Tag Archives: Flo Rida

ADD LIB — Brace For (CHR) Impact (March 21, 2017)

Welcome to Add Lib, a new weekly report on POP! Goes The Charts that’s mad about CHR/Top 40 adds, based on the station data provided by Mediabase 24/7 and Add Board. This week: Dua Lipa hopes that “One” turns into four, Jax Jones and Raye throw shapes, but not “of you”, and Rag’N’Bone Man delivers a ditty with “Human” touch. The way I want to touch you is through a bit of commentary, so be the Tennille to my Captain of these charts, won’t you?

BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DUA: With two top 40 hits to date, and a third top 50 single, the musical marriage of Dua Lipa and the CHR radio panel has been a rocky one, which is a shame. Luckily, they’re still committed, thanks to some commitments for her latest U.S. single, “Be The One”. It’s the Most Added record at the format this week, picking up 31 stations. Lipa is currently on the chart with two of those aforementioned songs, “No Lie” (#47, with Sean Paul) and “Scared To Be Lonely” (#28, with Martin Garrix). The former is headed down, while the latter is moving up. Will this “be the one” that takes her to the top ten and gets her album out? Will programmers keep paying her lip-a service? I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do have high hopes for it.

THE “BEST” OF WHAT’S “GOOD”: With so many artists of different genres continuing to surprise the music world with their crazy collaborations, it’s only fitting that we talk about two additional songs. However, these two pop bops sure have some musical muscle; both songs impact next week, so be sure to watch out for some higher numbers a week from now. Of course, you can check back here and see all the action unfold.

One is G-Eazy and Kehlani‘s duet called “Good Life”, which is new at 23 new stations this week. This is one of the tracks from the upcoming soundtrack to The Fate Of The Furious, with both the album and movie due on April 14. For most of the stations here, it will be the first time a Kehlani single makes it onto their playlist, though the performer has some previous history at the Rhythmic and Urban formats. We’ll see if it can do better than the fourth Most Added slot next week.

The other teams Machine Gun Kelly and Hailee Steinfeld on a song called “At My Best”, which comes in with a slightly higher 25 stations and the second Most Added title. Of course, the rapper is coming off his huge chart-topping hit “Bad Things”, featuring ex-Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello. It spent two weeks at #1 in February. Steinfeld’s collected three top 40 hits of her own since 2015, but it was that third single, “Starving” (with Zedd and Grey), that slowly took her to three non-consecutive weeks at #5 in January. At this point, it has the potential to be next week’s Most Added record, so stay tuned to this blog for more!

JUMPIN’ JAX: 29-year-old producer Jax Jones is largely unknown to a U.S. audience. In fact, his feature on Duke Dumont‘s “I Got U” (#48, 8/17/14) is his sole chart appearance to date. However, that may change soon with the launch of his recent top five single across Europe, “You Don’t Know Me”, which features singer Raye. Upon impact, the song scores 22 adds this week, which is good for the fifth Most Added slot. Jumpin’ Jax flash, it’s a smash smash smash. (Well, I hope it is. I would throw shapes to “Don’t” any time it comes on the radio.) This may turn out to be too risky of a choice for some stations, but I certainly approve it.

HE’S THE MAN: Only one single in this week’s report recently spent six weeks at #1 on my personal chart; needless to say, I’m a little (a lot) biased when it comes to Rag’N’Bone Man‘s “Human”. The massive European hit has already gone to #1 on two radio formats in the U.S., Alternative and Triple A, while it continues to make some moves at Hot AC and CHR/Top 40. At the latter, it’s new at 16 stations, which places it as the eighth Most Added song of the week. In the last decade, we’ve had humanly hits at the pop format from The Killers (#35, 1/18/09) and Christina Perri (#31, 5/18/14). You know, all those singles did much better on my own chart; can somebody make me a gatekeeper already?

MOST ADDED — THIS WEEK’S TOP TEN (ELEVEN)
1. DUA LIPA, “Be The One” (Warner Bros.)
2. MACHINE GUN KELLY featuring HAILEE STEINFELD, “At My Best” (Republic/Bad Boy/Interscope)
3. FLO RIDA & 99 PERCENT, “Cake” (APG/Atlantic)
4. G-EAZYKEHLANI, “Good Life” (Atlantic/RRP)
5-T. JASON DERULO featuring NICKI MINAJ and TY DOLLA $IGN, “Swalla” (Beluga Heights/Warner Bros.)
5-T. JAX JONES featuring RAYE“You Don’t Know Me” (Interscope)
7. STARGATE featuring P!NK and SIA“Waterfall” (RCA)
8. RAG’N’BONE MAN, “Human” (Columbia)
9-T. CALVIN HARRIS featuring FRANK OCEAN & MIGOS, “Slide” (Columbia)
9-T. KYLE featuring LIL YACHTY, “iSpy” (Indie-Pop/Atlantic)
9-T. LORDE, “Green Light” (Lava/Republic)

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RADIO ACTIVE — A Weekly Chart CHRonicle (March 19, 2017)

Welcome to Radio Active, a new weekly report from POP! Goes The Charts that gets to the chart of the matter: highlights from the CHR/Top 40 chart, as published by Mediabase 24/7 and Mediabase Research. Time to store those Shamrock Shakes away until next year; we have to get back to shaking our groove things, bon-bons, tailfeathers and, of course, it off. (Just don’t make me get out that Take 5 CD single I bought at Strawberries with my allowance money when I was ten.) Here’s what’s shakin’ on this week’s pop chart:

ALL ABOUT “YOU”: As I predicted last week, singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran‘s “Shape Of You” holds on at #1 for a fifth week on the pop chart. “Shape” is now the longest-running #1 at the format by a solo male since John Legend’s “All Of Me”. That spent five weeks at #1 (4/20-5/18) in 2014. Just below the top 50 this week is follow-up “Castle On The Hill”, which was reissued to radio when his previous single appeared to be peaking. (“Shape” has since lost its bullet.) Also of note, “Galway Girl”, which is doing quite well in the U.K. and Ireland, spiked at several stations on St. Patrick’s Day following the debut of a lyric video for the song. See, we can root for at least one orange-haired leader nowadays, because it’s common understanding that “Castle On The Hill” trumps Capitol Hill.

