Taylor Swift – “Sparks Fly”


Truth be told, I would probably like “Sparks Fly” even better had its single release not come after I had been jamming to “Mean” for months prior. It was a pleasant surprise to hear such a fun hoedown of a song so effortlessly country from an artist who typically favors polished pop-country sounds, but the…Read More

Darius Rucker – “I Got Nothin’”


The better part of Darius Rucker’s country career has seem a talented voice used on uninteresting material, as demonstrated by recent snoozers such as “Come Back Song” and “This.” So it comes as a pleasant surprise to see that his latest single “I Got Nothin’,” is actually a pretty decent song. It could use a…Read More

JN’s Top 10 (Are You Going #1 Or Not edition)

Seems to me we’ve recently had quite a few significant battles for #1 lately, plus some battles for multiple-week-stays at #1. We’re also seeing a battle for who will dominate the charts – superstars or a mix that includes some newcomers. In addition, we’re about to see some major battles for #1 song of the…Read More


JN’s Top 10 (Independence Day Edition)

Welcome to our fireworks display here at CCT, and I wish you all a happy 4th of July. I’m going to update the pursuit of the biggest hits of 2011, since we’re more than halfway through the chart year, but first I wanted to look at some groups of songs that seem to be moving up the chart together.
Finally A Song Can Bee At #1 For A Month. We haven’t seen this since the Billboard chart dated July 3, 2010 when Miranda Lambert finished her 4-week run with The Hive That Built Me. No, sorry, that should read “house.” In any event, Blake Shelton does it, or will do it as soon as the 7/16 chart is released (which won’t happen until tomorrow, but this is not an industry secret). Honey Bee is the first 4-week #1 since House completed its 4-week residency.
We have had plenty of 4-week #1 songs in the recent past. We’ve had 5 and 6-weekers and even a few that lasted longer. In case you came of age during the era of Somebody Like You and It’s 5:00 Somewhere, I’ll take you back to when 4-weekers were rare or non-existent. For example, in the entire decade of the 1980’s there were no 4-week #1 songs at all, and only a handful of 3-weekers. Only Randy Travis’ Forever And Ever, Amen lasted even 3 weeks at the top in the 9-year period 1981-1989.
Thanks, Blake, for making sure we’re not going to spend 9 years without a 4-week #1 hit.
2. Many A Tier Must Fall. Or, in this case, must rise – we have a group of 4 songs battling to succeed Shelton at #1 now that Taylor Swift’s 3-week #2 hit Mean has fallen out of contention. There were 6 songs on last week’s chart that managed to accumulate 34 million audience impressions – that’s very unusual. And it’s not clear which of these songs is going to reach the top, let alone what order they’ll get there in. Let’s look at the #3 through 6 songs, which are so close to each other that they constitute their own “tier” on the Billboard chart.
3. You Lie Lies In Wait. This Band Perry song has taken the slow route. Look at this chart run, going back to the April 23 chart, when You Lie hit #12. After that, the song has had these chart positions: 11, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 3. It probably will reach #2 on the new chart we expect to see tomorrow. This is an unusual way to reach #1, because this song is now 30 weeks old and it’s hard to keep the string of 30 million impression weeks going. But it could last another week – it should be at #2 with more than a half million lead on the rest.
4. Tomorrow Competes With Heaven. Justin Moore’s song If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away has climbed like a future #1. Tomorrow by Chris Young has done the same. And the two have been passing, re-passing, and re-re-passing each other along the way. It’s hard to see which is the favorite to reach #1, or which will get there first if they both make it. And the pressure applied by fast-moving Jason Aldean makes it decreasingly likely that they can both make it. I believe Jonsolo, a writer who pays more attention to the Billboard country chart than anybody else, said they’ve played leapfrog 8 times already. And they may not be done yet. The 9th time one jumps past the other could happen as soon as the 7/16 chart.
5. Aldean Could Pass Them All. First of all, it’s hard to see how anybody could be burning up country radio any more powerfully than Jason Aldean. Just this year he’s had the big lead single My Kinda Party, the huge duet with Kelly Clarkson Don’t You Wanna Stay, and now the… I guess it’s safe to call it “anthemic” Dirt Road Anthem. He’s been flying up and he has finally forced his way into this tier along with the songs mentioned above. So it wouldn’t be surprising if his song takes over and denies the others a shot at #1. But it also wouldn’t be surprised if 2, or 3, or all 4 of them get there.
That’s the first tier I wanted to bring up; but it’s not the last.
