Tag Archives: Mediabase

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 Resarch. 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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RADIO ACTIVE — A Weekly Chart CHRonicle (March 12, 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 Resarch. When we hear the forecast calls for twelve inches of snow, we usually reach for “Girl, I’ve Been Hurt” and “Informer”. So, let’s shovel some song stats into a blizzard of bops that we call our pop radio review:

SHEER IN THE HEADLIGHTS: Singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran is at #1 for the fourth week in a row with “Shape Of You”. This much isn’t strange, right? However, this week is a slightly different one for the chart hit. It ends this particular frame with the largest weekly spin total on a published update in CHR history, accumulating a massive 19,603 spins. That beats the previous record, 19,518 spins on the 7/12/15 chart for “Bad Blood”, performed by Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar. Gee, does that mean he’s no longer a member of Swift’s squad? I guess we’ll see. Of course, the cuts from Sheeran’s Divide are taking over the charts globally, so it won’t be a surprise to see “Shape” back at the top for a fifth week next Sunday.

To put this momentous musical moment in perspective, it was 20 years ago this week that “Lovefool” by The Cardigans was in the top spot on the pop radio chart for its fourth of six weeks. It totaled 6,527 spins from the panel in that seven-day period. Needless to say, I could rant about the major radio companies and PPM, among other things, but I’ll save that for another post. In the meantime, we’ll see if Sheeran eclipses the 20,000 spin mark in the coming weeks. The task is quite difficult at this point, but not impossible.

A PERRY GOOD WEEK: 32-year-old hitmaker Katy Perry pops into the top ten for the 16th time since her 2008 debut with her politically-charged “Chained To The Rhythm”, up a single notch to #10. The hit features newcomer Skip Marley, who has a song at the Alternative and Triple A formats called “Lions”. Perry has eleven #1 songs to her credit on the CHR chart, with an amazing set of seven between 2009 and 2012. Will her latest make it to the top? If it doesn’t, it will take the PPW era record for the song with the most adds in one week (174) that didn’t reach #1. That’s a pretty unfortunate title, so let’s hope it doesn’t happen.

The Perry and Marley collaboration is the first top ten single with a rhythmically-themed title since 1995, when Brazilian singer Olga Souza made her debut as Corona with “The Rhythm Of The Night”. The dance anthem peaked at #8 (1/27/95) on Radio & Records. Overall, there have been twelve such top 40 titles on both R&R and Mediabase 24/7 since 1973.

LONG TRAIN CHARTIN’: Two of the debuts in this week’s top 40 are sung by lead or featured performers that began their CHR chart career in the late 90’s. Chart conductor Pat Monahan and his band Train are headed up the tracks with their tenth top 40 song since 1999. “Play That Song” advances 42-37, marking the group’s first top 40 hit at the format since “50 Ways To Say Goodbye” got to #17 (10/14 and 10/28-11/4/12) just over four years ago. Of course, the group’s made the Hot AC chart several times since that hit, but nothing’s come close to charting here. I think this deserves an upgrade to first class chart trivia, don’t you? Let me know.

At ten top 40 songs, Train becomes the latest San Francisco band to surpass the double-digit threshold, a list that includes bands like Huey Lewis And The News, Journey and more. Don’t stop believin’ in these kids, kids, because they come back with a hit when you least expect it!

MAJOR BEY ALERT: Record producer and professional screamer DJ Khaled claims his fourth top 40 entry on this week’s CHR chart with “Shining”, up 44-39. Though the 41-year-old has been releasing music since 2006, it wasn’t until 2011 that he grabbed his first charting song at the format with “I’m On One” (#32, 9/18/11), which featured Drake, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne. His latest release features married couple Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Jay Z (Sean Carter), giving Knowles her 24th top 40 entry as a solo artist since 2002, and Carter his 26th top 40 hit since 1999. I’m sure the Beyhive will be happy to know about their girl’s latest feat.

