Was Alexandra Stan’s “Mr. Saxobeat” The Most Anonymous Hit Of 2011?


The incredibly useful hey-what’s-that-song app Shazam has released its most-queried songs of 2011, and it’s both surprising and not that Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” topped the list. (Not surprising because Adele’s bombastic breakup anthem was pretty much everywhere over the course of the year, meaning that users of the app—in which you point your mobile device of choice at a speaker and it identifies what’s playing—had more than ample opportunity to hear it; surprising because, come on, how did that song not get indoctrinated into at least 75% of sentient Americans’ brains this year? It even had a Latin-flavored remix!) What’s even more surprising, though, is that the top 10 contained two songs that didn’t even crack the year-end Billboard Hot 100—despite millions of people around the globe being curious enough about their hooks to ask the Internet their titles and artists. The top 10, below.

1. “Rolling in the Deep,” Adele – 4.2 million tags
2. “Party Rock Anthem,” LMFAO – 3.4 million tags
3. “Give Me Everything,” Pitbull – 3.3 million tags
4. “Pumped Up Kicks,” Foster the People – 3.2 million tags
5. “Mr. Saxobeat,” Alexandra Stan – 2.7 million tags
6. “Someone Like You,” Adele – 2.7 million tags
7. “Just Can’t Get Enough,” The Black Eyed Peas – 2.4 million tags
8. “On the Floor,” Jennifer Lopez – 2.3 million tags
9. “Moves Like Jagger,” Maroon 5 – 2.0 million tags
10. “Hello,” Martin Solveig and Dragonette – 1.9 million tags

Most of the songs above were indeed no-brainer contenders for the year-end Hot 100’s upper reaches. And during my Shazam usage this year, I asked after three of the above songs: Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” (which was all over the radio in LA in February, before it slithered into playlists nationwide); the Martin Solveig/Dragonette collab “Hello”; and Alexandra Stan’s “Mr. Saxobeat.” Neither of the latter two made the Hot 100 this year, despite both of them being uptempo pop songs sung by women; “Hello” was featured in an ad for gum that blanketed the airwaves earlier this year, which helps explain its omnipresence in the air, if not on the charts here (it peaked at No. 46). But what of “Mr. Saxobeat” by the Romanian single Alexandra Stan, a sax-accented bit of dancepop that made the occasional appearance on Z100 after being released as a single earlier this year?

Alexandra Stan, “Mr. Saxobeat

When I first heard “Saxobeat,” in the back of a taxicab, I thought it was a new single by Rihanna; Stan’s voice recalls that of the Barbadian singer in its weary hoarsiness, and the saxophone bleats certainly place it within the context of 2011, although the way they’re employed is more “Calle Ocho” than “Edge Of Glory.” Was “Saxobeat” more of a global phenomenon, and a niche hit here (it topped Billboard‘s Dance Airplay chart, which tracks four terrestrial radio stations and the dance-centric stations on Sirius XM and cable-TV-radio outlet Music Choice, for seven weeks between May and July)? Or were people just disappointed that the single wasn’t Rihanna—and would they have been more likely to request it or at least get it from iTunes (which is made super-convenient by Spotify, btw) if it had that particular brand name on it?