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"Work B**ch!" is the week's top new entry on the Hot 100 at #12. It's Spears' first chart hit with a title that required an asterisk. That's simply reflection of modern pop culture. Practically anything can appear in a song title nowadays—just with an asterisk, if it's in print, or a little audio masking, if it's on the radio.
"Work B*ch!," which will appear on Spears' upcoming eighth studio album, is vying to become Spears' 13th top 10 hit. The song is already in the top 10 (at #6) on Hot Digital Songs (174K).
Spears has also recorded a "clean" version of the song, "Work Work." (Guess which will sell better.)
Here's a short history of songs with what we used to delicately call "the b word" in their titles. Jazz legend Miles Davis had a song called "Bitches Brew" on his classic 1970 album of the same name. The Rolling Stones' "Bitch" was the B side of their #1 hit "Brown Sugar" in May 1971. It took Elton John, then approaching the peak of his career, to take a song titled "The Bitch Is Back" into the top five. The song reached #4 in November 1974. Meredith Brooks' "Bitch" climbed even higher. It hit #2 in July 1997 and stayed there for four weeks.
Other charted hits with the word "bitch" in their titles include Jet's "Cold Hard Bitch (#55 in 2004), Godsmack's "Cryin' Like A Bitch!" (#74 in 2010) and Ben Folds' "Bitches Ain't S**t" (#71 in 2005). (All of these titles are shown exactly the way they were on the records.)
Hits by female solo artists hold down the top three spots on the Hot 100 for the second straight week. Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" holds at #1 for the second week, Katy Perry's "Roar" holds at #2 for the second week and Lorde's "Royals" holds at #3 for the third week. The songs are in different order on Hot Digital Songs, but fewer than 6K units separate them. "Royals" is #1 (307K), followed by "Roar" (301K) and "Wrecking Ball" (also 301K). This marks the first time in digital history that three songs have each sold 300K or more digital copies outside of the holiday season (the week that includes Christmas and/or the week following Christmas), when sales traditionally swell.
I have additional notes on all three of these songs. Let's take them in order. "Wrecking Ball" tops 1 million in digital sales this week. Cyrus' dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, had just one #1 hit on Hot Country Songs. That was his first hit, "Achy Breaky Heart," which led the list for five weeks in May and June 1992 (before Miley was born).
"Roar" jumps to #1 on the all-format Radio Songs chart, displacing "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. + Pharrell, which led for 11 weeks. "Roar" reaches the top spot on that chart in just seven weeks. That's faster than any other song since "We Are Young" by fun. featuring Janelle Monae, which also did it in seven weeks in April 2012.
You all know that Perry's last album, Teenage Dream, tied Michael Jackson's 1987 album Bad by generating five #1 singles. (They're the only two albums in history to have achieved that feat.) When "Roar" hit #1, Perry's upcoming follow-up album, Prism, tied Jackson's follow-up album, Dangerous, which spawned one #1 hit, "Black Or White." Will Prism (due Oct. 22) surpass Dangerous by yielding a second #1 hit? Stay tuned.
A "preview song" from Prism, "Dark Horse" (featuring Juicy J), is the week's second highest new entry at #17. (It's the second song with that title to crack the top 20: George Harrison took a song with the same title to #15 in early 1975.) Perry's song enters Hot Digital Songs at #4 (194K).
Lorde is the only the fifth female solo artist to send a first single to #1 on Hot Digital Songs. She follows Katy Perry ("I Kissed A Girl"), Lady Gaga ("Just Dance," featuring Colby O'Donis), Ke$ha ("TiK ToK") and Carly Rae Jepsen ("Call Me Maybe"). Three of those women went on to become pop superstars. (The jury is still out on Jepsen.)
"Royals" is #1 on Alternative Songs for a seventh week, extending its record for the longest run by a female solo artist in the chart's 25-year history.
"Wake Me Up!" jumps from #5 to #4. It's #1 on Dance/Electronic Songs for the third week. Avicii's "You Make Me" enters the Hot 100 at #85. Avicii's album, True, enters The Billboard 200 at #5 this week.
"Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. + Pharrell dips from #4 to #5. It's #1 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for the 16th week. That's the longest run at #1 by any song since "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" by Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five stayed on top for 17 weeks in 1947. Moreover, it's one of the five longest runs on top since the chart was introduced in 1942.
Lady Gaga's "Applause" dips from #7 to #8. The song tops 1 million in digital sales this week.
"Hold On, We're Going Home" by Drake featuring Majid jumps from #8 to #7 in its seventh week. The song is from Drake's third full-length album, Nothing Been The Same, which will blast onto The Billboard 200 at #1 next week with sales in the 675K range. That tally would beat his second album, Take Care, which opened at #1 in November 2011 with first-week sales of 631K.
Another Drake track, "Wu-Tang Forever," jumps from #88 to #52 in its second week on the Hot 100.
Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 songs.
The Top Five: Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" holds at #1 for the second week in its fifth week on the chart. This is its second week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #3 (301K)…Katy Perry’s "Roar" holds at #2 for the second week in its seventh week on the chart. This is its sixth week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #2 (301K)… Lorde’s "Royals" holds at #3 for the third week in its 12th week on the chart. This is its fourth week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #1 (307K)… Avicii’s "Wake Me Up!" jumps from #5 to #4 in its 13th week on the chart. This is its fifth week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #5 (189K)…"Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. + Pharrell dips from #4 to #5 in its 23rd week on the chart. This is its 17th week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #12 (111K).
