Billboard Hot 100 Analysis: 1/23/2014

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. Dark Horse by Katy Perry f/Juicy J
  3. Counting Stars by OneRepublic
  4. Say Something by A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera
  5. The Monster by Eminem f/Rihanna
  6. Let Her Go by Passenger
  7. Royals by Lorde
  8. Team by Lorde
  9. Story Of My Life by One Direction
  10. Pompeii by Bastille

“Timber” clings to the top spot for perhaps one final week as “Dark Horse” continues its steady surge towards the peak. Don’t be surprised to see Katy Perry land her 8th Number One single next week. A little further down the chart, we welcome two new songs to the Top 10. Both “Team” and “Pompeii” took more than 15 weeks to reach the chart’s upper echelon, something we don’t see too often anymore in the era of digitally-driven high debuts. Lorde looks to become the first artist to score two #1 hits before turning 18 since Tiffany 25 years ago.

BIGGEST MOVERS THIS WEEK

40 Spots: Give Me Back My Hometown by Eric Church (95-55)

31 Spots: Happy by Pharrell Williams (56-25)

14 Spots: Talk Dirty by Jason Derulo f/2 Chainz (29-15)

11 Spots: Ride by SoMo (100-89)

  1. As I discussed last week, Church’s followup to “The Outsiders” matches the extreme movement of its predecessor. Although a jump this big is impressive, it’s worth noting that “The Outsiders” followed a similar 40-spot leap with an equally superlative 40-spot tumble. Thus, we’ll have to see what “Give Me Back My Hometown” does next week before it can cement its status as the next big country hit.
  2. Two weeks in a row on the Biggest Movers list for Pharrell Williams. Riding the consecutive momentum of his Oscar nomination and “Happy”‘s use in commercials for the Beats by Dre Pill, the single is quickly approaching bona fide hit territory. It’s already gone to #1 in 13 countries, could the United States be next?
  3. I was impressed when Derulo made it two weeks in a row on this list, but I’m straight-up shocked that “Talk Dirty” makes the list for a third straight week. I guess audiences prefer the dirtier side of Jason Derulo, and they’re rewarding him greatly. “Talk Dirty” has now passed the peaks of the previous two Tattoos single, and could become his first Top 10 single since “Ridin’ Solo” in the coming weeks.
  4. I stand corrected. Last week, I pretty much predicted that “Ride” would join the ranks of the many “1 week at #100 and gone” songs. But the YouTube star-turned-viable R&B singer posts a nice jump in his second week on the chart.

HOT 100 DEBUTS THIS WEEK

Can’t Remember To Forget You” by Shakira f/Rihanna (#28)

  • I’ve been listening to this one extensively ever since it came out a week or so ago. And it exploded onto the charts, giving Shakira the highest debut of her lengthy career. A pop match made in heaven, this ska-infused duet sees the two songstresses swap verses and chorus halves to delightful effect. As a preview of Shakira’s first English-language album in a while, I can say I’m quite excited.
  • Best Case Scenario: Shakira has another great duet success (like “Beautiful Liar” back in 2007), and Rihanna gets her 26th Hot 100 Top 10 (passing Elvis Presley). Honestly, the sky’s the limit with this one, I see no reason why it couldn’t be the #1 song in the country by the end of February.
  • Worst Case Scenario: With a debut this high, it’s already pretty much a guaranteed hit. I suppose worst case scenario would be any chart peak lower than the Top 10. Big things ahead for this.

Loyal” by Chris Brown f/Lil Wayne & French Montana (#82)

  • Building off the surprising success of “Love More,” Chris Brown is back with another club-friendly dance hit, making us wonder yet again where the “Kiss Kiss” Chris went. Lil Wayne and French Montana join him for a musing on friendship, a la “My Hitta.” To try to boost sales more, Brown also co-released a “West Coast” version of “Loyal,” swapping French Montana for Too $hort.
  • Best Case Scenario: Like “Fine China” and “Love More,” “Loyal” gains a moderate following, and sees a relatively lengthy run in the 30s and 40s.
  • Worst Case Scenario: This song isn’t going to exactly “go away,” but a repeat of his most recent disappointment “Don’t Judge Me” (peaking at #67 in 2012) is very possible.

Rewind” by Rascal Flatts (#83)

  • I guess the guys of Rascal Flatts didn’t take kindly to my pronouncing Dan + Shay as their sound-alike successors, because here they are again with another single. It sure seems like they’ve been in full “hanging on” territory for years now, but it keeps working. “Rewind” takes that vintage Rascal Flatts sound and adds the over-production (claps etc.) that popular country radio has been eating up in the past two years.
  • Best Case Scenario: Much like “Banjo” in 2012, Rascal Flatts pull another miraculous Country #1 hit out of their hats, and approach the Top 40 one more time.
  • Worst Case Scenario: Their peak came and went back in 2006, so their natural attrition as viable country stars finally begins to show with a poor showing.

