Welcome to Billboard Pro’s Trending Up newsletter, where we take a closer look at the songs, artists, curiosities and trends that have caught the music industry’s attention. Some have come out of nowhere, others have taken months to catch on, and all of them could become ubiquitous in the blink of a TikTok clip.
This week: Bailey Zimmerman is forging new territory for a modern country crossover, while Doja Cat scores another hit, Joji keeps gaining momentum and ABBA gets the sped-up treatment.
Viral Country Star Bailey Zimmerman “Rock”s the Hot 100
The traditional country path up the charts – usually done through radio airplay built slowly over the course of several months – is such a gradual one that when an artist (particularly a newer one) crashes in, it tends to draw notice. Such is the case with Bailey Zimmerman, whose breakout hit “Fall in Love” has been scaling the Billboard Hot 100 over the past seven weeks – only to see the song immediately overtaken by its follow-up, “Rock and a Hard Place.”
The 22-year-old singer-songwriter (signed to Warner Music Nashville/Elektra Music Group), whose music carries more than a faint resemblance to similarly viral predecessor Morgan Wallen, teased his new ballad extensively on TikTok before its debut earlier this month. The built-up momentum led to a resounding No. 24 debut on the Hot 100 for “Rock” this week (chart dated June 25) – thanks in large part to 11 million first-week streams, according to Luminate. It leapfrogs “Fall in Love,” which climbs six spots to No. 46 in its seventh week on the listing, and is only just starting to be embraced by radio, debuting at No. 54 this week on Billboard’s Country Airplay listing. — Andrew Unterberger
Doja Cat’s Still Got the Hot Hand
Considering the win streak that Doja Cat has been on over the past few years, and peaking with last year’s Planet Her album — up to six top 40 hits on the Hot 100, with “Get Into It (Yuh)” streaking up 11 spots to No. 33 this week — it was more than forgivable that “Vegas,” her “Hound Dog”-interpolating single from Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming Elvis Presley biopic, started off slowly upon its release last month. Perhaps Doja had simply reached a mainstream saturation point that couldn’t accommodate a soundtrack hits amongst her many other big singles!
Nope: “Vegas” is quickly becoming a hit now, too, after viral dance clips on TikTok helped boost its listenership. The song zooms up 19 spots on the Hot 100 to No. 56, earning 9.1 million U.S. on-demand streams in the week ending June 16, up nearly 13% from the previous week, according to Luminate. Radio is also starting to bet on “Vegas,” with 631,000 airplay audience impressions among 72 reporters to Billboard’s Radio Songs chart in the week ending June 20. With Elvis hitting theaters on Friday, “Vegas” could keep rising into the upper tier of the Hot 100 for Doja Cat, joining the dexterous star’s Post Malone collaboration “I Like You (A Happier Song)” (No. 14 this week), “Woman” (No. 23) and “Get Into It (Yuh).” — Jason Lipshutz
ABBA “Eyes” an Unusual TikTok Comeback
You wouldn’t necessarily listen to most songs by ’70s and ’80s pop eternals ABBA and think they needed to be even faster and more chipper, but TikTok users apparently feel differently – at least about their 1979 single “Angeleyes.” The song, a relatively minor hit for the group (peaking at No. 64 on the Hot 100), has become a fixture on the app in recent weeks via a sped-up version, often used to soundtrack photo montages (set to the song’s bittersweet “it hurts to remember all the good times” lyric). The accompanying bump has led to the song rising from weekly streams in the 300,000s for most of May to nearly 1.8 million official streams in the U.S. last week, according to Luminate – netting higher consumption numbers than almost any of ABBA’s more well-known classics, short only of the all-timer “Dancing Queen” (nearly 2.4 million streams in the week). — A.U.
Get a “Glimpse” of the Joji Catalog Bump
Joji’s “Glimpse of Us” debuting at No. 10 on this week’s Hot 100 marks a breakthrough moment for the 88rising artist — and naturally, some listeners who were previously unfamiliar with his sultry croon have started to tear his back catalog. This week, Joji’s total U.S. on-demand streams even without “Glimpse” included were 22.16 million — a 73.8% jump compared with the 12.75 million streams earned by the same catalog the week before the new single came out, according to Luminate.
