After its first three days of availability, Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" rockets to a record-setting debut on Billboard's Pop Songs radio airplay chart and, thanks to exceptionally strong opening digital sales estimates, looks likely to storm the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 1 when the latter list is released Wednesday (Feb. 16).
The first single and title track from the star's third studio album, due May 23, storms Pop Songs at No. 14 with 4,602 plays, according to Nielsen BDS, the highest detections total by a debuting title in the chart's 18-year history.
Additionally, sources say that "Born" shifted more than 450,000 downloads its first three days of release since Friday morning (11).
Its big sales start, plus jaw-dropping radio launch, sets up "Born"'s likely debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100. Not only would a No. 1 start represent just the Hot 100's 19th No. 1 opening, but, as previously reported, it would also mark the survey's 1,000th leader dating to its 1958 inception.
A bow of 450,000 downloads would secure Lady Gaga the biggest debut for a track by a woman, surpassing Britney Spears' bow with "Hold It Against Me" four weeks ago (411,000). If Gaga moves 450,000, it would also mark the fourth-largest debut among all digital tracks - a remarkable feat, considering the song had less than three full days of sales availability.
The biggest start for a track overall belongs to Flo Rida's "Right Round," which started with 636,000 in February 2009. In second place: the Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow" (465,000); and, third: Flo Rida's "Low" (460,000).
Highlights of the Hot 100, including the No. 1 title, will be released on Billboard.com Wednesday. All charts will be refreshed on Billboard.com Thursday (Feb. 17).
The opening Pop Songs plays sum of 4,602 for "Born" (which translates to a first-week audience of 39.3 million) bests the mark established when "Hold It Against Me" arrived with 4,071 spins four weeks ago. (Spears' song debuted after a full seven days of airplay. "Born" sets the format opening-week plays mark after only three days of availability, following the song's arrival at radio early Friday).
Lady Gaga's much-hyped appearance at the 53rd Grammy Awards last night (13) added to its opening-weekend pop culture blitz.
By launching at No. 14, "Born" logs the second-highest start in the Pop Songs list's archives. Only Mariah Carey's "Dreamlover" began at a higher rank, having soared in at No. 12 the week of Aug. 14, 1993. "Hold It Against Me" and Madonna's "Frozen" (March 7, 1998) follow with No. 16 arrivals.
"Lady Gaga has quickly become one of the biggest stars in music," says MoJoe Roberts, program director of KHOP (@95-1)/Modesto, Calif., which played "Born" 68 times between Friday and Sunday. "This single only helps solidify her place among music royalty."
"It's Gaga; How can you go wrong at this point?," echoes Dom Theodore, PD of WXRK (92.3 Now)/New York (38 plays through yesterday).
The song is an "instant, massive hit," says JB Wilde, PD of WMKS (105.7 Now)/Greensboro, N.C., which played the track 58 times through yesterday. "From the first spin, our phones and Facebook pages exploded with comments."
"Plus," adds Wilde, referring to Lady Gaga's much-buzzed-about Grammy Awards entrance in a gigantic egg, "it was great to see her steal the Easter Bunny's thunder."
WFLZ (93.3)/Tampa, Fla., first played "Born" in the 4 a.m. hour Friday (twice in a row) and 55 times total through yesterday.
"Overall feedback has been very positive from fans," says PD Tommy Chuck. "I believe that Lady Gaga is well on her way to another No. 1 hit and another big year."