit” has become more than just a breakthrough hit for RCA’s Steve Lacy, the soulful alt-rock singer-songwriter and member of the R&B collective The Internet. As the song continues to dominate streaming services — dipping from the top spot of the Streaming Songs tally to No. 2 this week, thanks to DJ Khaled’s “Staying Alive” with Drake and Lil Baby — “Bad Habit” is quickly becoming a multi-format radio hit as well, moving up to No. 19 on Pop Airplay, No. 28 on Rhythmic Airplay and debuting on the all-format Radio Songs chart at No. 40 with 15.5 million audience impressions (up 59%), according to Luminate.

Instead of solely focusing on “Bad Habit,” however, listeners are also diving into his discography on streaming platforms and discovering what else Lacy has to offer. The week prior to the release of Gemini Rights, Lacy’s sophomore album featuring “Bad Habit,” on July 15, his catalog was earning 12.6 million U.S. on-demand streams, according to Luminate. That number is primarily composed of streams for Apollo XXI, Lacy’s 2019 debut full-length, which didn’t produce any Hot 100 hits and peaked at No. 160 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Fast-forward four weeks, though, and that weekly streaming total for Lacy’s back catalog (excluding the recently released Gemini Rights, which has thus far peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard 200) has risen to 17.2 million, a 36% increase from last month.

Because Apollo XXI scored a Grammy nod for best urban contemporary album, Lacy isn’t eligible to compete for best new artist at this year’s ceremony. Yet if his 2019 debut keeps helping Lacy bring in new fans that discovered him through “Bad Habit,” no doubt that he’ll take that trade-off. – JASON LIPSHUTZ

Listen to Wheatus, Baby With Gen Z 

Wheatus’ not-quite-pop-punk 2000 classic “Teenage Dirtbag” has rarely receded far from the culture in the decades since its release – the song boasts over 382 million plays on Spotify, a formidable number for a song by a band with no other real stateside hits. Yet over the past month, TikTok has given the song its biggest bump in years. “Dirtbag” has become part of a major trend of users posting photos of their teen selves in prime dirtbag form, with a mix of nostalgia and embarrassment, as a sped-up version of Wheatus’ unforgettable chorus soundtracks the shots. Celebs like Joe Jonas, Charli XCX and even Paris Hilton have all gotten in on the throwback fun. 

The song has exploded on streaming as a result, jumping from 932,000 official on-demand U.S. streams for the tracking week ending Aug. 4 to 2.1 million the week ending Aug. 11, according to Luminate – a 121.4% gain. (“Teenage Dirtbag (2020),” which the band recorded – along with the rest of their self-titled 2000 album – after the masters to the original version released on Columbia were lost, also saw a 41.4% hike in official on-demand U.S. streams over the same period.) It’s not enough of a gain to threaten any Billboard charts anew yet, but at least a whole lot of younger listeners now know what they were missing with the song the first time around. – ANDREW UNTERBERGER

TikTok Guilty of “Romantic Homicide”

Gauzy, dreamlike rock balladry has thrived on TikTok in 2022, resulting in older indie swooners like Cigarettes After Sex’s “Apocalypse” (2017) and Mr. Kitty’s “After Dark” (2014) becoming breakout hits on streaming this year. But this August, a song that’s not even a month old has found similar favor on the service: “Romantic Homicide,” by d4vd, the project of teenage singer-songwriter David Anthony Burke. 

The self-released song has been spiking weekly on streaming since its mid-July release, and this week it’s up another 57.2% in official on-demand U.S streams to 4.7 million, according to Luminate. It’s enough to earn the song a No. 16 debut on Billboard’s Rock Streaming Songs this week – making it one of just a handful of 2022 songs to be found in the chart’s classic rock- and 2010s indie-strewn top 20. – AU

L.T.D..’s “Love Ballad” Gets ‘P-Valley’ Viewers Swaying

On Sunday (Aug. 14), Starz’s hit strip club-set drama P-Valley aired its season 2 finale, and one musical moment in particular seems to have stuck with viewers – with the characters Uncle Clifford and Lil Murda enjoying a tender moment on the dancefloor to R&B hitmakers L.T.D..’s “Love Ballad.” The sentimental slow song, which was released on A&M Records and hit No. 20 on the Hot 100 in Dec. 1976, has ranked in the top 5 of Shazam’s Top 200 for most of the week since the finale’s airing, and was up 61% in official on-demand U.S. audio streams to 78,000 the day after the finale’s airing – with that number only growing that Monday, according to preliminary data from Luminate. It’s still a small number compared to the biggest R&B songs of the week, but one likely large enough to get labels to pay attention to the songs chosen for P-Valley’s third season if it gets renewed. – AU


Q&A: Michelle Rutkowski, Operations Manager at Milwaukee Radio Alliance, on What’s Trending Up in Her World

Which trend has defined alternative radio over the past few months? 

I think as everyone started to emerge from their pandemic hidey-holes, alternative radio sought out comfort food in the form of heritage artists. Two of the biggest hits at the format this year have come courtesy of Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Black Keys, with “Black Summer” and “Wild Child,” respectively. Add in a strong second single from The Lumineers (“Where We Are”) as well as two more huge crossover hits from Imagine Dragons (“Enemy” & “Bones”), and alternative radio has had a very familiar feel to it in 2022. That certainly has its advantages, but has also made it difficult for really exciting emerging artists like Turnstile and Wet Leg to gain solid footing.  

Are there any songs or artists you’re keeping an eye on that you think will be in greater rotation in the near future? 

I am currently obsessed with the song “Snap” by Rosa Linn.  I have listened to this song a frankly embarrassing number of times. Also, I’m loving Noah Kahan’s “Stick Season.” Lyrically, it’s full of clever word play and interesting turns-of-phrase, and musically it just gives off good, happy sing-along vibes.         

Which current hit could you see dominating for months on end, and potentially pushing into 2023?

Måneskin’s “Supermodel” has been holding it down at No. 1 on the Alternative Airplay chart for a few weeks now, and honestly, I feel like that’s a song which is still just getting started and could have a nice long run. I caught them at Lollapalooza this year and was super-impressed by how great they sounded, as well as their killer energy and stage presence. I think people who wrote them off as a novelty act might begin to rethink those initial impressions. 

Fill in the blank: before the end of 2022, music fans will be surprised by ________.

The number of bands who start actively campaigning for meetings with the music supervisor of Stranger Things. – JL

Trending Back Then: R&B Finds Its Footing For a New Decade

As Billboard wrote about on Monday, it was 30 years ago this week that Philadelphia R&B quartet Boyz II Men officially cemented themselves as the biggest new vocal group of the ‘90s with their classic Boomerang torch song “End of the Road” finishing its climb to No. 1 on the Hot 100 – where it would reign for a then-record 13 weeks. But that was just the tip of the iceberg for R&B on the chart dated Aug. 15, 1992, which also saw new peaks hit on the listing by TLC (“Baby-Baby-Baby,” No. 2), Jodeci (“Come & Talk to Me,” No. 11) and Mary J. Blige (“You Remind Me,” No. 29) – along with top 20 appearances from new decade stars En Vogue (“Giving Him Something He Can Feel,” No. 8) and CeCe Peniston (“Keep on Walkin’,” No. 17). It was a sign that, even in the midst of massive sea changes in rock and hip-hop that would come to define the decade, R&B was about to enter another golden age of its own. – AU