Live: Lady Gaga Is Z100's Homecoming Queen At The Jingle Ball

Z100 Jingle Ball: Lady Gaga, Pitbull, David Guetta, Kelly Clarkson, LMFAO, Gym Class Heroes, Demi Lovato, Foster The People, and Hot Chelle Rae w/Karmin, The Script
Madison Square Garden
Friday, December 9

Better than: A lump of coal and a "Firework" CD single.

To begin, let's run down a few key numbers related to the 2011 installment of Z100's Jingle Ball. Friday night's pop extravaganza had 11 sets; 32 full songs; five medleys; two point five holiday-themed songs; two encores; one Coldplay video; one Kardashian; and one member of LMFAO on the disabled list. Things that were present in abundance, so I didn't keep tallies: Screaming; festive attire; between-song ads; shout-outs to New York City.

I begin with statistics, because what is Z100—the East Coast top-40 flagship of the Clear Channel monolith—but a celebration of numbers? At the night's outset, Elvis Duran, host of the morning show, declared, "When you hear a song played on Z100, you know it's a hit." The artists atop the Jingle Ball's bill, with their ability to be reduced to one name—Gaga, Pitbull, Guetta, Kelly, all of whom have spent the month performing atop other Jingle Balls in other cities—bore this theory out in a sense; their sets, brief but longer than those earlier in the evening, contained only "hits," songs that might not have been familiar by title but that were sing-alongable within the first verse.

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100 & Single: A Dozen Contenders For Billboard's Year-End Top 10, And Their Fight Against The "Last Christmas Effect"

Later this week, Billboard is expected to announce its tallies for the biggest hits of 2011. And what a year for music it's been. Remember all those big hits: "Like a G6," "We R Who We R," "Raise Your Glass," "Fuck You!" and "What's My Name?"

What's that—you say the songs I just rattled off are kinda old? Like, 2010-old? You're absolutely right. But don't be surprised if these vintage hits feature prominently among the biggest Hot 100 hits of 2011.

Billboard's "chart year" runs from December 1 through November 30. Blame old-fashioned dead-tree production schedules—they do this so they can announce the year-end victors before the holidays arrive and run the lists in a big, collectible magazine the size of small phone book. (Makes a great stocking stuffer. Seriously!)

The upshot of this skewed calendar: Take a good look at what's topping the Hot 100 right now. Hits like Rihanna's "We Found Love" (No. 1), LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It" (No. 2), or Bruno Mars's fast-rising "It Will Rain" are going to feature conspicuously among the top Billboard hits... of 2012, next December. On the 2011 list, they won't be very prominent at all.

Even with its abundance of aging tracks, the 2011 list will still be worth poring over when Billboard drops it in a few days. Unlike the year-end album chart—which is based on straight Soundscan sales totals, and whose victor is already a foregone conclusion—the formula of digital sales, radio airplay and online streaming that determines the weekly Hot 100 means year-end predictions require a lot more guesstimating. Which is more fun, anyway.

Let's run down, in alphabetical order, a baker's dozen of hits that are likely to figure prominently on Billboard's Top Hot 100 Songs of 2011. These are tracks likely to make the final Top 10 or at least the Top 20.

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Radio Hits One: The Always Exciting, Sometimes Difficult Climb Back To The Top Of The Charts

Following up a hit song, especially a big chart-topping hit, can be one of the best moments in a pop act's career. But it's also one of the most difficult; you could be Katy Perry, scoring five No. 1s in a row, or you could be Daniel Powter, who missed the Hot 100 entirely with the follow-up to "Bad Day." On one hand, the act has momentum; on the other hand, the act has nowhere to go but down. A second single is often where an up-and-comer falls into the one-hit wonder trap, and even established acts can wonder if they just enjoyed their last chart-topper.

So it always fascinates me to see what songs artists choose to follow hot on the heels of a big hit—whether they try to repeat that success with a stylistically similar song, or take a left turn to prove their versatility or court a different audience—and how they fare.

From 2000 to 2010, 147 different songs occupied the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100. Nearly all of those songs were followed a few months later by another single by the same artist, usually from the same album; in some cases, the No. 1 came from a soundtrack or compilation, and in others it was the last single from an album cycle. 19% of those 147 chart-toppers were immediately followed by the artist's next single reaching the same heights. 54% of the follow-ups were top-ten hits; 78% were top 40 hits. Only 10% of all those No. 1s yielded follow-ups that didn't even penetrate the Hot 100.

