I did something over the weekend I haven’t done in a long while—took a close look at the Billboard Hot 100 from top to bottom. Here’s some of what I learned from the current chart, dated May 21.
“Rolling in the Deep” by Adele has knocked Katy Perry’s “E. T.” from the top spot. If you have never heard of Adele, it might be time to get acquainted. She’s a 23-year-old singer from Britain who won the Best New Artist Grammy a couple of years ago. Her second album, 21, is the current Number-One album in the country, and has been Number One for six weeks so far in four different runs at the top since March. Her greatest asset appears to be actual talent, as opposed to a unique look or skillful marketing—although she has those, too. “Rolling in the Deep” is a great record. Hear it here.
“E. T.” was Perry’s fourth Number-One single in the last year, and as of this week, one song or another of hers has spent spent 52 straight weeks in the Top 10. She broke the all-time record for consecutive weeks in the Top 10 a while ago, dethroning Ace of Base, who did 48 weeks in a row at one point.
Ace of Base?
The Lady Antebellum single “Just a Kiss,” which debuted on American Idol a couple of weeks ago, enters the Hot 100 this week at Number 7. It’s one of several current country hits among the Top 40: “Honey Bee” by Blake Shelton at Number 27, “A Little Bit Stronger” by Sara Evans at 34, “Dirt Road Anthem” by Jason Aldean at 37, “I Won’t Let Go” by Rascal Flatts at 38, and “Old Alabama” by Brad Paisley at 40. (The latter is a tribute to the country band Alabama; it samples a couple of old Alabama hits and brings the members in for backing vocals.) Other country artists with their current radio hits on the Hot 100 include Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, the Zac Brown Band, Eric Church, Keith Urban, Jerrod Niemann, Toby Keith, Ronnie Dunn, and others I’m probably forgetting.
Sitting at Number 22 on the Hot 100 is “Fuckin’ Perfect” by Pink. That’s it’s official title , although it’s bowdlerized to “F**kin’ Perfect” on the chart, and it has been released in a clean version for radio play. It rose to Number 2 on the Hot 100 earlier this year—and also got a great deal of play on adult-contemporary radio. It’s a good-enough song (though it suffers from the overmodulated production we’ve griped about here previously), but there’s no earthly reason why it needs to be called “Fuckin’ Perfect.” The clean version removes the f-word with absolutely no effect on the content at all. But each artist’s art is his or her own: I suppose Steve Miller could have chosen to say “funky kicks” on the original “Jet Airliner,” too.
Glee must have done an episode featuring Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours in the last couple of weeks: four Mac songs by the Glee cast debut on this week’s Hot 100: “Go Your Own Way” at 45, “Don’t Stop” at 79, “Never Going Back Again” at 81, and “Dreams” at 92.
On the subject of going your own way, this week’s chart is highly impressive in terms of its democracy. As much as I like to say that the glory of the 70s was the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink nature of Top 40 radio, those years have got nothin’ on now. Americans listen to a lot of radically different styles of music. I am tempted to say that only the most reckless (or clueless) radio station would ever try playing it all, because the extremes are too extreme, but then I recall that the extremes were extreme back in the day, too: 38 years ago this spring, Donny Osmond’s “The Twelfth of Never” and Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein” ran the charts at about the same time, and stations played ’em both.
Your impressions of the current Hot 100, or anything else you’d like to add, are welcome in the comments.