Britney Spears Releases 'Criminal' Video on iTunes
Britney Spears Releases 'Criminal' Video on iTunes

A look at Spears' top-selling digital and physical singles, plus quirky chart feats, courtesy of knowledgeable 'Ask Billboard' readers.

Ask Billboard is updated every week. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


Hi Gary,

Here's a question. I figured out the answer, though, so I thought I'd share both with you:

We are now through the fifth month of the year and every single Hot 100 No. 1 song title begins with a letter in the second half of the alphabet. You could also add to this list the song "We Found Love" by Rihanna, which was already on top when the year began, and the total would rise to seven.

Here are this year's six new No. 1s: " Sexy and I Know It" (LMFAO), " Set Fire to the Rain" (Adele), " Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" (Kelly Clarkson), " Part of Me" (Katy Perry), " We Are Young" (fun. featuring Janelle Monae) and " Somebody That I Used to Know" (Gotye featuring Kimbra).

In fact, you'd have to go back to mid-October of last year to find the last time a No. 1 hit's title was from the first half of the alphabet: Maroon 5's "Move Like Jagger," featuring Christina Aguilera (which just makes the cut, as M is the 13th letter of the alphabet).

So, I was curious … is this a record? The answer is: Yes.

There has never been another year to begin with more than three hits from the lower half of the alphabet ascending to No. 1. As far as how far into the year we've gotten without a new first-half-of-the-alphabet-No. 1, 2004 was the year to beat: that year began with three new No. 1 songs in a row from the last half of the alphabet. The fourth No. 1 of 2004 began with the letter B ("Burn," by Usher) and it hit the top on May 22 that year. So, 2012 wins.

Thanks for a great column. Keep up the good work!

James Zimmerman
St. Paul, Minnesota

Thanks James!

Perhaps ABC - which is still together - will remake the Jackson 5's "ABC" and hit No. 1 with it. That would end all doubt that this streak would be over.