Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend" sold 521K copies in its first week. Only one other song in digital history has gotten off to such a fast start. Flo Rida's "Right Round" sold 636K copies in its first week of digital availability in February 2009. So you might reasonably expect "Boyfriend" to enter Billboard's Hot 100 at #1. It doesn't. It opens at #2 behind "We Are Young" by fun. featuring Janelle Monae, which holds at #1 for the fifth straight week.
What gives? Digital sales are just one component of the Hot 100, which also measures radio airplay and, as of the past few weeks, on-demand streaming data. "We Are Young" was ahead in airplay points (it jumps to #2 on Billboard's Hot 100 Airplay chart, while "Boyfriend" debuts at #24.) Also, "We Are Young" was way ahead in terms of streaming points (it remains at #1 on a separate On-Demand Songs chart, whereas "Boyfriend" wasn't available on most streaming services during the tracking week).
And though it was toppled from the top spot on Hot Digital Songs, "We Are Young" remains a potent digital seller. The song sold 364K copies this week. This is the fifth consecutive week in which the song has topped 300K in weekly sales. Only one other song in digital history, "Love The Way You Lie" by Eminem featuring Rihanna, has topped 300K five times.
Even though "Boyfriend" didn't grab the coveted #1 spot, it's Bieber's highest-charting hit to date. It surpasses "Baby" (featuring Ludacris), which debuted and peaked at #5 in February 2010.
"Boyfriend" represents a more mature sound for Bieber, closer to the slinky pop/R&B of pop music's other Justin than to the G-rated bubblegum of "Baby." Justin Timberlake made a similar transition from the bubblegum of such *NSYNC hits as "Bye Bye Bye" to a more grown-up sound on such early solo hits as "Cry Me A River."
"Boyfriend" is Bieber's third top 10 hit and his first without a guest star. His other top 10 hit is "Never Say Never" (featuring Jaden Smith), which hit #8 in March 2011.
With Bieber's high profile (he has a whopping 19 million Twitter followers) and strong album sales (more than 8 million albums sold in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan), you might expect that he would have more than just three top 10 hits. Pop radio hasn't fully embraced him, not wanting to chase off older fans. But with the current acceptance of The Wanted and One Direction, as well as such other acts as Big Time Rush and Selena Gomez & the Scene, it seems clear that youth-targeted pop is on the rise.
In addition to its strong showing in the U.S., "Boyfriend" enters the Canadian Hot 100 at #1. It's Bieber's first #1 in his home country.
In other teen pop news, two boy bands are listed in this week's top 10. The Wanted dips from #3 to #4 with "Glad You Came," while One Direction jumps from #11 to #9 with "What Makes You Beautiful." (The five members of The Wanted range in age from 18 to 23. The five members of One Direction range from 18 to 20.) This echoes the epic boy band battles of the late '90s between Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. Those two groups competed in the top 10 with three pairs of hits between February 1999 and December 2000. The key difference between then and now: The Wanted and One Direction are both British (One Direction has one Irish member).
"Call Me Maybe," the breakthrough hit by Bieber protégé Carly Rae Jepsen, jumps from #18 to #10. (Jepsen is 26, but sounds years younger.) The song spent four weeks at #1 on the Canadian Hot 100. (Jepsen is also Canadian.) Bieber championed Jepsen in various forms of social media. It's only fitting that Bieber has played a significant role in helping to break Jepsen. He is "paying it forward" after Usher played a key role in getting him off the ground.
In non-teen pop news, two of the week's top three hits on the Hot 100, "We Are Young" and "Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye featuring Kimbra, are both big hits at alternative radio. The latter song is #1 on Billboard's Alternative chart for the seventh week.
The Fine Print: Two other songs (besides "Right Round" and "Boyfriend") have sold 520K or more copies in one week, but neither was in its first week of release at the time. Ke$ha's "TiK ToK" sold 610K copies in December 2009, when it was in its 14th week. Bruno Mars' "Grenade" sold 559K copies in December 2010, when it was in its 13th week. (Sales of both of these songs swelled because fans were itching to use gift-cards they had received for the holidays.)
Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 songs.
1. fun. featuring Janelle Monae, "We Are Young." The song holds at #1 for the fifth straight week in its 15th week on the chart. This is its eighth week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #2 (364K).
2. Justin Bieber, "Boyfriend." This new entry is Bieber's third top 10 hit; his highest-charting hit to date. Digital sales rank: #1 (521K).
3. Gotye featuring Kimbra, "Somebody That I Used To Know." The song jumps from #4 to #3 in its 13th week on the chart. This is its fifth week in the top 10. The song spent five weeks at #1 in the U.K. in February and March, which is the longest run so far this year. Digital sales rank: #3 (244K).
4. The Wanted, "Glad You Came." The song dips from #3 to #4 in 12th week on the chart. This is its sixth week in the top 10. The song was #1 in the U.K. for two weeks in July. Digital sales rank: #8 (169K).
5. Kelly Clarkson, "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)." The former #1 song drops from #2 to #5 in its 15th week on the chart. This is its 11th week in the top 10. Digital sales rank: #9 (137K).
6. Nicki Minaj, "Starships." The song dips from #5 to #6 in its seventh week on the chart. It has been in the top 10 the entire time. Digital sales rank: #4 (204K).
7. Flo Rida featuring Sia, "Wild Ones." The song holds at #7 for the second week in its 13th week on the chart. This is its third week in the top 10. The song tops the 1 million mark in digital sales this week. Digital sales rank: #6 (184K).
