Billboard Hot 100 Analysis: 1/9/2014

Welcome back for another analysis of the Billboard Hot 100! Here’s all you need to know about the chart released today.

THIS WEEK’S TOP TEN

  1. Timber by Pitbull f/Ke$ha
  2. Counting Stars by OneRepublic
  3. The Monster by Eminem f/Rihanna
  4. Royals by Lorde
  5. Say Something by A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera
  6. Dark Horse by Katy Perry
  7. Let Her Go by Passenger
  8. Wake Me Up! by Avicii
  9. Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus
  10. Demons by Imagine Dragons

An exciting week in the Top 10 this week! First and foremost, following a 4-week stay at #2, Timber finally ascends to #1 on the Hot 100. Hard to believe, but it’s been quite awhile for both artists since their last chart-toppers. “Give Me Everything” was Pitbull’s last in July 2011, and it’s been since November 2010 sinced Ke$ha led the way with “We R Who We R.” Just one notch below, OneRepublic’s sleeper hit “Counting Stars” reaches a new peak of #2, equaling “Apologize” for their best ranking ever. Finally, “Dark Horse,” just released as the third single from PRISM, nets Katy Perry yet another Top 10 single, bringing her career total to 13.

BIGGEST MOVERS THIS WEEK

36 Spots: Talk Dirty by Jason Derulo f/2 Chainz (85-49)

21 Spots: Waiting For Superman by Daughtry (87-66)

19 Spots: XO by Beyoncé (73-54)

17 Spots: Safe And Sound by Capital Cities (45-28)

13 Spots: Hey Brother by Avicii (66-53)

  1. Jason Derulo’s third single from the Tattoos EP headlines the biggest movers this week. Featuring 2 Chainz, the sax-filled track leapfrogs over a third of the chart to find itself in the Top 50.
  2. Daughtry, fronted by the titular American Idol finalist from (can you believe it?) 8 seasons ago, sees the lead single from their new album Baptized reach a new peak. If “Waiting For Superman” continues its run, it could become the group’s first Top 40 single since “September” in 2010.
  3. Perhaps aided as much from its controversial use of audio clips from the Challenger space disaster as its album’s continued success, Beyoncé’s second single off her self-titled release looks to join “Drunk In Love” in the upper rungs of the Hot 100.
  4. Perhaps the last holdout of Christmas-aided sales, Captial Cities’ breakout hit sees one last chart rebound in its lengthy run.
  5. Following the mega-smash “Wake Me Up!” this fall, “Hey Brother” looks poised to become another hit for Avicii. Leaning even more heavily toward country music and featuring vocals from Union Station member Dan Tyminski, it still contains the satisfying buildup and danceable drop that made its predecessor a groundbreaking success.

HOT 100 DEBUTS THIS WEEK

Love Don’t Die” by The Fray (#81)

  • Looking to both divorce themselves from the sentimental piano rock that defined them and score their first substantial hit in four years, The Fray released “Love Don’t Die,” in anticipation of their upcoming 2014 album. Much more uptempo and guitar-driven than their previous hits, the song feels every bit like they’ve never played this type of music before. Some of the rhythms and instrumentation choices don’t blend very well, and it doesn’t lend itself well to Adult Contemporary radio, The Fray’s lifeblood for the past seven years.
  • Best Case Scenario: The change of style impresses new audiences enough to build the song a healthy-enough popularity base until the new album drops in late February, propelling “Love Don’t Die” towards the top 40.
  • Worst Case Scenario: “Love Don’t Die” languishes in the lower realm of the Hot 100 for a few weeks, sees a minimal re-entry upon the release of the album, and fades from memory quickly.

Drink To That All Night” by Jerrod Niemann (#90)

  • Jerrod Niemann returns from three years of obscurity following his breakout 2010 that included Country #1 “Lover, Lover.” Following the formula of Joe Nichol’s comeback hit almost to a T, sounding almost like a sample as Niemann sings about a memorable night with friends at the bar. Hardly groundbreaking songwriting, but the song certainly has a lot of pep and country radio potential.
  • Best Case Scenario: Niemann takes advantage of a current scarcity of country radio hits and rides his new single all the way to the Country Top 5 and a Hot 100 peak in the low 30s.
  • Worst Case Scenario: Niemann’s chance at popularity faded years ago, and his attempt to return flops, much like Brantley Gilbert’s recently-released and similar-themed “Bottoms Up.”

