Ask Billboard: More Potential Solo Stars

Evanescence
Wind-Up Records

Our latest mailbag considers more group lead singers who could hit big solo, back-to-back ballads atop the Hot 100, Hilary Duff's hit albums and more.

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20

MORE GROUP LEADERS WHO COULD HIT BIG SOLO

Dear Gary,

If I may, I would like to continue the topic of lead singers who could spread their musical wings and release a solo album.

Another notable act to add to your list is Evanescence. The rock group hailing from Little Rock, Arkansas, and fronted by female singer Amy Lee, suffered their fair share of turmoil during the rise of their successful multi-platinum debut, "Fallen." Co-founder and lead guitarist Ben Moody quit the band in October 2003 mid-way during its European tour for the album, citing "creative differences," and was quickly replaced by current band member Terry Balsamo.

With lengthy gaps between studio albums and several lineup changes, this was plenty reason for the band to call it quits and for Amy to go it alone. Still, the group released 2006's "The Open Door" and its latest offering, 2011's self-titled "Evanescence," both of which hit the top of the Billboard 200, giving the band its first two No. 1 albums.

Being a hardcore Evanescence supporter, it would pain me to see the band part ways, but I'm sure it's inevitable. Lee has hinted on numerous occasions at going solo and exploring new musical direction, but with the current lineup sounding the strongest it's ever been, in my opinion, I hope the band can see that it has one (or more) good albums left in it.

Whatever the future holds for Evanescence, I'm confident that Amy Lee, with or without the band, will return with some great music.

Kind regards,

Wassim Malak
Sydney, Australia


Hi Wassim,

Ten years after "Fallen" arrived, Evanescence remains in the spotlight. Contestant Angie Miller recently sang the group's breakout hit "Bring Me to Life," which reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2003, on "American Idol."

I agree, an Amy Lee solo album would likely be warmly welcomed, especially with the band's last two albums having debuted atop the Billboard 200. She already found success in 2004 duetting with Seether on "Broken," which hit No. 4 on Alternative Songs and No. 20 on the Hot 100. "Bring" follow-up "My Immortal," a No. 7 Hot 100 hit, meanwhile, features Lee's vocals as the focus of the piano ballad, which includes only minimal additional instrumentation (at least until guitars crash the song for 40 seconds in its final minute-and-a-half).

Also a likely bet for solo album success: Paramore's Hayley Williams, in light of the band's self-titled set bowing atop this week's Billboard 200, marking its first leader on the list. Like Lee, Williams has scored a hit outside her band, as her featured role on B.o.B's "Airplanes" resulted in a No. 2 Hot 100 peak in 2010. (Also check out her duet with another lead singer, Weezer's Rivers Cuomo, on their 2011 remake of "Rainbow Connection," originally a No. 25 Hot 100 hit in 1979 for Kermit the Frog (Jim Henson, if you want to get technical). As I noted at the time, a song once sung by river, by Kermit in "The Muppet Movie," was, thus, as a remake, sung by a Rivers.)



Let's make it a trio of female rockers. Texas metal band Device debuts at a lofty No. 11 on the Billboard 200 this week with its self-titled set. Included is a duet between the band and Halestorm's Lzzy Hale, a remake of Ozzy Osbourne and Lita Ford's "Close My Eyes Forever," which hit No. 8 on the Hot 100 in 1989 (representing each act's lone top 10 appearance).

Halestorm's current single "Freak Like Me" this month became its first No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock airplay chart. Two months earlier, its 2012 track "Love Bites (So Do I)" won the Grammy Award for best hard rock/metal performance, making the act the first female-fronted band to win in the category.

Even if Hale ventures further on her own, surely the band will still stay close to her heart: she co-founded Halestorm with her brother, Arejay Hale.

NEXT: Back-to-back ballads

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20

NOT SO FAST ...

@gthot20,

With Pink replacing Bruno, 2 consecutive ballads rule the Hot 100 for the first time since Leona/Rihanna in 08. Love it!

Mark Blankenship
@IAmBlankenship


Hi Mark,

Ballads are definitely cutting through at the moment, as P!nk's "Just Give Me a Reason," featuring fun.'s Nate Ruess, tops the Hot 100, replacing Bruno Mars' all-vocal-and-piano ballad "When I Was Your Man." Rihanna's "Stay" (featuring Mikky Ekko), meanwhile, is in line to crown Pop Songs when the airplay chart is refreshed and released tomorrow.

It may seem odd that several slow songs are hitting at a time when EDM is at a zenith and uptempo alternative and folk/rock hits are joining pure pop as the bulk of top 40 radio's current fare. But, perhaps that's exactly why these ballads are doing so well.

"These songs might be succeeding because of all the uptempo EDM songs out now. The ballads stand out more," Pop Songs panelist KXXM San Antonio program director Chase Murphy says. It surely also can't hurt that they're being provided by some of the format's core artists.

"With any cycle of contemporary music, you need balance."



As you note, Mark, P!nk dethroning Mars marks the first occurrence of ballads following one another at the top of the Hot 100 since Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" gave way to Rihanna's "Take a Bow" the week of May 24, 2008. Technically, though, the next No. 1 after "Bleeding" first reigned was Mariah Carey's "Touch My Body"; "Bow" followed Lewis' debut smash after its third separate stay at No. 1.

