HITS Daily Double


The independent labels are having a massive impact so far this year. Prime movers include Bang Si-hyuk-led Big Hit with BTS and Ty Baisden’s Lost Kids with Brent Faiyaz, who came up just short last week in a fierce, old-school indie-label battle with Bad Bunny—on Noah Assad’s Rimas—in a watershed moment for the surging independent sector.

The explosion of the Puerto Rican phenom, with his game-changing Spanish-language album, along with a comparably massive world tour, is hands down the story of the year. Un Verano Sin Ti has spent 10 weeks north of 100k since its 5/6 release, and that streak isn’t likely to end anytime soon. The motor behind Sony indie distribbery The Orchard’s .6% rise to 5.9 YTD, the 23-song LP—Bunny’s second straight chart-topping debut for Rimas—is already #2 YTD, and it’s primed to overtake Disney’s Encanto as the biggest of ’22 before the end of July.

Although Rimas and HYBE aren’t considered classic indies in that they’re distributed by majors, their current successes signify the democratization of the ecosystem, as did Big Loud’s deft setup of Morgan Wallen’s breakthrough prior to label head Seth England making the deal with Republic.

Moving to the majors, Interscope Geffen A&M remains the #1 label despite the lack of a game-changing breakthrough on the order of Geffen rookie Olivia Rodrigo, who led the company to a stunning 10.1% finish last year, or Billie Eilish before her. It’s a testament to John Janick’s rarefied leadership skills that he’s nonetheless rolled a 9.8, with Rodrigo’s #7 YTD Sour still the biggest of IGA’s major-league-leading dozen Top 50 albums, followed by the company’s most recent charting releases: Kendrick Lamar’s provocative TDE swan song at #13 and BTS’ Geffen debut at #14. That sprinkling of extra-base hits was just enough to edge out the Atlantic cluster of labels (9.5%), which has the #5 album from Gunna and eight Top 50 singles.

Third-place Republic (7.9) continues to do what Monte Lipman has always done—light up the scoreboard—but he’s also been fine-tuning the label group, relaunching Mercury and getting mileage out of Imperial. Meanwhile the share of Island, with aggressive new leadership from Imran Majid and Justin Eshak, also goes in Republic’s column. On top of the gazillions generated by Drake, The Weeknd, Taylor Swift and Post Malone, all of whom have Top 25 albums YTD, Wallen’s Dangerous—#3 on the year—is cemented in the Top 10 as if by Krazy Glue in the first half of its second year in release while moving another 1.2m units YTD.

Columbia (6.9) is solidly entrenched at #4 with its blend of household names and Ron Perry-developed supernovas. Heavy hitters Harry Styles, Adele, The Kid LAROI, Polo G and Lil Nas X have notched six Top 50 albums and five Top 50 singles among them, while Parkwood’s Beyoncé is back in play with a reactive new track off her upcoming album, the fittingly titled Renaissance.

Warner (6.2) has a pair of rapidly rising smashes in Joji’s “Glimpse of Us” and Kate Bush’s Stranger Things-ignited, 37-year-old cult classic “Running Up That Hill,” while Zach Bryan and Cody Johnson are leading the Red Dirt Country posse. Aaron Bay-Schuck and Tom Corson’s resurgent label is battling for #5 with Michelle Jubelirer’s Capitol Music Group (6.0), with key contributors including Virgin and Capitol Christian. A roster loaded with next-gen female stars has lifted RCA to the 5% tier. Leading the way is Doja Cat, who recently became just the seventh artist to score five Top 5 singles from the same album—2021’s Planet Her.

While Wallen, Bryan and Johnson have a lot to do with Country’s expanding footprint, Sony Nashville’s Luke Combs—with two Top 50 albums and a third just released—and UMG Nashville’s Chris Stapleton muscled the genre into the mainstream and remain as potent as ever. Monument’s late-blooming Walker Hayes has become a force as well with his TikTok-fueled earworm “Fancy Like” and provocative follow-up “AA.”

The Encanto soundtrack’s “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”—one of its five Top 50 entries—is still the biggest song of the year—but who’ll be on top of the heap come September?