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Why Radio Is the Last to Play the Biggest Song of the Summer

Stocks in this article: GOOG

It also finished ahead of Perry's Wide Awake, Maroon 5's Payphone, Gotye and Kimbra's Somebody That I Used To Know and fun.'s We Are Young -- all huge songs with a whole lot more production and polish on them than Jepsen's bouncy little tune.

It showed the was potential of going around the U.S. music machine directly to listeners, and it did so with a whole lot of free, nonradio trial. It still boggles the mind that Google would set up a streaming music service to take on Pandora (P) and Rdio when its best internet radio solution -- YouTube -- already exists.

Even Google (GOOG) CEO Larry Page had to admit as much last fall after YouTube helped yield another unorthodox hit: Psy's now-ubiquitous Gangnam Style. Initially released in mid-July, Gangnam Style hit the top of YouTube's music chart by the end of August and made its horse-dancing, toilet-sitting, car-flashing video a part of pop-culture lore. With $2 per 1,000 pageviews, Psy made more than $1.2 million on the video alone by November.

Page called Gangnam Style "a glimpse of the future" as Psy was able to make a bonafide bankable hit through a video/download approach that had since been reserved for novelties such as The Bed Intruder Song or Rebecca Black's Friday. It no longer needs airplay to be a hit. It no longer needs major label backing to be a hit. It just needs to catch people's attention and hold it. Instead of Universal Music dictating what its summer hit would be, it found itself buying those hits from Jepsen and Psy's labels.

That said, there's a strong chance order will be restored this summer. Pink and fun.'s Nate Ruess seem hell-bent on reviving the adult contemporary ballad with Just Give Me A Reason, Ciara's back and throwing a Body Party, and Avril Lavigne and Christina Aguilera are trying to recapture a little of their 2000s playlist space.

But they're not guaranteed anything. As of Memorial Day weekend, those heavyweights were staring up the charts at a pair of gawky kids from Seattle named Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Not only did their Can't Hold Us top the Billboard Hot 100, but it came off of their independently produced and released album The Heist and has been getting much of its juice from Microsoft (MSFT) and Miller (TAP) commercials and -- where else? -- YouTube, where the song's video has picked up more than 35 million views.

Does it have the staying power to the the song of the summer? Hard to tell, but there's a chance that those lyrics Macklemore is spitting on your YouTube playlist now will be pumping out of seaside speakers a few months from now.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to

>To submit a news tip, send an email to:


Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post,, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
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