This means that ZAYN and Taylor Swift’s “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” stays in the runner-up position for the fourth consecutive week, despite a valiant effort to reach #1. Last year, three songs spent four weeks at #2, with two eventually climbing to the top spot: “Stressed Out” (2/28-3/6) by twenty one pilots, and “Don’t Let Me Down” (6/26-7/10) by The Chainsmokers featuring Daya. So, what missed? That would be “This Is What You Came For” (#2 from 7/24-8/14) by Calvin Harris featuring Rihanna, a single that was co-written by Swift (originally credited as Nils Sjöberg.) Does history repeat itself? Does Zaylor pounce at the pop peak next week? Do I ever stop being so darn inquisitive? Probably not. Anyways, grab a partner and a hairbrush and belt out your best “When You Believe”. We’ll see what happens seven days from now.

TAKE THE “CAKE”: Sources tell us that rapper Flo Rida celebrated Pi Day with some “Cake”, and though it may not be the exact pop pastry for the day, it sure is a sweet one for he and duo 99 Percent. Their collaboration is up from 36-30 on this week’s survey. This hit is taken from the compilation This Is A Challenge, which is essentially a graveyard full of all those viral singles that you knew pop programmers would avoid because the callout was atrocious. (No shade, but shade.) It’s too early to tell what will happen to this entry, but if I were you, I would look for some alternative desserts to indulge in. That being said, I’m not sure we’ll ever have a smash called “Baklava”, but I’ve been wrong before.

Prior to this chart confection, the Average White Band‘s “Cut The Cake” (#34, 6/6 and 6/27/75 R&R) and DNCE‘s “Cake By The Ocean” (#2, 4/10-17/16) were the only CHR cakes to bake in the top 40. Of course, the latter single took 27 weeks in the top 40 to get to its peak of #2, just short of the PPW era record for any single to achieve its highest position: 33 weeks to #9 for “I’ll Be” (10/2/98 R&R) by Edwin McCain. Don’t expect the new “Cake” to be hanging around this bakery for nearly that long.

LITTLE EYE, BIG HIT: The origin of the phrase “I spy with my little eye…” and the accompanying children’s game may not be the clearest, but 23-year-old newcomer Kyle seems to be the current musical master of the concept. The secret is out at radio, as “iSpy” leaps from 43-35 this week. The hit features rapper Lil Yachty, who previously reached the top 40 as a featured act on D.R.A.M.‘s “Broccoli” (#18, 11/13/16). Perhaps this is a good time for me to make my musical debut as Lil Yacht Rock, where I seamlessly rap on fire beats from the likes of DJ Kenny Loggins and Mixmasters Pablo Cruise. Eh, maybe not. Anyways, more of the programming community is bound to keep spying on the action for this one in the coming weeks, as it continues to sell and stream well.

Spies haven’t appeared in top 40 titles for several decades, but perhaps that’s just because they’ve been undercover all this time. The last one to chart was “Spy In The House Of Love” (#22, 12/2-9/88 R&R) by Was (Not Was), which is still a jam, though I also like a bit of “Spies Like Us” (#9, 1/24/86 R&R) by Paul McCartney. Now, back to our musical mission, secret agent men and women…

FREAK OF THE “WEAK”: From Marvelous 3 to a marvelous chart achievement for the Met brothers, pop trio AJR is rising up the chart from 42-38 with “Weak”. It’s their second top 40 hit, and first in nearly three years. “I’m Ready” took a slow ride up to #25 (7/27/14) and probably ruined any good memory you had of watching SpongeBob SquarePants as a kid. (Let’s be fair, the only thing most of us were “ready” for was that song to get pulled and crash.) That being said, it is nice to see the three guys back on the chart. I think “Weak” has some room to grow, especially because a number of major markets aren’t playing it, and a lot of the airplay for it is relegated to the dreaded overnight shift. You know, someone’s gotta work those indies…

A number of tracks in this week’s top 50 share exact titles with previous charting songs, but “Weak” is one that matches a past #1 hit. 24 years ago, another trio, the three ladies known as SWV, took their “Weak” to #1 for four weeks (7/2-23/93 R&R), becoming the biggest song of their career. Of course, this was at a time when the Rhythmic and Top 40 panels were still combined, but it was quite a year for the three women.

WISHING ON A STARGATE: If you read the most recent Add Lib report on Tuesday, you already know that “Waterfall”, by duo Stargate and featuring P!nk and Sia, was the Most Added CHR song of the week. All that radio response allows it to debuts at #47 on this week’s published update. The all-star team could prove to be a major contender for 2017’s Song Of The Summer, even if it’s a little early to start discussing the topic. There’s no comment from TLC or Wendy & Lisa at press time; water they waiting for? It’s sure to be an interesting song to track over the next few months.

Though this is Stargate’s first charting song as a main-credited act, they’ve had plenty of hits as producers and writers. However, this wasn’t always the case. You can always count on me to remember such classics (well, not quite) like Mikaila‘s “So In Love With Two” (#25, 12/22/00 R&R) and Ashley Ballard‘s “Hottie” (#48, 3/30/01 R&R), which were the duo’s first two pop chart entries. We all start somewhere, folks. (Mikaila’s song was actually a pretty big hit on my personal chart, but Ballard’s was not. I was 10 and 11 at the time!)

