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On the Charts: Can't Hold Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Plus, big debuts keep plummeting

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Roger Kisby/Getty Images
May 8, 2013 12:40 PM ET

WINNER OF THE WEEK: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. You thought you'd be finished with this hippie-hip-hop duo after "Thrift Shop" finally dropped down the charts? Nope. Billboard reports the band's latest single, "Can't Hold Us," received a 25 percent boost in Top 40 airplay, which led to a surge on the Pop Songs chart; sales-wise, it's at Number One on the Digital Songs chart for a second straight week after leapfrogging Pink, selling 262,000 copies. Why so much second-single love? In addition to radio play, the song has been ubiquitous as the soundtrack to Microsoft Outlook TV commercials. In other news, Kenny Chesney's country album Life on a Rock hits Number One – his seventh at the top spot – on Billboard's album chart, selling 153,000 copies.

Macklemore Opens Up About His Struggle to Stay Sober

LOSER OF THE WEEK: Number One albums. Last week, I trashed hip-hop albums from Lil Wayne's I Am Not a Human Being II to Tyler, the Creator's Wolf and Kid Cudi's Indicud for tumbling out of the Top 10 after splashy recent debuts. But the trend is far broader than just hip-hop: numerous major stars with a bit of name recognition or hype have the ability to hit Number One or Number Two, but that's all they get. Fall Out Boy's Save Rock and Roll, Bon Jovi's What About Now and Paramore's new album have all hit Number One in the last few weeks, then dropped in sales by more than 70 percent. These artists need to pay much closer attention to Macklemore. And Taylor Swift. And, hell, Psy. The path to chart longevity is built not on great albums but a combination of radio-friendly singles and viral videos. As one drops, launch another.

PREDICTING NEXT YEAR'S CHART COLUMN: It's a slow chart week, with the biggest album and single slots taken up by usual suspects such as Justin Timberlake, Macklemore, Michael Buble, Pink, Rihanna and Imagine Dragons. That's an opportunity to look at the next couple of tiers – if you're betting on a future pop star, might I suggest Scottish singer-songwriter Emile Sandé, whose march-stepping sort-of-ballad "Next to Me" has racked up more than 31 million YouTube views and, this past week, launched 18 places, to Number 30, on BigChampagne's Ultimate Chart? "Next to Me" actually came out more than a year ago, but Sandé has been painstakingly flogging it wherever she can, from David Letterman a couple of months ago to a Lea Michelle Glee version in late April. Her latest move: a big-band version of Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love," with Bryan Ferry's Orchestra, for The Great Gatsby soundtrack.

Last week: Michael Buble, 'Idol' Alum Fantasia on Top

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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