Archive forFebruary, 2010

Giant-Killer: How Ke$ha Held Back “We Are the World” II on the Hot 100

For months now, the media has been positioning art-damaged dance queen Lady Gaga as the heir apparent to Hall of Fame diva Madonna.

But after Billboard’s release of the latest Hot 100, perhaps Ke$ha is more deserving of the title. With just her first hit single, the party girl has – without breaking a sweat – duplicated a giant-killing feat pulled by Madge’s sixth hit in 1985.

That would be the defeat of “We Are the World,” a heavily hyped all-star charity record both in its original 1985 incarnation and in a mediocre 2010 remake for Haitian relief. The original version by USA for Africa did manage to top the Hot 100 in spring ’85 before being ousted four weeks later – remarkably quickly – by a hotter-than-hot Lady M with her undying ballad “Crazy for You.”

A quarter-century later, the redo by Artists for Haiti has suffered an even greater chart humiliation: not reaching the No. 1 spot at all, thanks to Ke$ha’s now nine-week-old chart-topper “TiK ToK.” While “WATW” ’10 is still selling well, it’s quite likely that its No. 2 debut this week is as high as it’ll ever go.

The Hot 100 of today is pretty radically different from the 1985 chart, but it’s still an interesting thought exercise to compare the chart performances of the two versions (and the pop-diva songs that held them back), to understand how each version reflects the radio and sales landscape of its day.


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