“PRETTY” YOUNG THING: After millions of plays on Spotify across several singles, and a notable amount of Viral chart success, 18-year-old singer Maggie Lindemann makes her CHR chart debut at #50 this week with “Pretty Girl”. Though the track does not gain in spins from last week, it might have just missed charting if it wasn’t supported by syndicated program Most Requested Live on the past two Saturday night programs. The single is also benefiting from a discount at digital retailers, with week-to-week sales gains for over a month.

The name Maggie appears in a few song titles throughout the decades, most notably 1971’s “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart, but it’s a rare one when it comes to charting singers on the pop survey. Now, that’s not to discourage any of you expecting parents reading the blog right now, but if you are expecting a boy, I highly recommend the name Adam. I’m not biased at all, I promise.

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TURN IT UP TUESDAY: What’s New In Stores This Week (April 7)

Low on a high.

Low on a high.

After a schedule full of crazy colorful Easter eggs last week, the hunt for sweet springtime albums this week falls flat, much like the matzah I’ll be eating until Saturday. Yikes. Here are the albums and singles that are new in stores for the week of April 7:

  • Pop-punk quartet All Time Low have three top ten albums to their credit on the Billboard 200, with Don’t Panic being their most recent in the fall of 2012. The four will be looking for their fourth in a row with Future Hearts. Several instant grat tracks from the record are selling well, including the single “Something’s Gotta Give”, which Hits 1 recently began to play. Look for the effort to debut in the top five. (iTunes)
  • Riding high on the charts with “G.D.F.R” is rapper Flo Rida, and his latest EP out this week is My House. It’s his first big release in just under three years. During that period of time, two of his singles underperformed (2013’s “Can’t Believe It” and followup “How I Feel”) and a planned studio album, The Perfect 10, was delayed several times. (iTunes)
  • Other releases out this week include: Bad Company‘s deluxe reissues of Bad Company (iTunes) and Straight Shooter (iTunes), Brian Wilson‘s No Pier Pressure (iTunes), Cassandra Wilson‘s Coming Forth By Day (iTunes), Delta Rae‘s After It All (iTunes), Kristian Bush‘s Southern Gravity (iTunes), Lord Huron‘s Strange Tails (iTunes), Matt & Kim‘s New Glow (iTunes), Priory‘s Need To Know (iTunes), The Knocks‘s So Classic (EP) (iTunes), Todd Rundgren‘s Global (iTunes) and WATERS‘s What’s Real (iTunes).

New digital-only singles that you can buy this week include:

  • “Chingalinga”, new from Alyxx Dione and Jason Derulo. (iTunes)
  • “Crash And Burn”, a new single from Thomas Rhett. (iTunes)
  • “Sparks”, the new single from Hilary Duff. (iTunes)
  • “Tear In My Heart”, the new single from twenty one pilots. (iTunes)

Newcomer Shawn Mendes has a hot debut on the way next week with his album Handwritten, but how will it do against rock band Halestorm and their Into The Wild Life? A full preview is coming in seven!

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Bringing ’88 Back: A “Fancy” Feast Of Sampled Songs

Flashing back like, totally!

They’re so antsy, you already know.

With huge gains in airplay and sales, it’s easy to see why the new #1 atop the Hot 100 this week is “Fancy” by rapper Iggy Azalea and singer Charli XCX. Despite the inevitable calls that R&B and rap music is being whitewashed (again), it’s quite the achievement for both performers, who each score their first chart-topper on the big list. In turn, Azalea becomes only the fourth female rapper to hit the summit following Lauryn Hill (1998), Lil’ Kim (2001) and Shawnna (2003). Since she’s also featured on the #2 single this week, singer Ariana Grande‘s “Problem”, I’d say she’s having a pretty good year so far and the successes will only continue for her.

In recognition of this story and the song, one line came to mind in the first verse. It’s borrowed from rapper Nas‘s 2003 hit “Made You Look”: “Rooftop like we bringin’ ’88 back.” Of course, this line refers to holding parties up on the rooftop of a building. However, Azalea wasn’t born in 1988 and the song certainly doesn’t date back to then. Luckily, there have been plenty of songs in the past few years that have been “bringin’ ’88 back” through a sample or cover of a prior hit. Even since her first EP release in the summer of 2012, we’ve had these fun flashbacks…

FLO RIDA – “I Cry” (2012)
Sample: “Piano In The Dark”, Brenda Russell featuring Joe Esposito (#6, June)

His songs have sampled everyone from Dead Or Alive to Eiffel 65 to Etta James, so I guess it’s not a surprise that the rapper made it on here. “Piano”, of course, was an unexpected comeback smash for Russell. “Cry” marks a rare case where both a single and the song it sampled climbed to the same peak on the Hot 100; it went to #6 just before Christmas in 2012.

SEBASTIAN MIKAEL featuring WALE – “Last Night” (2013)
Sample: “Nite And Day”, Al B. Sure! (#7, July)

Originally born in Sweden and then based in Boston during his college years, this 24-year-old took on this classic from the New York singer, which also charted as a sample for acts like LL Cool J and P.M. Dawn. Mikael’s debut release went top ten on the Urban chart in December and broke the top 40 at Rhythm radio earlier this year. His current single is “Forever”.

TO BE ONE – “Please Don’t Go Girl” (2014)
Sample: “Please Don’t Go Girl”, New Kids On The Block (#10, October)

This trio of teens from New Jersey has yet to fully break on the pop scene, but with the longtime support of SiriusXM’s two pop channels, Atom Factory recently serviced this to CHR radio to minimal results. Unfortunately, it looks to be over. The original “Girl” put the New Kids on the map with their first of nine top ten hits in a row, all ranking between 1988 and 1990.

