Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" leaps from #8 to #2 in its sixth week on the Hot 100. Clarkson has a pretty good promotional gig lined up this weekend, which may help boost the song to #1 next week: Clarkson is singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. This marks the first time in eight years that an artist has had a hit in the top 10 on the eve of singing the National Anthem at that biggest of all TV events. This last happened in 2004 when Beyonce was #5, on her way to #4, with "Me, Myself And I." It also happened in 1991, when Whitney Houston was #8, on her way to #1, with "All The Man That I Need."
Cher sang the anthem in 1999, when her comeback hit "Believe" was sitting at #13 (which was its highest ranking to that point). The song subsequently became her first #1 hit in 25 years. Faith Hill sang the anthem in 2000, when "Breathe" was sitting at #21 (likewise, its highest ranking to that point). The song subsequently climbed to #2. The Dixie Chicks sang the anthem in 2003 when their recording of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" was sitting at #12, having climbed as high as #9. It subsequently returned to the top 10 and reached an even higher peak, #7.
Hot recording artists have sung the National Anthem at the Super Bowl for so many years, it may surprise you to learn that this wasn't always the case. University marching bands performed the anthem the first two years, 1967 and 1968. Anita Bryant was the first singer to land the assignment. She sang the anthem in 1969, which was more than eight years after her last top 10 hit (and eight years before she became a polarizing figure in American life by speaking out against gay rights).
Trumpeter Al Hirt played the anthem in 1970, six years after his sole top 10 hit. Vikki Carr sang "America The Beautiful" in 1977, more than nine years after her sole top 10 hit. (This was the only year the anthem wasn't performed.) In 1978, the anthem was sung by one Phyllis Kelly of Northeast Louisiana State University. I'm sure Kelly did a fine job, but this gives you an idea of how far removed the talent bookers were from the hottest acts in pop.
Charley Pride was the first hot, credible recording artist (as opposed to one years past his peak) to perform the anthem. He did the honors in 1974, when he was in the midst of a run of 52 top 10 country hits.
But the real game-changer (sorry) in terms of attracting superstar talent was Diana Ross, who sang the anthem in January 1982. Ross was red-hot at the time; in between back-to-back top 10 hits, "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" and "Mirror, Mirror.
Aaron Neville sang the anthem in 1990 when he, too, was in between back-to-back top 15 hits. Both of those songs, "Don't Know Much" and "All My Life," were collabos with Linda Ronstadt. (Neville did the honors again in 2006, together with Aretha Franklin and Dr. John.) Jordin Sparks sang the anthem in 2008, when she was in between back-to-back top 10 hits, "Tattoo" and "No Air" (a duet with Chris Brown).
Garth Brooks performed the anthem in 1993, when he was at the peak of his career. He had four #1 country hits that year (and a #2, which for him at that time practically constituted a bomb.)
Christina Aguilera sang the anthem at last year's Super Bowl. She subsequently had a solid comeback with her gig on The Voice and a #1 smash with Maroon 5. Mariah Carey sang it in 2002. It helped her regain some yardage (sorry) after her ill-fated Glitter movie and highly public meltdown in 2001. Jennifer Hudson sang it in 2009, just three months after the tragic killings of her mother, brother and nephew. It helped signal to her fans that she would be OK.
Billy Joel has performed the anthem twice (1989 and 2007). Other recording artists who have performed it include Barry Manilow (1984), Wynton Marsalis (1986), Neil Diamond (1987), Herb Alpert (1988), Harry Connick Jr. (1992), Natalie Cole (1994), Vanessa Williams (1996), Luther Vandross (1997), Jewel (1998), Backstreet Boys (2001) and Carrie Underwood (2010).
I'd be remiss if I didn't remind you that a recording of Whitney Houston singing the anthem cracked the top 20 in 1991. It zoomed to #6 when it was re-released in the wake of 9/11. A recording of Faith Hill singing the song at the 2000 game cracked the top 40 on the country chart in the wake of 9/11.
