Started from the Bottom: Week of 3/24/2007

Four hits re-enter the Hot 100 and a major player appears.

Started from the Bottom: Week of 3/24/2007

Like most music enthusiasts, I love the Billboard charts - and like most music writers, I am constantly trying to think of different ways to look at and talk about pop music. In that spirit, I present a regular free feature called Started from the Bottom, where I take a look at a random Hot 100 chart's lowest 10 entries. Are they classic hits on the way down? Future favorites just starting their run? Forgotten fun that never reached the highest heights? Come and take a look with me!

Hot 100 date: March 24, 2007

At the top: Black Eyed Peas vocalist Fergie, with an assist from Ludacris, scores her second No. 1 hit with "Glamorous." It replaces Mims' "This is Why I'm Hot," which moves to No. 2; at No. 3 is Akon's "Don't Matter," which will reach the top in two weeks. Chart-toppers still in the Top 10 include Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around...Comes Around" (currently at No. 8) and Nelly Furtado's "Say It Right" (No. 10). Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend," falling from No. 5 to No. 9 in only its second week, will reach the summit in May.

"Wait a Minute" is one of four songs on this bottom 10 that randomly re-entered the Hot 100 after some time away. Was there a pattern? I doubt it.

  1. The Pussycat Dolls feat. Timbaland, "Wait a Minute" (re-entry; previously peaked at No. 28)

At the time, I found The Pussycat Dolls immensely irritating - a kind of funhouse mirror mash of "sexy" pop music tropes that didn't appeal to me at all. (I was not averse to pop music, having bought multiple Maroon 5 albums by this point.) Aside from the goofy posturing of Nicole Scherzinger and The Rest of Them, this is an interesting production from Timbaland, who was everywhere at the time while his minute hand was creeping closer to 15. (Yes, two of his No. 1s with Justin and Nelly Furtado were still in the Top 10, but by year's end we'd get Shock Value and that Duran Duran album he was involved with part of.) The percussion and horns (arranged by the god Jerry Hey, noted for brass work with Michael Jackson and Earth, Wind & Fire) are an appealing alternative to Tim's usual freaky-freaky thing, although his vocals should never be this high in the mix.

This was apparently the first American video shot entirely in the People's Republic of China. And we're worried about TikTok?

  1. Thirty Seconds to Mars, "From Yesterday" (re-entry; previously peaked at No. 76)

It brings me great conflict to say I kinda dig this song despite a) hearing it in the context of the above, intensely pretentious video, which keeps cutting to muddled dramatic scenes, and b) the unbearable presence of Jared Leto, one of Hollywood's most detestable freaks. I guess, now, I can forgive him somewhat for investing in a actors-who-rock project that sounds like Daughtry? (Leto and his brother Shannon still perform as Thirty Seconds to Mars, and their latest album from last year was written and produced with guys who work on post-band-sound Maroon 5 albums.)

Beyoncé does an incredible drag impersonation of her husband, which is a great bait-and-switch when the real Mr. Carter shows up.

  1. Beyoncé feat. Jay Z, "Upgrade U" (re-entry; previously peaked at No. 59)

Hardly in the orbit of Bey's most-streamed songs, but perhaps the relative "obscurity" makes me appreciate what she brings to the table. (In particular: she is great at where to place and layer vocals). I'd bet this the only Hot 100 hit ever with the word "Audemars" in it.

This video was directed by Sophie Muller, which should be obvious if you watched enough MTV or VH1 at this point in time. Every Sophie Muller video Looks Like This.

  1. MIKA, "Grace Kelly" (previously peaked at No. 76)

If you remember this one, (Jeff Foxworthy voice) you might be overly attentive to the U.K. charts! MIKA never really launched in America, but "Grace Kelly" was the third-biggest selling British single of 2007, behind Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" and Rihanna & Jay Z's "Umbrella." There are far better songs in "the suits want me to do this" songwriting canon; the weird, sinister vocal inflections and the refusal to temper the catchy chorus to a certain level of notational theatrics are odd choices, too. Mika is still doing his thing in the U.K. - his latest, released in December, is in French - though he hasn't had a Top 10 at home since 2009.

One of my best friends at an old job was not only a New Jerseyan but a former Hot Topic employee. Last year, I went with her and her husband, who is from Europe, to see a laser light show set to MCR songs in a planetarium. There, I learned that she didn't really care for MCR - it was a gift for him! So much for "another cog in the murder machine."

  1. My Chemical Romance, "Famous Last Words" (previously peaked at No. 88)

I was never a scene kid - I wasn't comfortable shopping at Hot Topic until I was in college - but my respect for them (and, presumably, my New Jerseyan lineage) means I have a built in appreciation for what My Chemical Romance bring to the table. (At the time, it wasn't just me: I didn't realize the title track to The Black Parade, an immortal karaoke shouter, was also a Top 10 hit until putting this together.) Releasing this as a single before "Teenagers," which got into the lower 60s on the Hot 100, was certainly a choice, but anyone blessed enough to let those hooks and harmonies in their lives then was on the right track.

Tank, so nicknamed in school because of his sturdy figure as a young sportsman, is a name that commands attention with a voice like his to match. "Durrell Babbs" would just not have had the same kind of attention with R&B-loving lady listeners.

