Billboard Hot 100 Analysis: 2/27/2014

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. Happy by Pharrell Williams
  2. Dark Horse by Katy Perry f/Juicy J
  3. Talk Dirty by Jason Derulo f/2 Chainz
  4. All Of Me by John Legend
  5. Drunk In Love by Beyoncé f/Jay-Z
  6. Pompeii by Bastille
  7. Team by Lorde
  8. Say Something by A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera
  9. Counting Stars by OneRepublic
  10. Timber by Pitbull f/Ke$ha

In another very close race, “Happy” wins out to become Pharrell’s first Number One single as a lead artist (he featured on “Blurred Lines” and Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot” in 2004). He does this despite the highly-anticipated release of the “Dark Horse” music video last week. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that a song’s video release leads to a lower ranking on the following chart. In addition, John Legend’s piano ballad rockets into the Top Ten, clocking in at #4. As I mentioned last week, “All Of Me” is seeking to become the fourth piano/vocals-only single to reach #1. This largely digital-driven jump bodes well for the song’s quest.

BIGGEST MOVERS THIS WEEK

18 Spots: This Is How We Roll by Florida Georgia Line f/Luke Bryan (86-68)

17 Spots: Human by Christina Perri (84-67)

16 Spots: Stoner by Young Thug (75-59)

14 Spots: Na Na by Trey Songz (69-55)

13 Spots: The Worst by Jhene Aiko (87-74)

  1. In December, this fifth single from Here’s To The Good Times debuted and fell off the chart in one week. Now that “Stay” is losing its grip on the charts, country radio has begun spinning this track with great regularity. Featuring perennial superstar Luke Bryan, the song has great potential to become the duo’s fifth straight #1 single on the country charts.
  2. My prediction for biggest hit potential two weeks ago helps my cause with a big jump in its third week on the chart. Its heavier sound than predecessors “Jar of Hearts” and “A Thousand Years” will likely help it secure airplay.
  3. Unbelievable. That’s all I have to say. The sizable jump for “Stoner” in its second week on the chart instantly lifts it out of the ignominy of “one week novelty” and places it precariously close to the “Vine anthem” status of tracks like “Gas Pedal” and “Turn Down For What.”
  4. That makes it three weeks in a row on the Biggest Movers list for “Na Na.” I’ve completely run out of new tidbits to speak about this song, so all I can say is “Mustard on that beat.”
  5. Aiko’s debut single as a lead artist sees a nice jump, boosted in part by its #21 ranking on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart this week.

HOT 100 DEBUTS THIS WEEK

Glory And Gore” by Lorde (#88)

  • Lorde’s fourth single from Pure Heroine takes Top Debut honors this week. Featuring a much darker sound than “Team” or “Tennis Court”, the track adds another layer of depth to the 17-year-old’s already layered artistry. Although it mentions gladiators prominently in its lyrics, its debut is unrelated to the February 21 release of the film Pompeii.
  • Best Case Scenario: Like “Team”, the song takes a while to gather steam, but eventually becomes a sleeper hit with a peak potentially north of #20.
  • Worst Case Scenario: Like “Tennis Court”, the success of “Team” prevents it from grabbing hold of pop radio, and it spends a few weeks in the bottom 30 spots of the chart.

La La La” by Naughty Boy f/Sam Smith (#98)

  • Just like John Newman’s “Love Me Again”, a British single with R&B roots that  peaked at #1 in the UK in 2013 debuts this week. Phew, that was a mouthful, but the similarities are palpable. With the exception of a confusingly-mixed female vocal hook, the song carries a pretty easy groove throughout, and singer Sam Smith lends his very pop-friendly voice to the track.
  • Best Case Scenario: “Love Me Again” and even Pharrell’s “Happy” proved to us that British #1 singles have endless potential in the United States, so “La La La” could conceivably become a Top 40 hit.
  • Worst Case Scenario: The song has been around since last March, so only time will tell if it has legs on the US charts. It could easily be a one and done on the Hot 100.

Ordinary Love” by U2 (#99)

  • Just in time for the Academy Awards on Sunday, U2’s Oscar-nominated song from Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom debuts this week. Unsurprisingly, the track plays out as a power ballad of sorts, yet there is an element of catchiness to it that I haven’t heard from the Irish band since How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb.
  • Best Case Scenario: We’ve already seen two Top 20 single from the Oscar crop this year, so it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to see “Ordinary Love” crack the Top 50.
  • Worst Case Scenario: It’s performance at the Oscars will lead to a jump on the chart. The question is how small it could be. We’ll say that its lowest possible peak is #85.

Lettin’ The Night Roll” by Justin Moore (#100)

  • Joining Thomas Rhett and Randy Houser in the ranks of artists with minor 2013 country hits, Justin Moore (“Point At You”) tries his luck again in 2014 with his newest single. “Lettin’ The Night Roll” is almost a straight ballad, which contrasts with contemporary country’s unwritten rule that pop radio crossover potential is a must.
  • Best Case Scenario: “Point At You” peaked at #53, and I don’t see this new song going any higher than that. Peaking in the 50s would be a remarkable achievement for “Lettin’ The Night Roll”.
  • Worst Case Scenario: The crowded country presence of 2014 claims another victim, dooming Moore’s single to one week on the chart.

Lorde is clearly the “it” artist on most radio stations right now, so betting against her would be a very foolhardy decision. While I don’t think it will be as big a hit as “Royals” or “Team”, “Glory And Gore” has the potential to become a solid sleeper hit. It also happens to be the highest-quality song among the four songs debuting this week, so that always makes my choice much simpler.

#1 SONGS ON THE GENRE CHARTS

  • POP: Dark Horse by Katy Perry f/Juicy J (#2 on Hot 100)
  • COUNTRY: Chillin’ It by Cole Swindell (#28 on Hot 100)
  • ROCK: Pompeii by Bastille (#6 on Hot 100)
  • ALTERNATIVE: Do I Wanna Know? by Arctic Monkeys (#70 on Hot 100)
  • R&B/HIP-HOP: Happy by Pharrell Williams (#1 on Hot 100)
  • RAP: Timber by Pitbull f/Ke$ha (#10 on Hot 100)
  • DANCE/ELECTRONIC: Wake Me Up! by Avicii (#20 on Hot 100)
  • LATIN: Odio by Romeo Santos f/Drake (#78 on Hot 100)

FINAL THOUGHTS

  1. “Radioactive” and “Sail” continue their record setting runs on the Hot 100. With “Sail” logging its 77th week today, it is now guaranteed that the two songs will retire from the Hot 100 as the two longest-tenured songs in chart history.
  2. The excitement surrounding Sunday’s Academy Awards takes on a new level of excitement with “Ordinary Love” debuting this week. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that 1999 was the last year in which two nominated songs appeared on the chart together. With U2, Idina Menzel and Pharrell Williams sharing chart space this week, that places an astonishing 75 percent of the nominated tunes in the Hot 100. The last time at least three Original Song nominees appeared on the chart at the same time was the 1997 ceremony, when Madonna’s “You Must Love Me” (from Evita), Bryan Adams/Barbra Streisand duet “I Finally Found Someone” (The Mirror Has Two Faces), The Wonders’ “That Thing You Do!” (That Thing You Do!) and Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me” (Up Close & Personal) all charted simultaneously.

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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