Billboard is predicting a top 10 debut for ZAYN with a strong possibility of “Pillowtalk” debuting at number 1. That doesn’t happen very often. Of the 1050 songs that have topped the Hot 100, only 24 of them have been debuts. Idols have managed that feat 4 times (Clay, Fantasia, Carrie and Taylor) back in the day when nobody bought singles and their Coronation singles were able to overpower airplay. It did happen two times in late 2015 with Bieber getting his first number one with “What do You Mean” and Adele’s much anticipated “Hello”.
ZAYN is predicted to have moved 250K downloads during the tracking week which is excellent, but not earth shattering. Radio has been accepting of “Pillowtalk” with a respectable 5.9M AI (twenty one pilots are currently racking up an increase of 2.8M a day so 5.9M for a week isn’t anything to praise from the rooftops). But it is streaming where he is a big champ with 17M in streams last week. Between him and Biebs, streaming is skewing young and male.
Colour me surprised about all of this. One Direction has certainly been successful, but their combined appeal has never resulted in a single that topped the Hot 100. ZAYN quit the band in a fit of pique mid-tour and has engaged in shadow throwing with his former band and bandmates. Then, he was in studio for a long while. Add in the fact that Harry was generally considered the star, caps-lock is kind of pretentious and I think “Pillowtalk” is derivative, and I would never have predicted that ZAYN would be in sniffing distance of debuting in the Hot 100.
And here is another thing, the market really does seem saturated with young males right now. You’ve got Shawn Mendes and Charlie Puth breaking out last year. Bieber just resurrected his career and is having his best era ever. The Weeknd has become a consistent chart topper. Ed Sheeran is everywhere – either performing himself or writing hits for others. Drake drops a new album every 6 months and Future isn’t far behind. Bruno Mars can do anything. So, I honestly didn’t think there was room for the boys from One Direction to go solo. I’m re-thinking that.
And I’m thinking about who should win Idol. They keep yammering on about book-ending Kelly Clarkson and people think they mean to make a girl another winner. I’m not so sure. We aren’t living in the first 5 years of the 2000’s anymore. Back then, rap and big-voiced females were dominating the charts. Now, the market has become drenched in young testosterone. That has long been true of the Country and Rock charts, but now Pop is swinging that way too.
Last year, only two female artists topped the Hot 100 – Adele and Taylor. In 2005, the year Carrie won, the top 5 songs of the year were from Mariah, Gwen, Mario, Kelly and Ciara/Missy Elliott. In 2015, we have Mark/Bruno, Ed, Wiz/Charlie, Fetty Wap and Maroon 5. The only female who even cracks the top 10 is Taylor Swift. The top 5 songs on Pop right now are Justin’s “Love Yourself”, twenty one pilot’s “Stressed Out”, The Weeknd’s “In the Night”, Alessia Cara’s “Here” and Justin’s “Sorry”. On overall AI, you can shuffle the songs and replace Alessia with Adele. Streaming top 5 are boys and bands. iTunes are boys, bands and Rihanna.
From where I’m sitting, boys are your best shot at a success this season. Idol consistently does better when they follow trends. Throwback artists don’t tend to resonate as well with music consumers as they do with singing show voters (tell me again how people have been waiting for somebody to bring such-and-such back and I’ll wait for that not to happen).
Since the trend is young males, I think Mackenzie could be the one. He’s gotten a good edit and hasn’t been over-pimped which can turn off viewers. Combine geeky good looks with charming modesty and some song-writing chops in a popular genre and that hints at success. Thomas is very gif-able and could be a support for Mackenzie (with his voters switching to Mackenzie when he gets voted off). Trent, should he ever get well again, is another possibility. He’s a little older and not quite the right genre, but there have been enough successes from guys like him lately for him to be a strong contender. Add in that he’s got a great voice and he’s good looking when his face isn’t blotchy from illness. For the girls to be a success, they have to stand out. A good voice singing the regular stuff isn’t going to cut it. I think that Jenn B is quirky enough to make an impression while Avalon could appeal to the millennials (great voice, can inject a bit of an Urban sound like Alessia, tom-boyish style). Of course, many a promising looking contestant has faded fast when they hit the live shows, so we’ll have to wait and see.
In other news, albums…Carrie, Tori, Nick, Carly Rae, Lauren and One Direction.
HDD Sales Chart (89%)
— 1 RIHANNA ANTI WESTBURY ROAD/ROC NATION 98,703
— 2 KEVIN GATES ISLAH BREAD WINNER’S ASSOCIATION 65,951
— 3 SIA THIS IS ACTING RCA 55,546
1 4 ADELE 25 XL/COLUMBIA 51,763
— 5 CHARLIE PUTH NINE TRACK MIND ARTIST PARTNER GROUP 37,072
2 6 JUSTIN BIEBER PURPOSE DEF JAM 16,444
5 7 CHRIS STAPLETON TRAVELLER MERCURY NASHVILLE 15,654
— 8 DREAM THEATER THE ASTONISHING ROADRUNNER 12,963
4 9 2016 GRAMMY NOMINEES VARIOUS ARTISTS REPUBLIC 12,163 [Carrie Underwood, Tori Kelly]
8 10 KIDZ BOP KIDS KIDZ BOP 31 RAZOR & TIE 10,702
— 16 GREASE LIVE!mVARIOUS ARTISTS PARAMOUNT/REPUBLIC 7,754 [Carly Rae Jepsen]
29 26 NOW 56 VARIOUS ARTISTS NOW/LEGACY 4,491 [Nick Fradiani]
25 27 ONE DIRECTION MADE IN THE A.M. SYCO/COLUMBIA 4,355
— 29 GREASE SOUNDTRACK POLYDOR 3,996
38 33 CARRIE UNDERWOOD STORYTELLER 19/ARISTA NASHVILLE 3,760
— 50 LAUREN DAIGLE HOW CAN IT BE CENTRICITY 2,121