As far as a new album, the DJ has anotha one coming later this year, titled Grateful. I’m hopeful that this set will have nothing to do with the Grateful Dead. After all, what would you call a Jerry Garcia song with DJ Khaled yelling all over it? “Touch Of K”? (Don’t make this a reality, please.)

AARON’S CHARTER (COME GET IT): Yes, it’s still 2017, so don’t go breaking out your HitClips and Wonder Balls quite yet. In one of the more bizarre chart events of the year so far, 29-year-old Aaron Carter has his first top 50 entry in just under 15 (!) years with “Sooner Or Later”, debuting at #49 this week. It’s taken from the EP titled LØVË, which was released last month. The tune has a total of 25 million streams and counting on Spotify, which means that Carter himself isn’t the only one hitting the replay button. (I’m looking at you, Nick.)

Despite Carter’s popularity with a young fan base in the late 90’s and early 00’s, CHR radio programmers largely ignored the singer. His only previous chart history at the format was the one week “I’m All About You” spent at #49 (4/5/02) on Radio & Records. You probably shouldn’t hold out for Dream Street or Myra or Play to come back and conquer the pop airwaves anytime soon. (Sorry to burst your bubbles, kids. Hoku, if you’re out there, we need some new jams already!)

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RADIO ACTIVE — A Weekly Chart CHRonicle (March 5, 2017)

CHR/Top 40 Chart - March 5, 2017

Welcome to Radio Active, a new weekly report on 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 Resarch. The kids say it’s lit. I say, “Yeah, but “My Own Worst Enemy” only reached #29 at the format in 1999.” Anyways, enough with the dad jokes; let’s see who’s fathering new top 40 hits and achievements this week:

THE GREAT DIVIDE: If you haven’t heard Ed Sheeran’s latest album, ÷ (Divide), it might be time to Ed-ucate yourself. You’ll be sure to see it at the top on the albums listing next week. Meanwhile, Sheeran schools the competition as far as this week’s CHR/Top 40 chart goes, holding at #1 for the third straight week with “Shape Of You” (Atlantic). It’s already eclipsed the one frame that “Thinking Out Loud” spent at the top, which occurred this week in 2015. This week’s #2 song, “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)” (RCA-Republic) by ZAYN & Taylor Swift, is still about 2,100 spins away from “Shape”, which is quite the gap. A fourth week at #1 should easily be achievable, unless the state of spins drastically changes in the next few days.

Ten songs from ÷ are currently in the top 100 on iTunes in the U.S., and fifteen are in the top 50 on Spotify. Needless to say, that’s a whole lot of Ed. Is it too early to start the Grammy buzz? The two-time winner is due for a few more awards, which sounds like a real possibility.

BIG GETS BIGGER: When it comes to taking L’s, I’m pretty sure I heard The Motels singing about it first. Rapper Big Sean was a few years away from being born when that song became a minor hit on the U.S. charts, but he’s had plenty of success (and, likely, plenty of motel stays) in the last few years. His latest CHR hit, “Bounce Back” (GOOD/Def Jam), advances 28-24 this week. It’s his highest-charting main-credited single at the format, besting the #27 peaks of 2012’s “Dance (A$$)”, featuring Nicki Minaj, and 2015’s “I Don’t F**k With You”, featuring E-40.

Wondering about the biggest Seans, Shauns and Shawns in pop chart history? Artists (in chronological order) like Shaun CassidyShawn Mullins, Sean Carter (Jay-Z), Sean Combs (P. Diddy), Sean PaulJay Sean and Shawn Mendes have all spent time at the top. Moral of the story: Big Sean isn’t the biggest Sean, but he’s not the smallest Sean, so perhaps he’s actually Average Sean? I’ll report back with more details as they come. (For the record, it took 28 L’s to complete this part of the report.)

HOW GREAT THOU CHART: Joy to the world, the Lorde is coming back to smash the charts with her latest single, “Green Light” (Lava/Republic). It zooms into the countdown at #25, while also instantly impacting at the Alternative (#29) and Hot AC (#31) formats. In a rush hour full of records, that’s pretty good. This is the New Zealand performer’s fourth top 40 hit on the CHR/Top 40 chart. Check back on Tuesday for the radio adds recap to see if Lava’s current high-water mark for impact weeks is “bent” out of shape. Either way, it has the potential to be the Most Added song at the format.

