Chart Watch

Week Ending Jan. 9, 2011: Songs: Another Taboo Falls

Chart Watch

This week's Hot 100 includes two songs that feature in their titles what we used to gingerly call "the F word." P!nk's "F****' Perfect" re-enters the chart at #57. It joins Cee Lo Green's former top 10 hit "F**k You (Forget You)," which rebounds from #22 to #21. And that doesn't even count "Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)" by Enrique Iglesias featuring Ludacris, which holds at #6 for the second week. I'm sure you can guess what the edgier version of that song is titled.

Another song on this week's Hot 100 reminds us that it's not 1955 anymore. My Darkest Days' "Porn Star Dancing" re-enters at #98. Two songs on Hot Digital Songs also make the point: Rihanna's "S&M," which jumps from #195 to #138, and Lil Wayne featuring Drake's "Gonorrhea," which drops from #136 to #162.

There's another fairly forward lyric on the Hot 100, but this one is played for laughs. "I Just Had Sex" by the comedy troupe the Lonely Island (featuring Akon) drops to #53, after peaking at #30 two weeks ago. Andy Samberg and company performed the song on Saturday Night Live on Dec. 18.

What was the first song that included the "F word" in its lyric to become a hit? John Lennon's "Working Class Hero," a track from John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, received a lot of airplay in 1970, though it was never released as a single.

Prince's "Erotic City," which was the B side of his #1 hit "Let's Go Crazy," also received widespread airplay, despite its racy line "We can f*** until the dawn." Some insist that he's really singing "We can funk until the dawn." I tend to doubt that, but I'll leave it to you to decide.

N.W.A. included "F*** The Police" on its landmark 1989 debut album Straight Outta Compton, though the title was spelled out without any asterisks. Eminem bubbled under the Hot 100 in 1998 with "Just Don't Give A F***," a track from his debut album, The Slim Shady LP. R&B singer Eamon made the top 20 in 2004 with "F**k It (I Don't Want You Back)." It was his first and only Hot 100 hit. (Where do you go from there?)

"F**k You (Forget You)" has been listed in the top 30 for 16 straight weeks. It has sold 1,810,000 digital copies to date and is a Grammy finalist for both Record and Song of the Year. While the title pushes the envelope, the record is so good-natured that even those who frown at the coarsening of popular culture probably can't resist its charms.

Bruno Mars' "Grenade" returns to #1 on the Hot 100 after being dislodged last week by Katy Perry's "Firework." The two songs have traded the #1 spot back and forth over the course of the past four weeks. Silvio Pietroloungo, Billboard's Director of Charts, notes that it's the first time that two songs have alternated holds on the #1 spot over four weeks since "Live Your Life" by T.I. featuring Rihanna traded spots with Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" in December 2008.

"Grenade" is Mars' third hit to spend two or more weeks on top, following B.o.B's "Nothin' On You" (two weeks) and "Just The Way You Are" (four weeks). This is the fourth straight week that "Grenade" has sold more digital copies than any other song. It sold 275,000 copies this week, bringing its 16-week total to 2,335,000.

"Firework" slips to #2 after a total of four weeks on top. The song owes most of its appeal to its turbo-charged dynamics, but it has a killer opening line: "Do you ever feel like a plastic bag/drifting through the wind..." It's Perry's second song in a row to start off with a memorable line. "Teenage Dream" opened with "You think I'm pretty/without any make-up on." Perry and her army of songwriters understand that you've got to grab listeners at the start.

"What's My  Name?" by Rihanna jumps to #1 in the U.K. this week. The smash topped the Hot 100 in November. It's Rihanna's fourth song to reach #1 in both countries, following "Umbrella (featuring Jay-Z), "Take A Bow" and "Only Girl (In The World)." Only one woman in chart history has had four or more transatlantic #1 hits. Madonna has had five: "Papa Don't Preach," "Who's That Girl," "Like A Prayer," "Vogue" and "Music."

Whitney Houston is next in line among female artists, with three transatlantic #1 hits: "Saving All My Love For You," "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" and "I Will Always Love You."

Rihanna is the first artist to hit #1 in both the U.S. and the U.K. with back-to-back singles since the Black Eyes Peas achieved the feat in 2009 with "Boom Boom Pow" and "I Gotta Feeling." Rihanna is only the second female solo artist in chart history to do it, following Lady Gaga, who scored with "Just Dance" (featuring Colby O'Donis) and "Poker Face."