8. Katy Perry, "Part Of Me." The former #1 song holds at #8 for the second week in its seventh week on the chart. It has been in the top 10 the entire time. Digital sales rank: #10 (122K).
9. One Direction, "What Makes You Beautiful." The song jumps from #11 to #9 in its seventh week on the chart. This is the boy band's first top 10 hit. The song hit #1 in the U.K. in September. Digital sales rank: #5 (199K).
10. Carly Rae Jepsen, "Call Me Maybe." The song jumps from #18 to #10 in its sixth week on the chart. This is Jepsen's first top 10 hit. Digital sales rank: #7 (182K).
Three songs drop out of the top 10 this week. Adele's "Set Fire To The Rain" drops from #6 to #12, "Take Care" by Drake featuring Rihanna drops from #9 to #11 and "Turn Me On" by David Guetta featuring Nicki Minaj drops from #10 to #13.
This is only the fourth time in the past year that Adele hasn't had a hit in the top 10. The three previous weeks occurred in August when there was a brief lull between "Rolling In The Deep" and "Someone Like You." It was one year ago this week that "Rolling In The Deep" broke into the top 10.
Calvin Harris' "Feel So Close" jumps from #15 to #14 in its eighth week…B.o.B.'s "So Good" jumps from #27 to #23 in its sixth week. The song has climbed as high as #11…Chris Brown's "Turn Up The Music" drops from #25 to #27 in its seventh week. The song peaked at #10. The song has fared better in the U.K., where it enters the chart at #1 this week. It's Brown's first #1 in that country.
Usher's "Climax" leaps from #40 to #29 in its sixth week…"Birthday Cake," Rihanna's reunion hit with Chris Brown, jumps from #34 to #30 in its sixth week on the Hot 100…Karmin's "Brokenhearted" leaps from #52 to #33 in its fourth week.
Adele's "Rumour Has It" jumps from #44 to #35 (its highest ranking to date) in its 16th week. I have more good news for Adele: "Rolling In The Deep" logs its 65th week on the Hot 100 this week, a tally equaled by only three other hits in the chart's nearly 54-year history. Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" leads the pack with 76 weeks, followed by LeAnn Rimes' "How Do I Live" (69 weeks) and Jewel's "You Were Meant For Me"/"Foolish Games" (also 65 weeks).
Jake Owen's "Alone With You" dips from #41 to #42 in its 17th week. It holds at #1 on Top Country Songs for the second week...Two country crossover hits jump into the top 40 in the wake of the Academy of Country Music Awards show. Eric Church's "Springsteen" jumps from #46 to #38 in its fifth week. Luke Bryan's "Drunk On You" leaps from #60 to #39 in its fifth week.
Beyonce's "Love On Top" drops from #54 to #58 in its 20th week. It holds at #1 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for the sixth straight week. R&B (and country) artists have a huge advantage over pop artists: They have a home format to give them support at times when pop support is lacking.
"I Don't Really Care" by Waka Flocka Flame featuring Trey Songz is the week's second highest new entry, after "Boyfriend." The song, which bows at #64, is the second chart hit from Waka Flocka Flame's forthcoming second solo album, Triple F Life: Friends, Fans And Family…Songz has a hit of his own, "Heart Attack," right on its heels at #65. The song is from Songz's upcoming fifth studio album, Chapter 5… Songz has a third song on the chart: "Sex Ain't Better Than Love," which jumps from #91 to #80 in its fourth week. The song is from his recent EP Inevitable.
Eli Young Band's "Even If It Breaks Your Heart" jumps from #82 to #73 in its third week…"Leave You Alone" by Young Jeezy featuring Ne-Yo jumps from #88 to #76 in its third week…Sean Paul's "She Doesn't Mind" opens at #78. The song is vying to become Paul's ninth top 10 hit. It's from Paul's upcoming fifth studio album, Tomahawk Technique.
Pitbull's "Back In Time," from the upcoming movie Men In Black 3, opens at #79. It's vying to become his eighth top 10 hit. Will Smith's "Men In Black," from the original 1997 movie, spent four weeks at #1 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart. Men In Black 3 is due May 25. Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reprise their roles from the 1997 movie and 2002 sequel. Nicole Scherzinger plays Lily Poison, an antagonist.
Madonna's former top 10 hit "Give Me All Your Luvin'" (featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.) re-enters the chart at #87…"Crew Love" by Drake featuring The Weeknd jumps from #100 to #88 in its second week…It's not every day that a Brazilian artist enters the chart with a song that was written in Portuguese, but that's what we have with Michel Telo's p"Ai Se Eu Te Pego," which opens at #95. (The title means "Oh, If I Catch You.") The song has already been a hit across Europe and Latin America.
"The Way I Are," the 2007 smash by Timbaland featuring Keri Hilson, tops the 3 million mark in digital sales this week. It's Timbaland's second biggest digital hit, following "Apologize" (featuring OneRepublic), which has sold 5,331,000 copies. Hilson's subsequent solo hit, "Knock You Down" (featuring Kanye West and Ne-Yo) has sold 2,243,000 copies.
Taylor Swift's "Ours" tops the 1 million mark in digital sales this week. It's Swift's 14th million-seller. That's more than any other country artist in digital history. In fact, it's as many as the next two most prolific country hit-makers combined. Carrie Underwood is second with eight digital million-sellers. The Zac Brown Band is third with six.