“Green Light” has unexpectedly become a popular top 40 title in the last decade: John Legend and Andre 3000 took their entry (GOOD/Columbia) to #20 in March 2009, while a Pitbull song (credited as “Greenlight”, Mr. 305/Polo Grounds/RCA) from last year, featuring Flo Rida and LunchMoney Lewis, peaked at #23 in November.

“SOMETHING” TO TALK ABOUT: Forgive me, Queen Bonnie Raitt, your song is far more iconic than what I’m about to speak of. (ahem) There have been a number of collaborations hitting CHR playlists recently, and one of the most unexpected comes from EDM duo and selfie aficionados The Chainsmokers and rockers Coldplay. Their musical moment together, “Something Just Like This” (Disruptor/Columbia), leaps from 42-26, while the duo’s “Paris” lifts 7-6. Those would be the fifth and sixth hits for the two American guys. This is also the British group’s twelfth top 40 hit at the format since 2001’s “Yellow”. Their biggest single to date, “Viva La Vida”, peaked at #11 in September 2008.

Though I haven’t yet decided on The Coldsmokers or Chainplay as their portmanteau, I am open to opinions and other name suggestions. Is broldplay a genre yet? Oh, I should stop? Alright, moving on…

FROM MY ZEDD TO MY CHART: Hey, someone has to remember that Evan & Jaron had top 40 singles beyond “Crazy For This Girl”. The two brothers had a short stay on the pop chart between 2000 and 2002. However, as far as the new single called “Stay” (Def Jam-Interscope), Zedd and Alessia Cara go “The Distance” (see what I did there?) and soar from 46-27 this week. Expect the song to reach the top 20 soon. This is the first collaboration from the Russian-German DJ/producer and the Canadian singer, and something tells me that it won’t be their last.

This is the ninth top 40 hit in Radio & Records/Mediabase history called “Stay”, which includes titles by Jackson Browne (#19, Aug. 1978), Shakespear’s Sister (#5, Sep. 1992), Eternal (#6, Feb. 1994), Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories (#1, Aug. 1994) and Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko (#1, Apr. 2013).

NEW IN THE MIX: After “Shout Out To My Ex” was pulled prematurely from the pop airwaves, to the shock and horror of Mixers around the Twitterverse, pop quartet Little Mix is back on the CHR airwaves with “Touch” (SYCO/Columbia). It, well, touches down at #49 this week. The group continues to struggle at U.S. radio, even as they score their fifth top 50 entry since 2013. (By comparison, they’ve had 15 singles reach the top 20 in the U.K. since their debut in 2011, plus additional charting album cuts and collaborations.) Let’s hope that their latest excursion in pop paradise yields larger than Little results.

Feeling our way through some touchy tunes, we’ve had six top 40 songs using the word (or a variant of it) in their titles since 2000, including two #7 hits: “Everytime We Touch” (Robbins Ent.) by Cascada (Apr. 2006) and “Touch My Body” (Island/IDJMG) by Mariah Carey (Apr. 2008). Of course, we’ve also heard a touch of The Bloodhound Gang (#22, Mar./Apr. 2000), Fall Out Boy (#32, June 2006), The Veronicas (#12, Feb. 2009) and Trey Songz featuring Nicki Minaj (#37, Nov. 2014).

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The Big Picture: A Snapshot Of Timeless Titles

Taking a survey selfie.

Taking a survey selfie.

Singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran has been burning up the pop radio chart in the last year with three top ten hits in a row, like his recent #1 titled “Thinking Out Loud”, which spent a week at the top back in March. His latest single, “Photograph”, is now firmly in the top 20 on the CHR chart, which will likely become official on Sunday night. Interestingly enough, this means that this title has now placed in the top 20 at the format in four decades, a pretty impressive feat given all the titles that enter at any time. It’s not the only one to have accomplished this rare occurrence, however; there are, at least, two others from the data that I’ve been able to sift through. So, grab your camera and look at this through the chart lens, starting with the latest combination:

(Statistics are based on the combined archives of Radio & Records and Mediabase.)