“Slow Dancing in the Dark,” the waltzing standout from Joji’s 2018 album Ballads 1, is the biggest recipient, up nearly 43% percent in streams to 3.76 million last week. While “Glimpse of You” continues strong near the top of streaming charts like Spotify’s Top 50, “Slow Dancing in the Dark” has crept onto the bottom of the same charts, signaling a general appetite for Joji’s music beyond his viral new hit. — J.L.
Q&A: Manny Toro, SoundCloud’s vp of global music marketing, on What’s Trending Up in His World
What music industry trend has defined the first half of 2022?
Democratization of the industry and putting the power in the hands of artists; simply meaning an artist has more choice and control in who and how they want to work with someone to build and grow their career. It’s amazing to see new tools and solutions being developed every day around artist needs that they can use to to grow their careers on their own terms, and be successful in their journey from user-centric streaming models to tools and platforms for artists to share and market their work themselves.
Additionally, technology has completely upended the industry status quo by breaking down the barrier between artists and fans. Today, we are in an environment where nothing separates the artist from the fan as they can share, connect and engage directly. We are in the age of the fan economy and the industry is recognizing the power and influence of fandom — finding engaged fan bases and then being able to follow, develop, and reach them.
Are there any songs, artists or genres you’re keeping an eye on that you think will be in greater demand in the near future?
On the platform, we’re able to see the birth of new communities and the rise in their engagement with other artists and fans as they grow in real-time. One that I have my eye on is the rising hip-hop “plugg” scene that first originated within tight-knit communities in Atlanta. Artists in and around the scene like BabySantana, Sojabrat, Bear1Boss and Bktherula are ushering in a new wave of hip-hop and inspiring new plugg-influenced subgenres and micro-communities that are popping off on SoundCloud and set to be what’s next in music.
Methods of music consumption have changed greatly over the course of the streaming era, let alone the past few years. What’s one way you’d like to see them continue to evolve?
Artists can find major success when they leverage the right platform at the right time in the right way. I’d like to see more active and intentional listening and deeper real-time engagement between artists and fans. Deeper engagement opportunities make interactions mean something more than they ever have before, by building innovative, integrated ecosystems to drive the artist-fan relationship across multiple touchpoints. This includes opening up channels for commercial opportunities outside of the album or single cycle, like exclusive content, merch or tickets — making direct interaction no longer only about amassing streams, but creating additional avenues for creators who might not otherwise be able to live off of their craft.
Fill in the blank: in the second half of 2022, everyone in music will be talking about ______________.
New ways for artists to rise up in the industry through creative, custom partnerships. In my experience leading music and brand marketing at Nike and Red Bull, I’ve seen how the right artist partnership can introduce artists to new, massive global audiences and open up new opportunities for them to catapult their careers. At SoundCloud, we’re partnering directly with artists, indie players, including labels and artist services companies, to bring the best possible, bespoke solution for artists to take the next step in their journey in a way that makes the most sense for them. The industry is embracing these new kinds of nontraditional partnerships now more than ever. — J.L.
Trending Back Then: Jimmy Eat World Reach the “Middle” of the Mainstream
At the turn of the 21st century, emo was gaining cultural capital as one of the most vital strains of rock music coming out of the Midwest and tri-state areas, even though it had yet to make much of a mainstream breakthrough. But it just took some time for a quartet from Mesa, Arizona, to make a crossover banger so undeniable that pop audiences couldn’t ignore it: Jimmy Eat World’s 2002 smash “The Middle,” which applied the heartfelt vocals and cathartic guitars that characterized the genre to a universally accessible anthem of preservation and individuality. Paired with a cliché-inverting video that took over MTV, the song took over top 40 radio and raced up the Billboard Hot 100 – peaking at No. 5 on the chart dated June 22 – marking emo’s first true pop breakout hit, though far from the last. — A.U.