In a year full of hits built around samples and interpolations of past megahits, Bebe Rexha and David Guetta‘s “I’m Good (Blue)” still stands out as unusual.
The collab, which borrows the distinctive synth and chorus melody of Eiffel 65’s turn-of-the-century dance-pop smash “Blue (Da Ba Dee),” wasn’t even supposed to be a proper single: It was a demo that was recorded in the mid-’10s and never officially released, until unexpected TikTok virality led to demand for it to be dropped in full. Once it was, it was embraced by streaming audiences and radio programmers, gradually climbing the Billboard Hot 100 and hitting a new peak of No. 7 this week (chart dated Nov. 26).
Which artist stands to gain most from the song’s unexpected success? And is it the end of the trend or just the beginning? Billboard staffers discuss below.
1. “I’m Good” is a 2015-recorded song interpolating a 2000 pop hit with tonight’s-gonna-be-a-good-night lyrics that sound like 2009 that got big after being shared on TikTok in 2022. Does the math add up to you for this one, or are you still having trouble wrapping your head around it?
Katie Atkinson: The math is still not mathing, but it doesn’t need to. The fact is, there have been stranger trajectories to a top 10 Hot 100 hit in 2022 than this one, so I’m just not going to overthink it and just keep dancing. AsBebe told our very own Billboard Pop Shop Podcast(shameless plug), “Let’s just give the people what they want. Let’s not judge it for what it is, and just put it out. It’s just a great, fun record.” Preach.
Katie Bain: There’s been a tidal wave of early 2000s samples/interpolations in dance music in the last year, with Acraze’s 2021 Cherish-samplingsmash“Do It To It” more or less sparking the trend. All of these songs together demonstrate a huge affection for that era and thus also an easy way for producers from across all electronic genres to score relatively easy hits. Guetta has never been afraid to trend-hop or to capitalize, and this one, like so many of his previous monster songs, demonstrates his truly singular ability to craft an earworm — or at least to expand on an already existent earworm. So yes, on paper all the elements add up to this song’s success, although at the same time it still kind of sounds like an algorithm at work.
Jason Lipshutz: Consider “I’m Good” the 2022 version of Måneskin’s “Beggin’,” which became a global smash in 2021… as a cover of a 1967 Four Seasons song… that was originally performed and recorded in 2017. These instances of older singles with funky backstories and recognizable hooks being revived years later, thanks in large part to TikTok, will keep occurring and impacting the Billboard charts in the years to come. As for “I’m Good,” one listen to it (especially if you’re a “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” defender) and it’s easy to wrap your head around why it’s a hit.
Joe Lynch: I think the math adds up in that, not dissimilar to an obscurity such as Edison Lighthouse’s “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” having a TikTok moment, Gen Z and the TikTok landscape aren’t interested in what’s now or next these days. With the history of recorded music at their fingertips, any catchy melody they haven’t heard before can become the now or next thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s retro. It might even be a boon.
Andrew Unterberger: Honestly, I can buy the part about the song existing as an unreleased demo for five years before randomly taking off on TikTok a lot more easily than I can believe that a song that sounds like this — post-peak EDM beats with Black Eyed Peas-type lyrics — is tapping into the 2022 zeitgeist. There hasn’t been a song with this specific sound that’s popped on radio or streaming in a long while, though not quite long enough that I’d imagine folks are already nostalgic for it. It’s a curiously timed success to me.
2. Guetta and Rexha are two of the more indefatigable hitmakers of the last decade-plus, but neither had reached the top 40 in the past four years before this. Which of the two artists does this return to the pop mainstream mean more to, career-wise?
Katie Atkinson: I’m going to say Bebe, because I feel like she’s really been the face of this whole thing. We all knew Guetta could make a reliable dance-floor filler, but maybe we’d assumed the time was up for that style on top 40 radio and outside the club. For Bebe, however, the hurdle she’s consistently trying to clear is being a potentially anonymous part of a massive hit song; everyone’s heard a Bebe Rexha song, whether they’ve sought her out or not, but not everyone knows her name or could pick her out of a lineup. This is one more way to introduce herself beyond being a disembodied voice on your radio — like the showcase she got as one of only 11 performances on Sunday’s AMAs. But also: How much more does this woman have to do to prove herself?!
Katie Bain: David Guetta will always be David Guetta, in the sense that he’ll be able to headline global dance clubs and festivals in perpetuity given his litany of hits and ability to keep up with any given of-the-moment dance sound. So while I’m sure he’s enjoying this return to the top 40, particularly in the context of it extending his already considerable track record as a hitmaker, I think Rexha needed it more as she doesn’t yet have the legacy, particularly in a specific genre, as her counterpart on this song.
Jason Lipshutz: Probably Rexha. “I’m Good” represents a pleasant surprise for Guetta, but he’s going to be able to play the dance festival circuit with his mountain of hits for years to come. Rexha also has her fair share of successful singles, but being a modern pop artist is all about what you’ve done for the general listening audience lately, and it had been a minute since Rexha had made a real connection at streaming or radio. She does both with “I’m Good,” and it’s a meaningful new win in a career that quietly contains a bunch of them.
Joe Lynch: Bebe for sure. Guetta is a dance music elder statesman with enough cache and hits to keep people paying to see his shows. Rexha, on the other hand, really benefits by having a new hit that can bring her new social engagement, awards show slots and the like.
Andrew Unterberger: Yeah, it’s gotta be Rexha. While Guetta might not quite have the cultural capital stateside he did a decade ago, he’s still a legacy act at this point, and will probably be a good-sized live draw and decent streaming performer for however long the rest of his career lasts. Rexha still lives hit-to-hit a little bit, and she’s never seemed particularly interested in living her pop career from the sidelines, so it’s not surprising that she’s rejoicing in her unlikely “I’m Good” success like she is.
