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: Kelis sees gains for songs referenced (and not referenced) on Beyoncé’s new blockbuster, Swifties celebrate the official annual start of Folklore season, and an old song threatens to become Baby Keem’s biggest solo hit to date.
Beyoncé Controversy Stirs Up Kelis’ “Milkshake” and “Get Along With You”
No question that the most-discussed artist in the world this past weekend was Beyoncé, thanks to the Friday (July 29) release of her triumphant seventh official LP, Renaissance, which has received rapturous reviews and posted strong early consumption totals. Just behind her may have been Kelis, another crossover R&B star who broke out around the turn of the century, who publicly aired her grievances over Beyoncé borrowing elements from Kelis’ 2003 smash “Milkshake” for Bey’s own Renaissance track “ENERGY” without anyone coming to her about it first.
Kelis did not receive a writing credit on “Milkshake” – only producers Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams, who Kelis alleges “tricked” her into signing an unfair contract in her early career, are listed as writers on the track – and thus will not likely receive any proceeds from consumption of “ENERGY” for its interpolation. But there is a silver lining for her: streams of “Milkshake” were way up over the weekend. From last Wednesday, the day before Kelis’ posting on Instagram made the controversy public, to Friday, the day of Renaissance’s release, on-demand U.S. streams of the track climbed from 73,000 to 111,000, a gain of 51%, according to Luminate. (They remained at over 105,000 for Saturday, before falling to 87,000 on Sunday.)
More remarkably, that wasn’t the only Kelis song to see a big weekend bump: Her 2000 single “Get Along With You” rose from under 3,000 on-demand U.S. streams to over 66,000 along that same timespan, a staggering 2,516% gain. Why “Get Along With You”? Because of social media misinformation spread by numerous fan accounts (and eventually music news posts) about “Get Along” being the Kelis song “sampled” on “ENERGY,” before the song had even come out. The conflicting reports and ensuing confusion clearly sent listeners scrambling to both songs to try to parse any sonic similarities, leading to a mini-renaissance for Kelis on streaming services in the midst of the Beyoncé takeover. – ANDREW UNTERBERGER
“August” Gets a Swift Bump
The song crashing in at No. 11 on Monday’s Spotify U.S. Daily 200 chart wasn’t a new Taylor Swift song, or even a just-released re-recording from her successful Taylor’s Version series. Rather, it was an album track from 2020’s Folklore whose title happened to match the month the calendar had just turned: the gauzy, summer-sweet mid-tempo ballad “August.”
After amassing daily U.S. on-demand audio stream counts in the 200,000s for the seven days prior, on Aug. 1 plays of “August” shot from 263,000 to 992,000, according to Luminate – a whopping 277% gain, enough to send it soaring past recent top-streaming Swift cuts like “Don’t Blame Me” and (the similarly calendar-appropriate) “Cruel Summer.” It’s not the first time “August” has seen gains in its titular month: In 2021, “August” saw a 39% month-over-month gain from July, up from 4.65 million total on-demand audio streams to 6.7 million.
It remains to be seen how much “August” can maintain its momentum throughout the rest of the month in 2022 – the song slid back to No. 27 on the Spotify U.S. Daily 200 for Aug. 2 – but it’s looking likely that, four years after covering Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September,” Swift finally has her own equivalent of the seasonal streaming perennial. – AU
Baby Keem’s “Honest” is the Truth on TikTok
While on the road as an opener on his cousin Kendrick Lamar’s ongoing The Big Steppers tour, Baby Keem has been performing “Honest,” a woozy track from his 2019 mixtape Die for My Bitch, in the middle of his setlist. Undoubtedly, the song is provoking louder and louder sing-alongs each night on the arena tour, as “Honest” has turned into a viral hit for Keem over the past few weeks, to continue a hot streak that includes a top 40 hit with Lamar on “Family Ties” and a Grammy for best rap performance for the collaboration.
TikTok users have gotten their hands on “Honest” and sped up its tempo, morphing the track from a bleary-eyed confessional (“Half-past twelve, I was all alone, I can’t be compromised/ F–kin’ on my ex, we ain’t apologize,” the track begins) to an unlikely pop cut, complete with dance-montage accompanying clips. “Honest” earned 1.51 million U.S. on-demand streams during the week of July 8-14, according to Luminate; two weeks later, it’s more than tripled that weekly total, to 4.55 million the week of July 22-28. If the three-year-old song continues to rise and impacts the Hot 100, it could become Keem’s biggest solo hit to date — “Orange Soda,” also from Die for My Bitch, is his current career high on the chart, with a No. 98 peak. — JASON LIPSHUTZ
“Victoria’s Secret” Shared More and More
The latest in a long line of TikTok-approved angsty-but-energetic guitar-pop breakouts in 2022 comes from New Jersey singer-songwriter (and former American Idol third-place finisher) Jax. The artist born Jackie Miskanic, who signed with Atlantic Records in early 2021, has gone viral with her new single “Victoria’s Secret,” a missive about harmful and unfair beauty standards that reveals that the titular lingerie brand was invented by “an old man who lives in Ohio/ Making money off of girls like me.”