"We Found Love" by Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris dips from #2 to #3. The song tops the Hot 100 Airplay chart for the 11th week, which is the longest run since Alicia Keys' "No One" logged 14 weeks at #1 in 2007-2008.
Jessie J's "Domino" jumps from #10 to #8. The song tops the 1 million mark in digital sales this week.
Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 songs.
1. Adele, "Set Fire To The Rain." The song holds at #1 for the second week in its 22nd week on the chart. This is its sixth week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #2 (167K).
2. Kelly Clarkson, "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)." The song jumps from #8 to #2 in its sixth week on the chart. This is its second week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #1 (225K).
3. Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris, "We Found Love." The former #1 song dips from #2 to #3 in its 19th week on the chart. This is its 18th week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #7 (114K).
4. Flo Rida, "Good Feeling." The song dips from #3 to #4 in its 18th week on the chart. This is its 13th week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #6 (121K).
5. David Guetta featuring Nicki Minaj, "Turn Me On." The song dips from #4 to #5 in its ninth week on the chart. This is its third week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #3 (162K).
6. Bruno Mars, "It Will Rain." The song holds at #6 for the second week in its 18th week on the chart. This is its 12th week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #15 (79K).
7. LMFAO, "Sexy And I Know It." The former #1 song holds at #7 for the second week in its 22nd week on the chart. This is its 19th week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #8 (113K).
8. Jessie J, "Domino." The song jumps from #10 to #8 in its 16th week on the chart. This is its second week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #9 (111K).
9. Katy Perry, "The One That Got Away." The song drops from #5 to #9 in its 16th week on the chart. (It climbed as high as #3.) This is its 11th week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #25 (62K).
10. Tyga, "Rack City." The song rebounds from #11 to #10 in its 10th week on the chart. This is its second week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #4 (142K).
One song drops out of the top 10 this week. "Ni**as In Paris" by Jay-Z/Kanye West drops from #9 to #11.
"Young, Wild & Free," the former (and future?) top 10 hit by Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa featuring Bruno Mars, holds at #12 for the second week in its 16th week on the chart. Digital sales rank: #5 (128K)… "International Love" by Pitbull featuring Chris Brown leaps from #18 to #13 in its 13th week. Digital sales rank: #10 (108K)…."The Motto" by Drake featuring Lil Wayne leaps from #21 to #16 in its 11th week. The song tops the 1 million mark in digital sales this week… "Ass Back Home" by Gym Class Heroes featuring Neon Hitch jumps from #24 to #19 in its seventh week..."Make Me Proud," the former top 10 hit by Drake featuring Nicki Minaj, moves up from #31 to #30 in its 16th week. The song is #1 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for the second week.
"Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye featuring Kimbra vaults from #50 to #31 in its fourth week…Chris Young's "You" jumps from #37 to #34 in its 15th week. The song moves up to #1 on Hot Country Songs. It's Young's fifth #1 country hit...The Wanted's "Glad You Came" vaults from #64 to #40 in its third week…Nicki Minaj's "Stupid Hoe" re-enters the Hot 100 at #59. The song had climbed as high as #81. It's from Minaj's Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, which is due April 3.
"T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever)" by will.i.am featuring Mick Jagger & Jennifer Lopez jumps from #73 to #61 in its seventh week…"We Are Young" by Fun. featuring Janelle Monae vaults from #89 to #63 in its sixth week…Train's "Drive By" leaps from #83 to #65 in its third week. All three songs are likely to surpass their initial peaks…Beyonce's "Love On Top" rebounds from #81 to #69 in its 11th week. It has climbed as high as #20.
Tim McGraw's "Better Than I Used To Be" re-enters the chart at #75. McGraw's Emotional Traffic enters The Billboard 200 at #2 this week. You already know that if you read Chart Watch Songs. If you missed it, here's a link.