3. While the song first took off on TikTok and streaming, radio is now the primary driver for its success, as it reaches No. 8 on the Radio Songs chart this week. Does it make sense to you as a contemporary radio smash? Why or why not?
Katie Atkinson: I think familiarity is always going to give you a head-start in 2022 — just look at Jack Harlow’s “First Class.” It also has the “what is this?” factor that might keep someone from changing the radio station immediately. So basically, it makes sense as a “contemporary” radio smash insofar as it has a nostalgic WTF factor that is instantly intriguing.
Katie Bain: As dance-pop and mainstream pop have essentially become the same thing in the last 10 years, I’m not surprised at all that a song that heavily samples a yesteryear hit that itself was a huge radio hit has become a radio hit. (Also shout out to Flume’s 2020 “Blue”edit.)
Jason Lipshutz: I mean… “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” reached No. 2 on the Pop Songs chart, when Eiffel 65 was a total unknown entity to U.S. listeners, so why can’t this facelift of the tune climb as high on top 40 radio? “I’m Good” sounds a little out of step with current pop radio trends, and would have functioned perfectly a decade ago, when Guetta was at the height of his hit-making powers; that said, the tune is undeniable, and sometimes that’s enough.
Joe Lynch: It tracks for me. When you listen to one of those weekend late-night top 40 radio party mixes, songs like the Black Eyed Peas “I Gotta Feeling” (which this lyrically harks back to) have been in consistent rotation (alongside newer top 10s) for the better part of the last decade. The music snoberati may want to believe that silly good-time party songs from the Obama Era are dead and gone, but the truth is that they’ve never been far from radio airwaves, or the playlist at a Chili’s near you.
Andrew Unterberger: Contemporary? In 2012, probably. In 2017, maybe. In 2022, not so much.
4. We’ve spent seemingly the whole year talking about big interpolations in major pop songs, but few if any have relied quite as heavily on their original source material as “I’m Good (Blue).” Does this feel to you like it will lead to similarly built hits in 2023, or is this closer to the end of the line for this strain of early-’20s pop hit?
Katie Atkinson: I don’t see this stopping anytime soon. Whenever a potential shortcut to chart success is unlocked (see also: DJ Khaled’s top five hit “Staying Alive,” Nicki Minaj’s No. 1 “Super Freaky Girl”), the floodgates open. I give this another year.
Katie Bain: Like I mentioned above, this trend, particularly in the dance world, has been such a huge success driver that I have a hard time seeing producers settling down until the well of songs to sample goes dry. (And even then, a lot of them have been sampling the same songs, so the amount of source material available isn’t even necessarily a factor.) There’s obviously the familiarity/nostalgia factor of hearing these old songs again, so I don’t necessarily see the trend waning from a consumer perspective either.
Jason Lipshutz: I believe we are just getting started here. Everyone in the music industry is perpetually thirsty for new hits, and especially lately, the route to scoring them is by reviving old ones — from “Super Freaky Girl” reworking “Super Freak,” to “Vegas” resurrecting “Hound Dog,” to “Cold Heart” and “Hold Me Closer” returning to Elton John’s classics catalog for modern pastiches. One could argue that the increasing reliance on IP in Hollywood — old franchises with familiar characters being revived as safer bets than original storytelling — is coming to the music industry in the form of these interpolations. And some of them will be more successful than others, of course, but I’d bet that there are a lot more coming.
Joe Lynch: Only the beginning. In the first half of the 20thcentury, it was very common for hit songs to be resurrected every 10, 12 years via the next big thing singer covering it; people knew a good melody that landed once would absolutely land again. In the rock era, when artists became fixated on regarding the past as passé and writing their own songs, that became less true. But after a full decade of the streaming era, audiences take it for granted that old isn’t necessarily bad and what’s cutting edge isn’t necessarily fun, so why not listen to a little bit of the best of everything?
Andrew Unterberger: I’m not sure if this is going to lead to even more hits along these lines, but I’m confident it’s going to lead to more artists attempting them. If two artists who hadn’t had a major hit in 4-5 years could go top 10 with a revived demo, clearly it’s gonna seem like a plausible path to success for a lot of other past (and prospective future) hitmakers as well. Just how much patience the general public is going to have for such future attempts remains to be seen — but so far, so good there.
5. Eiffel 65’s “Blue (Da Ba Dee)”: fun, nostalgic novelty or annoying, dated relic?
Katie Atkinson: Annoying, dated relic. My only fondness for “Blue” is due to my fondness for the 1999/2000 era in general. I’ll take Sisqo’s “Thong Song” over it, honestly. As Bebe and David would say: “I’m good.”
Katie Bain: An eternal banger for anyone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously.
Jason Lipshutz: Fun, nostalgic… banger. “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” is just excellent pop inside and out, an expertly constructed dance single built around the silliest of concepts. Thank you for your service, Eiffel 65!
Joe Lynch: First one. It’s just a delightful lark. And it undeniably holds a nostalgic place in my heart given that it was one of the verrrry few Eurodance songs that made radio headway around the turn of the millennium. And believe me, before you had every song at the tip of your fingertips, you enjoyed the scraps of lesser-heralded genres that radio threw at you (that being said, I did buy the parent album on CD in a mall. Classic Y2K). Plus, I remember seeing a kid do an ice-skating routine to this song once that was every bit as sublimely silly as Eiffel 65 itself.
Andrew Unterberger: One of the only pop songs of its era I cannot enjoy on any level. Kill it with fire.