“Photograph”, Ringo Starr (#1 for three weeks, November 1973)
Though not Starr’s first solo hit, it was his first of six (and the biggest of them) to reach R&R’s airplay survey during the 1970’s.

“Photograph”, Def Leppard (#16, April-May 1983)
This group from Sheffield debuted during what was dubbed the Rock 40 era. Their final CHR hit was “Promises” (#33) in 1999.

“Photograph”, Nickelback (#3, November 2005)
Love them or hate them, the four rockers from Alberta had many big singles, including this leadoff from All The Right Reasons.

“Photograph”, Ed Sheeran (#20 +, June 2015)
Of course, Sheeran’s fourth single from X is still bulleted and bound to go further up the CHR listing. It is also top 15 at Hot AC.

So, what other titles were able to land four top 20 entries in four decades? For starters, these two…

“HOLD ON”
70’s: “Hold On” by Ian Gomm (#16, October 1979)
80’s: “Hold On” by Santana (#8, October 1982)
90’s: “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips (#3, June 1990) /  “Hold On” by En Vogue (#11, July 1990) / “Hold On” by Jamie Walters (#4, April 1995)
00’s: “Hold On” by Good Charlotte (#16, February 2004)

“LET’S GO”
70’s: “Let’s Go” by The Cars (#8, August 1979)
80’s: “Let’s Go!” by Wang Chung (#5, March 1987)
00’s: “Let’s Go” by Trick Daddy featuring Twista and Lil Jon (#11, December 2004)
10’s: “Let’s Go” by Calvin Harris featuring Ne-Yo (#6, August 2012)

There are a few other titles that have landed four top 40 entries in four decades or four top 20 entries with the aid of a Hot 100 peak, like “Angel”, “Dreams”, “Happy”, “Hey Baby”, “Love Song”, “Stay”, “Without You”, etc. With that said, one of these could come back when we least expect it and alter the list above. We’ll see. In the meantime, if I’ve missed a song title or you just want to chat about the charts, comment below or click on the “Get Social!” tab above to find PGTC on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks!

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“Reaching For The Stars”: The History and Future of the Countdown Show

The hits from host to host.

The hits from host to host.

“Listen to the countdown; they’re playing our song again.” That’s a line from the 1979 #1 hit by M, “Pop Muzik”. If you were alive then, you probably heard that song a lot, but at least a few times listening to a countdown show. Give that line to any current-day star to sing and your average teen listener wouldn’t know what they were talking about. “A countdown show? Isn’t that what my mom used to listen to?” Unfortunately, for most of us chart fans out there, a music countdown show that can clearly tell you what song is at what position on the national scene is nothing but a memory, but it didn’t have to be that way.

Let’s go back to 1970. Two men came together in Hollywood to make a weekly three-hour radio show that played all forty songs at the top of Billboard’s Pop Singles (later Hot 100) list. It debuted on the July 4 weekend: American Top 40, hosted by Casey Kasem, co-created with Don Bustany. It started on a handful of stations and for the first few years, and wasn’t generating enough revenue to keep it afloat. Yet, it was the combination of the popular songs with a host who was more like a storyteller that kept people tuning in every week. You would hear tidbits about your favorite artists that you never knew before (and couldn’t find on Wikipedia nowadays either.) Plus, the show added an interactive element in that listeners could write in to have their music questions answered or send in a Long Distance Dedication (beginning in 1978) to someone who meant a lot to them. The show eventually expanded to four hours in October 1978  and that’s where it remained, still popular and giving stations the needed listenership they desired while entertaining the audience of several nations. In 1980, a weekly half-hour video program based off it, America’s Top 10, hosted by Kasem, became syndicated.