  1. Tank, "Please Don't Go" (chart debut)

One of the great R&B crooners of the 21st century, Tank is representing a perspective that I don't think enough hit songs are written from today: a sensitive, hurt man who knows he's the architect of his own romantic pain and wants to figure out the way to make things right. (The harmony vocals! The falsetto! Tank is quite good here.) This was one of his most commercially viable singles, just missing the Top 40 of the pop charts but reaching No. 2 on the R&B survey - and it's a blessing that you can stream it in the first place, as most of Tank's early work came out on Blackground Records, the same label that controlled Aaliyah's long-in-limbo discography.

While putting this together, "Dashboard" likely caused a very vivid dream I had where a band - not unlike Modest Mouse or, sonically, The Clash - performed a catchy song called "What's Your Number." The chorus in the dream had a transition that recalled Eddie Floyd's "Groove Me" or classic Motown, but that guitar jangle/spike was there, too.

  1. Modest Mouse, "Dashboard" (re-entry; previously peaked at No. 61)

If you weren't paying attention to Modest Mouse after the unlikely crossover of "Float On" in 2004, these next few facts might blow your mind: a) their next album had Johnny Marr of The Smiths as a full-on member of the band, b) said album led with this killer single that you could easily dance to, and c) said single actually charted better on the Hot 100 than "Float On"!

I resent that Taylor Swift has gotten so famous that she'll rarely divulge any specific artistic influences or cornerstones the way she did early on in her career, when she went on CMT Crossroads with Def Leppard and was clearly very excited about it.

  1. Taylor Swift, "Teardrops on My Guitar" (chart debut)

And here's the reason I picked this chart: it's the second pop appearance of one Taylor Alison Swift, who, you may be aware, is one of the most blindingly famous people in the entire world. Several months before, her debut single "Tim McGraw" peaked at No. 40 on the Hot 100 - but "Teardrops," specifically remixed (as heard above) for pop radio, was clearly the shot across the bow for crossover audiences. And it worked, ultimately peaking at No. 13 - her first of 83 (and counting) songs to reach the Top 20.

I have pretty vivid memories of hearing "Teardrops" when radio in the New York metro area was starting to pick it up (shout-out to my main ride-or-die at the time, 95.5 WPLJ). At the time, I was fascinated by its ripped-from-the-diary lyricism, if a tad unsold by Swift's emotive but unspectacular voice. (I think she's used her vocal limitations to her advantage as her career has continued.) When I realized, in an interview or magazine profile, that she wasn't embellishing these stories of heartache for a pop song but was drawing from very specific events, I foolishly wondered what the song's subject thought. (This would become a most unpleasant rabbit hole!)

I don't know if this feels like a "Fingertips Pt. 2" or "I Want You Back" moment, but then again, Swift hasn't held my attention in quite the same way that those other artists did when I was much younger. I do know I love the hallmarks of her early work that are on display even in this pop mix (specifically producer Nathan Chapman's emotive backing vocals), and the way this song still works without pedal steel and other genre accouterments. (I strongly believe country was a means to an end for Swift.)

I also know that we're not getting off the T-Swift express any time soon. I think general discourse around next month's The Tortured Poets Department will test casuals (be they fan or hater); I'm already annoyed by the cloying limited edition drops with specific bonus tracks that require multiple purchases of the same album. But none of that is going to make me regret the Taylor songs I do like, nor is it going to stop me from thinking that "Teardrops on My Guitar" is an interesting glimpse into a very promising pop career.

Craig Morgan was nearly 40 when this song came out. He's 60 now! You truly are never too old to party in Nashville.

  1. Craig Morgan, "Little Bit of Life" (previously peaked at No. 75)

A pleasantly inoffensive minor country crossover listing "a little bit of" things that are nice to the '00s country listener (guitar, truck, hound dog, luck, what have you). The extra bit of panache here is Morgan's story: before releasing eight Top 20 country albums, Morgan was on active duty in the Army for nearly a decade and has spent multiple stints since then in the Army Reserves. He's made some pretty heavy songs but is also a bit of a country traditionalist, lyrically; it's easy to imagine some culture war shit lurking in Morgan's psyche, but "Little Bit of Life" (co-produced by Keith Stegall, who gave this a sound not unlike Stegall's many collaborations with Alan Jackson) is fun enough not to get mad about it.

Hilariously, this bottom 10 is almost sequenced like a NOW That's What I Call Music! album without any (yet) proven hits.

  1. Billy Currington, "Good Directions" (chart debut)

Taylor Swift might've been a challenger to the order in Music Row, but Billy Currington was the genre's undisputed champion at the time. This pleasant, romantic, down-home head-swayer, heavy on dobro and fiddle, was the second biggest country hit of the year, just missing the pop Top 40 in the process. Currington's star has faded a bit since this period - he surprise released an album in 2021, his first in six years, that didn't seem to do anything - but one of the folks associated with this song had a wave of success due his way: co-writer Luke Bryan would step to the mic as a performer the following year, releasing several albums named after the joys of spring break. He then parlayed his bro-country success into a plum judging gig on American Idol.