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: Oliver Anthony Music’s new runaway smash also leads to gains for his older songs, the latest Taylor’s Version already has fans feeling nostalgic, hip-hop’s 50th anniversary gives a streaming bump to some of its greatest practitioners and more.
Oliver Anthony’s Viral Breakout Is More Than Just One Song
Not many folks would’ve predicted Oliver Anthony would be likely to crash a Billboard Hot 100 race this week including superstars Taylor Swift and Morgan Wallen. But that’s exactly what the Appalachian country singer/songwriter (who officially records as Oliver Anthony Music) is doing with his breakout hit “Rich Men North of Richmond,” which is riding waves of working-class frustration, social media virality and critical backlash to the top of the charts this week.
“Richmond,” an acoustic protest song featuring only Anthony’s voice and his guitar – and decrying the rich, the politicians, and (most controversially) the country’s welfare system – first caught national media attention on Friday (Aug. 11) when it zoomed to No. 1 on the iTunes chart. It’s stayed atop of the iTunes chart since – and has also taken off on streaming, with its daily official on-demand U.S. streams growing to over 3 million on Monday (Aug. 15), according to Luminate.
What really separates Anthony from other conservative-leaning chart successes of the past few years by Aaron Lewis, Bryson Gray and (most recently) Jason Aldean, though, is how interest has also already spread to the rest of his catalog. “Richmond” is just one of seven of his songs currently in the iTunes top 20 as of publishing – and even discounting the plays of his biggest hit, Anthony has racked up streams in the millions each day since its release, with “Ain’t Gotta Dollar” and “Ive Got to Get Sober” each notching hundreds of thousands of daily plays. (As recently as last Tuesday, Aug. 8, his total daily streams were still under 20,000.)
In other words, while many of those aforementioned hits burned bright and faded out quickly – even Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town” fell out of the top 20 just a week after hitting No. 1 – Anthony is the kind of wide-reaching phenomenon who seems likely to continue generating streams, label interest and discussion (both positive and negative) for many weeks to come. – ANDREW UNTERBERGER
Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’ Soars at Streaming Thanks to ‘Taylor’s Version’ Announcement
One week ago, during her final performance in a six-night run at SoFi Stadium outside of Los Angeles, Taylor Swift proved widespread fan speculation correct on the dates of 8/9, by officially announcing 1989 (Taylor’s Version) onstage. The fourth album in Swift’s six-part re-recording project will be released on Oct. 27 – but following the announcement, fans simply couldn’t wait that long to hear their favorite songs from the superstar’s landmark 2014 album.
The news sent “Blank Space,” which previously spent seven weeks at No. 1 during its original chart run in 2014-15, back onto the Hot 100 at No. 49. Yet the biggest hit from 1989 wasn’t the only one to receive a streaming boost: “Style” was also way up in official on-demand U.S. streams, from 955,000 on Aug. 8 (the day before the announcement) to 1.65 million on Aug. 10 (the day after), according to Luminate. Meanwhile, “Welcome to New York” enjoyed an even bigger percentage bump, from 204,000 streams on Aug. 8 to 716,000 on Aug. 10 – a 249% spike.
Zooming out, the announcement of 1989 (Taylor’s Version) sent overall listenership of 1989 skyrocketing, to the point where its U.S. streams more than doubled between 8/9 and 8/10. Here’s a look at a full week of official on-demand U.S. streams of 1989, with the re-record announcement taking place on the night of Aug. 9:
Aug. 8: 5.81 million
Aug. 9: 6.63 million
Aug. 10: 13.68 million
Aug. 11: 10.15 million
Aug. 12: 8.14 million
Aug. 13: 6.97 million
Aug. 14: 6.97 million
Although fans have to wait more than two months to hear 1989 (Taylor’s Version), the excitement could send the original version of the album, which comes in at No. 13 on this week’s Billboard 200, climbing back even higher next week. Swift already has four albums – Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), Midnights, Lover and Folklore – occupying the top 10 of the Billboard 200; perhaps there’s still room for a fifth? – JASON LIPSHUTZ
Lancey Foux Logs Huge Streaming Gains for Self-Referential “Lancey or Lancey”
From Beyoncé to Ariana Grande, musicians and their biggest fans clarifying the pronunciation of their names is nothing new. In the case of Lancey Foux, however, the British rapper (signed to Human Re Sources) took that confusion to the recording booth and crafted a streaming breakout in the process. According to Luminate, “Lancey Or Lancey,” logged 732,000 official on-demand U.S. streams total between this Friday and Monday (August 11-14), a whopping 1,395% increase from just under 50,000 combined streams during the four-day period a week earlier (Aug 4-7).
