Chart Watch: Eminem Debuts On Top

     Rapper Eminem earns his third No. 1 single this week as "Not Afraid", the lead single from his forthcoming Recovery, is set to debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100 tomorrow.  In case you're not familiar with the Hot 100, debuting at No. 1 is a big deal.  Like a really big deal.  In the 52-year history of the chart, this is only the 16th time a song will debut at the top spot.

     "Not Afraid" was released digitally last Monday, just four days after being sent to radio.  The single scored the biggest sales week of 2010 so far, selling 380,000 digital downloads according to Nielsen SoundScan.  With numbers like that, and no super-strong contenders for the top slot, Eminem becomes the first artist to debut at No. 1 since Britney Spears took the trashy "3" to the penthouse last October.

     When Spears debuted at No. 1, she was the first non-American Idol artist to do so since Lauryn Hill took "Doo Wop (That Thing)" to the top in 1998.  Of the 16 songs to debut at No. 1, eleven occurred from 1995 to 1998 when chart rules made it relatively easy for big acts to orchestrate a debut on top.  Since then, only American Idol had the power to unify consumers to buy enough copies of a particular song to pull it off...until Britney proved it could still happen.

     The fact that Spears and Eminem are the first two non-Idol artists of the 21st to debut at No. 1 is interesting.  Although each artist appeals to two different crowds (and I'm sure Eminem would hate being compared to Britney Spears), they both have a number of striking similarities.  Each artist released their first single in 1998 and has three No. 1 hits to their name.  For Britney they are "...Baby One More Time", "Womanizer", and "3".  For Eminem they are "Lose Yourself", "Crack A Bottle", and "Not Afraid".

     Each of their first chart topper is arguably their signature hit and it occurred during the peak of their popularity.  But while "...Baby One More Time" and "Lose Yourself" hit No. 1, so many of their other songs, huge hits in their own right, didn't.  "Oops!...I Did It Again" stalled at No. 9 as did "Toxic".  "The Real Slim Shady" hit No. 4 and "Without Me" barley missed out, peaking at No. 2.  As the 2000s rolled on, both Miss Spears and Slim Shady seemed to lose their relevance.  Gone were the days when albums like Oops!...I Did It Again and The Marshall Mathers LP, both released in 2000, could sell and 10 million copies each.  Although both artists had scores of intensely loyal fans, it seemed like each would be stuck with only one No. 1 hit apiece.

     It wasn't until nearly a decade later that Britney and Eminem scored their second chart toppers.  Both "Womanizer" and "Crack A Bottle" took the same route to the top, they pole vaulted from the bottom rungs to No. 1 in a single week.  "Womanizer" jumped 96-1, still the second biggest leap in chart history, while "Crack A Bottle" moved 78-1, the fourth biggest jump.  For these two artists to get their second chart topper almost ten years after their first showed that although they weren't the center of attention like they once were, their fans had grown up and remained fans.

     For their third No. 1s, Britney and Eminem have proven the power of heavy anticipation in the digital age.  If history is anything to go by, it's Miss Spears' turn to go No. 1 again, and the rapper who once mocked teen pop will be sure to follow.

1. "Not Afraid" - Eminem
2. "OMG" - Usher feat. Will.I.Am
3. "Nothin' On You" - B.o.B. feat. Bruno Mars
4. "Break Your Heart" - Taio Cruz feat. Ludacris
5. "Airplanes" - B.o.B. feat. Haley Williams
6. "Rude Boy" - Rihanna
7. "Hey Soul Sister" - Train
8. "Your Love Is My Drug" - Ke$ha
9. "My First Kiss" - 3OH!3 feat. Ke$ha
10. "Need You Now" - Lady Antebellum


Anonymous said...

Love it :)-of course he would be number 1 he is Eminem!! Awesome one rapper that is staying true to himself and what he wants to rap about. He sings truth! not like these others who just sing crap.

hun*ter said...

"Not Afraid" is his best song since "Lose Yourself".

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