Could Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s “Same Love” be the first same-sex anthem to be a Top 40 radio hit?

The answer looks like yes.

The song, the latest single from “The Heist,” was No. 33 on the Billboard Top 40 last week (we’ll have the new numbers on Wednesday). That chart comprises radio play, Youtube and other online streaming, and digital sales, so a wildly popular video, such as Baauer's "Harlem Shuffle" can top the chart without receiving much radio airplay. More importantly in terms of radio airwaves, the song leaps six places this week to No. 24 on the Billboard’s Mainstream Top 40 chart with an additional 905 spins from last week. Of the 159 radio stations reporting to Billboard, 130 are playing the song.

While Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, affirmed acceptance for all including the LBGT community,  “Same Love” would be the first song to reach the top 20 to embrace the concept of gay marriage. (To be sure, there have been gay anthems that have hit the Top 40 before,  like  The Village People's "YMCA" or Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Relax." Plus, we also have to give a shout out to Garth Brooks' "We Shall Be Free," which reached No. 12 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart in 1992, and included the line "When we're free to love anyone we choose," a shout out to same-sex couples.)

And it not now, when? Here are a few reasons why:

**The timing is perfect as the country awaits the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Prop 8 tomorrow.

**Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are dominating Top 40 right now, coming off of back-to-back No. 1 smashes with “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us,” and programmers are eager to keep the hit parade coming. Unlike Adult Contemporary, which will hold onto a song for months in heavy rotation, Top 40 is eager to keep the churn going.

**Top 40 listeners skew young, including the prized 18-24 demographic. In poll after poll, that age group has shown little resistance to the notion of gay marriage, so even in conservative states, it’s possible that the song could receive less blowback than one would traditionally think.

Over a spritely piano bed of The Impressions’ “People Get Ready,” Macklemore raps about his thoughts on how it’s time for gay marriage to be the law (the song was written in support of Washington state’s referendum on legalizing same-sex marriage in 2012). He hits on a vast array of points, including how if he were gay, he’d be upset about how hip-hop treats gays; those who cling to Bible verses to support their opposition to gay marriage, and suicide rates among gays. “A certificate on paper isn’t going to solve it all/but it’s a damn good start,” he sings.

His words are framed around Mary Lambert’s soulful singing of both the refrain,“I can’t change even if I tried/even if I wanted to,” and the opening words of 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, love is kind.”

Warner Bros. began officially working the song at Top 40 after “Can’t Hold Us” peaked at No. 1.  "It was as pre-sold as a hit song can be. It could have happened while 'Thrift Shop' was a hit. It should have happened while marriage equality was [first argued] in front of the Supreme Court. That it didn't was as much the nature of radio and label priorities as the subject matter,” says Sean Ross, author of the Ross on Radio column and purveyor of more radio knowledge than anyone I’ve ever met. He adds that the song is still "weeks away"  from having its greatest impact at radio, meaning it's still building steam.

The song had a brief run at Top 40 radio when it was originally released in support of the Washington referendum last year and has been on YouTube and floating around for nearly a year, but now it is getting the full-court press from Warner Bros., which means that stations that may have been reluctant to jump on it earlier may now.

Calling it “historic,” if the song becomes a major Top 40 hit, Gary Trust, Billboard’s associate director of charts/radio, says he thinks the time could be right. “It’s edgy lyrically, but with the whole topic of marriage equality being so mainstream, maybe there won’t be any barriers. Maybe now more than any other time it would have a better chance...it would be a historic barometer at Top 40 of where the audiences are.”

As he also notes, though they are few and far between, it wouldn’t be the first time a message song has made a dint on the Top 40, citing such songs as Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman”  No. 1 hit in 1972, which celebrated the women’s movement.

Ross also likes “Same Love’s” chances: “As a long-ish recitation—of the sort that was more common in the '60s— it could conceivably run its course quickly or hit the research buzz saw in a few weeks, but all signs are strong today.”

Below the embed are the lyrics to the tremendously moving song (courtesy www.azlyrics.com)


 

"SAME LOVE" lyrics


When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay,
'Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight.
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face
She's like "Ben you've loved girls since before pre-k, trippin' "
Yeah, I guess she had a point, didn't she?
Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.
I remember doing the math like, "Yeah, I'm good at little league"
A preconceived idea of what it all meant
For those that liked the same sex
Had the characteristics
The right wing conservatives think it's a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing God, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don't know
And God loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago
I don't know

And I can't change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can't change
Even if I try
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
"Man, that's gay" gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we're saying
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don't have acceptance for 'em
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It's the same hate that's caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It's human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself
When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren't anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that's not important
No freedom till we're equal, damn right I support it

(I don't know)

And I can't change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

We press play, don't press pause
Progress, march on
With the veil over our eyes
We turn our back on the cause
Till the day that my uncles can be united by law
When kids are walking 'round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn't gonna solve it all
But it's a damn good place to start
No law is gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever God you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it's all the same love
About time that we raised up

And I can't change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can't change
Even if I try
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is patient
Love is kind
(I'm not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(I'm not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I'm not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(I'm not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I'm not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(I'm not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I'm not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
Love is kind