Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Gary Trust at askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


CAN YOU MAKE CENTS OF THIS?

Hello Gary,

Thanks again for a great column last week.

Per the section entitled "The Number 50, Part 2," I'm wondering whether an explanation is warranted regarding 50 Cent's "The Massacre" ranking as the No. 1 album of 2005.

I realize that at the time of the official year-end Billboard publication, "The Massacre" was the best-selling album of the year. However, I recall that Mariah Carey might have pulled ahead by year's end (i.e., the end of December) with her re-released version of "The Emancipation of Mimi."

It's too bad that Billboard can't simply publish that year-end tally in January.

Thanks,

Paul Nelson
Berkeley, California


Hi Paul,

I received quite a few e-mails this week about why 50 Cent earned the honor of top album, according to Billboard's 2005 year-end issue.

It's Billboard's goal to release our year-end book each year in time for the holidays, when so many pop culture outlets, and music fans, are reviewing the previous 12 months in entertainment. In order to give us enough lead time, our 'chart year' runs from the first week in December to the last week in November. If we waited until January, we could compile rankings based on a January-December time period, but the retrospective issue would lose its immediacy once the calendar flipped.

In the 2005 chart year, 50 Cent's "The Massacre" did, indeed, outsell Mariah Carey's "The Emancipation of Mimi." In fact, Carey's album ranked fourth in the issue's recap. Eminem placed second with "Encore," followed by Green Day's "American Idiot."

Carey actually does not even win the top spot if we encapsulate January though December 2005. Over that stretch, she does move up to second place, but 50 Cent's set still totals the most sales of the year.

Fans of Carey can, however, boast a victory in a key related category: total sales to date for the two albums. "The Emancipation of Mimi" has sold 5,904,000 copies since its release. That narrowly edges the 5,199,000 total units sold to date for "The Massacre."

Carey also claimed the top title on the year-end Billboard Hot 100 for 2005 with "We Belong Together."

While we're on the topic of 50 Cent, don't miss Mariel Concepcion's in-depth story on the rapper and his recent feud with Rick Ross, the new king of the Billboard 200 with "Deeper Than Rap." View the piece here.


WHAT SOLD THE MOST

Hi Gary,

My favorite artist, by far, is Rascal Flatts. I was wondering what the album sales have been for each of the group's albums.

Thanks,

Staci Desiderio
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


Hi Staci,

You're hardly alone in the Rascal Flatts fan club: when the trio's new set, "Unstoppable," debuted atop the Billboard 200 two weeks ago, the group passed five rock acts - Disturbed, Linkin Park, Dave Matthews Band, Staind and System of a Down - for most No. 1 albums among groups this decade. Its new set became its fourth leader on the list.

Below is a look at the sales to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and peak positions on the Billboard 200 of each of Rascal Flatts' albums.

2,303,000, No. 43, "Rascal Flatts" (2000)
3,073,000, No. 5, "Melt" (2002)
5,130,000, No. 1, "Feels Like Today" (2004)
4,758,000, No. 1, "Me and My Gang" (2006)
2,192,000, No. 1, "Still Feels Good" (2007)
620,000, No. 6, "Greatest Hits Volume 1" (2008)
526,000, No. 1, "Unstoppable" (2009)

In all, Rascal Flatts has sold 18.6 million albums to date.


ACHING TO KNOW

Dear Gary,

I love this column. My only complaint is that it is not long enough.

With the success of Miley Cyrus' "Hannah Montana: The Movie," I was wondering how the popularity of the film and TV show has helped dad Billy Ray's album sales? How many copies has each of his studio albums sold?

Thank you,

James Russell
Dearborn, Michigan


Hi James,

One of my favorite recent chart stats is that when Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" debuted on the Adult Contemporary chart six weeks ago, it marked the first time a member of the Cyrus family had appeared on the list since Dec. 5, 1992 - when Miley was 12 days old.

The recent success of "Hannah Montana" has helped Billy Ray Cyrus score his two highest-charting albums on the Billboard 200 since 1993: 2007's "Home at Last" peaked at No. 20, and his new "Back to Tennessee" bowed at No. 41 two weeks ago. Those rankings mark his best positions on the chart since his sophomore set "It Won't Be the Last" hit No. 3 in 1993. Miley also contributed to Billy Ray's notching his first top 10 on Hot Country Songs this decade, when their duet "Ready, Set, Don't Go" rose to No. 4 last year.

Here is a snapshot of the sales of Billy Ray Cyrus' studio albums to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

7,470,000, "Some Gave All" (1992)
1,281,000, "It Won't Be the Last" (1993)
403,000, "Storm in the Heartland" (1994)
147,000, "Trail of Tears" (1996)
159,000, "Shot Full of Love" (1998)
160,000, "Southern Rain" (2000)
77,000, "The Other Side" (2003)
54,000, "Wanna Be Your Joe" (2006)
297,000, "Home at Last" (2007)
23,000, "Back to Tennessee" (2009)

It's notable that 2006's "Wanna Be Your Joe" sold relatively minimally, while, once the "Hannah Montana" phenomenon kicked in further and "Ready, Set, Don't Go" conquered radio, "Home at Last" became Cyrus' fourth-best-seller to date.


ASK BILLBOARD ASKS YOU

Our sister publication, Radio & Records, reported this week that radio station owner Clear Channel announced the layoffs of almost a thousand employees in its second wave of reductions this year. In January, the company let go approximately 1,850 employees.

In these economic times, several media are, of course, experiencing cutbacks. Radio has been hit especially hard.

Ask Billboard puts forth the question, then: What does radio mean to you in 2009? What are your current listening habits? Does it matter to you whether the voice you're hearing is live and local or pre-taped from out-of-market? Do you rely on radio to hear new music? Whether at home, while driving, or online, what is it that makes you turn, or click, on radio today?

As a great saying about radio goes, celebrating its personal nature and ability to create theater-of-the-mind: Why listen to a baseball game on the radio when you can watch it on TV? Because on radio, the pictures are better ...

Your thoughts are welcome and appreciated at askbb@billboard.com.

(Some of the best current radio is actually on TV: If you haven't already, check out the very funny "Free Radio" on VH-1!)