Icona Pop: from The Dumper to Number One in 28 easy steps
Posted by Popjustice on
Jul 01 2013, 11:57
Icona Pop feat Charli XCX’s ‘I Love It’ is Number One in the UK, having shifted 125,000 copies last week. That’s pretty good news, right? Right.
Here’s how to do it if you fancy having a Number One yourself in 14 months.
1. Record a song that is obviously worthy of being a massive Number One
This is it. It is ‘I Love It’ by Icona Pop feat Charli XCX. You may have heard it once or twice.
It’s not the sort of song that makes you think ‘this is not a Number One hit single’, is it?
2. Get dropped
25 years ago, in their book The Manual: How To Have A Number One The Easy Way, The KLF advised that anyone serious about having a Number One single should first ensure that they are unemployed and on the dole. Icona Pop expertly positioned themselves into just this sort of scenario when they got themselves dropped by Mercury. We’re not certain of the timeline here but basically Icona Pop were signed to Mercury in the UK and they went through the whole “ooh look at this cool band whose faces you can’t see properly in any of their photos” thing, which despite being accompanied by great music didn’t really get anyone very excited.
3. Whack ‘I Love It’ online
At the start of May 2012 ‘I Love It’ goes online for the first time; on May 4 it’s a Popjustice Big Song. We note that it sounds like “a Top 5 single in the proper actual charts, an instant floorfiller and an early bid for 2012’s big summer pop anthem”. We’re a year early. Or maybe ‘I Love It’ is?
4. Do a video for the single
Number One singles need videos. They don’t always need to be very good.
By the time ‘I Love It’ is Number One in the UK, this will have had over 26m YouTube views.
5. Sign a new record deal
Again, the timeline here is a bit fuzzy but after the whole Mercury thing Icona Pop subsequently signed to Atlantic in the UK (from what we gather, this was pretty much on the strength of ‘I Love It’, and there might have been some link with Atlantic also having Charli XCX on their books) while still being on other labels around the world.
6. Release the song internationally, gradually and a bit confusingly
On June 2012, having already released ‘I Love It’ in Sweden, Icona Pop also release the single in Australia, where it goes 4x platinum. As the ‘I Love It’ story unfolds in the UK, the song’s released in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal (we’re copying this off Wikipedia by the way), Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and the US. On top of the success we’ve already mentioned ‘I Love It’ goes Top 10 in thirteen countries, going gold in Austria, Belgium, Italy and New Zealand, platinum in Germany, Sweden and Switzerland, and double platinum in Canada.
7. Allow the song to appear on a sort of cool TV programme
On January 27 ‘I Love It’ features in HBO’s Girls.
8. Do a nice performance of the song at an awards bash
We don’t really think this January 29 performance at the P3 Guld thing (we have no idea what this is) is integral to the song’s UK success but we’re just found it on YouTube and it’s a pretty great performance, right?
9. Perform ‘I Love It’ in front of some sort of cool people
On March 12, Icona Pop and Charli XCX perform ‘I Love It’ together for the first time at SXSW.
“‘I Love It’, recently propelled to an altogether new level of omnipresence by its sage inclusion in coke-binge sequence on the HBO series Girls, is everywhere in Austin this year,” writes Canadian website The Star. “So, too, is Icona Pop itself.”
10. Perform ‘I Love It’ in front of some sort of uncool people
On March 26 things really start to kick off when Icona Pop perform ‘I Love It’ on big US TV show Dancing With The Stars.
As we say at the time, “it’s the sort of strange but brilliant booking you can’t imagine a comparable UK show pulling off”.
11. See the song climb the US charts
Following the Dancing With The Stars extravaganza the song starts to climb the US iTunes chart again; it eventually hits Number 7 in the proper Billboard chart, which sends a strong message back to the UK re this song’s amazingnesss. ‘I Love It’ has been available on iTunes as part of the ‘Iconic’ EP, but by this point has mysteriously disappeared from sale. Some people throw their toys out of the pram about this, but it’s a pretty good sign – the label are trying to build demand while a proper release plan takes shape.
