Katy Perry just posted her best day-one streaming numbers, but is it enough for Top 40 radio?
In an age where streaming platforms are the tip sheet for radio’s “next big hit”, it’s uncertain where artists like Katy Perry fit into 2019’s pop landscape dominated by a younger generation obsessed with Billie Eilish, Post Malone and Lil Nas X.
New single ‘Never Really Over’ shares much of the same DNA as Perry’s eight Aussie airplay #1 singles. In fact, the single gained instant traction becoming Perry’s biggest day-one streaming debut of her career. The accompanying music video was also an opening weekend success (17.7 million views) with YouTube dubbing it the biggest launch event to take place in their Space.
Australian CHR is seemingly rolling out the red carpet in honour of Perry’s return, but can the So-Cal singer rediscover her place in a new look Top 40 scene?
Perry has been streamed 685 million times in Australia and sold more than 1.8 million albums. ‘I Kissed A Girl’ hit #1 on the ARIA charts within three weeks of reaching the summit in Perry’s native USA. Four months later in November 2008, the single became the most-played song on Australian radio.
Follow-up ‘Hot n Cold’ ascended to the top of the TMN Hot 100 and occupied the Top 3 for six weeks. While falling short of the charting heights of ‘Kissed A Girl’, the single would eventually go on to sell more than double the amount of units in Australia.
2010 brought with it the career-defining release of Teenage Dream and marked the start of a new decade and a lengthy period of dominance for Perry. The blockbuster album produced five #1 singles in the US, the most ever by a female artist and second after Michael Jackson’s 1987 album Bad.
‘California Gurls’, ‘Teenage Dream’, ‘Firework’, ‘E.T’ and ‘Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)’ exemplified Perry’s brilliant pop-minded artistry as four album singles went straight to #1 on the TMN Hot 100. Only Delta Goodrem and P!NK have sent more cuts from one record to the top of the chart (Innocent Eyes and Funhouse produced five each).
Perry’s next studio album Prism reached #1 in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US, making it the sixth-most sold album in the world in 2013 and Perry’s most globally influential record to date.
Lead single ‘Roar’ was responsible for much of the album’s success. It held #1 on the TMN Hot 100 for eight unbroken weeks, more than any song from Teenage Dream. Despite the album’s comparative lack of depth, the era marks the only time Perry simultaneously occupied two or more positions in the airplay chart Top 10 (‘Roar’ #4, ‘Dark Horse’ #9).
Things took an unlikely turn for Perry after wrapping up her US$204.3 million-grossing Prismatic World Tour in late 2015. Entering a new phase of “purposeful pop” with Witness, Perry’s now viral SNL performance, exhausting album rollout and petty artist beefs had people wondering if her time at pop music’s pinnacle was coming to an end.
The Witness era saw Perry go all in on the burgeoning urban scene with feature appearances from Skip Marley, Migos and Nicki Minaj. She’d previously (and successfully) dabbled in the scene, tapping Snoop Dogg on a memorable verse of ‘California Gurls’.
While ‘Chained To The Rhythm’ was an undeniable commercial success (#1 Hot 100, #4 ARIA), subsequent singles didn’t have the chart endurance typical of Perry’s previous hits.
‘Bon Appetit’ peaked at #14 on the Hot 100 as ‘Swish Swish’ fizzled out quickly at #31. It was the same story on the ARIA charts with both singles paling in comparison to the equivalent sales reaped by Teenage Dream and Prism singles.
Exactly two years on from the release of Witness, where does this leave ‘Never Really Over’? What we can learn from the data is that while Perry’s reputation may do the initial work in getting her songs onto radio playlists, it’s not enough to guarantee a long-lasting airplay smash.
‘Never Really Over’ is looking likely to become this week’s Most Added song to radio which will undoubtedly set the stage for a strong TMN Hot 100 debut. The strength of the track and fast-growing connection with fans on streaming services, coupled with her legacy, can ultimately set it on a path similar to that of the golden age of Teenage Dream.