Why It’s Time to Discount “That’s What I Like”
And why it probably won’t be.
Simply put, Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like” is a fantastic R&B/pop track. Most mainstream listeners would likely agree, given the track’s positive net call out scores on radio, its relatively strong sales and healthy streaming of its quirky video.
More interestingly, “That’s What I Like” is a huge radio smash, with audience figures that would normally be more than enough to warrant the number one position. But for the last several weeks, it has been stuck behind the massive Ed Sheeran single “Shape of You” in nearly every metric (the Hot 100, Radio Songs, Streaming Songs, etc.).
As “Shape” begins to slide in streaming and plummet from atop the sales chart, this is the perfect opportunity to discount “That’s What I Like”: a single week discount would almost guarantee the No. 1 slot on the Billboard Hot 100. As proven with “When I Was Your Man” and several other hits from the Hawaiian singer, Bruno and co are no stranger to the manipulation of consumers.
But for the first time in Mars’ run, he’s unlikely to get approval to discount a near chart topping track. Why? He’s on the same label as Ed Sheeran in the United States (Atlantic).
Wouldn’t Atlantic want to seize the opportunity to grab two back to back No. 1 releases? Normally the answer would of course be yes. But because “Shape of You” is incredibly close to breaking domestic records, all past cases are irrelevant. On the Hot 100, where “Shape” has been No. 1 for an incredible 12 non-consecutive weeks, it’s less than a month away from becoming Atlantic’s longest running No. 1 ever, only four weeks from tying the all time weeks at No. 1 record and only five from breaking it. Notably, Ed’s track has also entered the top 15 all time radio peaks (according to Nielsen and Billboard) and it’s still increasing overall.
Another factor – one that might be less relevant — is that Bruno has already had his time in the spotlight: he dominated the charts with “Uptown Funk”, which was number one for 14 weeks just two years ago and has had a half dozen Hot 100 chart toppers overall. Meanwhile, Sheeran had only ever gotten as high as No. 2 (with “Thinking Out Loud”) until “Shape”; coincidentally, said track stalled behind “Uptown Funk”.
It seems as though Atlantic is going aggressive with its campaign to keep “Shape” at No. 1, which leaves “That’s What I Like” with little to no support; the ‘best’ its gotten in the last several months in terms of non radio based promotion (i.e. excluding the Grammy’s performance) is a couple of ‘remixes’.
Ultimately, however, this strategy of letting “That’s What I Like” peak naturally is going to massively backfire. Exhibit A: these so called remixes are utter garbage. As influential as PartyNextDoor and Gucci Mane are in modern music, they don’t belong on a track like this.
Exhibit B: Interscope is closing in rapidly. “Humble” (performed by TDE signee Kendrick Lamar) could very well be the next Hot 100 topper thanks to record breaking domestic streaming figures, a critically acclaimed parent album and steadily increasing radio support. Should it do so, it will crown the chart before “Shape of You” hits fourteen or more weeks at No. 1. As for the rest of Interscope’s roster, Zedd & Alessia Cara’s “Stay”, Kygo & Selena Gomez’s “It Ain’t Me” are already starting to close in on the top 5 of the Pop radio chart. Although they are unlikely to be Hot 100 chart toppers themselves, it wouldn’t be surprising if they began to chip away at Bruno’s radio performance.