Blowing up

The ringtone champs
By NICK SYLVESTER  |  April 23, 2007
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50 Cent
I’m guessing most people know this by now: album sales continue to tank, but the same MP3 technology blamed for the CD’s demise is the keystone to the success of another commercial concept, i.e., the ringtone. Billboard has been covering the mobile format for almost three years now, revealing purchasing habits that reward novelty hits and blatant nostalgia as much as current pop-chart toppers. Here’s a look at some of the ones in last week’s Top 10, with some passing insight as to why they’re here . . .

50 Cent feat. Olivia, “Candy Shop”
On the charts for 114 weeks so far (most of that time spent in the Top 10), “Candy Shop” in retrospect seems designed to sound good as a low-bit-rate ringtone: a really minimal chromatic synth hook, lots of treble, not much mid, not too much bass. All the snap music of the last few years follows the same logic: keep the production simple so the song’ll sound just right on as many cellphones as possible.

Chris Brown, “Poppin’ ”
This one is fuller than “Candy Shop,” but you can hear elements that appear to be designed with the ringtone in mind, like the bells twinkling in the background, and the toneless electronic embellishments exploding like mini fireworks throughout.

Rascall Flatts, “What Hurts the Most”
Fifty-five weeks!? On the ringtones chart!? Maybe the CMT crowd has better cellphone tech than I do, because I have no idea how anyone got the idea that this mid-tempo country weeper would work as a ringtone.

Koji Kondo, “Super Mario Brothers Theme”
The mobile chart is decorated with nostalgia hits like this one, the eight-bit theme to the most famous video game of all time. Me? I'm just glad to see (and hear) Koji Kondo get some shine.
  Topics: Download , Entertainment, 50 Cent, Hip-Hop and Rap,  More more >
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