Glimmers Of Light: Other Formats’ Top 10s Juice Up Sleepy Summer Charts

The singles charts have settled into what we hope will be a momentary midsummer slumber. And that starts with the song in its fourth week at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Hot 100.

Idolator’s distaste for Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” is well-documented, but I nonetheless have to acknowledge that this blandly titillating dance-pop smash is emerging as the nation’s song of this summer, its chart run perfectly timed for the season of moist, exposed flesh.

Perry seems likely to hold the keys to the penthouse for a few more weeks, unless Rihanna’s “Take a Bow” regains its bullet at No. 2, or Chris Brown’s gradually rising, more enjoyably summery “Forever” (up two slots to No. 4 this week) experiences a left-field surge. Otherwise, it’s a wasteland out there.

For those of us seeking good news, however, the simultaneous Top 10 entry of three cool songs on three different flagship Billboard charts–Hot 100, R&B/Hip-Hop, and Country–provide a small dose of encouragement.

Hot 100: The Top 10 debutante on the big chart is a song that already feels ubiquitous: Lil Wayne’s mixtape-dominating “A Milli,” Weezy’s second Top 10 pop hit as a lead artist. The first is still sitting in the Top Five: the former chart-topper “Lollipop” holds tight at No. 3.

A little over a month after Lil Wayne’s week of Hot 100 dominance, when he placed seven songs (including featured appearances) on the chart at once, six of those songs are still chart-bound. (The seventh, his collaboration with Juelz Santana and Fabolous, “You Ain’t Got Nuthin,” disappeared from the chart in mid-June.) Of the six charting songs, only “A Milli” is showing any real upward momentum, although his T-Pain collabo, “Got Money,” is back up to No. 30 after dropping from its No. 14 peak over the last few weeks.

“A Milli” has inspired hordes of people to pick up their recording equipment and drop a verse or two over its beat, but it’s now also a solid radio hit. In fact, Weezy has two of the five most-played songs in the country according to Billboard‘s Hot 100 Airplay list: “Lollipop” falls to third place (replaced at No. 1 by Rihanna’s “Take a Bow”), and “A Milli” bullets in fifth place. That’s largely because of R&B/hip-hop radio, where “Milli” is the second most-played song–perhaps all of the mixtape versions are padding its airplay total?–and likely to dethrone R&B chart leader Keyshia Cole in a week or two. And speaking of that chart…

Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs: The only new entry in this list’s Top 10 is a song I confess to loving: Robin Thicke’s “Magic,” a breezy slice of Latin-flavored, Marvin Gaye-inspired groovaliciousness. It’s the advance single for Thicke’s third album, Something Else.

Or should we say sophomore album? Let’s face it, this is Thicke’s attempt to prove his breakthrough on 2006’s The Evolution of Robin Thicke wasn’t a fluke, particularly on R&B radio. Thicke’s “Lost Without U” dominated the R&B/Hip-Hop chart for nearly three months in early 2007, making him the first white guy since George Michael to top the list (and its accompanying album chart). While we’re on the topic of Thicke’s whiteness, let’s applaud the industry’s continued race-blind marketing of him: “Magic” has barely scraped the Hot 100 (up five notches to No. 86 in its second week), but Interscope has been working the single to black radio, hard, for about two months.

What impresses me about “Magic” isn’t just the quality of the song, which manages to nod to Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” without in any way copying it; it’s the modest risk in following up “Lost,” a massive slow-jam hit, with something solidly mid-to-uptempo. I don’t know if Thicke had to overrule his label in selecting a song so unlike his breakthrough hit for the album’s first single, but kudos to whoever chose this.

Hot Country Songs: Weezy made the pop Top 10 in 12 weeks; Thicke made the R&B Top 10 in eight weeks. And then over on the Country list, Miranda Lambert earns her first-ever Top 10 hit with a song that’s 28 weeks old: her killer revenge-rocker “Gunpowder & Lead.”

Remind me never to get wrapped up in rooting for a country song again, ever–it’s so tiresome. I’ve been following this song’s progress on the Country chart for months–in fact, I mentioned Lambert in this space eight weeks ago, just after she won the Country Music Association award for Album of the Year, and the song entered the Top 20. Two months later–including several weeks where “G&L” actually moved backwards while retaining its bullet–Lambert finally inches into the winners’ circle.

I wish I could say a six-month climb was unusual for this chart, but scroll down to the full list below and you’ll see several high week totals. Fully 40% of this week’s Top 10 is older than 20 weeks. As I say here often, country is the most regimented radio format, by which I mean slow and deliberate: Nashville people believe in songs “waiting their turn,” and as a result Billboard‘s all-radio-based Hot Country list has little of the pleasant anarchy you see periodically on the Hot 100.

If you want a revealing primer on how the Nashville industry really works–including its charts–pick up a copy of Bruce Feiler’s fascinating 1998 book Dreaming Out Loud: Garth Brooks, Wynonna Judd, Wade Hayes, And The Changing Face Of Nashville. For one chapter, Feiler sat in with the Columbia radio-promotions team as they literally willed a single by the short-lived “hat act” Wade Hayes to the top of the Country chart, calling radio programmers and counting spins to ensure the right total. It’s not like pop or R&B promotions are any less craven, but the breadth of those music markets, the fickleness of their listeners and the inclusion of song sales on their charts means it’s a lot harder to usher a song to the top. In country, song promotional campaigns have all the spontaneity of a political convention.