Young Girls” by Bruno Mars (#94)

  • Just released as the fifth single from Unorthodox Jukebox, Bruno Mars tries to overcome the quasi-disappointment of “Gorilla”‘s comparatively weak chart performance with a new ballad. Here, he bemoans how young and wild girls “make a mess of him”, but yet he can’t help but keep coming back to them. The track reminds me musically of the Doo Wops & Hooligans song “Marry You,” which bodes well for listeners who thought “Gorilla” was a hair too adult for their taste.
  • Best Case Scenario: “Young Girls” reminds audiences of “When I Was Your Man,” potentially gets played at the Super Bowl next month, and becomes his second ballad in a year to achieve widespread success. A peak inside the top 30 is possible.
  • Worst Case Scenario: The Unorthodox Jukebox train has come and went, resulting in a one-and-done scenario for “Young Girls.” Bruno prepares his older hits for the Super Bowl, and then goes back to the studio.

19 You + Me” by Dan + Shay (#96)

  • The debut single from the young country duo makes its debut on the Hot 100 a few months after earning its first spins on country radio in late fall. The best way I can describe “19 You + Me” is that it sounds eerily similar to the instrumentation, harmonization and even nasal tenor of the early Rascal Flatts albums, so this familiarity definitely bodes well for the song’s future success.
  • Best Case Scenario: Old Rascal Flatts fans find something to like, and the Hunter Hayes groupies find a new source of competition for their young idol. Every year, there’s one country act that breaks out with a huge debut smash, and this could very well be it for 2014.
  • Worst Case Scenario: No such luck for the new duo. The song is fated to reach at least the Country Top 10, but it fails to crack the threshold of the Hot 100’s Top 50.

Happy” by Pharrell Williams (#98)

  • Following his humongous success as a featured artist in 2013, I almost forgot that Pharrell Williams wrote and performed the excellent soundtrack for Despicable Me 2. Amazingly, six months after the release of the highly successful animated film, “Happy” joins all those Frozen songs on the Hot 100. Jazzy, upbeat, and undeniably catchy, “Happy” further expands Pharrell’s reputation as the retro singer of the 2010s. If this late debut seems strange and thus a fluke, be careful. “Happy” has already become an international smash, and is the current #1 single in the United Kingdom.
  • Best Case Scenario: Just like “Pompeii” by Bastille, the UK charts prove to be a decent barometer of future American chart success, and Pharrell proves that he can still be viewed as a successful lead artist. Top 20 is very possible, and even higher if Despicable Me 2 gets some Oscar buzz in the animated category.
  • Worst Case Scenario: Frozen continues its monopolistic stronghold on family movies and their soundtracks, denying America a place on the “Happy” bandwagon.

It’s always a dangerous bet at best to bet against Bruno Mars, especially with the success of Unorthodox Jukebox. But, I’m going to do just that and pick “Happy” by Pharrell Williams as the song with the best prospects for future hit status. This is definitely a high-risk situation given the Frozen situation, but I think Pharrell’s 2013 return to popularity and “Happy”‘s current smash status overseas will foster a steady rise in the coming weeks. As a second thought, even though country songs by norm don’t ever dent the upper echelons of the chart, “19 You+Me” has country hit written all over it, and I truly believe that it will reach the Top 40 and become a Country #1 single. I’ll keep an eye on both of these songs in the upcoming weeks.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  1. Avicii’s smash hit “Wake Me Up!” logs its 20th consecutive frame in the Top Ten this week. It likely won’t challenge LeAnn Rimes’ record of 32 straight weeks, but the feat is impressive nonetheless, especially considering the rapid turnover of songs in the dance/electronic genres.
  2. “Blurred Lines” rides Christmas sales back into the Top 20 (moving 27-19), proving that the United States isn’t yet ready to say goodbye to Robin Thicke’s controversial hit yet.

That’s all for this week! I’ll be back on Thursday with a look at the next edition of the Hot 100. More predictions and analysis coming at you in a week!

Until then,

Ryan

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