Anyone scrolling through the Hot 100’s archives from this time will notice something rather bizarre about this song’s journey to the top: despite having reached the top 10 just four weeks after its Hot 100 debut, it immediately began plummeting precipitously after its arrival into the region, dropping from number 9 to 33, then to 55 the week after that. An observer lacking context might at this point assume that the song was a flash in the pan that was on its way out, but then it exploded back to number 8 and rushed to the top the following week.

The reason for the strange trajectory was a bit of an experiment that labels were trying at the time. For decades, labels worked under the assumption that sales of a hit radio single were bound to cut into album sales. While evidence to support this was mixed (it was probably true for some artists and not so much for others), in the ’90s especially the labels increasingly schemed of ways to ensure that a radio hit would either be available to purchase as a single under limited circumstances or that it wouldn’t hit retail at all, forcing customers to opt for the album instead. After the American retail singles market died out in the early 2000s, this ceased to be so much of a concern, and labels could work singles up the charts through airplay alone. Even following the advent of the iTunes store, labels would frequently work an album’s lead single to radio while withholding its availability on iTunes — they wanted the single to sell well enough to achieve an impressive chart peak, but not so well that people wouldn’t consider the album once it dropped. Rihanna’s “SOS” is one example of a song whose digital availability was entirely suppressed until its parent album came out, at which point it exploded from number 34 to number 1.

“Glamorous” is, as far as I can recall, the first prominent example of a label deciding to remove a hit song from the digital edition of an already-released album in the hopes of spurring people to purchase said album in full. This is why it plummeted so drastically on the Hot 100 for those two weeks, and the quick reversal of that decision is why it surged back to the top so quickly afterward. Did the gambit work? Maybe. The album did ascend on the albums chart a bit during the time of the experiment, but it had been ascendant anyway (probably because the song was breaking out). That the scheme didn’t last long suggests to me that the label was perhaps hoping it was going to work better, and that in the meantime they weren’t entirely happy to see that airplay gains wouldn’t keep the song from nosediving down the Hot 100.

Despite the mixed success of that scheme, that wasn’t the only time it was attempted for a major hit! In 2008, Estelle’s classic “American Boy” had spent about 4 months gradually scaling the chart and was just on the cusp of entering the top 10 when her label decided to attempt the same strategy, yanking it off iTunes and sending it tumbling from number 11 to 37, then 57 on the Hot 100. The absence of “American Boy” from the digital album did not induce customers to purchase the full album so much as to instead purchase a literal karaoke cover (!!) of the song by ‘Studio All-Stars’, which accordingly reached the Hot 100 for the three weeks that the real thing was missing from iTunes. After its restoration to the iTunes store, it promptly sailed back to its peak position of number 9, and as far as I know that was the last time this stunt was attempted for a current hit. One notable exception: the same summer that “American Boy” was a hit, Kid Rock’s insistence on withholding his entire catalog from digital availability in America kept “All Summer Long” from reaching as high as it certainly would have, and also enabled two karaoke covers (this time by ‘Hit Masters’ and ‘The Rock Heroes’) to reach the Hot 100, with the former ironically out-peaking the real song.