The Second Five: "Holy Grail" by Jay Z featuring Justin Timberlake holds at #6 for the second week in its 11th week on the chart. It has been in the top 10 the entire time. Digital sales rank: #10 (134K)…"Hold On, We’re Going Home" by Drake featuring Majid Jordan jumps from #9 to #7 in its seventh week on the chart. This is its third week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #8 (150K)…Lady Gaga’s "Applause" dips from #7 to #8 in its sixth week on the chart. It has been in the top 10 the entire time. Digital sales rank: #7 (160K)… "Summertime Sadness" by Lana Del Rey & Cedric Gervais rebounds from #10 to #9 in its 11th week on the chart. This is its fifth week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #13 (110K)…Capital Cities' "Safe And Sound" rebounds from #12 to #10 in its 21st week on the chart. The song has climbed as high as #8. This is its sixth week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #20 (65K).
Eminem’s "Berzerk" drops from #8 to #11. Digital sales rank: #9 (147K)
viral novelty smash "The Fox" jumps from #25 to #13 in its third week… Luke Bryan's "That's My Kind Of Night" dips from #15 to #16 in its sixth week. It's #1 on Hot Country Songs for the sixth week. That’s the longest run at #1 for a single by a male solo artist since Keith Urban's "Better Life" in the fall of 2005.
"Lolly" by Maejor Ali featuring Juicy J & Justin Bieber debuts at #19. It's from Maejor Ali's upcoming debut album, Something About B.M. (his real name is Brandon Green.) Incidentally, put this song title together with *NSYNC's "Pop" (#19 in 2001) and you have Lil Wayne's "Lollipop" (#1 in 2008).
"Sail" jumps from #22 to #20 in its 55th week. This is one of the biggest sleeper hits in pop history. The song was released in May 2010. It first entered Hot Digital Songs at #198 in the week ending May 8, 2011. It has sold 3,822,000 copies—and it got there the hard way: It has never sold even 80K copies in any one week. (Its tally this week, 77K, is its highest to date.)
"Same Love" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert, which drops from #19 to #25 in its 28th week, tops the 2 million mark in digital sales this week. It's more than halfway to matching Lady Gaga's equally gay-friendly "Born This Way," which has sold 3,932,000. "White Walls," the fourth chart hit from the duo's hit album The Heist, debuts at #100.
"Crooked Smile" by J. Cole featuring TLC jumps from #36 to #27 in its 14th week. It's TLC's highest-charting hit since "Unpretty," a #1 hit from September 1999…OneRepublic's "Counting Stars" jumps from #38 to #28 in its 14th week…Billy Currington's "Hey Girl" jumps from #45 to #39 in its 18th week…Bruno Mars' "Gorilla" jumps from #61 to #50 in its fourth week.
Justin Timberlake's "TKO" debuts at #54. It's from The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2, which is due Sept. 30. The great Teddy Pendergrass reached #44 in 1981 (the year Timberlake was born) with a song titled "Love T.K.O."
"A Light That Never Comes" by Linkin Park/Steve Aoki debuts at #65. This is from Linkin Park's remix album, Recharged, which is due Oct. 29…"We Were Us" by Keith Urban & Miranda Lambert jumps from #80 to #68 in its second week…Daughtry's "Waiting For Superman" debuts at #70. It's from the band's fourth studio album, Baptized, which is due Nov. 19.
Imagine Dragons' "Monster" debuts at #78. This is from the Infinity Blade III soundtrack. (That's an action role-playing game, not a movie.)…"Show Me" by Kid Ink featuring Chris Brown debuts at #82. It's from Kid Ink's second full-length album, My Own Lane. (There was a song called "Show Me" in the greatest Broadway musical of all time, My Fair Lady, but I'm guessing this is a different song.)
Two singles by Dutch DJs enter the chart this week. Martin Garrix's "Animals" debuts at #86. This is a non-album single by the 17-year-old DJ. "This Is What It Feels Like" by Armin Van Buuren featuring Trevor Guthrie debuts at #96. It's from the producer/DJ's fifth studio album, Intense.
Gavin DeGraw’s "Best I Ever Had" debuts at #88. It's from his fifth studio album, Make A Move, which is due Oct. 15…Parmalee's "Carolina" debuts at #93. This is a remix of a song that first appeared on the country group's 2008 EP, Complicated. The group includes brothers Matt Thomas and Scott Thomas…Ellie Goulding's "Burn" re-enters the chart at #99. The song has climbed as high as #53.
"Boys 'Round Here" by Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies tops the 2 million mark this week. It's Shelton's third song to reach this level, following "Honey Bee" (2,372,000) and "God Gave Me You" (2,245,000). Shelton is one of only three country male solo artists to amass three or more 2 million-sellers. Jason Aldean leads with four. Luke Bryan has also had three. Hunter Hayes, Toby Keith, Eric Church, Darius Rucker and Jake Owen have each had one 2 million-seller.
Two songs other top the 1 million mark this week: Randy Houser's "Runnin' Outta Moonlight" and "Bad" by Wale featuring Tiara Thomas.