MARIAH CAREY – “One More Try” (2014)
Remake: “One More Try”, George Michael (#1, May)

As Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse prepares to debut in the top 3 on the Billboard 200, this remake seems to be a fan favorite from an otherwise troubling era. Carey has a history of bringing ’88 back when it comes to covering songs: in 1999, her take on Brenda K. Starr‘s #13 hit “I Still Believe” (which she originally sang backup on) eclipsed it, going to #4.

When it comes to my 1988 jams, I’ll still take those tunes from Breathe and Johnny Hates Jazz, with an occasional spin of Climie Fisher or Crowded House. That’s just a small sample of my favorites that colored the charts with “Electric Blue”, “Out Of The Blue” and “Pink Cadillac”. What’s your favorite ’88 throwback? Let me know! Comment below or find me on social media by clicking the “Get Social!” tab.

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TURN IT UP TUESDAY: What’s New In Stores This Week (January 21)

Gram bam, thank you, ma'am.

And the winner is…

In the middle of GRAMMY Week on the blog, let’s take a breather to see what’s new in stores this week. After all, the schedule goes on. Here are all the releases you need to know about for January 21:

  • This one is perhaps a little obvious, but the 2014 GRAMMY Nominees compilation is out today. It features top hits from Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry and more, who could all be big winners come Sunday night. Look for it to debut somewhere in the top 5, if not top ten. (iTunes)
  • Here’s a fabulous collection for the Fab Four fan (say that three times fast.) The Beatles release The U.S. Albums collection, featuring all 13 of their Stateside-issued LPs with their original artwork, tracklistings and edits on top of remastered sound quality and more. All 13 are also being rereleased individually. With a hefty price tag, it may not debut the highest, but it sure is a treat. (iTunes)
  • I just reviewed their album last week; now, duo A Great Big World are out with Is There Anybody Out There?, their debut release for Epic Records. It features their hit duet with Christina Aguilera, “Say Something”. Given their newfound coverage, it could surprise on the charts. For now, I’ll say a top ten debut with potential to go higher. (iTunes)
  • Indie rockers Young The Giant are out with their second album, Mind Over Matter, their first since 2010. Lead single “It’s About Time” is currently top ten on Alternative radio. (iTunes)
  • Other albums out this week include Aer‘s Aer (iTunes), Against Me!‘s Transgender Dysphoria Blues (iTunes), Graham Colton‘s Lonely Ones (iTunes), Los Lonely Boys‘s Revelation (iTunes), Mogwai‘s Rave Tapes (iTunes), Scorpions‘s MTV Unplugged (iTunes) and Ty Dolla $ign‘s Beach House (EP). (iTunes)

New digital-only singles that you can buy this week include:

  • “All The Way”, a fresh track from the duo Timeflies. (iTunes)
  • “Blue Moon”, a new single from rocker Beck. (iTunes)
  • “Free/Into The Mystic”, a live medley from Zac Brown Band and Clare Bowen from Nashville. (iTunes)
  • “How I Feel (Remixes)”, a new six-song package from rapper Flo Rida. (iTunes)
  • “Me And Liza”, the latest single from singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright. (iTunes)
  • “Walking On Air”, from former *NSYNC member Lance Bass along with Anise K and featuring Bella Blue and Snoop Dogg. (iTunes)
  • “Who We Are (Remixes)”, a three-song EP featuring the Alternative hit by Switchfoot. (iTunes)

Next week, we’ll see those classic post-GRAMMY sales swings, plus new albums from Casting Crowns, David Crosby and more. See you in seven!

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TURN IT UP TUESDAY: What’s New In Stores This Week (July 30)

Layin' it on Thicke.

Layin’ it on Thicke.

Get ready to take your seat on the soulacoaster because it’s taking you on a smooth ride through the week’s music releases for Tuesday, July 30:

  • His album sales were dropping fast and his singles weren’t gaining nearly as much airplay as in years past… it looked as though Robin Thicke was on his way out, until a little song called “Blurred Lines” gave him his first #1 single ever. Now, parent album Blurred Lines is in stores today and expected to be next week’s top-selling album. How high will the numbers be? Based on how enormously well the single is doing, it may just be his biggest week yet. (iTunes)
  • Featuring the pop hit “Chloe (You’re The One I Want)”, X Factor’s season 2 bad boy trio Emblem3 makes their debut with Nothing To Lose. It will very likely do better than season 2 winner Tate Stevens‘s debut album of a few months ago. (Did I hear a “he had an album out?”) (iTunes)
  • On the topic of boy bands, the Backstreet Boys are back (alright!) with In A World Like This, with the title track being the current radio single from it. This is no Millenium, but you know their core fans will like it. (iTunes)
  • With their first album in three years, Michael Franti & Spearhead return with All People, featuring the single “I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like)”. (iTunes)
  • Legendary blues guitarist Buddy Guy is out with Rhythm & Blues. He released his first album way back in 1965 with the Junior Wells Band. (iTunes)
  • Other albums out this week include Moore Is More by Chanté Moore (iTunes) and Bakersfield by Vince Gill and Paul Franklin (iTunes).

New digital-only singles that you can buy this week include:

  • “Bonfire Heart”, the first single from James Blunt‘s forthcoming album Moon Landing. (iTunes)
  • “Can’t Believe It”, a collaboration between rappers Flo Rida and Pitbull. (iTunes)
  • “Turn The Night Up”, a new single from Latin singer Enrique Iglesias. (iTunes)

In a light release week for the first week of August, duo The Civil Wars may battle for the #1 spot with their self-titled album, or current “Don’t Ya” hitmaker Brett Eldredge could crank that Country sound to the top. We’ll see! A preview is coming in seven.

