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Resurrecting Classics: Can Mariah Carey’s Overlooked Hits Climb the Billboard Global 200?

The perennial presence of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” on the charts during the holiday season is as predictable as snowfall in December. Yet, in recent years, Mariah Carey’s Christmas catalog has seen a resurgence, with tracks like “Oh Santa” featuring Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson, along with “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” gradually gaining traction on the charts. 

However, beyond the holiday season, the influence of Mariah Carey’s devoted fan base, affectionately known as the “lambily,” extends far and wide. Events like #justiceforglitter, where fans campaigned for the recognition of Carey’s underrated album “Glitter,” showcase the collective power of dedicated supporters. Similarly, viral moments have propelled songs like “Obsessed” and “It’s a Wrap” to newfound popularity, introducing Carey’s music to a broader audience.

Yet, there remains a delicate balance between orchestrated fan campaigns and organic growth. While the lambily’s dedication can undoubtedly spark interest and rejuvenate interest in Carey’s music, sustained chart success often requires a combination of fan enthusiasm and genuine public interest. As Carey’s fan base continues to advocate for her artistry and legacy, the question arises: how much of this momentum can be attributed to the lambily alone, and when does it transition into broader, organic appeal?

Navigating the Significance of Music Charts

Music charts serve as a crucial metric in the ever-evolving landscape of the music industry. A song’s position on these charts reflects its immediate reception and popularity among listeners. Achieving a top-ranking spot can unlock a myriad of opportunities for artists, including increased exposure across various platforms and enhanced credibility within the industry. Chart success often translates to heightened visibility, more radio airplay, and a surge in digital streams and sales, amplifying the song’s reach and impact.
However, while chart performance is a vital component of an artist’s success, it is not the sole determinant of their long-term trajectory. Beyond the initial excitement of chart success, factors like cultural resonance, sustained streaming numbers, and ongoing fan engagement play pivotal roles in shaping an artist’s enduring legacy. A song that transcends its chart position to become a cultural touchstone is more likely to stand the test of time, leaving a lasting imprint on music history. Thus, while charts offer valuable insights into a song’s immediate reception, true longevity is achieved through a combination of chart success, cultural significance, and ongoing connection with listeners. However, we need to begin somewhere, and in today’s music landscape, charts and playlists, regardless of their type, appear to be the driving force.

Deciphering Chart Entry: The Numbers Behind Billboard’s Global 200

Getting a song onto the charts nowadays is a big challenge. Let’s take a look at the Billboard Global 200 chart for the week of January 27, 2024. At #199 is Lil Tecca’s “500lbs,” which racked up over 9 million streams on Spotify in a week (about 1.287 million streams daily) but had less than 300 thousand views on YouTube each day. Even with streams from other services like Amazon Music and Apple Music, rallying fan support, like Mariah Carey’s fans, to hit these numbers is no small feat.
Consider Mariah Carey’s popular song “Obsessed.” It gets around 400 thousand Spotify streams every day, which is impressive. But that’s still not enough to hit the 9 million streams needed weekly to make the Top 200. It also gets about 100 thousand views on YouTube daily, which could help, but Billboard counts things differently. While 200 premium streams count as 1 download, it takes 900 views on ad-supported platforms like Spotify freemium accounts and YouTube to count as 1 download.

The Viral Effect: From TikTok to Billboard and Beyond

While Billboard’s TikTok Billboard Top 50 chart offers an exciting platform for artists, it operates differently from traditional charts. Instead of tallying views, it counts the number of videos featuring an artist’s song. While inclusion on this chart can boost an artist’s visibility, it doesn’t directly influence mainstream chart rankings, as we have now witnessed. Nevertheless, going viral on platforms like TikTok can significantly impact an artist’s visibility and how listeners engage with their music. Mariah Carey’s “Obsessed” provides a prime example of this phenomenon, transitioning from a forgotten album single to one of her most streamed non-Christmas tracks following viral exposure.

