Now that the summer has ended, and the Black Eyed Peas have reached the half-year mark at the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100, it’s time to start thinking about who could knock them off. While looking for insight on which artists could achieve this heretofore-impossible feat, I ran across a Newsweek blog post that was seemingly written by someone who hasn’t really looked at a copy of Billboard in months—i.e., a dude who really thinks that Mariah Carey’s D.O.A. cover of Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is” is going to burn up the charts, despite it sounding not so much “radio ready” as it is “ready for a time-travel trip to a 20th-century dentist’s office.” To clear things up a bit, Idolator’s resident chart expert Chris Molanphy and I took some IM time and tried to figure out which artists realistically had a chance of knocking off the Peas. Lady GaGa? Jason DeRulo? Britney? Nobody??? Our thoughts, after the jump.
Chris Molanphy: OK, so if we’re recording this for posterity I guess we should establish a couple of things…
Chris Molanphy: 1. the Peas, contrary to the NW article, have not “beat back potential chart-toppers by…Katy Perry and Shakira.” those songs were never, never remotely close to the upper reaches. It’d be like a movie critic wondering why 500 Days of Summer was “beat back” by Transformers
maura johnston: hahahaha.
Chris Molanphy: and 2. the name of the game here is finding a song that lines up blockbuster iTunes sales plus at least Top 10-level airplay
Chris Molanphy: Miley, for example, has had the former but not the latter. I mean, here it is nearly 2 mos. after “PitUSA” dropped on iTunes, and the song’s *just now* approaching the Hot 100 Airplay top 10
Chris Molanphy: No. 12 last week, to be exact — lower than everything fm “Use Somebody” to The-Dream’s “Throw It in the Bag.”
Chris Molanphy: short history: the reason the Peas have been No 1 this long has been one of the weirdest mismatches of sales and airplay among the songs in the top 10 — i.e., the competitors to “Gotta” — that I’ve ever seen.
Chris Molanphy: for example, let’s take Taylor’s “U Belong w/Me.” Here’s a song that has 2 handicaps against it, topping-Hot-100-wise: it’s a country crossover track, and it’s not going to get a lick of R&B/HH airplay
Chris Molanphy: somehow, *miraculously* this song manages to reach the top of H100 Airplay — it’s the most-played song in the country, across all genres
Chris Molanphy: this is not only rare for a country track, as I wrote 2wks ago — it’s rare for any song by a white female. Such songs’ airplay hits in gradual waves, whereas R&B/HH songs get all their current-radio airplay in one fat burst, fm Beyonce to BEPs to Drake
Chris Molanphy: but she’s not a threat to BEPs at No. 1, bec. the song has never done more than, say, 110-120K a week digitally
Chris Molanphy: we seem to have reached a point where the formula to top the Hot 100 is, v. roughly, this:
Chris Molanphy: U need a fat iTunes total, in a threshold of at least 180K copies; 200K-plus is better
Chris Molanphy: and U do actually need airplay, but it doesn’t need to be massive — just big enough to matter
Chris Molanphy: Miley’s single proves it isn’t all about iTunes; that song’s been no 1 digitally at least 3-4 weeks (off & on) since August
Chris Molanphy: yet her airplay until v. recently has been so anemic that she couldn’t get past No. 2
Chris Molanphy: to get to No. 1 with sales alone and only modest airplay (e.g. Kelly Clarkson’s “Life Would Suck” last winter, where her radio was light the first month but her sales were so massive it didn’t matter) U have to roll an iTunes total in the high 200s
Chris Molanphy: Miley’s never done that
maura johnston: this is true. i wonder how britney’s ‘3′ will sell
maura johnston: it’s all over z100
Chris Molanphy: yeah, that’s a good pick. one week of 200-300K-level sales, and she could vault to No. 1, same as “Womanizer” 1 yr ago
Chris Molanphy: if Jive is smart, they will do *exactly* what they did w/”Womanizer” in fall 08: let the Z100s play it enough to make an airplay-only debut in the next week or 2, then drop the iTunes download just before Halloween and watch the song fly to No. 1 [ed. note: it apparently drops at iTunes tomorrow]
Chris Molanphy: still, that means we’re looking at an early-Nov trip to the top — I suspect Peas will wilt before then
Chris Molanphy: out of the songs the Newsweek piece cites, the only plausible candidate is Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi”
Chris Molanphy: when I saw the perf on SNL, I thought, soundbooth issues aside, this should give the song a big boost on iTunes
Chris Molanphy: but it hasn’t, really — nothing has like the VMAs perf did
maura johnston: yeah, it’s only no. 5
Chris Molanphy: if it were No. 1 at iTunes now, then we’d be talking