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Just Got Lucky: Pharrell’s On Fire, But For How Long?

I'm not Frontin'...

I’m not Frontin’…

He’s the man with the Midas Touch, it seems; his producing and featured appearances turn to Gold and Platinum records. 40-year-old Pharrell Williams is back on top of the charts with his involvement on two huge summer singles: “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, featuring he and T.I. (a Williams co-write and production) and “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk, where he is a vocalist and co-writer. Understandably, there have been quite a few calls placed to his office for collaborations: he’s featured on new singles by rappers 2 Chainz and Azealia Banks, plus he’s being put to good use on albums by Jay-Z, Justin TimberlakeMayer Hawthorne, Mike Posner and Miley Cyrus, but that list keeps on growing. For a guy who has been in the industry 20+ years, it’s nice to see that he’s a relevant name in the mainstream once again. Yet, it’s all come very fast, and with the radio release of a song he did for Despicable Me 2, “Happy”, he’s bound to be overexposed down the road. How much is too much and how long can Pharrell maintain this sudden momentum? You decide if this is the real thing or just a summer fling.

I guess what gets me most, and maybe a few other analyzers too, is whether this sudden rise in popularity for this jack-of-all-trades is a performer/producer trend or a genre/sound trend, because the former is a little more stable than the latter, but he’s essentially mixed up in both. I’ve noted above that Pharrell is on a number of current and forthcoming projects that will take him through the end of the year should he play his cards right. This is a set of production, vocal and writing credits, so it’s not just focused in one area of the song. Still, his frequent appearances will ultimately get him compared to other acts like Flo RidaPitbull, and will.i.am, providing the “rent-a-rapper” break for an act whose label is trying to secure a hit. I’m personally hoping that he doesn’t get caught up in this area, because there’s a high potential of backlash to follow. Go on any music message board (or listen to any mainstream radio station) and you’ll see the dozens of cries in disgust when a new single by an anonymous performer is serviced with the (featuring so-and-so rapper) tag. This isn’t the case in every song he has out right now, but you just wait. It could happen.

So, he’s getting more work today. However, there is a second argument that both songs that he’s featured on, “Lines” and “Lucky”, are also influenced by variations of 70’s disco, a specific sound belonging to a previous era. “Lines” is a party jam inspired by Marvin Gaye‘s #1 hit “Got To Give It Up” (1977), while a co-write by Nile Rodgers on “Lucky” automatically brings up Chic with songs like “Le Freak” (1978) and “Good Times” (1979). (His own single, “Happy”, is a Motown copycat.) Besides these songs, there are a few other throwback singles making their way up the charts: “Safe And Sound” by Capital Cities, for example, is very much rooted in the late 70’s new wave scene and could’ve easily been a Devo song, while “Treasure” by Bruno Mars brings you back to the club, reminiscent of Michael Jackson‘s Off The Wall era. This would reinforce the idea that it’s only a trend given that those two songs are hits at multiple formats. It may only last until the end of the season. It also helps that not everything Pharrell is producing is dated; his current single with 2 Chainz, “Feds Watching”, is just that — sounding like it belongs in 2013, not 1979. Case closed?

Not exactly. It’s going to be at least another few months until we can determine which way popular radio has travelled, at least until “Lines” and “Lucky” finish their chart runs. Remember, these things probably won’t be off the air/out of high rotation until probably September or October. It should be pointed out that although these featured appearances have done wonders for Pharrell, he has only managed one top 40 hit as a main-credited artist, “Frontin'”, which peaked at #5 on the Hot 100 in the later summer of 2003. It featured Jay-Z, and while it was huge at Urban radio, it was only a minor crossover at CHR radio. Let’s be honest, it was out ten years ago; you probably barely remember it if at all. His only solo album to date did moderately well, 2006’s In My Mind, but produced no top 40 singles (though a pair did make the Hot 100.) “Happy”, you little soundtrack single… you don’t really have a bright future, I’m afraid, not that Mr. Williams is scoffing when he’s rolling in plenty of dough.

Regardless of what you think of him, the guy’s come a long way from his first musical number, 1992’s “Rump Shaker” by Wreckx-N-Effect. However, with the kind of exposure he’s getting lately and the unfortunate ageism in the industry, radio and retail may just shake him off sooner rather than later, and that’s not very lucky at all.

Let me know what you think about Pharrell, his musicand his resurgence. Comment below or find me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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That’s A Rap: The Obligatory (But Disposable) Rent-A-Rapper Break

You've gotta hand it to 'em.

You’ve gotta hand it to ’em.

You may try to hide from it, but it’s all over the radio. Rap music. The golden age of it may be long gone, but it won’t go away. So, how did the art of spitting a rhyme go from legendary to lackluster? One major reason in today’s music is the mainstream radio rule of the obligatory rent-a-rapper break. You’re listening to a harmless pop song, and then you hear some gruff voice out of nowhere take over, and then it’s back to the original song. Looking for street cred? Rent a rapper. Breaking America? Rent a rapper. Even if your song is perfection, it’s not going to be a hit unless you have a rapper. Why did it have to come to this predictable pattern? Let’s take a look back at how it developed.

The first rap break in a mainstream song was done by Debbie Harry in 1981’s “Rapture” by her group Blondie, toasting about men from Mars and eating cars, etc. As R&B music became more commonly accepted at radio in the mid-80’s, rap breaks appeared again on records like Chaka Khan‘s “I Feel For You”, featuring Grandmaster Melli Mel. By 1986, a movement began in which rappers interpolated other records into their own while they would freestyle over the beat. Run-D.M.C. and Aersomith scored a top-5 hit out of 1986’s “Walk This Way”, and rap trio the Fat Boys managed two top-20 hits, 1987’s “Wipe Out” (chorus by the Beach Boys, what an odd pairing) and 1988’s “The Twist”, featuring the original singer, Chubby Checker. This is when the disposable rap began, at least on the CHR format.

