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7 May 12 | Re: Chart confusion

Rapidly maturing ex-munchkin Justin Bieber is interesting to chart followers. No one can deny the size or fervour of his fan base —look at those Twitter trends— but the hordes of fainting Ashleys have yet to bring him a chart hit, single or album, of any great significance. His first top ten hit (as lead artist) didn’t turn up until recently, and even that dropped pretty quickly from its top three entry position. In its fourth week, it’s a bit below Jason Mraz.

In light of this, people have generally been pretty pleased to conclude that Bieber is followed by a new type of music fan who loves the artist, but “just doesn’t buy music”. They watch the videos on Youtube, they sigh over the posters, they buy hats and hoodies and necklaces and books and perfume and pencil cases and dolls and tour tickets and all that stuff, but they don’t see the need to own the music itself. So goes the coventional thinking. Which was pretty convincing until five weeks ago.

Five weeks ago, Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen crashed into the chart at number one and proceeded to sell a hundred thousand copies a week for a month. It must be knocking on half a million by now, and it’s still at number two, outsold only by World’s Sexiest Woman Tulisa Out Of N-Dubz.

Call Me Maybe, which has a delightful video by the way, came to public attention because of a video of Bieber and his demographic colleague Selena Gomez dancing to it. So a lot of the people who are fans of it must be Bieber fans, ie supposed non-music buyers; yet they have no problem paying for this track. Back to the drawing board, chart-watchers! Must try harder, Bieber.

One note on Call Me Maybe itself, which genuinely is a brilliant song. As great as the cute lyrics and Freemasons-type string riff and chorus tune and verse tune and breezy middle-eight are, the more I listen to it the more I become convinced that what takes it from good to great is all in the way she sings the four words “all the other boys”. Something in her voice on that line is at once coy and knowing and cute and pleased and archly modest: it’s a second of pop brilliance. Other aspiring singers ought to learn from that line – it’s details like that that make a classic.

Posted by RETSIM RETRAC at 22:12

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