So, the last time before Mars and P!nk that two ballads rose to No. 1 on the Hot 100 for the first time each consecutively? Depending on how strict your definition is of a ballad, I'd go with James Blunt's "You're Beautiful" leading for a week in March 2006 before Ne-Yo took over for two weeks with his debut hit, "So Sick."

NEXT: Hilary Duff sales

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20

DUFF STUFF

Hi Gary,

Could you please update Hilary Duff's career album sales?

Thank You!

Estênio Z. C. Netto
Espinosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil


Hi Estênio,

Duff hasn't hit the Hot 100, or the Billboard 200 with new material, since 2007. She's been in the news of late, however: she'll play Ashton Kutcher's character's girlfriend on the season finale of CBS' "Two and a Half Men," set to air on May 9.

Since releasing her last album, 2007's "Dignity," she's also published two fiction books on Simon & Schuster.

As we await her next album, for which no release date has been announced, here's a look at her career U.S. studio album sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan:

Sales, Title, Year, Billboard 200 Peak
3,996,000, "Metamorphosis," 2003 (No. 1, one week)
1,798,000, "Hilary Duff," 2004 (No. 2)
1,488,000, "Most Wanted," 2005 (No. 1, two weeks)
477,000, "Santa Claus Lane," 2002 (No. 154)
410,000, "Dignity," 2007 (No. 3)



Duff's career U.S. album sales stand at 8,287,000. Not part of the total are soundtracks to hit films in which she's starred featuring her songs, including 2003's "The Lizzie McGuire Movie" (2 million) or 2004's "A Cinderella Story" (649,000).

NEXT: On with the countdown

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20

'WINGS' FLIES TO No. 1

Hi Gary,

I know you always put out the call for us avid chart fans to share our personal charts. Here's my latest!

Thanks,

David Geib




This Week  Last Week
1
  1  "Wings," Little Mix
2  2  "Don't Rush," Kelly Clarkson featuring Vince Gill
3  4  "Long Distance," Melanie Amaro
4  6  "Suit & Tie," Justin Timberlake
5  7  "Little Things," One Direction
6  10  "Almost Home," Mariah Carey
7  8  "Woman's World," Cher
8  3  "Leaving," Pet Shop Boys
9  11  "Don't Worry, Be Happy," Guy Sebastian
10  15  "Remix (I Like The)," New Kids on the Block
11  13  "One More Time," Chris Medina
12  5  "Try," Pink
13  NEW  "Sun," Belinda Carlisle
14 14  "Shine On" (Klubjumpers Radio Mix), Expose
15 16  "Rock and Roll Love Affair," Prince
16 18  "Two Black Cadillacs," Carrie Underwood
17 17  "Picking Up the Pieces," Paloma Faith
18  9  "Better With You," Kris Allen
19  19  "Superman," Rick Astley
20  22  "Superstar," Madonna

NEXT: Never forget

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20

NEVER FORGET

In light of this week's tragedy in my hometown of Boston, how lucky we are simply to discuss a pleasure like music.

Certainly everyone's first home maintains a special personal place, but evidence suggests that for New Englanders, who hail from a region known for longtime family roots, it's perhaps magnified. While working in Boston, I once interviewed for a radio job in Poughkeepsie, New York. Early on, it became apparent that the interviewer was hesitiant to continue. Not because of anything I said, however (I think). "People from New England don't leave there," he reasoned. Eventually, I did leave to join Billboard and work in, and live not far from, New York City.

You can take me out of Boston, but ...

I join in saluting the heroic work performed in the past week by the first responders at the Boston Marathon; the Boston Police Department and additional local and national authorities; and the staffs of Boston area hospitals who've attended to those wounded, many severely, in Monday's unthinkable attacks. For the depths of evil we witnessed this week, so, too, did we see the extent of human altruism, bravery and compassion.

As this is Billboard, it's fitting to note that music's power can be stronger than we often realize. "What resonates for me … is the way music can offer comfort to people in times of joy or sorrow," Neil Diamond said on Thursday before visiting Boston's Fenway Park during yesterday's Red Sox game to lead the crowd of 35,000 in a jubilant sing-along of "Sweet Caroline" (which is played at each game). "With a tragedy like this, there are no words. But, if people can find healing in music, (that's) the reason I've been doing this for the last 50 years.

"It goes beyond what I ever imagined."



The impromptu (and oh-so-loud) crowd's singing of "The Star Spangled Banner" at Wednesday night's Boston Bruins game also reinforced how music can do its part to bring people together in times when it's most needed. ("This is how every event should start. Forever!," one YouTube commenter suggests.)

Sadly, music can only go so far.

Amid the pride that Bostonians, New Englanders, and, in such heart-warming fashion, countless others worldwide, are feeling and/or expressing, may we keep the more than 170 injured and facing difficult recoveries in our thoughts.

And, none more so than those we lost, as well as their families: Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu, MIT officer Sean Collier and eight-year-old Martin Richard.

Whether from Boston, or, as so many have proven to be since Monday, a neighbor a bit further away around the globe, may we always remember them.