In 1990, two songs went to #1 that included rap breaks, but neither were issued with a rap-free edit. In February, Paula Abdul‘s “Opposites Attract” hit the top with a remixed version featuring two raps credited to the animated MC Skat Kat (vocals by Romany Malco and Derrick Stevens). Then, in July, Hawaiian-born balladeer Glenn Medeiros managed to push an uptempo number to #1, “She Ain’t Worth It”, featuring a rap by Bobby Brown. The latter example seems like a more obvious case of the record label really wanting a hit, but Brown was hot at the time, so, the song took off. Other songs that year that had an optional break for radio include “Alright” by Janet Jackson (added rap by Heavy D) and “Groove Is In The Heart” by Deee-Lite (album version featured a rap by Q-Tip.)

By 1992, the Jacksons struck again. “Jam” by Michael and “The Best Things In Life Are Free” by Janet and Luther Vandross were generally heard with their added rappers on them; Heavy D for the former and Bell Biv Devoe for the latter. (“Best” did have a rap-free edit, however.) With the fall of the CHR format beginning around this time, guest rappers also began to fall out of fashion as mainstream radio turned to alternative rock to balance out the airwaves.

For the last half of the decade, rap breaks came and went, but most remixed singles were heard in their original album versions at CHR. The driving force behind these was superstar Mariah Carey, known more for ballads than R&B material. By 1995, that was changed with the release of “Fantasy”, released with a new version featuring rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard. It went to #1. The following year, “Always Be My Baby” got a remix on behalf of producer Jermaine Dupri, which included rapper Da Brat, hitting #2. The results were more mixed for 1999’s “Heartbreaker”, where the album version featured Jay-Z (an edit without him was issued.) A separate remix also featured Da Brat and Missy Elliott. Though it hit #1 on the Hot 100, it missed the top 20 at CHR radio, continuing a downward spiral for the singer at the format.

Other than Carey, songs like 1996’s “No Diggity” by BLACKstreet featuring Dr. Dre and 1998’s “No, No, No (Part 2)” by Destiny’s Child featuring Wyclef Jean became minor CHR crossovers, but much bigger hits on the Hot 100. The only rock band to experiment with the concept during this time period and succeed was Sugar Ray, who featured reggae singer/rapper Super Fly on their 1997 #1 hit, “Fly”. It wasn’t until the year 2000 that something seemed to click between rap and the teen audience.

It took a boy band out of Canada to reignite the disposable rap for popular radio. “Faded”, the debut hit for trio soulDecision, featured an optional rap break by rapper Thrust. It climbed to #6 on pop radio in October, signaling a new era in boy bandemonium: the rap remix. The Backstreet Boys did it with “The Call”, remixed by The Neptunes in 2001. It didn’t exactly help the song. However, a remix of *NSYNC‘s “Girlfriend” with a rap by Nelly did go top 5 in 2002. By that summer, boy bands were largely off the airwaves save for a few acts, both groups and members gone solo. For example, Justin Timberlake‘s first solo single, “Like I Love You”, which featured a rap break by The Clipse, went top 5 in late 2002.

Once the boy bands got going, the females followed. In 2001, pop group Dream had their second single, “This Is Me”, remixed with added raps by P. Diddy and Kain. The collaborative #1 remake of “Lady Marmalade” with singers Christina Aguilera, Mya and Pink featured a rap break from Lil’ Kim, who was often edited out. Aguilera would use rapper Redman on her 2002 single “Dirrty”. Competitor Britney Spears added Pharell to a remix of her 2002 single, “Boys”. Both were low charters, though the Spears record did worse. One of the more important figures of this era was Jennifer Lopez, who scored two #1 singles in a row with remixes featuring rapper Ja Rule that were played over the album version: 2001’s “I’m Real” and 2002’s “Ain’t It Funny”. Lopez’s next three releases to the format all included rappers. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Other artists to add raps during this period included Joe, Lenny Kravitz and No Doubt, who had two singles: 2002’s “Hey Baby”, featuring Bounty Killer and “Underneath It All”, featuring Lady Saw.

Things slowed down with CHR radio in crisis again, though some singers like Beyoncé and Ciara continually delivered hits with featured rappers between 2003 and 2006. The former scored #1 singles with 2003’s “Baby Boy”, featuring Sean Paul and 2006’s “Check On It”, featuring Slimm Thugg. The latter took “1, 2 Step”, featuring Missy Elliott, to the top in 2005. Lopez’s overuse of the technique proved to be her downfall in 2005; both singles from Rebirth underperformed. Teen singers got in on the action as well to mixed results. JoJo‘s 2004 single, “Baby It’s You”, added a rap by Bow Wow and went top ten. Jesse McCartney‘s 2005 single, “She’s No You”, awkwardly remixed with Fabolous, barely went top 30. Frankie J, The Pussycat Dolls and Usher also saw big hits during this period that included guest raps. Some bands, like Smash Mouth and Sugar Ray, desperately tried to get another hit by featuring rappers at this time, but both flopped. Something tells me you don’t remember 2003’s “You Are My Number One” (with Ranking Roger) and “Mr. Bartender (It’s So Easy)” (with ProHoeZak), respectively.

