Adele’s success is certainly refreshing, and she continues to rack up accolades and records — in fact, she has a handful of new entries in the latest Guinness Book of World Records).
And some people, apparently, are even making up arbitrary turns of events in order to keep her awards flowing.
This morning, Billboard reported that Adele’s “Someone Like You,” which is currently the number one song on the Hot 100, is the first ballad to sit atop that list in over three years. They cite Rihanna’s “Take a Bow” as the last ballad to inhabit the top position.
The article is a pretty interesting read, because it gets into the psychology of radio programmers and how they approach playing songs based on tempo, as well as the way that trends dictate what the top song in the country is (thanks to the likes of Ke$ha, Britney Spears, and Katy Perry, uptempo pop tends to rule radio). There are more machinations in choosing radio playlists than you probably thought.
While that conversation is well and good, it’s built on a fundamental untruth: “Someone Like You” is not the first ballad to top the Billboard Hot 100 since “Take a Bow.” Since “Take a Bow” abdicated the position to Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” back in 2008, at least three songs that could be described as ballads have taken the number one position.
The most obvious one is “Love the Way You Lie,” Eminem and Rihanna’s juggernaut from the summer of 2010. Though it prominently features angry rapping and a video about domestic violence, it certainly is as slow-burning as “Someone Like You.” Let’s put it another way: You certainly can’t dance to it.
There are other chart-toppers from the hip-hop world that could probably slide into the “ballad” category, including T.I.’s “Whatever You Like” and Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind.” Are these not ballads? Is it possible to craft a hip-hop ballad? And what is a ballad, anyway? Is there a certain set of criteria it must satisfy, or is it like the Supreme Court’s take on pornography and you simply know it when you see it?
Let us know your thoughts on balladry in the comments below. (And seriously, “Love the Way You Lie” is totally a ballad.)