Chris Molanphy: like Miley, the Gaga song needs more radio: it’s up to 17th on H100 Airplay, which is good for this song, but it needs to be Top 10 if she’s not going to be rolling 180K-200K in downloads
Chris Molanphy: no, the track to watch is Jason DeRulo’s “Whatcha Say”
maura johnston: that’s what i think too
Chris Molanphy: last week it scored the Greatest Gainer – Digital award on the H100
Chris Molanphy: it was up 20% to 158,000 copies
Chris Molanphy: he’s approaching that magic sales threshold
Chris Molanphy: he was up to 11th in airplay last week, meaning he’s getting more play than Miley, among others
maura johnston: right
Chris Molanphy: I think it might take him 2 weeks to get to the penthouse, if he’s ever going to do it — but it’s starting to look plausible
Chris Molanphy: it’s a timing thing — sales & airplay are picking up in tandem, at just the right moment
Chris Molanphy: it’s what should’ve happened to Drake over the summer — I don’t adore “Best I Ever Had,” but he got robbed on the H100
Chris Molanphy: that was a No. 1 airplay record — for weeks! over a month, I think — and his sales were always in the mid-100Ks
Chris Molanphy: he had the misfortune to peak at the very moment “Gotta” dropped and was rolling 200K-plus a week
Chris Molanphy: one week of sales over 180K, and if he’d times it for when “Boom Boom Pow” was starting to wilt, he totally would’ve had a week at No. 1
Chris Molanphy: DeRulo’s track is not as explosive as Drake’s was back in June, but like I said, he’s peaking at the right time
Chris Molanphy: As for Jay-Z, he’s got a competing-singles problem
Chris Molanphy: “Run This Town” is massive at radio — already ranked 4th — but it’s not what peeps are buying anymore
Chris Molanphy: “Empire State of Mind” is selling well but not well enough, and it still has a whole football field to gain at radio (56th last week in airplay)
Chris Molanphy: that was a debut on the airplay list, to be fair, but he’s got too far to travel
maura johnston: i guess it’s tough to make a song about new york go national
Chris Molanphy: oh word
Chris Molanphy: there are scads of “City” songs that have gone to No 1 over the years (”Summer in the…” “Hot Child in…” “We Built This…”) but I can’t think of any with New York in the title
Chris Molanphy: remember how radio loved that Starship travesty in ‘85 because they could edit in their own city’s call letters and traffic report?
maura johnston: haha. yes!
Chris Molanphy: No Chitown station is going to play “Empire State of Mind” in power rotation
Chris Molanphy: it’d be like playing Yankees propaganda
Chris Molanphy: one other point I should’ve made off the top before predix…
Chris Molanphy: there have been several weeks of BEPs at No. 1 where they haven’t had the No. 1 seller or radio track — and right now, interestingly, they don’t have *either*
Chris Molanphy: what they’ve done all summer is roll numbers that are consistently strong enough
Chris Molanphy: I don’t think “Gotta” has ever sold less than 170ish-K in a week, even in weeks where Miley or Jay-Z outsold it
Chris Molanphy: and early in its No. 1 run, Drake was outplaying them at radio — but it didn’t matter
Chris Molanphy: BTW, any idea why Owl City’s “Fireflies” is selling so phenomenally?
Chris Molanphy: was it in a TV episode?
maura johnston: no idea. you’ve heard it right? they’re like a christian postal service
Chris Molanphy: I know
Chris Molanphy: I actually had to make sure it wasn’t Gibbard singing
Chris Molanphy: but I mean, No 3 at iTunes? there has to be a deus ex machina to explain how that’s happening
maura johnston: no idea
maura johnston: maybe this? “The video for “Fireflies” is getting support at VH1 and MTV! YOU can help Owl City gain placement in the countdown by voting for “Fireflies.” Just follow the links!”
Chris Molanphy: a-HA!
Chris Molanphy: no H100 airplay appearance yet. it’ll probably make a big move toward the Top 10 next chart on sales alone, but w/no airplay they can’t reach the Top 5
Chris Molanphy: i mean, to quote Lisa Lisa, “possible but I doubt it”
Chris Molanphy: so basically, I think where we’ve come out on who evicts the Peas is: short term, it’s either DeRulo or Gaga, but they each need a couple of weeks. Medium-term, probably Britney
Chris Molanphy: OH WAIT — one more dark horse: Alicia Keys’ “Doesn’t Mean Anything”.
Chris Molanphy: actually, no…
Chris Molanphy: I forgot, that has dropped at iTunes already
Chris Molanphy: and it isn’t doing much biz
Chris Molanphy: so scratch that
Chris Molanphy: I forgot to mention “Down” by Jay Sean — stands about as much a chance as Gaga, I think.
Chris Molanphy: huge airplay, solid sales — but it seems stuck at a digital ceiling below 150K
Chris Molanphy: if it could somehow see its way to >170K in sales, he could overtake the Peas easily
Chris Molanphy: but I don’t see that happening
Who Will Bump Off the Black Eyed Peas? We Got a Feeling It Could Be Miley. [Pop Vox]
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