The song, aided by both a prop-heavy TikTok video and a flash mob clip filmed outside an actual Victoria’s Secret, has taken off on streaming services, raking in nearly 3.1 million official on-demand U.S. streams in the tracking week ended July 28, according to Luminate – a 53% gain over the prior week. Even more notably, the song is selling extremely well: over 5,500 copies moved last week, vaulting it from No. 37 to No. 5 on the Digital Song Sales chart (dated August 6) – unusually high numbers for a relatively new artist in 2022. We’ll see whether Jax can follow Olivia Rodrigo and GAYLE to the top of the charts, but the secret is definitely out. – AU
Q&A: Jenna Rubenstein, Songwriter Relations Lead at YouTube Music, On What’s Trending Up in Her World
YouTube recently launched a hub for songwriters and producers. How did that initiative come together, and why was now the time to launch it?YouTube for Songwriters.Our goal is to change the way songwriters and their teams share the music they create by leveraging the power of a YouTube channel. We want creatives to use their channels to tell a more compelling story of their cuts and successes. It became critical for us to create a globally accessible space enabling the songwriting community to do this independently and on demand. And so, we launched
Our new site is a tailor-made space for songwriters, producers, and their teams to thrive on our platform, and is home to a first-of-their-kind set of educational guides designed for songwriters and producers to use as they create their YouTube channels. We also built this space to continue to introduce our users to the visionaries making the very music they come to our platform to listen to. Through an integration with our CREDITS playlists on YouTube Music, our site showcases the catalogs of songwriters and producers like Quincy Jones, FINNEAS, WondaGurl, Tainy, and Nija in addition to spotlighting our inaugural class of #YouTubeBlack Voices Songwriter/Producers.
Consider our new site the official Home For Songwriters on YouTube. If you’re a songwriter, or looking to learn more about them, this is your first stop.
What’s one issue that songwriters and producers are facing today that deserves more industry attention? proud to have invested in technology like Session Studio, built specifically to manage metadata at the point of song creation while leaving ample room for creativity and collaboration. I’d love to see our industry continue to come together and align in this way, with the ultimate goal of ensuring songwriters, producers, and composers are accurately credited and paid out in a timely manner for their contributions to music. What was your reaction to the Recording Academy announcement of a new Songwriter of the Year category launching at the next Grammys? In my world, songwriters reign supreme, so I was thrilled. Music does not exist without songwriters – full stop; they’re the bedrock and the epicenter. The Academy has recognized songwriters through various other award categories like song of the year, but to see the larger craft of songwriting receive this type of mainstream recognition is the shout-it-from-the-rooftops level of respect the songwriting community has long-deserved. No matter who is nominated in its inaugural year, or who takes home that first trophy, the existence of this award is a win, and a vital step forward in cementing the songwriter as a top ranking figure in music culture. Fill in the blank: new producers and songwriters entering the industry need to be thinking about __________ …immersing themselves, as much as possible, in the nuts and bolts of the publishing business. I come from a background in publishing A&R, so I automatically think about things like how to confirm splits with your co-writers, how to register your songs with your PRO, etc. Yes, the real key to it all is finding the magic sauce in the studio, seeking out your family of trusted creative collaborators early, and writing great music, but publishing is one of the most complicated parts of our industry. Songwriters are also entrepreneurs. The more educated a songwriter is on the business, the more they’re able to intentionally steer and hold their career in their own hands. Be bold and ask the question – it will inevitably leave more space for you to write a great song. Oh, and while you’re at it, create a YouTube Channel.- JLOur industry is shifting right now in so many meaningful ways, but, as a larger music community, we need to continue to unify our efforts around the collection and accuracy of songwriter metadata. Solving for this remains a major challenge, and one YouTube is committed to improving. We are
Trending Back Then: Two Very Different Post-9/11 Anthems Hit Their 2002 Hot 100 Peaks
If you were looking for an example of The Two Americas 20 years ago, you couldn’t do much better than the Billboard Hot 100 dated August 3, 2002. At No. 52, rock legend Bruce Springsteen hit his high point for “The Rising” – a song whose chart peak sells short its cultural impact, with its despairing but hopeful lyric (inspired by the firefighters who risked and often lost their lives trying to rescue victims of the Twin Towers attacks) and rousing chorus turning it into an anthem for post-9/11 community and resilience.
The same could also technically be said of country star Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American),” another single inspired by the tragedy of 9/11. This one, however, came with a more purposefully jingoistic slant, replacing the biblical imagery and poetic ambiguity of Springsteen’s lyric with the much more blunt promise to our nation’s foes, “You’ll be sorry that you messed with the U.S. of A./ ‘Cause we’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way.” The song failed to match the critical plaudits of Springsteen’s singalong, a multiple Grammy winner in 2003 – but fared better on the Hot 100, peaking at No. 25 that week. – AU