Ask Billboard is updated every week. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to email@example.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.
We'll take a break from our ongoing Katy Perry/Michael Jackson discussion this week (although probably give it another go next week, since e-mails on the topic continue to roll in). Instead, this week's Q&A brings up Lady Gaga's extraordinary streak of career-opening Hot 100 top 10s; a "rain"-y forecast of late on the Hot 100; a few figures to get you in the mood for the return of "American Idol"; and, additions to the list of families that have seen multiple generations reach Billboard charts.
SAY GOOD 'NIGHT' TO GAGA'S STREAK?
It's always a highlight of my week to read Chart Beat and see everyone's thoughts on what's happening in the Billboard world.
With all the talk of Katy Perry's records lately, it seems that many people have overlooked the end of another artist's record: Lady Gaga's.
Though I've learned to never say never when it comes to Billboard charts, I suspect that Gaga's latest single, "Marry the Night," will not reach the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. If so, "Night" will end Gaga's streak of 11 consecutive (radio-promoted) top 10 singles, stretching to Dec. 6, 2008, when "Just Dance," featuring Colby O'Donis, rocketed 17-6.
This led me to wonder which artist holds the Billboard record for the most initial consecutive top 10 Hot 100 singles. I bet it's one of the usual suspects - the Beatles, Mariah Carey, etc. - but perhaps another artist connected a string of hits unnoticed. I originally thought it would be Madonna, but alas, 1983's "Holiday" peaked at No. 16 before she strung together a Billboard-record 19 consecutive top 10 hits.
Thanks again, Gary! Looking forward to reading your column in 2012 and beyond!
Billboard associate director of charts/retail Keith Caulfield, by the way, offered his take on the topic on billboard.com's new weekly web series, "TMI: the Music Insider," with Julie Brown, in his regular segment in which he counts down the Hot 100's top 10 and offers exclusive analysis.
Missed the latest episode? Here it is:
Please, as always, send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org . We'll continue to publish as many as we can here in the weekly mailbag, with Keith and Julie now joining in on certain topics on "TMI," as well. New episodes air on billboard.com each Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.
Per your question, I'd have to agree that "Marry the Night" will likely fall short of the Hot 100's top 10. After reaching a peak of No. 29 four weeks ago, the song has since slipped 33-39-37-39.
More troublesome, despite roaring onto the Pop Songs radio airplay chart at No. 24 in December, "Marry" rose to No. 14 in its fourth week, held there for a second frame and has since fallen 15-16-16. With mainstream top 40 Gaga's home radio format, the song's regression there doesn't indicate that a Hot 100 rebound is likely.
Sales, too, have subsided, with "Marry" having peaked at No. 30 so far on the Digital Songs survey four weeks ago.
Why has "Marry" not become the fifth Hot 100 top 10 from "Born This Way"?
For one, fifth singles typically suffer from decreased buzz, since the initial excitement of a set's release has since worn off.
Pop radio also tends to value melody above all, and it's possible that "Marry" is, ultimately, more of a club groove than a top 40 natural. Perhaps it's similar to, for example, Madonna's "Keep It Together" or "Rescue Me," which peaked at Nos. 8 and 9 on the Hot 100 in 1990 and 1991, respectively. The songs were pop-centric enough to receive top 40 attention, but more dance in nature than previous such smashes as, for instance, "Material Girl" or "Like a Prayer." Or, for Gaga, "Poker Face" or "Bad Romance," each of which, it could be argued, boast more obvious, fully-crafted and unique hooks than "Marry."
Still, Gaga's career launch has been one of the most impressive in the 53-year history of the Hot 100.
And, you're partially right, Trevor: Mariah Carey holds the mark for career-opening most top 10 singles, although only among brand new artists. Counting acts that went solo after being in groups, as well, here's how the record book stacks up (holiday songs, charted album cuts not promoted to radio and featured turns excluded, unless they add to the streak):
Career-Opening Top 10s, Artist, Span
13, Lionel Richie (post-Commodores; 1981-87)
12, George Michael (during/post-Wham!; 1985-90)
11, Mariah Carey (1990-94)
11, Lady Gaga (2008-11)
9, New Kids on the Block (1988-90)
8, Bruno Mars (2010-12; still-active streak)
7, Air Supply (1980-82)
7, Taylor Dayne (1988-90)
7, Expose (1987-90)
7, Gary Lewis and the Playboys (1965-66)
7, Ke$ha (2009-11)
7, the Lovin' Spoonful (1965-67)
7, Richard Marx (1987-89)
7, Monica (1995-99)
7, Ricky Nelson (1958-59)
(The Beatles, by the way, stopped short of the top 10 after three titles, as "I Saw Her Standing There" peaked at No. 14 amid the glut of their songs' availability upon the onslaught of early Beatlemania).
While Gaga's streak appears to have ended, we shouldn't overlook that she's tied Mariah Carey for the most Hot 100 top 10s among solo artists who didn't first became well-known in groups (i.e., Richie, Michael). "Anytime You Need a Friend" was Carey's "Marry," having stopped at No. 12 in 1994. Like the dance lean of "Marry," "Friend" may have been a bit too gospel/adult R&B for mainstream pop audiences. The ballad was also the fourth single from Carey's album "Music Box," so artist and album burn may have factored in.
Most notably for Gaga, her run of hits signifies more than just a collection of songs; she started a movement. Her sound ignited dance music to new heights of mainstream popularity, paving, in part, acceptance for such acts as David Guetta to become current pop music cornerstones.
And, considering Gaga's status as one of music's most recognizable superstars, like most chart records, big-picture-wise, the potential end of her career-starting top 10 streak shouldn't hurt her overall momentum. Her next new studio album release is certain to elicit event status, with a return to the Hot 100's top 10 for a sure-to-be strong first single a good bet.