Lady Gaga is number one on Billboard—What does that mean?

Born to rip off other artists?

Lady Gaga, who just played a sold-out show at Chicago’s United Center, has the number one song on Billboard’s Hot 100 despite getting lukewarm reviews by critics and fans.  “Born This Way” isn’t number one because of airplay, but rather because the song has been selling like hotcakes on iTunes. Since pop single sales don’t exist anymore, Billboard relies on iTunes data. But there is a major problem with this.

Any record company can get themselves a number one hit these days by downloading a single thousands of times. It costs a lot of money, but the publicity of having a number one hit may be worth it in the long run. On several Lady Gaga fan sites, fans encouraged each other to download the song multiple times.

I can’t single out Lady Gaga here. There have been multiple campaigns among fans to download Mariah Carey and Green Day songs. The end result is that a song that hits the top position in Billboard may not be a top hit after all.

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Is Pitbull overexposed?

Are Pitbull's days numbered?

Pitbull, otherwise known as Armando Perez, is heard on almost every song these days. On Chicago’s B96, he is featured on six of the top 40 songs. Is he becoming the next Akon? The next Timbaland? Will anybody hear from him five years from now?

Back in my days of radio, you couldn’t get away with having more than two songs in heavy rotation. Madonna succeeded in 1985  when “Crazy For You,” “Material Girl,” “Angel,” and “Into The Groove,” were all in heavy rotation, but she is just about the only one who could survive such overexposure.

The game has changed over the last 25 years and audiences won’t get entirely sick of an artist if they have two or three songs in heavy rotation. Besides, the terrestrial radio audience has declined over the past ten years. But can Pitbull survive with six songs in heavy rotation at once?

 “I know a lot of people who loved Pitbull three years ago, but are getting tired of him. He is becoming more of a brand than rapper,” says my friend Aaron whom worked with me at Chicago’s Z95. “Remember two years ago when Akon was the hot rent-a-rapper? It’s not so much anymore.”

Perhaps Pitbull and his management team realize he is just a flash in the pan and are trying to milk every cent they can. Let’s just hope he doesn’t end up like M.C. Hammer.

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