Jennifer Lawrence Debuts on Billboard Hot 100: 'The Hanging Tree' Bows at No. 12
The Oscar-winning actress charts her first hit, from 'Mockingjay, Part 1'
Jennifer Lawrence adds another honor to her already impressive resume: the Academy Award-winning actress scores her first entry on a Billboard chart, as "The Hanging Tree" debuts on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 12.
The song, released on Republic Records, is billed as James Newton Howard featuring Lawrence. It's from Howard's score to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, in which Lawrence stars. It opened in theaters on Nov. 21. (The set starts at No. 10 on the Soundtracks chart with 4,000 first-week copies sold, according to Nielsen Entertainment.)
Lawrence recently discussed her unlikely turn as a singer on the Nov. 12 Late Show With David Letterman on CBS. "I do not like singing in front of other people. It's, like, my biggest fear. I cried on set that day," she told Letterman. "That was awful."
Given the song's reception, her fears were unfounded.
The plaintive ballad roars onto the Hot 100 with 88 percent of its chart points from sales. It enters the Digital Songs chart at No. 2 with 200,000 downloads sold in its first week (ending Nov. 30).
The remainder of its points are almost all from streaming (2.1 million U.S. streams, which place the track just outside the 50-position Streaming Songs chart). The song logged a mere eight plays on U.S. radio last week (a shout-out to Pop Songs chart reporter KHKS Dallas, which spun it six times), but Republic is only just now launching it at all radio formats.
"Tree" was written by Suzanne Collins (author of the Hunger Games series of books) and the Lumineers' Jeremiah Fraites and Wesley Schultz. The song is heard in the film first as an a cappella performance by Lawrence (in character as Katniss Everdeen). Later, she's joined by a choir and orchestra.
Lawrence, 24, joins an exclusive list of Academy Award winners who've charted on the Hot 100. She's just the 13th charted performer to win an Oscar in an acting category in the list's 56-year history, joining Julie Andrews, George Burns, Cher, Bing Crosby, Jamie Foxx, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Hudson, Burl Ives, Shirley Jones, Frank Sinatra, Meryl Streep and Barbra Streisand.
Lawrence won the Best Actress Oscar for her role in Silver Linings Playbook in 2013.
Lawrence is the first Academy Award recipient for acting to reach No. 12 on the Hot 100 or higher since Foxx, whose "Blame It" hit No. 2 in 2009. She's the first woman since Cher, whose "Believe" ruled the chart for four weeks in 1999.
"Tree" is additionally the highest-charting Hot 100 hit related to any Hunger Games film (of three so far; the fourth and final movie is scheduled to open in theaters on Nov. 20, 2015). It bests Taylor Swift's "Eyes Open," from The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond, which peaked at No. 19 in 2012.
As for Howard, 63, "Tree" marks his first Hot 100 hit. He's one of the most decorated composers in Hollywood history, having earned eight Oscar nominations. Among his scores: Pretty Woman (1990), The Prince of Tides (1991) and Maleficent (this year), along with the first three Hunger Games movies.
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.