Similarly, “It’s a Wrap” experienced a resurgence, accumulating 58 million streams after the viral wrap challenge. However, achieving viral status requires hundreds of thousands of videos or one exceptionally captivating one that sparks widespread imitation. Not only does this propel a song’s popularity, but it also introduces new audiences to Mariah’s extensive catalog, showcasing the enduring power of viral phenomena in the digital age.

Unlocking iTunes Charts: Strategies and Realities

iTunes remains a powerful but costly avenue for generating buzz in the music industry. Achieving chart success on iTunes requires a strategic approach and a considerable investment. In the United States, for instance, a song needs just 200 downloads in a single day to enter the charts, with 4,300 downloads necessary to clinch the coveted number-one spot. The UK presents a slightly lower threshold, with 31 downloads to chart at number 100 and 700 downloads to secure the top position. Australia requires a little “down under” of those numbers: 17 downloads to chart and 344 to claim the number one spot, while Spain offers a remarkably low barrier to entry, with just 2 downloads needed to chart and 35 to reach the pinnacle.

While the current metrics may seem daunting in main market territories, concerted efforts can still yield significant results and generate promotional momentum. The #justiceforglitter movement serves as a compelling case study, catapulting to number one in multiple countries and driving an estimated 5,000 additional copies sold in a single week. Despite the challenges, collaborative initiatives demonstrate the potential for collective action to make a meaningful impact in the competitive landscape of digital music distribution.

Expanding on this, rallying 5,000 individuals to collectively propel a song like “Obsessed” to chart-topping status requires a monumental effort. Considering the goal of reaching 9 million streams in one week just to secure a position at number 200, deducting the 3 million already amassed organically leaves a daunting task of generating an additional 6 million streams. Each participant would need to stream the song approximately 195 times a day or 1,365 times over the course of a week to meet this ambitious target. While downloading the song on iTunes can alleviate the streaming burden by accounting for 200 streams, the magnitude of the endeavor necessitates the involvement of a larger cohort.

Moreover, the scenario becomes even more challenging when considering lesser-known tracks that typically garner modest streaming numbers, perhaps around 1,000 streams per day (for example, our beloved “Workin’ Hard – Terry Hunter Remix” which garners 400-500 daily streams). In such cases, the threshold for charting success escalates significantly, demanding a substantially higher level of engagement and participation from supporters. This underscores the formidable task of catapulting relatively obscure songs into the limelight and underscores the importance of strategic planning and widespread collaboration in achieving chart success in today’s competitive music landscape.

Promotional Trends: The Big Players

While the 90s benefited from the support of radio, MTV, and the coveted “Now That’s What I Call Music” CD collections, the 2020s have their own equivalent: playlists. The influence of playlists in the streaming era is immense, and curating a playlist with hundreds of thousands of listeners holds significant sway in the music influencing sphere. Discover Weekly Playlists alone have contributed to 2.3 billion hours of listening in the past 5 years, highlighting the profound impact of playlists in streaming consumption.

Streaming Parties have also gained popularity as a means to amplify the streams of a single song by leveraging the number of online listeners participating at any given moment. However, organizing such events requires meticulous time synchronization and a substantial audience base to make a noticeable impact – but when achieved, the results can propel a lost song to the next big thing.

Despite the big numbers, it would be fascinating to witness how a group effort could shine a spotlight on a hidden gem and give it the acknowledgment it deserves. The journey from being unknown to recognized presents many challenges, but the idea of bringing together fans’ passion and dedication is truly compelling. It goes beyond just numbers, reflecting a shared commitment to celebrate the talent and creativity found in music.

Furthermore, championing a hidden gem underscores the importance of community and teamwork in the music world. It’s not just about reaching the top of the charts; it’s about coming together and supporting artists and songs that might otherwise go unnoticed. and make history (nobody will ever take away those 58 million streams for It’s a Wrap – they’re dented in history forever). Or maybe we’ll be able to join forces and agree on a song for the new album, when it comes. This journey highlights the power of people joining forces to lift up underappreciated music, showing the strength of unity and shared purpose within the music community. Ultimately, it’s not just about the destination; it’s about the journey itself, embodying the resilience and passion that define music lovers everywhere, while making it count. And in the end, saying “we did it… all of us”.


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