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The Week Ahead

Spears single lights up request lines

October 27, 2003|Randy Lewis

Expect the new Britney Spears single "Me Against the Music" to take a healthy jump up the Billboard Hot 100 singles listing this week, as her collaboration with Madonna heats up Top 40 radio playlists.

Although the teen-pop genre has cooled off considerably, the former teen-pop queen couldn't be hotter, says KIIS-FM music director Julie Pilat. "It's the No. 1 request at the station right now," Pilat says. "The first day we got it, we played it every hour, and it's been our No. 1 phone song since."

Pilat says she's heard other tracks from Spears' forthcoming "In the Zone" album, due Nov. 18, and predicts that "Me Against the Music" won't be the album's only hit. "It's going to be a great record for KIIS for a long time."

"The collaboration of two artists of their stature made it an event record," says Joe Riccitelli, Jive Records' vice president of pop promotion. "The challenge was to get it past event status to the point where it would be considered a real legitimate single."

Initial interest, in fact, could have been attributed to simple curiosity over the pairing of two pop sex symbols or the fact that this is Spears' first new single in two years. During that time, she has rarely been out of the news, from her busted romance with Justin Timberlake to myriad reports of her latest flames to her buzz-generating buss with Madonna on the recent MTV Video Music Awards show.

But instead of making a flurry of requests and then tapering off as radio started playing it, listeners have continued requesting the song. It has tallied the greatest increase in the number of plays on radio stations nationally for two weeks straight, according to the trade publication Radio & Records.

"It's sort of undeniable having those two sing together," says Jeff Pollack, one of the nation's leading radio consultants. "Clearly, working with Madonna has helped significantly. When you have a big record on the radio that's getting the kind of spins this one's getting, it can't help but have a positive impact on both. It's been slow going for both artists recently. This is a way to heat things up."

"Heat" being the operative word for the sweat-drenched video and lyric for a percolating dance number that brings Spears back from the realm of gossip columns to the world of pop music.

"A lot of people have been wondering whether her music career would be taking a back seat to being a celebrity," says Pollack. "This puts her back in the game."

-- Randy Lewis

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