Rap breaks began to pick up again in mid-2006 just because so many were suddenly going to #1, thanks in part to the second coming of Timbaland. From May until October, four songs dominated that all had a featured rapper/production artist: “Hips Don’t Lie”, by Shakira featuring Wyclef Jean, “Promiscuous”, by Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland, “Buttons”, by The Pussycat Dolls featuring Snoop Dogg and “SexyBack”, by Justin Timberlake featuring Timbaland. Timberlake would also hit #1 later in the year with “My Love”, featuring T.I., for four weeks. This continued in 2007 with hit singles by Fergie and Rihanna. In fact, the former artist’s ballad, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, was reissued in a very unnecessary remix with reggae and rap artist Sean Kingston, which pretty much set the standard for most of the cash-in remixes going forward. This means we’re getting to the point where everybody needed a rap break to get airplay.

By 2008, not only were R&B singers like Ray J and Usher using the trick, but pop acts like Natasha Bedingfield (“Love Like This” with Kingston) and yes, even the Jonas Brothers, were including rappers on songs. Remember “Burnin’ Up”? Well, this continued in force, and then the labels decided that in order for us to suffer more, they would be exporting their already successful British singers into the United States with specially crafted “We need an American rapper on this” remixes. Thus, Jay Sean‘s 2009 single “Down” went to #1 with Lil Wayne tacked on, and Taio Cruz went to #1 in 2010 with “Break Your Heart” featuring Ludacris.

As for the American acts, don’t think they weren’t left out of this. Katy Perry went to #1 several weeks after that with “California Gurls”, featuring a rap by Snoop Dogg, and Usher took “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” to #2 with a rap by Pitbull. Perry’s label noticeably issued digital remixes of many of her songs with added guest rappers in an attempt to secure a record amount of consecutive #1 singles for her. “E.T.”, “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”, and “The One That Got Away” featured Kanye West, Missy Elliott and B.o.B., respectively. The former two went to #1; the last stalled at #3.

Now, Enrique Iglesias, still living off the royalties of “Hero” and his mole, heard these songs one day and I’m sure went “Oye! There’s my comeback hit!” Thus, it was that “I Like It”, featuring Pitbull and “Tonight” with another phoned-in rap by Ludacris both became big hits in 2010 and 2011. (All of Iglesias’s singles since those two have featured rappers, one other with Pitbull.) For some reason, this inspired Justin Bieber to call up his grandfather Luda and ask him for a rap and you could just see the dollar signs shining in his eyes, so Ludacris again was featured on Bieber’s 2011 hit, “Baby”.

Now, every good comeback deserves another one, so the formerly washed-up Jennifer Lopez, then a judge on American Idol, returned with 2011’s “On The Floor” with a familiar face, Pitbull. Three of her next four singles featured rappers, the biggest one being 2012’s “Dance Again”, again with Pitbull. Last year, pop/rock bands began to try again with rapped portions. Maroon 5‘s “Payphone”, with a break by Wiz Khalifa, went to #1. Additionally, “I Like It Like That”, by Hot Chelle Rae and featuring the New Boyz, made the top 20.

So, you’re probably wondering where we are at this point with current singles that utilize a guest rapper. Here’s everything in the current CHR top 50:
#04: Justin Bieber featuring Nicki Minaj“Beauty And A Beat” (no rap-free edit)
#12: Alicia Keys (featuring Nicki Minaj) – “Girl On Fire” (album version without rap)
#22: The Script featuring will.i.am“Hall Of Fame” (international edit without will.i.am)
#23: Justin Timberlake featuring Jay-Z“Suit & Tie” (rap-free edit issued)
#29: Olly Murs featuring Flo Rida“Troublemaker” (international edit without Flo Rida)
#46: Skylar Grey featuring Eminem“C’mon Let Me Ride” (no rap-free edit)

Additionally, one song just below the top 50 features Flo Rida on it: “Say You’re Just A Friend” by Austin Mahone. No rap-free edit is available on that one… yet.

So, as you can see, as much as we may desire them to get off the radio, the overexposed guest rapper who already a dozen hits on his or her own isn’t leaving anytime soon. The concept will always be floated around as a way to get a hit, even if it means selling out for the sake of it. Although it may go out of style for a few years, it always seems to come back around and picks up momentum in no time with the same names on every song. I usually prefer a rap-free version of a song, but that’s just me and my more pop/rock-driven tastes. If you have an opinion on this or if I missed any big examples, let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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SAMPLE THIS: A Match Made In Chart Heaven

Who's crying now?

Who’s crying now?

It’s been a relevant part of our music culture for several decades now: the art of the sample. It makes an artist’s song arrangement sound full while also making the original writer’s bank account look full. Now, I’m not talking about full remakes of a song. Those have largely gone out of fashion (at least on the mainstream surveys) in favor of just taking a part of the original arrangement and sticking it into an entirely new song. Hence, all these sample-heavy songs that have been hogging up the charts for years. Sometimes a new song interpolating an older one will out-peak that sample; at other times, it may be the exact opposite, but what happens when both the sample and the new song constructed with it peak at the exact same position? As you might expect, it rarely happens… but for the first time in 15-and-1/2 years and for the second time ever, it’s occurred in the Hot 100’s top ten.

“I Cry” is the fourth single from Flo Rida‘s 2012 release Wild Ones and several weeks ago, it peaked at #6 on the Hot 100. It’s still at #10 on this week’s survey, but it’s moving down and likely won’t go further than that #6 position. Now, a top ten record with your fourth single is pretty cool; not many artists can achieve that with a first single from an album, but, what makes it even more special is that the song it samples also peaked at #6 on the Hot 100. On the chart dated June 4, 1988, “Piano In The Dark” by Brenda Russell (and featuring Joe Esposito of the vocal group Brooklyn Dreams) hit the same spot before descending the chart. Of course, being the 1980’s, it was out of the top 40 by early July; Flo Rida won’t be out nearly that quick. No word on how either artist feels about the coincidence, but I’m sure they must be intrigued that they’re now a part of an interesting piece of chart trivia.