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Live-Blogging The 2011 Video Music Awards: Teenage Dreams Of Vomited-Up Cockroaches

Sort of the way I remember it.

Welcome to Sound of the City's liveblog of the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, the cable channel's annual paean to musically borne decadence and its own self-storied past. Tonight's roster of performers includes Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Chris Brown, Pitbull, and Young the Giant, as well as a "surprise" performance by Jay-Z and Kanye West, a tribute to Britney Spears (not dead and celebrating the 10th anniversary of her dancing uncomfortably with a snake), an homage to Amy Winehouse (R.I.P.), and the looming possibility that Tyler, The Creator will crap himself onstage. The blogging starts below.

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Radio Hits One: Adele Achieves the Crossover Hat Trick

It wasn't all that surprising when Billboard crowned Adele's 21 as the top-selling album of the first six months of the year—the next-highest seller, Lady Gaga's Born This Way, is still trailing it by nearly a million copies. The British diva missed out on having the biggest-selling digital single of the year so far by a much smaller margin, with "Rolling In The Deep" taking second to Katy Perry's "E.T." by only 30,000 units. Both songs are quadruple platinum.

Of course, odds are Adele will end up with the top single and album by year's end, and she's racked up plenty of other impressive achievements during her hugely successful 2011 run. But perhaps the most rare and difficult to quantify measure of Adele's ubiquity is the sheer volume and diversity of all the singles charts "Rolling In The Deep" has appeared on; it may be the only hit in recent history, and perhaps ever, to appear on Billboard's adult contemporary, dance, pop, rock, R&B and (get this) Latin charts.

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100 & Single: Pitbull Turns The Hot 100 Back Into A Boys' Club (For Now)

If, like me, you've been putting together your annual summer playlist to pump at block parties and barbecues, you may have found yourself with a historically odd problem: a relative dearth of hits this year by dudes. After you've rounded up buzzy tracks by the Queens of Pop—from Adele to Nicki Minaj to Robyn—you might find yourself hunting for worthy male vocals, just for diversity.

On the charts, the guys have reasserted control—at least for this week. Cuban-American club-rapper Pitbull assumes the throne on Billboard's Hot 100 with "Give Me Everything," his first chart-topper. The Miamian born Armando Christian Pérez is the first lead male to top the authoritative song chart in, no joke, 20 weeks.

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Pitbull And Nas: Where They Are Now

Timothy Saccenti

This week's Voice takes a look at how Pitbull rode a bullish multimedia campaign to a level of chart success and celebrity that far exceeds what he accomplished during reggaeton's heyday. It's every bit as heartening as it is surprising. When you consider the other acts who have fashioned a similar career arc—a brief but substantial peak, a productive but highly ignored valley and improbable rebirth in an admittedly cratered economy—I welcome Pitbull's rebirth more than that of Kid Rock, Train or Cake.

Which is not to overstate the idea that Pitbull went totally incognito in the period between reggaeton's height and the present day—singles with the Ying Yang Twins and Pharrell did fairly decently, while his Spanish-language records anchored him and earned him a slew of Latino Billboard awards. But in the post-reggaeton moment of 2006, he might have been best known in some circles for this very publication's claim that he was better than Nas. Granted, this took place during the lead-up to Hip Hop Is Dead, so that sort of accolade could've just as easily been granted to the likes of Annuals or Brightblack Morning Light and still have had a high degree of accuracy. It's also worth noting that Nas isn't mentioned in that piece anywhere after the title, so he could've been replaced by the likes of Pearl Jam or Red Hot Chili Peppers or any other '90s titan who was making a dreadfully dull album in 2006 merely by being themselves.

Both kept relatively busy in the years since then, and they've been on about equal footing: Pitbull may have been the one making the records entirely in Spanish, but they were much easier to comprehend than Nas' indefensible Untitled. And now, both are in a position where their Q ratings are at a peak—Shakira's shaking her ass in Pitbull's new video, and Nas has heads thinking he could at least recapture the glory of It Was Written—so if only for giggles and shits, it's worth asking the same question again, right?

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The Ballad of 2010: A Journey Through the Insipid Year That Was

As previously noted, the pop-house that dominated the charts in 2010 was really fucking insipid. So to see this boneheaded year off, here's an anti-poetic tribute comprised of over 30 hits, misses, and album cuts that came out (or flourished) this year about going to the club, taking shots, dancing, and generally being as mindless as possible. If things continue on like this, you may not have to use your brain whatsoever in 2011. Fingers crossed! (Click on the line for its source track.)

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