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THINGS THAT MAKE US GO “HMMMM”

HITS Editor in Chief Lenny Beer and VP/Managing Editor Simon Glickman recently disappeared into a far corner of our cesspool with the office bong, an eighth of O.G. Kush and several crayons. When they at last reappeared, they were clutching several pages of indecipherable scribbling, which we've endeavored to translate into English for your perusal.

James Bay and Republic’s Changing Image

Republic’s careful, successful nurturing of James Bay has done much to counter the label’s image as a hit-and-run promotion juggernaut looking for the quick score and not investing in long-term artist development.

The House of Lipman’s long-term, patient and firm belief in Bay, who’s hitting paydirt in his second year in the marketplace, is to be applauded vigorously. Bay’s second single, the heartfelt and emotional “Let It Go,” has been the most out-of-place song in the Top 40 game, a slow ballad with a strong point of view dancing between a barrage of uptempo fun and mostly sound-alike dance-pop. A+R gurus Ben Adelson and Rob Stevenson deserve props for an exceptional, game-changing signing, as does Monte Lipman for throwing down and staying in the game on this deserving and important artist. Recently promoted prexy Chopper Charlie Walk and promo EVP Gary Spangler should also be saluted—not just for believing that they could expose this artist on Triple A, Alternative, Hot AC, AC and finally Top 40 radio, but for actually putting themselves on the line through the good and bad weeks to break this song at radio. “Let It Go” is demanding attention from every gatekeeper in every segment of the industry and enlarging the perception of Republic Records; it should be a prime contender in this year’s crowded Grammy field.

Justin Timberlake: The People’s Choice

They like him. They really, really like him. If there was ever any doubt, or even a thought that Timberlake’s multimedia magic had dissipated in any way, consider the simple facts: His new single, “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” from the upcoming animated Trolls movie, is the biggest first-week seller of the year, surpassing labelmate ZAYN as RCA now holds the top two single-sales debuts of the year. But it also points to the enduring loyalty of fans to the boy bands of their youth. Every single Top 40 station in the country not only immediately added the single, but went out of their way to ensure that their Reported Add reached Mediabase. This includes the Auto Add stations based on spin count, who usually show in print with a one-week delay, joining with those that call in their weekly additions. At Shazam, “Feeling” jumped 197 spots to #4. It’s just getting started.

Desiigner and the “Panda”

The year’s biggest hip-hop song is an unstoppable force powered by the hottest new beat on the streets.  It exploded out of the New York/Brooklyn club scene, was signed through Kanye West’s deal at Def Jam and became Steve Bartelscause celebre in early spring. “Panda” has become a rallying cry in singles sales, streams, etc. The publishing was signed, after an expensive, protracted bidding war, for a reported $2.5m by Ron Perry and SONGS. And while the payback on the song itself will be hefty, the question on everyone’s lips is whether Desiigner himself is a fad or an important newcomer with a real future as an act. Will he be a purveyor of pop/hip hop singles, like Flo Rida or Fetty Wap, or will he be groomed by Kanye/Bartels and his team to become an important force? The next six months should reveal the answers.

The Chainsmokers: A More Substantial Smoke

Speaking of groups that are moving from fad to significance, The Chainsmokers seem to be surging to the top of the class. Given that they first saw success with their silly “Selfie”—which soared, then crashed and burned in short order—one would have expected them to either fade away or return with another novelty cut. Instead, Rob Stringer and team Columbia upstreamed them from RED into their system, and Joel Klaiman’s Marketing and Promotion squad turned them into a hit machine with growing ticket sales, helping them build an image as an important player in the EDM/Crossover world. Highlighted by a well-received performance at Coachella and their current Top Five single, “Don’t Let Me Down,” it seems that they’re here to stay. Every single has been bigger than the one before.

 

Bishop Briggs, or: What’s in a Name?

Bishop, Bishop UK, Bishop Briggs… While name clearance became a problem during her early ascendancy, this singer/songwriter, signed first to indie Teleport and recently inked by David Massey’s Island Records after an intense signing derby, looks to be the first important newcomer to break from Alternative Radio this year. The U.K.-bred, L.A.-based artist, managed by Teleport’s George Robertson, first exploded on SoundCloud, earning more than 1 million plays.

Her first single, “River,” shows signs of going all the way at Alternative radio (and has prompted a huge Shazam response), and her charisma and vocal mastery are undeniable. Bishop Briggs is a legitimate contender for a Best New Artist Grammy nomination, even in these very early days of what could be a real career artist. We’d go as far to call her a Grammy nomination lock, but is anyone ever a total lock in the super-competitive New Artist category?  For now, let’s just say she’s a must for the consideration list.

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