In this column, I provide brief notes and reviews for all of the number one songs in the United States according to the Billboard charts. In addition to the #1 overall song (as per the Hot 100 chart), the top songs on Billboard’s primary genre charts are also featured.
This week (issued for 4/26/2014), new challengers emerge on the Pop and Country charts, but Pharrell is still without rival on the Hot 100.
Hot 100, R&B/Hip Hop: Pharrell Williams – “Happy”
Pharrell’s “Happy” is number one for yet another week on the overall and on the R&B/Hip Hop chart. It has been number one on the Hot 100 chart every week since March 1. It is also the most downloaded digital single and the most played song on radio this week, meaning that it will be difficult for any other song to end Pharrell’s reign at the top of the charts in the immediate future. However, that “Happy” fell to number two on the Pop charts this week gives a glimmer of hope to the chasing pack, dim though it may be.
In case you have not read last week’s column, I am a fan of “Happy” and have no qualms with its dominance of the Billboard charts, at least for the time being. I consider it to be the best song covered in this column, as it was in the last and will likely be in the next. In fact, I’m even tacking on an additional star to my rating due to it being pure class.
Pop: Jason Derulo – “Talk Dirty (feat. 2 Chainz)”
Derulo has emerged as the most likely candidate to displace Pharrell from the number one spot, having already done so this week on the pop chart. Last Tuesday saw the release of Derulo’s Talk Dirty album (which is an expanded reissue of his 2013 EP Tattoos) which should help to increase plays of this song.
It uses strings to build tension during the bridge and then proceeds to “get jazzy on” the chorus with a nifty horn break. As one might expect, the 2 Chainz verse is merely serviceable, but that’s all it needs to be. Derulo’s vocals are solid, but the quirky beat is the star (courtesy of Ricky Reed), making “Talk Dirty” sound playful and assured, sounding poised to be a breakout summer jam. It’s a possibility that “Talk Dirty” will give Derulo his second US #1, but it has already been on the chart longer than “Happy” and, as fun as “Talk Dirty” may be, it is not the pan-generational crowd pleaser that “Happy” is.
Country: Luke Bryan – “Play It Again”
Luke Bryan’s “Play It Again” is the second (and final) new number one this week. Of course, Bryan was also number one last week as a featured artist on Florida Georgia Line’s “This Is How We Roll,” which has slipped to second. It is Bryan’s third-straight #1 on the country charts as a solo artist. “Play It Again” has also jumped twelve spots on the Hot 100 chart, now peaking at 14. The Country charts are fractured at the moment, with a different song occupying the top spot of the Country Airplay (Jerrod Niemann’s “Drink to that All Night”), Country Digital sales (“Play It Again”), and Country Streaming (Florida Georgia Line’s “This Is How We Roll”) charts. Thus, it would not be surprising to have another number one country song next week.
“Play It Again” frustrates me. I enjoy the way the melody builds throughout the verses and the bridge, but the chorus sounds stilted and lazy. It has a breezy freshness to it, familiar sounding enough to be on mainstream country radio but unique enough to standout, largely owing to Bryan’s restrained but charming vocals.
Rock: Bastille – “Pompeii”
Arctic Monkeys have been dominating the Rock Airplay chart with “Do I Wanna Know,” but their inability to crossover to Top 40 radio means that they are of no threat to Bastille on the overall rock chart (“Do I Wanna Know” is 77 on the Hot 100, while “Pompeii” is at 6). “Pompeii” remains uninspiring but tolerable.
Dance / Electronic: DJ Snake & Lil Jon – “Turn Down for What”
“Turn Down for What” keeps its number one spot on the Dance/Electronic charts while moving up to 8 on the Hot 100 for its best placement to date. I still enjoy both the song and the music video.
Latin: Romeo Santos – “Odio (feat. Drake)”
“Odio” holds on to number one on the Latin charts for another week, but is in serious danger of falling off of the Hot 100, down to 100 this week. The song is decent enough, but the more I hear it the more infuriated I become with Drake’s verse.
Hot 100: Pharrell Williams – “Happy” [****]
Pop: Jason Derulo – “Talk Dirty (feat. 2 Chainz)” [***]
Country: Luke Bryan – “Play It Again” [***]
Rock: Bastille – “Pompeii” [**]
R&B/Hip Hop: Pharrell Williams – “Happy” [****]
Dance / Electronic: DJ Snake & Lil Jon – “Turn Down for What” [***]
Latin: Romeo Santos – “Odio (feat. Drake)” [**]