6. Lady A Competes With Mr Z. I would have expected more buzz and faster gains for a new Lady Antebellum single, but Just A Kiss hasn’t quite performed up to expectation. On the other hand, even a weak Lady A lead single is still a Lady A lead single, and few other songs could climb up the chart side-by-side with Just A Kiss. However, Knee Deep, a collaboration between Zac Brown Band and Jimmy Buffett, is just such a song – and the lead Lady A has enjoyed is now narrowing. On the 7/9 chart, the Lady A lead has shrunk to about 100k. These two songs are a two-song tier, climbing side by side and trying to reach #1. They’ll have to wait for the tier above them to have a run at the top; then, we will find out if Lady A can summon the drive to go all the way and if ZBB can post their 7th #1 song in their 8 country radio singles. (In this case, I think they can and will both get to the top. Tiers with only two songs often allow both members to reach the top. I have had a feeling for awhile that ZBB would go up first, but now I’m wondering if we won’t see a bit of leap-frogging here.)
7. The Final Tier To Feast Your Eyes On. Here’s one that’s hard to forecast, but easy to enjoy. Last week’s Billboard chart had 4 songs, ranked from #16 on down to 19, within 400k impressions of one another. That’s unusual. It resulted in a somewhat misleading 4-notch jump for Eli Young Band’s Crazy Girl, a song I’ve thought for a while would be their first top 10, but which is about to drop down a bit before re-asserting itself. Close behind #16 EYB is the American Idol winner, Scotty McCreery, with I Love You This Big; right behind him is Josh Turner’s long-lasting cover song I Wouldn’t Be A Man; and right behind him is Billy Currington’s future #1 (according to me) Love Done Gone.
Josh Turner may not belong in this tier – his song’s moved so slowly that the others have caught up to it but will shortly pass it. On the other hand, about 700k behind the tier we have fast-moving George Strait (his 45th #1 hit?) and reasonably strong mover Rodney Atkins. So the tier might re-form with 5 or 6 songs in it. I’d keep my eye on this group if I were you.
8. Strait And Urban Require Analysis. I’m not saying they need to sign up for the services of a shrink. In fact, they both seem very balanced to me; emotionally strong, in my view. (I’m sure they’d be thrilled to hear that opinion.) But in order to follow the chart moves of two big hits like these, some chart analysis is essential. On the CCT website, we’ve got two threads that I think you’ll enjoy following. One, on the chart moves of last week’s Hotshot Debut and this week’s Greatest Gainer Long Hot Summer, can be found here. And another, on Strait’s fast-moving hit Here For A Good Time, a rare top-20-in-only-three-weeks song, can be found here. Read the chart analysis, offer up your own comment, and enjoy the community that participates in these events. Jonsolo, mentioned above, is a clear thinker who will always provide reasons for his chart projections. He’s not just a wishful thinker.
9. Keep Track Of How Toby’s Song Does. I have great respect and admiration for Toby Keith’s talent but I don’t agree with his decisions to pull singles that still have plenty of growth in them. It could be he sees something I don’t see – in fact, that’s almost certainly the answer. But more than once he has stopped supporting a song that I enjoyed – this time the excellent Somewhere Else – instead preferring a new release. This time, he released a song called American Made that covers old territory and doesn’t seem to offer all that much that is original. The new song is climbing rapidly and might do especially well in the run-up to July 4th, but I wonder whether this one is going to get him back to the top of the charts – or just flounder around so that he can pull it early and release yet another new song. Let’s wait and see.
10. This Year’s Top 10 Songs (So Far). I create a year-end top 50 list in which I try to find the songs that are likely to wind up as the biggest hits of the year. My methods involve the awarding of points and the assignment of those points to one year in the event that the song straddles two years in its chart run (as is so often the case). I will have a longer post on this topic later, but for the moment I’ll list the 10 biggest songs of 2011, not all of which I expected to rank where they did:
Why Wait, Rascal Flatts – hard to believe this is the biggest song of the year
Let Me Down Easy, Billy Currington
A Little Bit Stronger, Sara Evans
Felt Good On My Lips, Tim McGraw
Don’t You Wanna Stay, Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson – I thought this would be on top at this point, but it just didn’t stay on the chart long enough
Voices, Chris Young
Someone Else Calling You Baby, Luke Bryan
Somewhere With You, Kenny Chesney
Turn On The Radio, Reba
What Do You Want, Jerrod Niemann (pretty nice for a song that peaked at #4; the others were all #1 hits)
I might change my formula a bit to account for the presence this year of so many songs that went up fast and then dropped fast. Brad Paisley’s song with Alabama; Honey Bee; maybe Brad’s new duet with Carrie Underwood. We’ll see.


JN’s Top 10 (Honey Bee Sting edition)

Everything’s coming together for Blake Shelton. It seems that no matter what he releases, it’s heading for #1, and his current single Honey Bee is no exception. This song took only 10 weeks to reach #1, a week less than Brad Paisley’s big hit with Alabama took. You might argue the point, but I now…Read More

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