Chart Watch

Week Ending March 20, 2011: Songs: The Chris Brown Matter

Chart Watch

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Chris Brown lands his first top 10 hit on the Hot 100 since a heavily-publicized assault on then-girlfriend Rihanna in February 2009. "Look At Me Now" jumps from #12 to #8 this week. The song, which features Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes, is Brown's 10th top 10 hit; his first since "Forever" reached #2 in the spring of 2008.

As I'm sure you know by now, Brown returned to the headlines this week after losing his temper following an interview on Good Morning America in which co-host Robin Roberts pressed him about the Rihanna incident. It's hard to believe he didn't expect to be asked questions about that. Could he possibly have done this as a stunt to call attention to the release of his new album, F.A.M.E.? Or does he just have serious anger management issues?

The 2009 incident (for which Brown pled guilty to felony assault) clearly took a toll on Brown's career. His 2009 album, Graffiti, has sold just 341,000 copies and yielded no top 10 hits on the Hot 100. By contrast, his two previous albums each sold in the 2 million range and each spawned three top 10 hits. (His 2005 debut, Chris Brown, has sold 2,179,000 copies. His 2007 follow-up, Exclusive, has sold 1,973,000). The industry-wide decline in album sales doesn't come close to explaining the severe drop-off between Exclusive and Graffiti. Fans or radio (or both) simply turned against the singer.

Brown had cracked the top 20 three times since the incident, but he was unable to make it back to the top 10 (a more meaningful benchmark of success) until this week. "I Can Transform Ya" (featuring Lil Wayne and Swizz Beatz), the biggest hit from Graffiti, peaked at #20. "Deuces" (featuring Tyga and Kevin McCall), the first single from F.A.M.E., peaked at #14. "Yeah 3X," the second single from F.A.M.E., peaked at #15.

"Look At Me Now" jumps to #1 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, displacing "Moment 4 Life" by Nicki Minaj featuring Drake, which had five weeks on top. It's Brown's fourth #1 R&B hit.

The title F.A.M.E. is an acronym for Forgiving All My Enemies, which is a curious note to strike for someone in Brown's position of seeking the public's forgiveness (or at least its understanding). (Brown has since said the title is also meant to stand for Fans Are My Everything, though that explanation would have seemed more genuine if it had come first.) Whatever Brown is doing, it seems to be working. F.A.M.E. is expected to enter The Billboard 200 at #1 next week with first-week sales in the 275K range.

Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" logs its sixth week at #1 on the Hot 100. It's the first song to log six or more weeks at #1 since "Love The Way You Lie" by Eminem featuring Rihanna had seven weeks on top last summer. It's the first song by a female solo artist (not a collabo) to stay on top this long since Ke$ha's "TiK ToK" had nine weeks at #1 in January and February 2010.

Since "Born This Way" is either a blatant copy of, or fond homage to, Madonna, I'll add that only two Madonna songs have spent this long at #1. "Like A Virgin" spent six weeks at #1 in early 1985. "Take A Bow" spent seven weeks on top in early 1995.

Cee Lo Green's "F**k You (Forget You)" drops to #4 after four straight weeks at #2. The Grammy-winning smash has sold 1,865,000 copies in 2011, more than any other song. "Born This Way" is closing in fast (1,832,000). Bruno Mars' "Grenade," which was the year-to-date leader until Cee Lo pushed ahead last week, is now #3 (with sales of 1,743,000 since the first of the year).

The Black Eyed Peas have two reasons to celebrate this week. The group's 2009 smash "I Gotta Feeling" becomes the first song in digital history to top the 7 million mark in sales. And the group's current hit, "Just Can't Get Enough," leaps from #22 to #5 on the Hot 100, becoming the group's 10th top 10 hit; its seventh to make the top five.

"I Gotta Feeling" was also the first song to top 6 million in digital sales. It achieved that milestone in July. Will it make it to 8 million? Stay tuned.

Glee achieved a milestone this week.  "Loser Like Me" becomes the first Glee original to make the top 10 on the Hot 100. It's only the third Glee song (original or cover version) to make the top 10, following versions of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" (#4 in 2009) and Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" (#8 in 2010).

Six more Glee songs enter the Hot 100 this week. Details below the top 10 list.

Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 songs.

 

1. Lady Gaga, "Born This Way." The song logs its sixth straight week at #1. Digital sales rank: #4 (182K).

2. Katy Perry featuring Kanye West, "E.T." The song jumps from #3 to #2 in its sixth week on the chart. This is its fourth week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #1 (261K).

3. Rihanna, "S&M." The song rebounds from #4 to #3 in its 10th week on the chart. This is its sixth week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #5 (170K).

4. Cee Lo Green's "F**k You (Forget You)." The song drops from #2 to #4 in its 30th week on the chart. This is its seventh week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #9 (138K).

5. The Black Eyed Peas, "Just Can't Get Enough." The song leaps from #22 to #5 in its fifth week on the chart. It's the Peas' 10th top 10 hit. Digital sales rank: #3 (198K).

6. Glee Cast, "Loser Like Me." This new entry is the third Glee recording to make the top 10, following versions of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" (#4 in 2009) and Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" (#8 in 2010). Digital sales rank: #2 (210K).

7. P!nk, "F**kin' Perfect." The song dips from #6 to #7 in its 12th week on the chart. This is its eighth week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #14 (98K).

8. Chris Brown featuring Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes, "Look At Me Now." The song jumps from #12 to #8 in its seventh week. It's Brown's 10th top 10 hit; Lil Wayne's 13th; Busta Rhymes' seventh. Digital sales rank: #7 (142K).

