Chart Watch Extra: “Breaking Bad” Boosts Badfinger

Paul Grein
Chart Watch

According to Spotify, global streams of Badfinger's 1972 hit "Baby Blue" are up 9000 percent since Sunday night's series finale of AMC's Breaking Bad. The song sold more than 5,000 digital copies in the tracking week that ended Sunday night, almost all of them after the show aired. The big question now: Will "Baby Blue" experience a sustained resurgence anything like that experienced by Journey's 1981 hit "Don't Stop Believin'" after it was featured in the series finale of The Sopranos in June 2007?

"Don't Stop Believin'" had been selling about 7K digital copies per week. The week of the episode it sold 9K. In the first full week following the episode, its weekly sales jumped to 41K. Moreover, the usage seemed to give the song extra gravitas. The song, which had sold 772K digital copies prior to the episode is now up to 5,855,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

"Baby Blue" isn't remotely in that league as a song. It had been selling about 200 units a week. It is up to 83K in total sales to date. But the Breaking Bad use may well give it a push. An estimated 10.3 million people saw the finale, which was written and produced by series creator Vince Gilligan.

This isn't the first time that "Baby Blue" has appeared in a major film or TV project. The song was featured in the Oscar-winning 2006 movie The Departed and on its soundtrack album.

Badfinger was a rock group from Wales that was among the first acts signed to the Beatles' Apple Records. It had only four top 40 hits on Billboard's Hot 100, but its superstar connections and dramatic personal story gave it an impact that went far beyond those hits.

"Baby Blue" was Badfinger's fourth (and final) Top 40 hit. It reached #14 in April 1972. Todd Rundgren produced the hit. Group member Pete Ham wrote it. Ham also wrote the group's 1970 hit "No Matter What" and its 1972 hit "Day After Day." Ham and fellow group member Tom Evans also wrote "Without You," which Badfinger recorded on its 1970 album No Dice. The song has been a smash hit twice, for Nilsson in1972 and Mariah Carey in 1994.

Sadly, and incredibly, both Ham and Evans committed suicide. Ham in April 1975 at age 27; Evans in November 1983 at age 36.

Badfinger's previous hits (all of which made the top 10) were "Come And Get It," "No Matter What" and "Day After Day." Paul McCartney wrote and produced "Come And Get It." George Harrison produced "Day After Day" and played guitar on it. (Leon Russell played piano on the track.) "Baby Blue" and "Day After Day" both originated on the group's 1971 album Straight Up.

As it happens, a movie usage also gave Badfinger's first hit a boost. "Come And Get it" was featured in the Peter Sellers movie The Magic Christian.