Friday, July 27, 2012

The Week In Music: Pop Reigns Supreme At CHR Radio

Pop music continues its magnanimous reign on the Singles chart this week, as Carly Rae Jepsen dials in a seventh week at No. 1 with her now-ubiquitous “Call Me Maybe.” That's the longest run by a female solo act since Adele logged as many weeks on top with "Rolling In The Deep" from May to July 2011.

Jepsen’s “Maybe,” in its 17th week inside the top 10, is the third chart-topping single to log six weeks or more at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, following "We Are Young" by fun. f/Janelle Monae, with six weeks; and "Somebody That I Used To Know," with eight. That hasn’t happened since 2002.

The reign of melodic music at the top is hardly a coincidence. A new study by Alan Burns & Associates surveyed 2,000 core female listeners of CHR and adult top 40, and found that pop and pop-rhythmic music are their favorite sounds—by more than a two to one margin over hip-hop (111 and 108 to 40). That’s a momentous change from just two years ago, when the three genres were practically on par (108, 98, 95).

Pop’s rally at CHR—and hip-hop’s decline—is reflected in the entire top 5 of this week’s Hot 100. Following Jepsen is Maroon 5's "Payphone," f/Wiz Khalifa, at No. 2 on the Hot 100 for a sixth frame, also topping Radio Songs for a fourth week. At No. 3 is Katy Perry’s dance-pop “Wide Awake,” which earns top Airplay Gainer props, moving 5-4 on Radio Songs. The song is pushing hard to become Perry’s eighth No. 1 single, next week.

Brit singer Ellie Goulding's dance-pop "Lights" climbs 5-4 in its 31st week on the chart, ascending 4-1 on On-Demand Songs, and a No. 6 ranking on Radio Songs. And at No. 5, down 1, is former chart-topper Gotye f/Kimbra with "Somebody That I Used to Know.”

Flo Rida's "Whistle" rises 7-6 on the Hot 100, fueled by sales as the top-selling Digital Song—surpassing more than 1 million downloads this week. Rounding out the top 10: Rihanna's "Where Have You Been" edges 6-7; David Guetta's "Titanium," featuring Sia, holds at No. 8; Usher's "Scream" rises 10-9; and, P!nk's "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" drops 9-10. That’s likely a temporary setback for P!nk’s first single from her upcoming sixth studio album "The Truth About Love," due Sept. 18, as the track rallies 23-17 on Radio Songs. In addition, the music video was released July 26, which will drive streaming in the weeks to come.

Just outside the Hot 100's top 10, country act Jason Aldean ignites onto the chart at No. 12 with the week’s highest new entry, "Take a Little Ride.” While the single sold a robust 189,000 downloads—the most ever by a male artist at country—there’s a major caveat. Much of the track’s first-week action comes from an alliance between indie label Broken Bow and Clear Channel, with coordinated hour-after-hour airplay July 16 at the radio giant’s country outlets.

The last time such a stunt was engineered was Madonna’s “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” which CC simultaneously launched on 95 radio stations in February. While it propelled the song into the top 10, top 40 stations immediately retreated in the following weeks. (In the U.K., sans Clear Channel’s assistance, “Luvin’” peaked at a paltry No. 37.) While there’s no indication the same will happen with Aldean, it does show the potential plight of “manufacturing” a hit. At the least, it’s hardly an upstanding maneuver.

Meanwhile, No Doubt also returns to the upper reaches of the Singles chart, launching at No. 34 with "Settle Down." The pop-ska quartet’s first single since 2004’s remake of Talk Talk’s “It’s My Life,” opens at No. 13 on Digital Songs and No. 65 on Radio Songs. The song previews No Doubt's sixth studio album, "Push and Shove," due September 25. It’s their first studio album since 2001's "Rock Steady." *

On the Album chart, hip-hop shows that even if it’s cooling at radio, the genre has plenty of steam left on the sales side. Veteran Nas achieves his sixth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, as "Life Is Good" sells 149,000. The set also debuts at the top of Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, his ninth No. 1 there. Only Jay-Z has achieved more, with 12.

Yahoo! Music Chart Watch columnist Paul Grein notes, “All artists need to stay relevant, and there's probably no genre where that's more important than rap. That's why Nas' accomplishment this week is so impressive. ‘Life Is Good’ enters The Billboard 200 a little more than 16 years after he first topped the chart with ‘It Was Written.’ Only one hip-hop artist has had a longer span of No. 1 albums: Beastie Boys, who spans 17 years and three months.”

Last week's No. 1 album, Zac Brown Band's "Uncaged," falls to No. 2; the new "Kidz Bop 22" collection open at No. 3; Frank Ocean's "Channel Orange" slips two to No. 4; Justin Bieber's "Believe" dips 3-5; and at No. 6—surprise—Phil Collins’ “Hits” reappears on the Billboard 200, after Amazon MP3 sold the set for 99 cents for one day last week. That album, which contains 12 top 10 hits, originally peaked at No. 18 when it was released in 1998.

One Direction's "Up All Night" holds at No. 7; the soundtrack to "The Dark Knight Rises" debuts at No. 8; Adele’s “21” dips 1 to No. 9; and Maroon 5's "Overexposed" is down 5 to No. 10.

Next week: This week’s top two albums from Nas and Zac Brown Band will likely battle it out for the top spot.  Amid the summer doldrums, the two highest-profile new releases are The Gaslight Anthem's “Handwritten,” Passion Pit's “Gossamer” and Jennifer Lopez's “Dance Again… The Hits.” *