Bolstered by a viral trend based on the closing line of the song’s first verse, “Lancey or Lancey” has been used in over 730,000 videos on TikTok. In the trend, users pair two photos that showcase different sides of their persona with the lyrics, “Said she love me, which one, Lancey or Lancey?” The trend originated from a fan edit of a webtoon entitled Operation: True Love. On Tuesday (Aug. 15), Lancey himself hopped on the trend, posting a shirtless clip of himself bopping and lip-syncing along to the TikTok sound.
The success of “Lancey Or Lancey” comes nearly a full year after the song’s release in September of last year. The song served as the third single from Life in Hell, Lancey’s sixth solo studio album, and currently ranks as his most popular song on Spotify. The Stratford-bred rapper’s recent streaming gains come on the heels of “MMM HMM,” his collaboration with another TikTok-conquering 2023 breakout star, Sexyy Red. – KYLE DENIS
Zeddy Will’s “Freak You” Rides Jersey Club Wave to Streaming Surge
After helping Coi Leray’s “Players” become the biggest Billboard Hot 100 hit of her career with his Jersey Club Remix of the single, DJ Smallz 732 looks set to have a similar impact with Zeddy Will’s “Freak You.” According to Luminate, “Freak You” has scored considerable streaming gains over the past few weeks: During the period of July 28 to August 3, “Freak You” earned 360,000 official on-demand U.S. streams, an 86.5% increase from the period of July 21-27. The song then earned over 531,000 streams between August 4-10, rising a further 47.4% in overall streaming activity.
Multiple parts of the song have gone viral on TikTok. In one section, which Zeddy himself has repeatedly used on the app, users film themselves dancing along to the song as they either generally anticipate imminent events or yearn to be freaked (or freak someone else). “I wanna freak you/ As soon as it can be/ I wanna know/ You leaving with your friends after this/ Or you coming with me?” Zeddy raps in the opening of the song’s first verse. The other section of the song that has gone viral is the opening of the second verse: “You told me that you wasn’t a freak/ And now I don’t believe you/ Cause the way you got me feeling right now/ Every day, girl I wanna see you.” Users generally use both sections of the song for the same thing, although some have adopted Zeddy’s “’memba that?” and “mmm mmm” ad-libs to respond to things that they suspect to be untrue. The three most popular “Freak You” sounds on TikTok boast a combined total of over 481,000 videos.
Zeddy Will, an unsigned Queens-bred TikTok star who previously had viral success with 2022’s “Confidence Is Key,” first teased “Freak You” on TikTok on May 6. Following a positive response to the snippet, the rapper and TikTok personality continued to promote the song with a series of videos highlighting the beat (along with a Jersey-inspired “Freak Walk” dance and a move called the “Zeddybounce”), the lyrics, and the all-around comedic vulgarity of the song. He officially uploaded the song to streaming and digital download platforms on July 11. – K.D.
Q&A: J1, Vice President Hip Hop Programming at SiriusXM, on What’s Trending Up in His World
As hip-hop celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, how do you think we will look back on the year in hip-hop?
I think we will look back at this year in amazement, reverence and appreciation for how far hip-hop has come, its contributions to society, as well as the impact it’s had on us as individuals.
What hip-hop trends do you think will define the rest of 2023?
Bold fashion has always been synonymous with hip-hop, so as the weather hopefully cools down and we transition into fall and winter wardrobes, we’ll see new fashion styles that will be adopted by pop culture.
Which new artists have been particularly intriguing to you?
Ice Spice has been so intriguing to me, because of her movement and passionate fan base. She’s tapped into something which is undeniable and has gained a massive, diverse group of followers. I’m also intrigued by Domani, T.I’s son. Even though his father is one of the pioneers of trap music, Domani has found his own lane and style, very different from his pops.
Fill in the blank: this fall, hip-hop listeners will be obsessed with ________.
Nostalgic and classic rap music, due to all of the great 50th anniversary tributes and highlights we’ve seen throughout the year. – J.L.
Season’s Gainings: Legends Celebrated on Hip-Hop’s Milestone Birthday
The celebrations of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary were everywhere last Friday (Aug. 11), as countless institutions, publications (including this one) and longtime fans took time to pay tribute to the storied genre officially hitting the half-century mark. The impact of Hip-Hop 50 could be felt on streaming, as well. While most music listeners don’t need an extra reason to listen to contemporary superstars like Drake, Cardi B or Kendrick Lamar, daily official on-demand U.S. streams were noticeably up for many acts from the genre’s older legends on Friday – including extra respect paid to LL Cool J (up 13% to 43,000), Public Enemy (up 24% to 162,000) and Hip-Hop 50 Live headliners Run-D.M.C. (up 21% to 380,000). – AU