The only other time this full circle moment has been completed on the Hot 100 was in 1997. It was then that “I’ll Be Missing You” by Puff Daddy featuring Faith Evans and 112, a tribute record to the Notorious B.I.G. who had died several months earlier, debuted at #1 in June and stayed there for eleven weeks. The song samples the biggest hit ever for The Police, “Every Breath You Take”, which spent eight weeks at #1 in 1983. You may remember that Sting joined their crew for a memorable performance on the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards. You think they’ll mind sharing this chart achievement with the Rida/Russell combo? No fighting, kids.

As far as the Hot 100 is concerned, it’s happened one other time outside of the top ten. Last year, Pitbull‘s single from Men In Black III, “Back In Time”, and the song it samples, 1957’s “Love Is Strange” by Mickey & Sylvia, both peaked at #11. (NOTE: You could make a case for “Hippychick” by Soho (1990) and “Southside” by Moby & Gwen Stefani (2001), both #14 singles on the Hot 100, but since the original song sampled by The Smiths, “How Soon Is Now?”, didn’t chart in the States, I’m keeping it out. Plus, I don’t think Moby actually credits either one. It’s blatantly obvious, though. Put a lovely asterisk next to it.)

Since I like to look at the radio charts as well, this particular form of chart action has happened once on the CHR chart tabulated by Radio & Records. In 1988, George Michael hit #1 for four weeks with “Father Figure”. In 1993, P.M. Dawn returned the sample to the top for two weeks with “Looking Through Patient Eyes”. Unfortunately, “Eyes” only hit #6 on the Hot 100. Maybe it was wearing the wrong pair of glasses.

You never know what’s coming next in the world of sampling, so be on the lookout if your favorite song-sampling record comes close to the original’s peak position. It could just end up on this small but mighty list.

For more crazy chart information like you see here, follow the blog and find me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel. Let me know if I missed any examples too!

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If Only… The Christmas Songs Left Off The Record (A Parody)

Wrapper's delight.

Wrapper’s delight.

Your holiday playlist may be filled with lots of Christmas standards, but unfortunately, the A&R department over at Santa’s music HQ didn’t approve these could-have-been classics. Alas, with a little bit of fun and imagination, we can remember these ten songs left on the cutting room floor.

ADELE – “Rudolph Has It”
Off her cancelled Christmas release, 25, this foot-stopper of a track, producer by Ryan Sledder, maybe just have broken up the reindeer when they found out that Rudolph was stalling the sleigh from leaving the North Pole. Bless his nose, he’s really got his head in the clouds, and this one got a head-start at being chopped off the tracklisting.

BRUNO MARS – “It Will Reindeer”
An alternative remix from the film soundtrack to Twlight: Breaking Down, in which the weight of Santa’s sleigh becomes too heavy to handle, this moody track sets the stage for a bummer of a holiday when Dominic The Donkey couldn’t join the lineup in dragging the sled full of toys. If you want a more upbeat track, check out his newest release, a frustrating romp for presents entitled “Locked Out Of Walmart”.

CARLY RAE JEPSEN – “Coal Me Maybe”
With a hit song that was just about as catchy as the common cold, this Christmas remix about a girl who really wants her bad boy elf is enough to send her straight back to Canada. Trust me, it’s not always a good time. Better load up on the medicine.

DEMI LOVATO – “Give Your Hearth A Break”
Lovato had a starring role as a judge on The X Factor this year, but the girl needs to give it a rest with factoring in all the decorating. It’s campier than Camp Rock and that is saying something. She is certainly a Disney girl no more.

FLO RIDA – “Mistle (Toe)”
“Whistle” may have made “Ring My Bell” look tame, but “Mistle (Toe)” is ringing all the bells once again as Flo raps about the holidays in Dade County. Just watch out when the mistletoe is hanging real low, low, low, low. You’ll turn right round and that’ll be something else.

FUN. – “Some Flights”
Ever waited countless hours at the airport for the flight home for Christmas? Listen to these horrible tales from the group of crying children, no leg room and cheap programming on the overhead pull-out television. Most flight attendants, they don’t know any more. Civil War reenactment not included.

GOTYE featuring KIMBRA – “Somebody That I Used To Noel”
Talk about “The Worst Noel”. This duet, with lyrics more loaded than fruitcake, will give you a punch as hard as the three glasses of eggnog you just wolfed down. Yes, they did have to cut you off; at least the tree was trimmed already.

TAYLOR SWIFT – “We Are Never Ever Getting Ugly Sweaters”
Instead of tearing her boyfriends to pieces this holiday season, Miss Swift will have to pull out fiber by fiber her most hated Christmas gift. Even if people don’t know her fashion sense, she’s sure got a whole lot of cents to make up for it.

Bonus cuts:
KE$HA – “Do You Hurl What I Hurl?”
An annual Christmas anthem turned twisted, this hammered hit would’ve quickly compensated for all the radio stations that are dropping “Die Young”. Don’t you wanna hear what the barefoot girl said to the mighty police officer? This song’s about to blow. (I first mentioned this one on a blog last year.)

ROD STEWART – “Da Ya Think I’m Santa?”
He makes a whole album of Christmas songs and he can’t even sing this gem? From the top album of the season, this track, marrying the disco strings of the late 1970’s with a children’s choir, would’ve been the dance hit that ruled the airwaves. Unfortunately, he’ll have to settle for another round of “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” for a few more days. Bah humbug.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this look back at these songs that will never happen, but hey, maybe a little wishful thinking and a letter to ol’ Saint Nick could help the process along a bit. You’ll be seeing many of these titles, in regular form, of course, on my year-end chart, being posted right here on the blog starting tomorrow. Until then, happy shopping! (Merry Christmas, too.)

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