Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.
One of many changes to the charts that the inclusion of streaming data has created is the ability for international hits to enter the top 40 without any UK promo… cue panic at the UK label, I assume, as they scramble to work out who is actually responsible for capitalising on this. The latest example is Let You Down by Nathan Feuerstein, aka NF, a rapper from a Christian music background who is currently enjoying crossover success with his first album on a non-Christian label. The 26-year-old from Michigan had two no.1 albums on the US Christian chart, and now he’s achieved the same on the overall Billboard 200 with new release Perception. The campaign has been led by the success of Let You Down, a very commercial, melodic take on rap music with a strong vocal hook, in the vein of Eminem’s Love The Way You Lie or Professor Green’s Read All About It (similar to the latter, it’s about NF’s dad). I felt it had big hit potential from first listen – this is rap for people who don’t like rap music. The democracy and genre-mixing of Spotify has allowed NF, like fellow Christian rapper Lecrae, to reach a mainstream audience. I doubt many of his UK listeners have any idea of his background. So far the track has had 40 million streams, around 2 million of those from the UK, and currently sits in the global Spotify top 20.
I really don’t think this is a good thing. It’s the new payola. The main reason it’s in the top 40 is because it’s #2 on Spotify’s Hot Hits UK playlist. Most of its plays are therefore passive and it’s not a true reflection of its popularity.
There have been a few other records like this that have spent 3 or 4 months on the OCC top 100, doing roughly the same number of streams week in, week out, and as soon as they are dropped from the playlist they disappear from the chart. Funny that.