Of course, the knockoffs began in stride, though most didn’t come until almost a decade afterward. Remember Countdown America, hosted by John LeaderRockin’ America Top 30 Countdown, hosted by Scott ShannonThe National Music Survey, hosted by Dick Clark? Top 40 Satellite Survey, hosted by Dan Ingram? Some of the names are probably familiar to you, like the late multi-talented Clark, or Shannon, who is the morning DJ at WPLJ-FM in New York City. Only one non-AT40 show from that era managed to stay on the air to this day: Rick Dees and his Weekly Top 40, which debuted in 1983. A few versions are syndicated each week, and you still can’t hear “Disco Duck” on any of them. Yet, somehow, Kasem and his countdown managed to stay ahead of the competition.

By 1988, Kasem was in contract disputes with ABC Watermark and they let him go, hiring Shadoe Stevens to replace him. If you’re a late night fan, you’d probably recognize him as the voiceover artist behind The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Stevens brought a different delivery to the show, but he had an eagerness and enthusiasm to do the countdown every week, though he did have his share of critics. However, he kept with routine of relaying interesting stories and facts about the artists and added some new features as time went on, like a flashback and a sneak peek segment, where the top new song added to CHR radio that week was highlighted. Plus, he had a Whiplash Acrobatic Ensemble. It’s not like anyone else is going to recognize their staff as that. While he did that, Kasem headed to Westwood One to host Casey’s Top 40, which was AT40 with a few minor tweaks: the Long Distance Dedication, which remained with Stevens, became known as a Request & Dedication with Kasem, and the chart source changed. Stevens counted down the Hot 100; Kasem took on the Radio & Records chart, which Dees was also using on his show. In 1992, Kasem began an AC-based show, Casey’s Countdown, and in 1994, a Hot AC show, Casey’s Hot 20.

Long story short: Stevens changed chart sources a few times after the Hot 100 changed its formula (which had a positive effect on rap records), his input on the show was diminished in later years (not his fault) and he was off the air in the States by the summer of 1994, replaced with Dees. However, American Top 40 still aired internationally until January 1995, when it was cancelled entirely and replaced with the World Chart Show. Yes, even though it celebrated a 40th anniversary back in 2010, the name was technically off-the-air for three years and change until March 1998, when Kasem jumped back from Westwood One to AM/FM (later Premiere Radio Networks) to host the countdown that was originally his. Westwood One planned to stop him with a show called Top 40 Countdown, hosted by either David Perry or Jeff Wyatt, both regional disc jockeys, but it never materialized as a full, weekly show. Kasem hosted AT40 until January 3, 2004 and his AC and Hot AC shows until July 4, 2009, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s where this story should have ended.

By November 2003, most of the radio industry knew that Kasem was being replaced by the host of American Idol, Ryan Seacrest. In fact, Seacrest guest-hosted AT40 in the fall of 2003, which showed him as a pretentious punk who wasn’t committed to making a serious effort. It was bad. So, come January 10, 2004 (yes, he’s entering his tenth year hosting this weekend), this disaster had to take the air. The imaging was updated, the chart source changed so that older songs re-entered the survey, sound bites were added and there was little chart information presented. Basically, it was a chart fan’s worst nightmare, and Seacrest seemed so smug about it. A “thank you” message to Kasem on the first show was followed with a remark that he if kept talking the way he did, he would “cry” in the same way that he did at some “love story movies,” said in gest. Really? A month after this aired, Seacrest replaced Rick Dees as the morning man at KIIS-FM in Los Angeles for “On Air With Ryan Seacrest”, where he has been since. That was hinted at in his first AT40 episode when he name-checked KIIS-FM disc jockeys in some off-the-script comments. It chugged along, gaining more international affiliates while simultaneously putting even more of a focus on celebrity rather the music, because obviously a long-standing music countdown really needs pre-recorded interviews to make it work. The chart itself was also two weeks behind the national statistics, which still happens today, and also shows what little effort is put in to make the music selections actually match the data out there. Did I mention they’ve played the wrong versions of songs for their entire run on?

