Taylor Swift Video Q&A
Taylor Swift performs onstage during the 43rd Annual CMA Awards at the Sommet Center on November 11, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. Getty

'FEARLESS' ABOUT 13

Hi Gary,

I have long been a follower of Billboard and consider your menu of charts, by far, the world's best. What makes Billboard so relevant after all these years is your ability to adapt chart rules to current market practices, even in a market evolving as fast as it is today.

That is why I have been very surprised by Billboard's decision to attribute to Taylor Swift, as talented and deserving as she may be, the honor of most top 40 Billboard Hot 100 hits from a single album (13), topping seven each for albums by Michael Jackson ("Thriller," "Bad" and "Dangerous"), Janet Jackson ("Rhythm Nation") and Bruce Springsteen ("Born in the U.S.A.")

The digital sales component of the Hot 100 now makes for different times. What I found most central to this record, first set by the monster album "Thriller," was that an album could push a seventh single into the top 40 despite having already achieved impressive sales. Consequently, the sample of potential buyers of a seventh single would be reduced.

In the case of Swift's "Fearless," I can accept the "trick" of her label releasing a few tracks prior to the album's release, and Billboard surely must treat them as chart hits from the collection.

But, is it correct to accept songs from the "Platinum Edition" of "Fearless" among this record? They charted thanks to downloads, downloads sold exactly because those songs were not featured on the original album. The chart achievement is, I feel, diluted.

If tomorrow, one more edition is released, and another two new tracks reach the top 40, would the record jump to 15?

Billboard just made sensible decisions regarding changes to the Billboard 200. I'm sure you will in this case, as well.

Best regards and continue your wonderful work,

Guillaume Vieira
Paris, France

Hi Guillaume,

I understand your key point that Swift has achieved a chart record in a manner different from those who preceded her. One could add that each of the hit songs from the albums you mention by the Jackson siblings and the Boss were both cultivated radio and sales smashes, not solely one-week digital-spike wonders, thus, possibly making for a bigger stamp for those songs in music fans' collective conscience.

When you combine those factors, it does somewhat cloud how we need to present the statistics. But, that's our job, so we have to find the best way!

When discussing albums like "Fearless," Rihanna's "Good Girl Gone bad" and Lady Gaga's "The Fame," all of which have been re-released with new hit songs, the Billboard charts department follows the guidelines of whether the original and re-released albums have been merged. If they have been (a decision based on if a re-release has no more than one disc, or the digital equivalent, of new material), we refer to the album as one collection on our charts and in our editorial commentary. Of course, we're careful to point out in cases like Swift's, Rihanna's and Lady Gaga's, that pertinent chart achievements from a given album stem from multiple editions.

It's also helpful to consider that chart rules have evolved constantly since the Hot 100's launch in 1958. As Billboard 200 chart manager Keith Caulfield wonders, who's to say that if digital sales were an option in 1964, and if the chart rules of today were in place then, the Beatles wouldn't have sent perhaps every song on every album available at the height of Beatlemania into the top 40? Or, that tracks from Michael Jackson wouldn't have sold enough downloads upon the release of "Thriller," "Bad" or "Dangerous" to produce more than seven top 40 hits from each album?

All we can do is know that at any given time in history, the Hot 100 reflects, to the best of Billboard's ability, the 100 most popular songs in the U.S. The methodology changes, but in terms of chart records, we can only compare rankings from era-to-era, and see how the numbers shake out (and, in Chart Beat, highlight the artists who are best capturing our attention).

IN THE SECOND PLACE ...

Hi Gary!

Two weeks ago, Jason DeRulo finally climbed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with "Whatcha Say," which I had feared would peak at No. 2.

That got me curious: which artist has the most No. 2 singles in Hot 100 history?

Thanks,

Ambroz Pivk
Kranj, Slovenia

Hi Ambroz,

Here are the performers with the most trips to the runner-up spot in the Hot 100's 51-year history:

6, Madonna
5, Carpenters
5, Creedence Clearwater Revival
4, Mariah Carey
4, Janet Jackson
4, Elvis Presley

Creedence Clearwater Revival holds the dubious distinction as the act with the most No. 2-peaking hits on the Hot 100 that has never reached No. 1 with any other chart entries.

CRANBERRIES (THE FOOD, NOT THE BAND)

Due to next week's holiday, Chart Beat will feature new entries Monday through Wednesday, and Ask Billboard will return in two weeks. Please keep the e-mails coming at askbb@billboard.com, and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!