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Tom Petty’s ‘Love Is a Long Road’ Up Over 8,000% in Streams Following ‘Grand Thef Auto VI’ Trailer

Welcome to Billboard Pro’s Trending Up newsletter, where we take a closer look at the songs, artists, curiosities and trends that have caught the music industry’s attention. Some have come out of nowhere, others have taken months to catch on, and all of them could become ubiquitous in the blink of a TikTok clip. 
This week: Late rock legends Tom Petty and Shane McGowan see huge gains for a pair of late-’80s favorites, a turn-of-the-century U.K. pop smash gets some U.S. love for a cheeky film synch and much more.

‘GTA’ Trailer Leads to ‘Long’ Season for Tom Petty on Streaming

1989’s Full Moon Fever album was a career apex for Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Tom Petty. His first LP recorded without usual backing band the Heartbreakers, the set was certified 5x platinum by the RIAA in the U.S., and spawned the massive radio and MTV hits “Free Fallin’,” “I Won’t Back Down” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” But it’s one of the album’s deeper cuts that’s lighting up streaming services this week: the hi-octane synth-rocker “Love Is a Long Road.” 

The song is taking off due to its use in the recently released trailer for the highly anticipated upcoming Grand Theft Auto VI, which set viewership records in its first 24 hours of release on YouTube. Though “Long Road” was only drawing between 4,000-5,000 daily official on-demand U.S. streams before over the weekend, that number was up to 78,000 on Monday (Dec. 4) – when the trailer first leaked on social media – and rocketed to 376,000 on Tuesday after the trailer’s proper release, according to preliminary numbers from Luminate: a gain of 8,421% from the prior Sunday. (The song also sold nearly 1,000 digital copies over those two days, after a negligible number the days before.) 

Those numbers may only continue to increase as the GTA trailer spreads around the internet, possibly making “Long Road” a contender on some of Billboard’s rock charts next week. It wouldn’t be the first time the song made a chart impact – back in 1989, it made it to No. 7 on Mainstream Rock Airplay, despite never being released as an A-side in the U.S. – ANDREW UNTERBERGER

Fans Mourn the Late Shane MacGowan by Reliving a “Fairytale of New York” 

Last Thursday (Nov. 30), Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan died from pneumonia after a monthslong ICU stint earlier this year. In the days since his passing — which painfully coincided with the beginning of December, a.k.a. the height of Christmas music season – fans have rallied around the Pogues’ holiday-themed Kirsty MacColl duet “Fairytale of New York” to soundtrack their collective mourning. 

On TikTok, the four official “Fairytale” sounds have a combined total of just over 10,000 posts, but that only tells half of the story. In the wake of MacGowan’s passing, several celebrity covers of the song have garnered renewed traction on TikTok – including clips of Ed Sheeran, Saoirse Ronan, and, of course, Travis Kelce, who recently earned his first Billboard chart-topper with “Fairytale of Philadelphia,” a spoof on the Pogues’ original featuring his brother Jason Kelce. The general Christmas spirit has also bolstered the song’s circulation on the app, and a microtrend of British creators highlighting the different regional uses of the F-slur between the U.S. and U.K. did the same. 

According to Luminate, “Fairytale of New York” earned just under 400,000 on-demand U.S. streams the day MacGowan passed (Nov. 30), marking a 227.2% increase in streams from the day prior. During the first four days of this tracking week (Nov. 30-Dec. 3), “Fairytale” logged 1.19 million streams, a 146.1% increase from around 483,000 streams during the period of Nov. 26-29. 

“Fairytale of New York” served as a single from the Pogues’ 1988 If I Should Fall From Grace With God album, which became their highest-peaking entry on the Billboard 200 (No. 88). Although none of their songs have entered the Billboard Hot 100, “Fairytale” — which is a certified Christmas classic in the U.K. — recently reached a new peak of No. 16 on Holiday Digital Song Sales (chart dated Dec. 9, 2023). Should streams continue to remain up, “Fairytale” might get within striking distance of becoming the Celtic band’s very first Hot 100 hit. – KYLE DENIS

Barry Keoghan’s Cheeky NSFW Saltburn Scene Revives a Sophie Ellis-Bextor Classic on Streaming 

Barry Keoghan’s lengthy full-frontal scene in Emerald Fennell’s much-discussed Saltburn has become an inescapable part of day-to-day social media discourse, but it’s not just the swoon-worthy actor people are fawning over. In the scene – which features the nude Oscar nominee dancing through a seemingly empty mansion – Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s “Murder on the Dancefloor” booms in the background, making it a prime selection for TikTok’s latest musical obsession. 