The show’s gone from bad to worse since Seacrest’s morning show began airing daily on Clear Channel stations in 2008, who decided that as a cost-cutting measure, they should crush the dreams of talented enough people by filling the air for four hours a day with a satellite-delivered show. Perfect sense. All the interviews on American Top 40 are now cut and paste straight from that in order to fill time that doesn’t see Seacrest plugging his latest Kardashian family spinoff or contests on his website with some sponsor he’s partnering with. I mean, you actually want to air them again? Nobody listened to them in first place, so force them down a second time. Again, perfect sense. In a move several years ago, the radio company made AT40 a market exclusive in those stations with a CC-owned CHR or Hot AC station; thus, many long-running affiliates lost the show entirely. As of 2012, the main tagline used in the opening bumper of the show is now “the stars, the sleaze, and the hits”, which basically shows how much of an emphasis the show puts on the music countdown part of it if the music part has to come last. Oh, by the way, it’s referred to as “On Air With Ryan Seacrest on American Top 40” in some tags, as if he and corporate went in one day and were like, “we have to dumb this thing down even further so people know it’s the same damn show.” It’s a joke. It’s like his purposely taking the piss on himself. The problem is that people don’t care about it. It’s not like a snarky tweet is going to do anything. We need action, not empty promises, and we’re at the point that this show is so far removed from its original intent that it should just go off the air, but it won’t.

Thus, the future of the countdown. I’m guessing that this will be the last year for the Dees countdown on the radio. It would be fitting simply for the fact that the Weekly Top 40 marks its 30th anniversary in the fall of this year and it would be a nice sort of way to go out. It’s not like I would be surprised if this didn’t happen, but the guy’s lost a lot of affiliates and isn’t hosting a morning show anymore. He’s had a good run, but he’s been running on the same tired material for years; time to think about packing it up. Most of the subsidiary countdowns, like the ones hosted by Hollywood Hamilton and Nick Cannon, will probably be gone in the next few years. They generally air in small markets anyways. All the country ones are safe: Kix Brooks, Lon Helton, Bob Kingsley, etc. Even the Atrocity Top 40 will be on until 2015; that’s when Seacrest’s contract with Clear Channel is up, but you’re probably going to see that renewed along with his expanded deal with NBC. Don’t get me started on how made television a steaming pile of mindless crap too.

So, am I unfairly targeting Seacrest as the scapegoat? Yes and no. Some of these changes to American Top 40 were more of a corporate decision, but since he’s a step away from owning the Clear Channel company, he would have to approve most of them. The writers can’t do anything substantial because it’s probably at the point where Seacrest does his talk breaks in one-half hour on a Monday morning before pitching another reality show. It’s not like the producers can help it either when they have so little to work to with. I’m not in his target audience, I realize that. Am I frustrated that I could never host American Top 40? Well, duh, the traditionalist in me would have set it straight in a way that honored Kasem’s legacy rather than turning into a gossip show that can’t even stand on its own without being umbrellaed under another name. My personal top 40 was inspired from sitting on the floor of my room on Sunday morning listening to Kasem’s broadcast on the radio, but this doesn’t count in the real world. The countdown show of yesterday has been gone for the years, and the “countdown show” of today is slowly crawling towards its death. I can’t say for sure when it’ll end, and when it does, I doubt many people are going to notice. As much as I would love someone to come and start a countdown revolution (I would write and record the whole thing if I could) it’ll never happen, and you’ll still never know where your favorite song is on the chart because the artist, title and position were never announced.

Between the changing chart sources, music genre shifts, and a host who prefers breaking celebrity stories instead of breaking new artists, much has gone wrong with respect to the top-40 countdown. Thus, it’s too late to repair for the next generation. If you must, listen to the old Casey Kasem shows and relive the nostalgia of what was the perfect balance of music and trivia and not the current-day schlock. When Kasem said to “keep reaching for the stars,” Seacrest, he didn’t mean the ones you see in the press. Goodness.

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