Which is why it’s nice to see a song as cool as “Gunpowder & Lead,” and an act as deserving as Lambert, finally get some Nashville love.

Top 10s Last week’s position and total weeks charted in parentheses (Digital Songs chart includes total downloads/percentage change in parentheses):

Hot 100 1. Katy Perry, “I Kissed a Girl” (LW No. 1, 10 weeks) 2. Rihanna, “Take a Bow” (LW No. 2, 14 weeks) 3. Lil Wayne feat. Static Major, “Lollipop” (LW No. 3, 18 weeks) 4. Chris Brown, “Forever” (LW No. 6, 12 weeks) 5. Leona Lewis, “Bleeding Love” (LW No. 4, 22 weeks) 6. Natasha Bedingfield, “Pocketful of Sunshine” (LW No. 7, 22 weeks) 7. Coldplay, “Viva la Vida” (LW No. 5, 10 weeks) 8. Lil Wayne, “A Milli” (LW No. 11, 12 weeks) 9. Miley Cyrus, “7 Things” (LW No. 10, 6 weeks) 10. Plies feat. Ne-Yo, “Bust It Baby (Part 2)” (LW No. 9, 16 weeks)

Hot Digital Songs 1. Katy Perry, “I Kissed a Girl” (LW No. 1, 170,000 downloads) 2. Miley Cyrus, “7 Things” (LW No. 3, 118,000 downloads) 3. Jonas Brothers, “Burnin’ Up” (LW No. 2, 103,000 downloads) 4. Coldplay, “Viva la Vida” (LW No. 4, 98,000 downloads) 5. The Pussycat Dolls, “When I Grow Up” (LW No. 5, 93,000 downloads) 6. Rihanna, “Disturbia” (LW No. 6, 92,000 downloads) 7. Chris Brown, “Forever” (LW No. 10, 87,000 downloads) 8. Rihanna, “Take a Bow” (LW No. 7, N/A downloads) 9. Metro Station, “Shake It” (LW No. 9, 78,000 downloads) 10. Natasha Bedingfield, “Pocketful of Sunshine” (LW No. 13, 78,000 downloads)

Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 1. Keyshia Cole, “Heaven Sent” (LW No. 1, 16 weeks) 2. Lil Wayne, “A Milli” (LW No. 2, 12 weeks) 3. The-Dream, “I Luv Your Girl” (LW No. 3, 20 weeks) 4. Alicia Keys, “Teenage Love Affair” (LW No. 5, 22 weeks) 5. Plies feat. Ne-Yo, “Bust It Baby (Part 2)” (LW No. 4, 20 weeks) 6. Chris Brown, “Take You Down” (LW No. 6, 16 weeks) 7. Rihanna, “Take a Bow” (LW No. 8, 12 weeks) 8. Lil Wayne feat. Static Major, “Lollipop” (LW No. 7, 18 weeks) 9. Young Jeezy feat. Kanye West, “Put On” (LW No. 9, 10 weeks) 10. Robin Thicke, “Magic” (LW No. 14, 8 weeks)

Hot Country Songs 1. Blake Shelton, “Home” (LW No. 1, 25 weeks) 2. Alan Jackson, “Good Time” (LW No. 2, 14 weeks) 3. Brooks & Dunn, “Put a Girl in It” (LW No. 5, 12 weeks) 4. Montgomery Gentry, “Back When I Knew It All” (LW No. 3, 21 weeks) 5. Sugarland, “All I Want to Do” (LW No. 7, 8 weeks) 6. Keith Urban, “You Look Good in My Shirt” (LW No. 9, 8 weeks) 7. Taylor Swift, “Should’ve Said No” (LW No. 10, 9 weeks) 8. Keith Anderson, “I Still Miss You” (LW No. 8, 24 weeks) 9. Miranda Lambert, “Gunpowder & Lead” (LW No. 12, 28 weeks) 10. Kenny Chesney, “Better as a Memory” (LW No. 4, 17 weeks)

Hot Modern Rock Tracks 1. Weezer, “Pork & Beans” (LW No. 1, 13 weeks) 2. Foo Fighters, “Let It Die” (LW No. 3, 15 weeks) 3. The Offspring, “Hammerhead” (LW No. 2, 10 weeks) 4. Linkin Park, “Given Up” (LW No. 4, 19 weeks) 5. Coldplay, “Viva la Vida” (LW No. 6, 6 weeks) 6. Seether, “Rise Above This” (LW No. 5, 21 weeks) 7. Disturbed, “Inside the Fire” (LW No. 7, 16 weeks) 8. Saving Abel, ” Addicted” (LW No. 9, 17 weeks) 9. Death Cab for Cutie, “I Will Possess Your Heart” (LW No. 8, 17 weeks) 10. 3 Doors Down, “It’s Not My Time” (LW No. 10, 21 weeks)

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