Trajectory of an international megahit
We reviewed both “Somebody That I Used to Know” [7.45] and “Call Me Maybe” [a remarkably low 5.86] early on in their lives on The Singles Jukebox. Since then it’s been fascinating watching the comments come in every so often on those entries identifying a new place in the world that the song has taken off. I decided to look at how exactly their chart runs went across a selection of countries with data on Top40Charts: Australia, Belgium, Canada, the UK and the US. Belgium is in there as a mainland Europe representative and Gotye’s birthplace.
I also looked at Fun’s “We Are Young”, which sucks but is similarly internationally massive and similarly likely to prove to be their only big hit.
Gotye ft. Kimbra - Somebody That I Used to Know
LOTS MORE GRAPHS and some analysis under the cut. Click on each graph after clickthrough to get to a larger version of it.
Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
fun. ft. Janelle Monáe - We Are Young
- “Somebody That I Used to Know” had a much longer lag before being picked up in the UK/US than “Call Me Maybe” did. Some of this may have been down to it being planned for early in 2012 to avoid the Christmas rush (its UK release date was 31/12/11), which was a good strategy.
- Not unexpectedly, with the US as its home territory, “We Are Young” did not see the same kind of delayed spread as the others. In fact it spread so fast that it charted in Canada first, and got to #1 in Australia first, before even managing it in the US.
- Australia was quick off the mark with “Call Me Maybe”, too.
- You can see the big impact of US music media on the rest of the world. Despite “Somebody That I Used to Know” having been on the charts for ages already in Australia and Belgium, both saw the song get a massive bump upwards at the same time as it got to #1 in the US. There was also a chart bump for the song in Australia when it took off in the UK. It seems that the fact of its US/UK success made it reach people that it hadn’t before.
- See also the way that “Call Me Maybe” started to climb again in Canada after its US success.
- The graphs also show the way that the 100% sales-based UK chart and long airplay time in the run up to release results in songs charting high and then dropping, especially with “Call Me Maybe”. The only reason that “We Are Young” had a bit of a UK climb is because a Precision Tunes style cover was about to chart and it forced an early release. “Somebody That I Used to Know” was a genuinely slow burner though.
- Not in the data, but clicking through Belgium’s charts was interesting. The song that knocked “Somebody That I Used to Know” off #1? Lykke Li’s “I Follow Rivers”. The song that kept “Call Me Maybe” off #1? Triggerfinger’s godawful cover of “I Follow Rivers”. This also maybe highlights that being popular in Belgium is not such a great launchpad for wider success.
Graphs for each country below. The Belgian data only went down to 20. Note that the US is the only place where the three songs were at number one successively, although the UK wasn’t far off.