On TikTok, the most popular “Murder on the Dancefloor” sound – which originated from a June post by a Sophie Ellis-Bextor fan-page – has garnered over 99,600 posts, with the official sounds boasting a combined 2,109 posts. The vast majority of recent “Murder on the Dancefloor” posts are split between users lauding the song’s greatness outside of Saltburn and users expressing admiration and shock for Keoghan’s daring performance. “Just found out in this scene of [Saltburn], Barry Keoghan didn’t use a prosthetic,” reads one cheeky caption, while another proclaims, “Barry Keoghan twirling around a mansion naked lives rent free in my head.” 

According to Luminate, “Murder” earned over 670,000 on-demand U.S. streams during the period of Nov. 24-30. That marks an enormous 362.3% increase from just under 145,000 streams during the period of Nov. 17-23. From Dec. 1-4, “Murder” had already pulled 547,000 streams, signaling an even faster rate of growth than the week prior.

“Murder on the Dancefloor” may have never reached the Hot 100, but the track did top out at No. 9 on Dance Singles Sales back in 2002. The song fared much better in Ellis-Bextor’s home of the U.K., reaching No. 2 in late 2001. With Saltburn headed to on-demand streaming later this month, “Murder on the Dancefloor” has plenty of room to keep growing. – KD

‘Little Life,’ Big Streams: Cordelia Scores Celebratory TikTok Hit

“I think I like this little life.” So goes a refrain that’s becoming increasingly popular on TikTok, with users soundtracking sentimental moments alongside friends, as well as glistening nature shots, with “Little Life” – the gentle and emotionally arresting song by independent singer-songwriter Cordelia. “Little Life” was released as the final song on Cordelia’s four-track Caramel EP in October, and since then, the song has steadily ballooned in weekly streams to become a potential breakthrough for the rising artist.

During the week ending Nov. 9, “Little Life” earned 2,500 U.S. on-demand streams, according to Luminate; that number grew by a factor of 100 (265,000 weekly streams) by the week ending Nov. 30, and looks to keep swelling in December, as the song earned 216,000 streams in the first three days of the month. For her part, Cordelia is reveling in the TikTok explosion: “People are using my song ‘Little Life’ to soundtrack their own wonderful little lives,” she wrote last month. “It’s TOO CUTE.” – Jason Lipshutz

Q&A: Alex Tear, VP music programming at SiriusXM + Pandora, on What’s Trending Up in His World

What’s the number one trend that you think we’ll remember when we look back at 2023 in popular music?

The art and controversy of the sped-up single peaking at a new high. Although sped-up versions have been present since the 2000s, 2023 feels to have been a breakthrough year with mass appeal acceptance, charting, radio airplay and totally normalized consumption.

What was the year’s most surprising trend to you?

Music’s reset to innovate and push boundaries again vs. being predictable and formulaic. The growing mass acceptance and appetite to blur genre lines and era boundaries has allowed artists to really shine with strong audience reaction. The resurgence of retro-inspired pop that embraces the sounds of previous decades has also been very welcomed.

The charts are currently being dominated by holiday music, but do you think there are any songs from late 2023 that will carry over as big hits in early 2024?

I feel there are several that will continue to melt the snow, from Tate McRae with her new album Think Later, to Jack Harlow to Dua Lipa, and let’s keep our eye on Noah Kahan. Noah’s creeping momentum is poised to roll into 2024 with a presence.   

Fill in the blank: the major artist I’m hoping has a big 2024 is ______.

Teddy Swims and Tyla. These are two artists first embraced by SiriusXM + Pandora to amazing audience reaction. We’re excited to be a part of their rise and will continue spreading the word across North America as they become major artists. – J.L.

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