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: Noah Kahan sees two of his Stick Season songs take off — one thanks to a new duet, one thanks to a recent cover — while Drake’s For All the Dogs starts barking, his old collaborators Migos have a revived hit, and more.
‘Stick’ The Landing: Noah Kahan Receives New Boosts From Kacey Musgraves & Olivia Rodrigo
Noah Kahan has become one of the breakout artists of 2023, thanks to quickly increasing interest in a project he released last year: Stick Season, his third studio album which was released one year ago this week, is now a mainstay of the top 20 of the Billboard 200, rising four spots to No. 13 this week. The folk-rock project received a boost last July from a deluxe edition that included the viral hit “Dial Drunk” (which then received a new version featuring Post Malone), and last week, Kacey Musgraves hopped on a new version of “She Calls Me Back,” a standout from the original album track list.
Musgraves — who recently scored her first career Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 with the Zach Bryan duet, “I Remember Everything” — has injected new life into “She Calls Me Back.” Following its release last Friday (Oct. 6), the collaboration earned 3.87 million U.S. on-demand streams in the first four days of its release, according to Luminate; that’s a 341% increase in streams for “She Calls Me Back” from the previous Friday-to-Monday period.
Meanwhile, another crossover star has given a Kahan song a streaming boost — not with a collaboration, but with a cover version. Last week, Olivia Rodrigo stopped by BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge and performed a soulful take on the Stick Season title track, a major Kahan co-sign that also caused his still-rising “Stick Season” – which was already up enough to debut at No. 80 on the Hot 100 this week – to enjoy another streaming uptick. The song earned 3.89 million streams from Oct. 6-9, a 39% jump from the same tracking period during the previous week. – JASON LIPSHUTZ
Drake’s Streaming Dominance Extends to Samples & Interpolations, Too
It’s not a shock that Drake‘s new album For All the Dogs is off to a smashing start on streaming platforms: in the first four days of its release (Oct. 6-9), the album earned a whopping 356 million U.S. official on-demand streams, according to Luminate. Some highlights within that enormous number include strong beginnings for the J. Cole team-up “First Person Shooter” (28.26 million streams in its first four days of release), as well as for the Yeat collaboration “IDGAF” (25.31 million streams).
For All the Dogs has garnered so much streaming attention, in fact, that even some of the songs sampled and interpolated for the new full-length have scored new listeners this week as well. “The Tunnel,” a track from the British jazz trio Azimuth that is sampled on “IDGAF,” rose from a negligible streaming number last week to nearly 10,000 streams between Oct. 6-9. And “West End Girls,” the synth-pop classic from the Pet Shop Boys that Drake sings a bit of at the end of “All the Parties” — and which the British group alleged was an interpolation that never received approval — also experienced a slight uptick in streams, with some Drake listeners undoubtedly curious to hear what he was reviving. “West End Girls” earned 416,000 streams from Oct. 6-9, a 12% increase from the previous Friday-to-Monday period. – JL
Revival of 10-Year-Old Dance Trend Spurs Streaming Resurgence for Migos’ “Handsome & Wealthy”
Although Offset is currently prepping the release of his forthcoming sophomore solo studio album – Set It Off is due Oct. 13 – music listeners seem to be gravitating towards a seminal decade-old single from Migos, the rap trio comprised of him, Quavo and the late Takeoff.
10 years ago, an Instagram user named Mr. WoopWoop helped popularize a simple dance trend that quickly took over Instagram and Vine alike. Now, the simple arm-flailing body-rocking dance has taken on a new life on TikTok – a social media app that notably did not exist at the time of the dance move’s creation. On TikTok, users have chosen Migos’ “Handsome & Wealthy” to soundtrack their take on the infectious dance. The song selection is a nod to the most widely circulated video of Mr. WoopWoop and his friends hitting the dance.
According to Luminate, Migos’ “Handsome & Wealthy” — a single from their 2014 No Label 2 mixtape , whichpeaked at No. 79 on the Hot 100 – earned just over one million official on-demand U.S. streams during the period of September 29 to October 5. That’s an 85.4% increase in streams compared to the week prior (Sept. 22-28). Several different TikTok sounds have emerged as popular choices for users jumping on this trend; the official “Handsome And Wealthy” sound has nearly 7,400 posts, another untitled sound using audio from the song boasts 21,400 posts, and yet another untitled sound plays in the background of a further 14,700 posts.
We may not get any new Migos music in the foreseeable future, but their catalog of indelible hits and cultural impact will continue to inspire and entertain generations to come. – KYLE DENIS
Suicidal-Idol Earns Big Streaming Gains, Thanks to TikTok’s “Slowed Down” Music Trend
As more and more mainstream major-label artists continue to release “sped up” and “slowed down” versions of their songs, it’s clear that TikTok’s affinity for altered versions of tracks is having a material impact on the music industry. In the latest major example of such, the mysterious emo-informed musical artist Suicidal-Idol is earning sizable streaming returns for his TikTok smash “Ecstacy.”
After initially going viral in July with a collection of different trending videos, “Ecstacy” has since grown into a TikTok hit that has transcended its original wave of virality. No longer connected to a specific trend or challenge, slowed down versions of “Ecstacy” have been used in hundreds of thousands of TikTok posts to add to the overarching emo aesthetic of the accompanying videos.
According to Luminate, “Ecstacy” posted just under five million official on-demand U.S. streams during Sept. 29-Oct. 5, a 35.6% increase from 3.64 million streams during Sept. 22-28, and a whopping 374.3% increase from five weeks ago during Sept. 1-7. On TikTok, the slowed down version of “Ecstacy” soundtracks over 267,000 posts, while the original boasts over 40,700 videos. An additional sound has over 92,300 posts, and a sped-up version of the song plays in the background of 16,800 videos.
