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Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean” is No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100: How he bypassed the radio to score his comeback hit.

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Actually a very thorough analysis, a kind I've never seen.


"the chart explosion of “What” is—so far—a triumph of market-timing over hitmaking."

" On Billboard’s album chart, debuting at No. 1 isn’t special—the top album most weeks is a debut. Since the charts were computerized a quarter-century ago, it’s become routine to see an act’s rabid fans swarm in and send an album to the top slot in its first week. But starting a song at the top of the Hot 100 is the triple-lutz of chart feats. So many elements, from sales to airplay to streaming, make up Billboard’s flagship pop chart that getting a plurality of them to line up, right when a single is launching, demands name-brand artist recognition and military-industrial precision.

The last song listed above, Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean?”—an electro-pop ode to hopefully innocent romantic miscommunication—joins the list of No. 1 debuters this week, thanks to just such an industrial-strength campaign. The drop at iTunes, the YouTube release of the video, Bieber’s airborne, tearful performance on the MTV Video Music Awards: All were timed to maximize his numbers in the first seven days. (Bieber’s label even timed the release of “What” to each outlet, including radio, based on when each would report to Billboard.) "

I wonder what the staying power of something that debuts at #1 is.

I'd imagine not nearly as long as a song that takes months to reach #1.