Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Gary Trust at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.
LOVING THE '80s
I noticed that the top three songs on the UK Singles chart this week are all '80s covers: "Islands in the Stream," "Right Round" and "Just Can't Get Enough."
Has there ever been a Billboard Hot 100 on which the top three songs were remakes? My best guess is when two Tommy James and the Shondells hits - "Mony Mony" and "I Think We're Alone Now" - were covered by Billy Idol and Tiffany at about the same time.
The UK Singles chart does indeed experience a bit of time travel this week. 'Vanessa Jenkins' (actress Ruth Jones) and 'Bryn West' (actor Rob Brydon), two characters from the UK TV show "Gavin & Stacey," along with the legendary Tom Jones and Robin Gibb, enter at No. 1 with their update of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton's 1983 duet "Islands in the Stream." Flo Rida's "Right Round," a re-working, if not quite a pure remake, of Dead or Alive's 1985 dance classic "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)," dips from No. 1 to No. 2; and the Saturdays' remake of Depeche Mode's 1981 gem "Just Can't Get Enough" drops a spot to No. 3.
After poring through 50 years of Billboard Hot 100 history, I did not find an instance where the top three consisted of remakes of songs that had previously achieved prior chart success. (I'll leave it to fellow avid chart-watchers to e-mail corrections if, eyes glazed over, I missed any such occurrence).
One Hot 100 could be considered in this discussion, though with a host of qualifiers. On the chart dated Jan. 3, 1998, Elton John reigned with his remake of his own "Candle in the Wind (1997)." Puff Daddy ranked at No. 2 with "Been Around the World," which, while it samples Lisa Stansfield's "All Around the World" and David Bowie's "Let's Dance," is not a direct cover of either song. LeAnn Rimes charted at No. 3 with "How Do I Live." Trisha Yearwood's version of the ballad was recorded first and charted on Hot Country Songs a week before Rimes' (June 14 and 21, 1997, respectively), but as both songs were recorded so close in time, and enjoyed chart success simultaneously, Rimes was not reviving a previously established hit.
There have been cases where the top two titles on the Hot 100 were remakes, and you astutely note one of them: "Mony Mony" and "I Think We're Alone Now" placed first and second on the chart dated Nov. 14, 1987.
The following October, Phil Collins held the top spot with his cover of Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders' "Groovy Kind of Love," a No. 2 hit in 1966, while UB40 ranked at No. 2 with "Red Red Wine," a No. 62 song for its writer, Neil Diamond, in 1968.
Keeping in the UK, not only is the singles chart '80s-flavored this week, but also the album chart is topped by two acts that experienced their first tastes of stardom during that decade: U2's "No Line on the Horizon" remains at No. 1, while Annie Lennox's "The Collection" bows at No. 2.
Also notable are a handful of '80s covers on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100. Karl Wolf's update of Toto's "Africa" ranks at No. 2, while Seether's rock remake of Wham's "Careless Whisper" places at No. 72. An honorary mention goes to New Kids on the Block's "Dirty Dancing" at No. 40. The playful song's lyrics allude to the blockbuster of the same name from 1987: "Ooh, she's like Baby / I'm like Swayze ..."
WHAT HAS SHE DONE LATELY (AND BEFORE)?
I was pleasantly surprised to see Janet's "Discipline" back on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, rising 33-19-10 the previous three weeks, most likely due to Circuit City's going-out-of-business sale pricing, as Billboard reported in last week's Chart Beat.
How many copies has the album sold to date, and how does the album rank compared to sales of her previous releases?
Also, has Michael Jackson experienced a jump in sales since the announcement, and subsequent sellouts, of his upcoming 50 London shows?
As expected, "Discipline" drops off Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums this week from No. 10, as Circuit City's final reports contributed to last week's chart data. Here is a rundown of Jackson's sales to date for albums she's released since the dawn of the Nielsen SoundScan era in 1991:
"janet." (1993), 7,005,000
"The Velvet Rope" (1997), 3,227,000
"All for You" (2001), 3,105,000
"Design of a Decade 1986/1996" (1995), 2,411,000
"Damita Jo" (2004), 1,002,000
"20 Y.O." (2006), 655,000
"Discipline" (2008), 441,000
While Janet plunges, her big brother Michael keeps the family profile high on the charts this week. But it doesn't appear to be due to the news of his London tour, which Billboard reported on here (http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/update-michael-jackson-up-to-50-london-shows-1003951183.story), but rather his plum placing on "American Idol" last week. After the show's Michael Jackson-themed week, "The Essential Michael Jackson" re-enters Top Catalog Albums at No. 1 with sales of 11,000, a 302% increase.
The King of Pop's "Number Ones" similarly surges on the Catalog chart, rising 12-5 with sales of 7,000 (up 52%).
For the past two Ask Billboard entries, I have enjoyed the topic of re-released songs that hit the top 10 the second time around. However, as an '80s enthusiast, I had to note one omission: "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. "Relax" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 dated April 7, 1984 and stayed on for seven weeks, peaking at No. 67. Five months after "Relax" spent its last week on the chart, the follow-up single, "Two Tribes," debuted on the Hot 100. About two months later, that international hit single stalled at No. 43 here, but paved the way for "Relax" to return, re-entering the Hot 100 Jan. 19, 1985 and peaking at No. 10 that March.
I just wanted to pay "Relax" and Frankie their respective dues on this subject. Keep up the great work!
Ron Raymond, Jr.
Host, "Stuck in the '80s," wmpg.org
Good catch, the song should have been included in our list. Thanks for detailing its Hot 100 chart run.
I'll add yet two more pertinent songs, both reincarnated due to inclusions in hit movies (though neither reached the top 10 on the Hot 100).
"In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel reached No. 26 in 1986 when released as the follow-up to the No. 1 "Sledgehammer." Thanks to the now-famous boom box scene in "Say Anything," the ballad re-entered the Hot 100 May 20, 1989. It failed to reach a new peak position, reaching a high point of No. 41 in its second run that July, but the song ascended to a new level of pop culture awareness nonetheless.
In 1995, "Secret Garden" stopped at No. 63, a new track from Bruce Springsteen's Billboard 200 No. 1 album, "Greatest Hits." Had the song not been subsequently included in "Jerry Maguire," it would not have climbed to No. 19 on the Hot 100 in 1997. Part of its success as a re-released single was owed to radio stations playing a special mix that interspersed clips from the movie over instrumental interludes.
The phrase "you had me at hello," then, may not have described radio programmers' initial reaction to the song in 1995, but like Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger's characters, they got together eventually.