Mary Lambert's 'She Keeps Me Warm' Rises At Radio After Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Success
After appearing on last night's Grammy Awards during Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Same Love" performance/mass wedding ceremony, Mary Lambert continues to climb Billboard's Adult Pop Songs chart with "She Keeps Me Warm." The ballad, which shares the "Same Love" chorus, rises 38-35 in its second week on the radio-based survey, up 24% in plays, according to Nielsen BDS.
The Seattle-based Lambert wrote the chorus for the rap duo's song, which hit No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July before earning a Grammy nomination for song of the year. She then turned the content into its own song, redubbed "She Keeps Me Warm." She signed to Capitol Records following the success of "Same" and released the four-song EP "Welcome to the Age of My Body" (which includes "Warm") in December.
Still, according to Capitol Music Group executive VP Greg Thompson, the breakthrough of "Same Love" wasn't the only reason the label added her to its roster. "'Same Love' certainly brought her to our attention, but when we looked further, we saw an incredibly gifted singer/songwriter and spoken-word artist.
"We thought that hers could be a real important voice."
Watch Lambert chat about "Same Love" and her GRAMMYs performance on the red carpet of the ceremony:
Impressively, "Warm" has charted so far from unsolicited airplay, with Capitol having set this week as its official target for beginning radio promotion of it. Thompson says the early airplay "by astute programmers that are usually tough adds makes a statement about the quality of it."
Following the "Body" EP, Capitol hopes to release Lambert's full-length debut later this year.
For now, the label sees the song's start as an encouraging indicator of Lambert's potential.
There's also precedent for a rap hit segueing to adult radio in a new form: After Jay Z and Alicia Keys' rap/sung "Empire State of Mind" topped the Hot 100 for five weeks in late 2009, Keys' rap-free interpretation rose to No. 18 on Adult Contemporary in 2010. Thompson invokes an even earlier comparison: Dido's "Thank You" first gained attention as the chorus to Eminem's No. 11-peaking Hot Rap Songs classic "Stan" in 2000. On its own, "Thank You" then became a bigger hit on its own, charging to No. 3 on the Hot 100 in 2001.
"Dido went on to have several hits," Thompson notes. "Similarly, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis gave Mary a platform that I feel she's capable of delivering on.
"She's also so appreciative of what she has. She's one of these people who doesn't take anything for granted. She was blown away to be on-stage with everyone – including Madonna! – last night."
As for the content of "Warm," a same-sex love song, Thompson believes that listeners in 2014 "just know what they like, and they like her," as evidenced by the widespread buzz of last night's 33 marriages set to "Same Love" on live TV. ("This song is a love song not for some of us, but for all of us," Queen Latifah proclaimed upon introducing the performance.)
"Macklemore and Ryan Lewis saw her talent," Thompson says, "and they created a brilliant song that will speak for generations to come."
Those "astute" radio programmers playing "Warm" concur that its lyrical content is universal in its appeal, which is key to it connecting with them and their stations' audiences.
"Mary's beautiful voice brings the lyrics to life," says adult pop WEZF Burlington, Vt., program director Jennifer Foxx. The station played "Warm" 18 times last week (Jan. 20-26).
"It breathes the love and compassion that our audience embraces."
KZZO Sacramento PD Chad Rufer points to the familiarity of "Warm," thanks to the success of "Same Love." The station was the first to play "Warm" (Dec. 6) and spun it 23 times last week.
"I think the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis version was very well done," he says. "However, for a radio station like ours that has the moniker, 'Today's best hits without the rap,' playing that song wasn't an option. But, the adult pop audience was certainly exposed to it and its message. That certainly helped jumpstart it for us, with listeners saying, 'Oh, I know that hook'."
Rufer adds that without Macklemore's more specific lyrics that infuse his rap in the song, "Mary's version is better for us because it takes the stance that the majority of adult females can relate to, about the emotions of following in love. I think the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis version has more of a political stance than Lambert's.
"Hers is simply a great pop song about falling in love."
Bobby Smith, PD of adult pop WOMX and pop station WJHM Orlando, Fla., echoes that the hit status of "Same" on the latter outlet helped warm up "Warm" for the former. "We had such success with 'Same Love' on [WJHM] that once [WOMX music director Dana Taylor] and I heard the entire version of 'She Keeps Me Warm,' we felt confident that it would already be familiar with the [WOMX] audience." WOMX played "Same" 19 times last week.
"That was the major factor in deciding to play the song. We already liked it in our music meetings, but to feel that it was already familiar with our audience was a bonus to get it started."
Smith, too, feels that the song's message knows no limits.
"It's a love song. Love should, and does trump all biases in the world, right? I hope so."