After floating around on the internet for a few months, “Ecstacy” officially hit streaming platforms in February of last year – a testament to the slow-burn route that so many hit songs take in 2023. – KD
Q&A: Andre Stapleton, Global Head of Artist and Label Relations at Amazon Music, on What’s Trending Up in His World
What music trends have stood out to you most clearly over the first three quarters of 2023?
There have been a multitude of really amazing cultural celebrations for the 50th anniversary of hip-hop all across the country. That was especially the case in NYC, where – for obvious reasons – there have been almost constant events honoring hip-hop’s global importance. We are super proud of the celebratory performance series that Amazon Music held to pay homage to the various eras, which included outstanding artists such as Wale, Rick Ross, T.I., Clipse, The Lox, Method Man and Redman, to name just a few.
At the same time, we went an unprecedented half year in which there weren’t any new hip-hop releases atop the charts, until Travis Scott, during which period we saw other genres continue to evolve like Afrobeat (Rema, Davido) and R&B (especially with SZA’s unbelievably great return). One of the biggest upward trends, however, has been in the country/Americana spaces with incredible music and storytelling from the likes of Zach Bryan, Morgan Wallen, Bailey Zimmerman, Jelly Roll, Tyler Childers and Lainey Wilson, who are reaching new (and younger) audiences as they push boundaries genre-wise.
The industry’s country music streams YTD are up by a third on last year, which is more than double that seen across all genres, and we see our label partners paying very close attention to these trends, and prioritizing accordingly – even outside of Nashville. Equally, in the dance and electronic space, we’ve seen outstanding new records from a mix of newer talent like SG Lewis, LP Giobbi, and Yaeji alongside returning legends like Chemical Brothers, Disclosure, Laurent Garnier, Jungle and Sault. One thing is for sure – it’s been a banner year for great music.
What trend do you foresee making noise before the end of this year?
One trend is simply that a bunch of amazing new music is dropping! I’m personally super excited for new records from artists like Sufjan Stevens, Sampha, DJ Shadow, the Stones, Chris Stapleton and Jorja Smith, and that’s only looking at releases filed under ‘S’! And on another ‘S’-themed topic, I think soundtracks are going to trend up, continuing the momentum established by Barbie, given some very compelling titles that will likely be announced soon.
I think we are going to see even more focus on developing connections between artists and fans and on helping artists cut through the digital clutter. At Amazon Music, we’ve developed a lot of tools to help artists engage their audiences, for example, by using their voice to reach fans, or by livestreaming their performances and content. On that note, Amazon Music has been bringing livestream concerts exclusively to fans via the Amazon Music app, Twitch and Prime Video — from Primavera Sound to Stagecoach, and intimate performances with our “City Sessions” and “Breakthrough Live” series. Not to mention our Amazon Music Live program. Millions of fans watched the first season, which is back for a second season, featuring performances from Ed Sheeran, Feid, Lil Durk and more to be announced.
What Amazon Music campaign or partnership do you think exemplifies how listeners are experiencing popular music in 2023?
In particular, I’d really like to shine a light on Amazon Music’s Breakthrough campaigns. Breakthrough is our global developing artists series and is one of the programs I am most proud of. We put an enormous amount of energy and creativity into bringing all our resources to bear, so that we may play a part, in helping to break a number of rising artists each year. So far in 2023 we’ve partnered with Bailey Zimmerman, Chappell Roan, Stephen Sanchez and Lola Brooke, with two more to be announced by the end of the year.
Every artist campaign we develop is bespoke to the artist in which we are ultimately aiming to develop interest. We do that through a combination of powerful music experience levers, such as the creation of stunning branded street art, compelling original video content, interview/non-music audio content, exclusive music projects (such as Amazon Music Originals), livestreams, merch opportunities, experiential activations and so on. It’s incredibly exciting and exemplifies the very best of what we can do, in aid of who we believe could be the megastars of tomorrow. We see this program as a vital tool to help command the attention of music fans to some truly deserving artists, and hopefully play a very meaningful role in breaking these acts.
Fill in the blank: the most exciting development in music that not enough people are discussing is ______.
Stephen Sanchez! This is an incredible debut album and I’m absolutely hooked! If it’s good enough for Elton, it’s good enough for me!
I also remain excited by the constant level of innovation happening at Amazon Music because I truly believe we are doing amazing and industry-leading work, and I want everyone to know about it. Prime members now have access to stream a full catalog of 100 million songs ad-free in shuffle mode, as well as incredible programming and some of the biggest albums on demand – that’s incredible, if you think about it for a moment, relative to the marketplace. We’ve also taken our livestreaming business to new heights from both a creative and audience reach perspective, and are continuing to innovate in the merch category. We continue to evolve both our app and Alexa as a key tool for artists to engage fans, and have built a library of spatial and ultra-high-definition audio spanning genres. We are also introducing industry leading and artist-forward content spaces around the world where artists love to visit and create with us – and we are having a blast! – JL
Season’s Gainings: Listeners Keep Falling in Love With Girl in Red’s “October”
“That’s why I love fall,” Marie Ulven Ringheim – better known as indie-pop singer-songwriter Girl in Red – declares in “We Fell in Love in October.” She’s had another reason for the last few years: Since 2020, when Billboard first reported on it, her “October” has seen major streaming gains annually around the start of Spooky Season. While in 2020, “October” spiked to 2.5 million official on-demand U.S. streams, this year it’s up from just under three million for the week ending Sept. 28 to over 4.6 million for the first not-quite-full week of the new month. If the song keeps rising every year like this, Ray Parker Jr. and Bobby “Boris” Pickett might soon have some less-Halloween-y competition as far as older songs looking to impact the October Hot 100. — ANDREW UNTERBERGER
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