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HOLIDAY PONDERING:
POP TOP EDITION

While watching Chance on Hulu, I started to think about what a holiday weekend was going to feel like. Unfortunately, I thought it was Thursday night (it was actually Monday), and figured it was going to be an especially slow Friday as per usual. When July 4 is approaching, people wrap up their projects by midweek and head out to see family and fireworks, go to the beach or just plotz in their backyards with a beer while the briquets heat up.

But since this year is unlike any other, and July 4 will land on what feels like day 8 million of the quarantine—I don’t know what the hell day it is anyway—I figured I’d jot down some random thoughts to ponder.

Those thoughts usually begin with a look at the charts—and clearly things are quite clogged at the top of most every format. The biggest hits aren’t leaving and going into recurrent rotation; they’re remaining in the Top Ten and blocking the next group of legitimate smashes from getting the spins they’d typically be getting by now. Post Malone’s “Circles” just exited the Top Ten Pop Chart after too many weeks to even count, and the Top 5 Audience hits at iHeart, which controls over 1/3 of the entire Top 40 list, are what most of us would consider hits from last year or the very beginning of 2020:

  1. The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights”
  2. Harry Styles, “Adore You”
  3. Doja Cat, “Say So”
  4. Justin Bieber f/Quavo, “Intentions”
  5. Dua Lipa, “Don’t Start Now”

All of the above are unquestionably legitimate smashes--and have been for the entire year, But they’re holding back the next grouping of really big hits longer than we’ve seen in the past. These include hits like Harry’s new giant, “Watermelon Sugar,” Powfu’s enormous “Death Bed,” BENEE’s infectious “Supalonely,” JP Saxe’s emotional “If The World Were Ending” and other cuts that have proven their immensity for months now on DSPs worldwide.

Why are all the records now lingering in the Mediabase Top 10 much longer than in previous years? As one head of promotion told me, “The hardest job we have right now is moving real hits in the #17-8 range on the chart. Once we get them there, they tend to stay. But getting through that logjam is the hardest it’s ever been.” That logjam—and the inertia at the top of the chart—is the reason radio feels increasingly behind the curve as new records rocket up the DSP charts. It appears the real challenge going forward is this: What will it take for radio to speed up and lead in breaking artists as they have for decades?

It’s something to ponder as we move through into the usually slow summer months, which move even more slowly in this pandemic nightmare than in days of yore. I’ll be looking for answers as the quarantine days move by.

 

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