9. Bruno Mars, "Grenade." The former #1 song drops from #7 to #9 in its 25th week on the chart. This is its 17th week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #22 (77K).

10. Jeremih featuring 50 Cent, "Down On Me." The song jumps from #13 to #10 in its 19th week. This is Jeremih's second top 10 hit, following "Birthday Sex," which hit #4 in 2009. It's 50 Cent's 13th.

 

Four songs drop out of the top 10 this week. "On The Floor" by Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull drops from #5 to #13. Digital sales rank: #8 (139K). "Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)" by Enrique Iglesias featuring Ludacris & DJ Frank E drops from #8 to #12. Digital sales rank: #31 (62K). Britney Spears' "Till The World Ends" drops from #9 to #23. Digital sales rank: #20 (87K). Ke$ha's "Blow" dips from #10 to #11. Digital sales rank: #10 (122K).

As noted above, six more Glee songs enter the Hot 100 this week.  Two of them are originals: "Get It Right" (sung by Lea Michele) opens at #16 and "Hell To The No" (sung by Amber Riley) bows at #53. The cast also debuts with cover versions of P!nk's "Raise Your Glass" at #36, the Beatles' "Blackbird" at #37, Maroon 5's "Misery" at #52 and Hey Monday's "Candles" at #71.

This marks the first time that "Blackbird" has appeared on the Hot 100. The Paul McCartney composition first appeared on the Beatles' so-called White Album in 1968, but it was never released as a single.

"Loser Like Me" sold 210K copies this week and vaults from #119 to #2 on Hot Digital Songs. "Get It Right" sold 151K copies and vaults from #164 to #6. This marks the second time that two Glee songs have appeared in the top 10 at the same time on this chart. Gwyneth Paltrow's versions of "Forget You" and "Singing In The Rain"/"Umbrella" (a duet with series star Matthew Morrison) both debuted in the top 10 in the week ending Nov. 21.

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Selena Gomez & the Scene's "Who Says" debuts at #24. This equals the peak position of last year's "Round & Round" as Gomez's highest-charting hit to date.

Billy Currington's "Let Me Down Easy" dips from #47 to #49, but I doubt he'll care. The song jumps to #1 on Hot Country Songs, displacing "Don't You Wanna Stay" by Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson, which had three weeks on top. It's Currington's sixth #1 country hit.

Bruno Mars' "The Lazy Song" jumps from #72 to #55 in its fourth week on the chart. Also, Mars' Grammy-winning "Just The Way You Are" tops the 4 million mark in paid downloads this week. It's his first song to reach that threshold. "Grenade," Mars' follow-up to "Just The Way You Are," is closing in fast. It's up to 3,803,000.

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Rebecca Black's "Friday" debuts at #72. The song was last week's viral sensation, but it sold just 37K copies. It enters Hot Digital Songs at #57. (Come to think of it, the past week gave us two questions to ponder: Is Chris Brown really as volatile as the GMA incident suggests or was that just a stunt to promote his album? And is Rebecca Black really as banal as this ditty suggests or was the song's sing-song nature just a ploy to attract attention?)

"Regulate" by Warren G & Nate Dogg sold 37K copies this week in the wake of Nate Dogg's death last week. The song spent three weeks at #2 in July 1994 (stuck behind All-4-One's monster hit "I Swear").

Song Scorecard: Three current hits top the 1 million mark in digital sales this week: "E.T." by Katy Perry featuring Kanye West, Avril Lavigne's "What The Hell" and Usher's "More."

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Nicole Scherzinger lands her first #1 solo hit in the U.K. with "Don't Hold Your Breath." As the leader of the Pussycat Dolls, Scherzinger topped the British chart with a pair of 2005 hits, "Don't Cha" (featuring Busta Rhymes) and "Stickwitu."

I've been digging into Joel Whitburn's new book Top 10 Pop Hits, which I reviewed enthusiastically last week. Joel's book lists, by artist, every song that made the top 10 from July 1940 to January 2011, along with its peak date, peak position, weeks on chart, songwriter, B side and record label.

Pop Quiz: This is straight out of Joel's book. Elton John has co-written all but two of his 27 top 10 hits. Name the two that he didn't compose. (Don't waste a guess on "That's What Friends Are For." Joel doesn't count that Dionne & Friends smash as an Elton hit.)

At the back of the book, Joel lists the 50 artists who have amassed the most top 10 hits over this 70-plus year span. I gave you some highlights last week. (Here's a link to last week's column, if you missed it.) I want to clarify a couple of things. Joel's list shows Les Paul & Mary Ford with 20 top 10 hits, but that tally includes seven songs that Les recorded apart from Mary. So while it's true that Les had 20 top 10 hits, Les & Mary, as a duo, had just 13. This allows Daryl Hall & John Oates (with 16 top 10 hits) to take the lead as the duo with the most top 10 hits.

As I mentioned last week, Bing Crosby had more top 10 hits than any other artist in chart history. But exactly how many did he have? That's a surprisingly tricky question. His classic "White Christmas" made the top 10 in nine different holiday seasons. Joel counts each time as a separate top 10 hit. I think that's overly generous. I would count "White Christmas" as one massive top 10 hit, but not as nine top 10 hits. This would take Bing's total of top 10 hits from 77 to 69. That would still put him comfortably ahead of Perry Como, who finishes second on the list with 50 top 10 hits.

Quiz Answer: Elton John composed all of his top 10 hits except "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" (which was written by Lennon & McCartney) and "Mama Can't Buy You Love" (which was written by the R&B duo Bell & James, which had a 1979 disco hit of their own with "Livin' It Up (Friday Night)").

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