The expansion of school school meant a pre-announced street date and a leading single or two released over a couple…
The expansion of school school meant a pre-announced street date and a leading single or two released over a couple of months. The hope was to stoke fan fervor and a popular single would encourage them to buy a full length. For years, the rules were simple: if one or both singles did well, the artist was cleared for album release. If the single went bad, the artist may have his release date printed back.
The process has almost completely collapsed in flowing time. Now, dividends often consist of an infinite stream of singles and EP, a durability-all-against-damn wall without album guarantee. The backside is the midnight release, but this game to seize and keep the internet’s attention has become so common that it has partially defeated its purpose. Twitter reported, for example, that Beyonce’s 201
6 surprise, Lemonade generated 4.1 million tweets in less than 48 hours; two years later, her joint surprise album Everything Is Love with Jay-Z generated just 2.1 million. Part of that decline is probably due to surprise.
However, there is an artist for whom these new rules do not appear to apply. So far this year, Ariana Grande performed a perfect traditional extension of her album Sweetener and launched a campaign in April, which slowly led to a debut in number one in August. But last week’s release of “Thank You, Next” six days ago, an obstacle could also be effective: The single has been streamed more than twice as much as any other song this week . It’s great for one of the ten biggest streaming weeks of the year, and Grande is the only entry on the list that is not – and will not – be played on rapradio.
Grande started its bulldozing run with No Tears Left to Cry, a single that succeeded – or because of its oddity. The week in that track was four of the top five entries on the Billboards Pop Songs schedule. the fifth was a cardiac muscular ballad from Camila Cabello. Grande flew solo on “No Tears Left to Cry” and instead of earning a ballad, she pushed the pace of dance floor, draws synths and chord progressions that developed late nineties crossover house music. The pop machine rewarded Grande for her boldness and “No Tears to Cry” went number one in a row in the week of July 21st.
Just before “No Tears to Cry” topped, Grande released his second official single “God Is a Woman.” This track embraced modern hip-hop which meant that it was much more in line with the rest of modern pop. It did not start as strong as “No Tears to Cry” – Number 11 on the heat instead of number three – but since the lead single had done so well on the radio, “God Is a Woman” began to go fast too. This meant that the week Grande released Sweetener she had two different tracks in the top twenty on the pop air waves. It helped her achieve a personal best opening week with 231,000 albums sold.
Unlike many of her pop partners, Grande is not primarily dependent on radio support for making big numbers. Sweetener also collected 126.7 million streams during its opening week, which Billboard was reported to be the biggest streaming week in history for all non-hip-hop albums made by a woman. So it was sensible last month when Grande formally announced via Twitter that she adopted the streaming friendly publishing schedule more often in rap, R & B and reggaeton: “I just want to make music and release it anytime” she wrote . “I do not want to match with similar …” routine “or as” formula “anymore.”
This set the table for Grande’s current view of commercial dominance. She continues to drive “ God is a Woman” on Popradio, where it reached number one this week, thankfully, ending a monotonous month plus driving for five seconds of the summer. Meanwhile, Grande has already followed the release of “Breathin”, the type of pancake-plate-drums-and-sky-high-hook Eighties-ish record that has earned her well in the past. (It’s a lot like her old hit “Love Me Harder”, and it has two of the same co-authors, Savan Kotecha and Peter Svensson.) “Breathin” is now also in the top ten on radio, meaning that between only the two songs reaches she’s over 110 million people a week through the air waves.
To catch the few listeners who had not encountered one of the tracks already – and to satisfy her, “release it when” imperative – Grande also released “Thank You Next” last Saturday with little warning. The titles referring to a stream of old flames and the cure, rejecting the hook drove this to 45.7 million streams. Only Drake has seen songs this year with more streams during its opening weeks (“God’s Plan” and “Nonstop”). Grande’s tally featured other massive hits like Post Malone’s “Psycho” and Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode”. Billboard predicts that she will beat Number One on Hot 100 next week and offer a good change of pace after a long rain of Maroon 5. “Breathin” will climb the chart due to the release of its new video that has already taken over 12 million views.
This flash of commercially successful content from a pop star is a good sign: Music is not so fun when rappers only compete with themselves.