Lady Antebellum's "Dancin' Away With My Heart" vaults from #96 to #76 in its third week… "Talk That Talk" by Rihanna featuring Jay-Z rebounds from #94 to #77 in its fifth week. It has climbed as high as #31…Blake Shelton's "Drink On It" bows at #81…"No Church In The Wild" by Jay-Z/Kanye West featuring Frank Ocean jumps from #100 to #86 in its second week…Miranda Lambert's "Over You" re-enters at #87, higher than its initial peak at #93. It's from Lambert's Four The Record, which debuted and peaked at #3.
LMFAO's "Sorry For Party Rocking" bows at #92. It's the duo's bid for a third straight #1 hit…"Princess Of China" by Coldplay featuring Rihanna re-enters at #98. Look for the two acts to perform the song on the Grammys on Feb. 12.
"Give Me Everything" by Pitbull featuring Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer tops the 4 million mark in digital sales this week. It's the biggest hit for all concerned. Pitbull's previous best-seller was Enrique Iglesias' "I Like It," on which he was featured, which has sold 3,682,000 copies. Ne-Yo's was Keri Hilson's "Knock You Down," on which he and Kanye West were featured, which has sold 2,225,000.
The All-American Rejects' 2008 smash "Gives Me Hell" also tops the 4 million mark. The song, which peaked at #4 in March 2009, is the band's biggest hit.
Three songs top the 3 million mark in digital sales this week: The Black Eyed Peas' "Just Can't Get Enough," Bruno Mars' "The Lazy Song" and "Stereo Hearts" by Gym Class Heroes featuring Adam Levine. It's the Peas' fifth song to top 3 million, Mars' third, Levine's second and Gym Class Heroes' first.
R.I.P. Soul Train was the black American Bandstand, but it was so much more. The show, which started locally in Chicago in 1970 and began airing nationally the following year, brought hundreds of top African American talents into the homes of music fans of all races. (A few hip white acts, such as Elton John, were also invited to appear, which was always a thrill for them.) The theme song from the show, "TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)" by MFSB featuring the Three Degrees, hit #1 in April 1974. Don Cornelius, who created the show, received a Grammy Trustees Award in 2005. Sadly, he committed suicide this week. He was 75.
Shameless Grammy Plug I: The Grammys' decision to cut or consolidate 31 categories this year has triggered growing controversy. Critics have charged that the Grammys were insensitive to the needs of artists who populate the less prominent categories, to whom a nomination or award can make a meaningful difference in their careers (in getting publicity and better concert bookings). The Rev. Jesse Jackson has called for a meeting with Neil Portnow, the President and CEO of the Recording Academy. The two have agreed to meet before the Grammys are presented on Feb. 12. Did the Grammys cut or gut? I look at this issue in an And The Winner is blog that went up Monday. If you missed it, here's a link.
Shameless Grammy Plug II: Nicki Minaj has seemed to be the front-runner to win the Grammy for Best New Artist since her debut album, Pink Friday, entered The Billboard 200 at #2 in November 2010. But will Minaj win the award? It may come down to whether the voters' attraction to female solo artists in the New Artist category (females have won in 13 of the last 20 years) outweighs their inclination not to vote for rap artists in this and other "Big Four" categories. I look at the Grammys' complicated relationship to rap in an And The Winner Is blog that went up late last week. If you missed it, here's a link.
Shameless Grammy Plug III: Adele is vying to become only the sixth artist to win "Grammy's Triple Crown" (Album, Record and Song of the Year) in one night. At just 23, she'd be the youngest artist ever to do this. Also, she'd be only the second female solo artist to do it, following Carole King in 1972, and only the second British artist to do it, following Eric Clapton in 1993. I compiled a list of everyone who has won Album, Record and Song of the Year in one night. I also prepared two lists of artists who came close, but don't quite qualify. If you missed it, here's a link.