Week Ending April 1, 2012. Songs: A Teen-Tastic Top 10
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.