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Emmys 2017
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Slow-burning singles

How Pink’s ”U + Ur Hand’ and Carrie Underwood’s ”Before He Cheats” found new life

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The trajectory of a killer single is pretty straightforward: It goes up the charts — fast. But this year, two of music’s biggest artists have taken their sweet time getting there. Pink’s ”U + Ur Hand” dropped last October but finally hit No. 1 on Billboard‘s Pop 100 Airplay this May, and Idol-bred country star Carrie Underwood’s ”Before He Cheats” took 38 weeks to cross over into the Hot 100 top 10.

Why the slow burn? Well, Underwood’s revenge anthem is classic country, while Pink’s raucous offering features a prominent reference to masturbation. Explains Tom Poleman, a senior VP at New York City’s Z100, the country’s largest Top 40 station, ”They weren’t obvious hits, so we were reluctant to add them [to our lineup].” Their ultimate selling point came down to grassroots exposure — Pink is currently on tour — and the tracks’ girl-power messages. ”When we did put them on, the listener response was instant and passionate,” says Poleman. ”Great songs find a way to make it to the top, and these are proof.”