12. Get a long-awaited thumbs up from Radio 1
Radio 1 support has been a little tricky for Icona Pop so far, but this changes on May 3 2013, one year after ‘I Love it’ first appeared online. On this day ‘I Love It’ gets its first recognition from Radio 1 when Music Policy Executive Nigel Harding tweets the song.
Here’s an interesting clip of Nigel talking about how to get playlisted on Radio 1, from March this year. (The gist is ‘get loads of YouTube views first’.)
13. Find yourself on a big Samsung advert
From May 3, Samsung also uses ‘I Love It’ in a fucking massive TV ad campaign for its Galaxy S4. In it we see a load of sportsmen ‘getting pumped’ by listening to Icona Pop feat Charli XCX.
It’s quite rousing isn’t it.
14. Get the whole Glee treatment
On May 9, Glee’s season finale includes this performance of ‘I Love It’.
As Rolling Stone say, “the cover maintains the original track’s hard electro beat and dance-pop vocals, then throws in the show’s signature harmonies and some impressive solos. We can only hope it serves them well on their road to Nationals”. How about serving Icona Pop well on their road to a UK Number One though?
15. Set a UK release date
On May 9, having previously been scheduled for UK release earlier in the UK, ‘I Love it’ is finally confirmed for a June 30 release.
Sportspeople! Taylor Swift! Is there nobody on the planet who doesn’t use this song to get themselves ‘pumped’?
17. Feature as the music on BBC Eurovision trails
In the week leading up to the May 18 Eurovision final, the BBC uses ‘I Love It’ in its promotional clips.
We don’t want to reopen old wounds here but imagine if we’d sent Charli and Icona Pop to represent the UK with ‘I Love It’. IMAGINE.
18. Note with interest that Capital FM are playlisting the song
The general rule for non-Global acts is this: Radio 1 make hits, Capital FM play them. In normal circumstances this works well for all concerned but in this instance Capital take the unusual step of whacking ‘I Love It’ on their playlist before Radio 1 have made their move.
19. Observe as people start to ‘homage’ ‘I Love It’
It’s fair to say that one of the songs on Demi Lovato’s album – the Cher Lloyd duet ‘Really Don’t Care’ – takes one or two cues from ‘I Love It’.
Which is fair enough. ‘I Love It’ is a pretty good song.
20. Finally get on the Radio 1 playlist
On May 29, ‘I Love It’ appears on the Radio 1 playlist for the first time. C-list for now.
21. Put out a less good song
On May 31, while ‘I Love It’ picks up pace in the UK, Icona Pop choose to drop ‘Girlfriend’, a song that works on similar lines to ‘I Love It’ with the crucial distinction that it is not as good.
Importantly, this song proves that a song like ‘I Love It’ is brilliant by showing how a song like ‘I Love It’ can also not be brilliant.
22. Get Radio 1 a-list
On June 19, Radio 1 move ‘I Love It’ up to their a-list.
23. Whack out a Tiesto remix
This appeared a couple of weeks into June. It’s quite a ‘toe tapper’.
It’s the latest in a fairly long line of remixes, none of which are as good as the radio edit but that’s pop, right?
24. Hold your nerve while a cover version climbs the charts
This is always a good sign that a single is about to be a hit: iTunes is flooded with shittoriffic cover versions. It becomes a problem when they start to sell in large enough quantities to harm your own eventual sales, but you’ve got to love ‘Power Hitz’, right?
25. Get a bit nervous re the whole cover-version-climbing-the-charts thing and bring forward the release a week
On June 20, it’s announced that ‘I Love It’ will move forward a week.
26. Actually release the single
On June 23, ‘I Love It’ goes back on sale in the UK.
By the following morning it’s Number One on iTunes.
27. Put up some nice posters around London
Simple yet effective.
28. Finally, after eight million years, be Number One in the UK.