Anatomy of a Hit: Eminem ft. Rihanna – The Monster

Anatomy of a Hit is a new feature on This Must Be Pop, where my task is to analyse the highest new entry to the UK singles chart top 10 each week. This week it’s a song none of us had heard seven days ago…

#1 – Eminem ft. Rihanna – The Monster

The Monster has a double meaning – not only is this song about a monster (a demon that haunts Eminem and Rihanna) but it is a monster. There’s no better way to describe a song which reunites two huge name artists who previously collaborated on one of the biggest hits of the century so far, and which also happens to be the catchiest (thanks to fantastic songwriter Bebe Rexha) and most commercial track either of them has released in years. I’m not a fan of Eminem and I’m quite ambivalent towards Rihanna, but The Monster grabbed my attention in a way that very few new songs do. Because predicting hits is a big part of This Must Be Pop, I’m always speculating about what could be the next big phenomenon, but this was one of the rare cases where speculation was irrelevant: Anyone with ears and a brain should know this is going to be a monster hit.


For Eminem and Rihanna, The Monster is proof that lightning can strike twice, but for the UK charts I believe this is a first: the first song that has reached no.1 without having been heard online, live or on the radio at the beginning of the sales week. It was inevitable this would happen soon, as major artists are converting en masse to the “on air on sale” strategy, perhaps more fittingly described as “online on sale.” This strategy doesn’t work for up-and-coming or mid-level acts, who need to focus all their marketing on one week to manipulate a high chart position, but for the big names it’s dramatic, exciting and frankly logical. They reduce the risk of illegal downloads by catering to demand, and they allow for a second peak in the campaign with the video premiere a few weeks later.

Come back next Monday to read my thoughts on the highest new entry in the top 10. Will it be Storm Queen, Britney Spears, Little Mix or maybe another track no-one’s even heard yet? These days, you never can tell!

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