Week Ending March 17, 2013. Songs: The Great Chart Robbery Of 2013
“Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz is #1 on Hot Digital Songs for the 10th straight week. It’s #1 on the all-genre Radio Songs chart for the second week. Under the old chart formula, that would make the genial hip-hop smash a virtual lock for the #1 spot on the Hot 100. But under the new formula, which gives great (and I would contend excessive) weight to YouTube streaming data, it ranks #2 for the fifth straight week, behind Baauer’s “Harlem Shake.” That viral phenomenon is #6 on Hot Digital Songs and has yet to crack the 75-song Radio Songs chart. (Given that its total radio audience shrank by 9% this week, it probably never will crack the Radio Songs chart.)
“Harlem Shake” makes up for its deficits in sales and radio airplay by holding at #1 on the Streaming Songs chart for the fifth week. But even here it is losing its mojo. Its total streams drop by 42% this week, from 48 million to 28 million. (By comparison, the streaming total for “Thrift Shop” is 9.5 million, which represents a gain of 4% compared to last week.)
The streaming total for “Harlem Shake” has been shrinking every week since it debuted, from 103 million to 98 million to 54 million to 48 million to 24 million.
Billboard’s Gary Trust reports that, in terms of overall Hot 100 points, “Harlem Shake” has a 29% lead over “Thrift Shop” this week. But that’s down from a 103% lead last week.
This tells us four things. 1. “Thrift Shop” may return to #1 on the Hot 100 next week (though it will also have to contend with Bruno Mars’ new smash). 2. Billboard should seriously consider whether it thinks “Thrift Shop” should have spent the last five weeks at #2. Maybe its run at #1 should have been interrupted for a couple of weeks, when the “Harlem Shake” phenomenon was at its peak, but this sustained shut-out seems excessive. 3. Billboard probably should have had a longer trial run period, to get the new chart mix just right. 4. It’s to Billboard’s credit that it is being so transparent about the numbers behind the numbers. It's not trying to hide anything.
“Thrift Shop” is the first song to top the digital sales chart for 10 weeks since the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” in 2009. It’s the first song to remain #1 on that chart for 10 consecutive weeks since the Peas’ previous hit, “Boom Boom Pow.”
“Thrift Shop” is just the fourth song in the history of the Hot Digital Songs chart (which dates back to October 2004), to log 10 or more weeks at #1. “Low” by Flo Rida featuring T-Pain spent 13 weeks on top in 2007-2008. The two Peas hits each had 10 weeks on top. (Notably, those three earlier hits also spent 10 or more weeks at #1 on the Hot 100. By contrast, “Thrift Shop” has spent just four weeks at #1 so far.)