The Official Charts Company, which monitors sales in the U.K., points out something else: This is the fifth consecutive year in which Rhianna has had a British #1. "Umbrella" topped the chart there in 2007, followed by "Take A Bow" in 2008, Jay-Z's "Run This Town" (which also featured Kanye West)" in 2009, and "Only Girl In The World" last year. The only other solo artist in British history to land a #1 hit in each of five straight years was Elvis Presley.

Rihanna also has the #1 album in the U.K. with Loud. This is the second time she has topped both U.K. charts simultaneously. She previously achieved the double feat in 2007 with "Umbrella" and the album Good Girl Gone Bad.

Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 songs from Billboard's Hot 100. I also show the song's ranking on Nielsen SoundScan's current Hot Digital Songs chart (and this week's digital sales tally).


1. Bruno Mars, "Grenade." The song returns to the #1 spot for a second week. This is its seventh week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #1 (275K).

2. Katy Perry, "Firework." The smash dips to #2 after four weeks on top. This is its 10th week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #2 (230K).

3. Rihanna featuring Drake, "What's My Name?" The former #1 hit inches up from #4 to #3. This is its 10th week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #9 (150K).

4. Ke$ha, "We R Who We R." The former #1 hit dips from #3 to #4. This is its 11th week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #6 (174K).

5. P!nk, "Raise Your Glass." The former #1 hit holds at #5 for the second week. This is its 12th week in the top 10. This is P!nk's second best-selling digital hit, trailing only "So What." Digital sales rank: #8 (158K).

6. Enrique Iglesias featuring Ludacris & DJ Frank E, "Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)." The song holds at #6 for the second week. This is its third week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #3 (192K).

7. Wiz Khalifa, "Black And Yellow." The song inches up from #8 to #7. This is its third week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #4 (186K).

8. The Black Eyed Peas, "The Time (Dirty Bit)." The song dips from #7 to #8. This is its seventh week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #5 (181K).

9. Bruno Mars, "Just The Way You Are." The former #1 hit holds at #9 for the second week. This is its 21st week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #15 (110K).

10. Rihanna, "Only Girl (In The World)." The former #1 hit jumps from #12 to #10. This is its 15th week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #19 (89K).

Nelly's "Just A Dream" drops from #10 to #15. It logged 17 weeks in the top 10. The song is Nelly's biggest digital seller ever.

Gwyneth Paltrow's "Country Strong" is the week's second highest new entry at #81. It's Paltrow's third Hot 100 hit in recent weeks. She reached the top 20 with her Glee versions of "Forget You" (#11) and "Singing In The Rain"/"Umbrella" (#18). Paltrow's 2000 duet with Huey Lewis of Smokey Robinson's "Cruisin'" "bubbled under" the Hot 100, peaking at #109.

David Guetta's "Who's That Chick" bows at #85. The title echoes his biggest hit, "Sexy Chick" (featuring Akon), which cracked the top 10 in December 2009. It has sold 2,950,000 copies.

Pop Quiz: Two months after the Beatles' music was made available digitally, two of their songs are still listed on Hot Digital Songs. Guess which ones. Answer below.

Song Scorecard: Two current collaborations top the 3 million mark in paid downloads this week: "I Like It" by Enrique Iglesias featuring Pitbull and "Like A G6" by Far*East Movement featuring Cataracs & Dev.

Iglesias' current smash, "Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)" (featuring Ludacris & DJ Frank E) tops the 1 million mark in paid downloads this week. Two other hits also reach the milestone: Mike Posner's "Please Don't Go" and Chris Brown's "Deuces" (featuring Tyga and Kevin McCall).

Fan Tribute: Gerry Rafferty's 1978 smash "Baker Street" sold 16K copies in the week after his death. Raphael Ravenscroft's sax solo is justly celebrated, but the lyric is awfully good too.

Quiz Answer: The two Beatles songs that are still listed on Hot Digital Songs are "Let It Be" (total digital sales to date: 227K) and "Here Comes The Sun" (181K). "Let It Be" (written by Paul McCartney) was a #1 hit and a Grammy finalist for Record and Song of the Year. George Harrison's "Here Comes The Sun" wasn't even released as a single, though a fine cover by Richie Havens climbed into the top 20 in 1971.

Coming Attractions: Britney Spears' "Hold It Against Me" is expected to debut at #1 next week with sales in the range of 400K. Spears' "3" debuted at #1 in October 2009.

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