Doin’ What She Likes” by Blake Shelton (#84)

  • Blake Shelton gives it one more try from his Based On A True Story album. Following the first three singles reaching the top of the country chart, his fourth single off the album debuts this week. It fits in the middle ground between the good-timey “Boys Round Here” and the more tender ballad “Mine Would Be You,” so both kinds of country audiences could enjoy this one.
  • Best Case Scenario: Shelton earns yet another Country #1 single. Although I don’t see this achieving huge success, a peak somewhere in the 30-35 range isn’t out of the question.
  • Worst Case Scenario: 2013 was Shelton’s year, not 2014. This single struggles to get off the ground, and could stall in the 50s or 60s.

Thinking About You” by Calvin Harris f/Ayah Marar (#93)

  • Much like Shelton, Calvin Harris is quickly depleting his reserves of singles from his most recent album. Hard to believe that the album that spawned “Feel So Close,” “We Found Love” and “Let’s Go” is still relevant on the charts. With “Thinking About You,” Harris has his whopping 9th single from the album chart (although three of those were UK hits only). The beat is far from Harris’ strongest, but it’s harmless enough and will sound just fine on the radio.
  • Best Case Scenario: Could become a moderate success like “I Need Your Love.” I see a maximum peak for “Thinking About You” somewhere around 40-45.
  • Worst Case Scenario: The last track on 18 Months lives up to its track listing, and becomes the least successful of the nine singles.

Take Me Home” by Cash Cash f/Bebe Rexha (#94)

  • As if out-Harrising Calvin Harris, American group Cash Cash debuts side-by-side with the Scottish superstar with “Take Me Home,” which sounds as much, if not more so, like the radio-friendly EDM Harris is so famous for creating. At a crisp 3 minutes and 25 seconds, the track reminds me of Swedish House Mafia, circa 2011.
  • Best Case Scenario: With SHM going on hiatus, there’s a vacancy in the EDM circle of popularity. “Take Me Home” is the kind of song with the potential to lift an unproven group like Cash Cash to that level. This will almost certainly outperform Harris’ newest single, and I can see it reaching the 20s or even the teens potentially.
  • Worst Case Scenario: Harris works his magic again somehow, and uses his quasi-monopoly to keep the better “Take Me Home” from escaping the bottom 20 of the chart.

Everything I Shouldn’t Be Thinking About” by Thompson Square (#95)

  • Following in the footsteps of Lady Antebellum’s recent stylistic shift, duo Thompson Square’s new single is much more uptempo than their prior hits “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not” and “If I Didn’t Have You.” In actuality, this song sounds almost identical to Love & Theft’s “Angel Eyes,” but their voices go down easy and the song is undeniably catchy.
  • Best Case Scenario: A positive response to this tonal change benefits them much like with Lady A, and “Everything I…” has a shot at reaching the Top 40 and the Country Top 5.
  • Worst Case Scenario: An already-crowded past couple weeks in country music keep Thompson Square from reaching the Top 50 as they did a few years ago.

Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong United (#99)

  • Based out of Sydney, Australia, this church group has released over 50 Christian albums in the past 15 years. Released in February, “Oceans” rose up the Christian charts steadily until its #1 peak at the end of 2013 spurs the group’s first Hot 100 entry. Although the content is certainly exemplary of Christian music, the track shows a certain knowledge and understanding of current pop music, having very instrumentation. Oh, and it’s also 9 minutes long, so that’s pretty cool too. Take that, Justin Timberlake.
  • Best Case Scenario: It’s hard to see much upward mobility in genre-specific songs like this, but if I had to pick a best-case scenario, it could model the chart run of “Darte Un Beso,” which ruled the Latin charts last year, peaking in the 70s on the Hot 100 and lasting for a few months.
  • Worst Case Scenario: The honor of appearing on the chart is enough for the group, and it probably only spends just this one week on the Hot 100.

This is by far the easiest pick for future hit potential that I’ve had so far this year. Despite some strong contenders, nothing’s going to change my mind about “Can’t Remember To Forget You.” Rihanna is already off to a hot start in 2014, and Shakira is about to start her second season as a coach on The Voice. All of these factors add up to a global smash hit on their hands, and I stand by my conservative prediction of a surefire Top 10 hit. If I were a betting man, I’d put down good money on the duet’s chances of hitting #1 in the next month or so. We’ll have to keep an eye out for its crucial second week movement.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  1. If I counted correctly, a whopping TWENTY-SEVEN songs on the Hot 100 this week are country songs. This over-saturation has one glaring detriment to the individual songs. Due to all this overcrowding, the highest ranking of any of these songs is Luke Bryan’s “Drink A Beer” at #34. Supply and demand clearly holds court on the Hot 100 as well, keeping many would-be hits out of the Top 30.
  2. With “Happy” and “Let It Go” retaining their strong chart positions, the two soundtrack songs become the first pair of Oscar-nominated songs to appear together on the Hot 100 since 1998-1999. In that year, Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” (from Armageddon) was a #1 hit, and the Whitney Houston/Mariah Carey duet “When You Believe” (from The Prince Of Egypt) won the Best Song award en route to a #15 peak.
  3. I never realized this before, but Pharrell Williams made a 24-hour long music video of “Happy,” consisting of him and other people the camera focuses on walking, dancing, and singing along. I’ve never heard of such a music video before, and it’s undeniably very cool. It’s split up into handy one-hour segments on his VEVO channel, so give that a look if you have the patience!

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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