Radiohead’s ‘Nude’ made the Billboard Hot 100 this week at number 37 — their first appearance on the chart since “High & Dry” in ’96, but is the song still on the charts?
Over at WIRED they’ve been wondering why Radiohead picked iTunes to release the remix stems, rather than using their own website as they had with other aspects of In Rainbows’ digital release.
Rich Bradley thinks he knows the answer. “In a nutshell, [Radiohead] kind of scammed people into buying the single five times over.” His theory is that iTunes’ sales numbers for “Nude” were misleading because Apple included sales of the song as well as the individual stems for guitar, drums, bass, voice and strings/effects in the same sales figure. And he attributes the song’s appearance on the Billboard chart to how well it had been selling in the iTunes music store.
In his blog, Bradley claims that “Nude” appeared on iTunes’ Top Songs list at some point on Thursday. “Under ‘Top Songs,'” he writes, “iTunes shows the five most popular downloads, and as you might have guessed it looks like a goddamn nudist colony.”
owever, Listening Post has confirmed that as of 3:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, “Nude” is no longer listed on the top five songs list on iTunes — nor is it on the the top 100 songs list. Either Apple deleted “Nude” and its stem tracks from the list due to the situation Bradley has brought up or people suddenly stopped buying “Nude” for some mysterious reason. [more at WIRED]
Idolator reports that, in week one: the original Nude sold just under 13,000 copies, and each of the four stems sold between about 9,200 and 9,800 copies. (If you’re curious: the vocal stem sold best, then guitars, strings/effects, drums; as in life, bass pulls up the rear.) Total sales for all six pieces combined were just shy of 60,000.
Billboard had to make a policy decision for “Nude.” When the original iTunes sales were tallied by SoundScan, the original song plus each stem were logged and charted separately. But for Hot 100 purposes—in keeping with Billboard’s tendency to treat it as a “songs” chart, not a “tracks” chart—”Nude” is charting in one cumulative position, which makes it look bigger than it is. If the original song, sans stems, were to chart by itself, it would have made No. 96 on the digital sales chart and likely would have missed the Hot 100 entirely. [more at Idolator]
In the meantime, we’ve just received the midweek charts in The Netherlands, where Radiohead’s Nude is on top of the singles chart. It looks the band will get their first ever number one in the lowlands, with thanks to iTunes – the store which Radiohead avoided for the entire carreer till 2008.
Update: Rich Bradley emailed to say that WIRED “seem to have misunderstood my point about Nude showing up under “Top Songs” in iTunes. I am referring specifically to the Top Radiohead Songs on the artist page. The fact that all the stems dominate here shows that there is a level of popularity for each, but not enough to push them into the Top 100 songs on iTunes overall. This is why I draw the conclusion that the stems are being individually counted as single sales. I am NOT implying any kind of conspiracy on the part of Apple, Radiohead, or anyone else. I just think it’s kind of a tricky way to get a song charting, and not necessarily even a dishonest one.”