Ask Billboard: Why We Follow The Charts
Gloria Estafan

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


Hello Gary,

I just wanted to say that I love the Ask Billboard column. I am quite impressed by all the astute contributions made by your readers!


Scott Volk
San Francisco, California



I just wanted to say that the direction that Ask Billboard has taken is, as far as I'm concerned, the wrong one. People now just write to brag about their knowledge of pop music, which frankly no one cares about.

This column is not supposed to be about chart details that are boring and uninteresting. I wish the column could go back to what it was: an informative Q&A for pop music lovers. Please stop featuring messages from people whose sole objective is to give information.

Thank you,

Vicken Karkoukli
Tarare, France

Hi Scott and Vicken,

As "The Facts of Life" theme song goes, "you take the good, you take the bad ..."

Scott, glad you enjoy the stats and interesting angles offered by, Chart Beat and Ask Billboard readers.

Vicken, my apologies if you don't always find as much interest in some of the information submitted by readers. I would disagree that "no one cares about" chart details. The fact that readers send thoroughly researched e-mails reinforces a deep interest in the minutiae of Billboard's charts and the quirky tidbits that make chart-watching fun.

When a chart fan takes the time to list all the previous songs with animals in their titles prior to Owl City's "Fireflies" to reach the top of the Hot 100, I'm happy to publish it. It's similar to how sports fans will discuss the intricacies of athletes' accomplishments, or avid followers of politics will emphatically debate key issues. Whatever is your passion, in our case music and charts, you're fascinated by its ins and outs.

Chart Beat and Ask Billboard readers are knowledgeable, and I think it would be a disservice not to include valuable contributions. Simply, why limit the scope of information we could provide?

Of course, as you note, Ask Billboard has long been a bastion for offering a sample of Nielsen SoundScan sales figures, and that data remains a cornerstone of the column (as you'll see in this week's last response). Dialogs about radio, chart policies, and requests for analysis about various musical genres from Billboard's charts department members will also continue to make up what we hope is always an informative, interesting and fun read each week.

Perhaps think of Ask Billboard like a chart. You might not be a fan of everything you peruse, but hopefully there's enough you do enjoy that keeps you reading on!


Hello, Gary, from your native New England, and thanks for all you do!

Regarding last week's Ask Billboard subject of re-worked Billboard Hot 100 hits by their originators, I'd like to add some to the (re)mix:

The Four Seasons hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 in 1976 with "December, 1963 (Oh What a Night)," a song that was remixed by Ben Liebrand in 1994 and released as a single, reaching No. 14, and in the process matched the 27 weeks spent on the chart by the original version.

Paul McCartney & Wings' "Coming Up (Live at Glasgow)" was the b-side of the original solo studio version by Paul McCartney. The studio cut reached No. 2 in the U.K., but in the U.S., as the studio mix was slowly moving up the chart, DJs traded in that version for the live one and propelled the song to No. 1.

Charlene's No. 97 "I've Never Been to Me" from 1977 was re-issued in 1982 (I believe with a longer version) and rose to No. 3.

Modern English's immortal radio hit "I Melt With You" climbed to No. 78 in 1983, but when reworked for its 1990 album "Pillow Lips," the new version fared slightly better, peaking at No. 76.

The Australian band Real Life followed Modern English's blueprint. Its "Send Me an Angel" ascended to No. 29 in 1983. Revamped six years later, "Send Me an Angel '89" hit No. 26.

The original mix of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax," which rose as high as No. 67 in the U.S. in its initial run, differed from the 1985 single mix, which became a No. 10 hit.

The Pointer Sisters stopped at No. 30 in 1982 with the original version of "I'm So Excited." With the success of their 1984 album "Break Out," the song was remixed and peaked at No. 9.

Depeche Mode reached No. 76 in 1987 with "Strangelove," and a year later, "Strangelove '88" fared better, climbing to No. 50.

This may be reaching a little, but as a member of Derek & the Dominos, Eric Clapton hit No. 10 in 1972 with "Layla," a song he would take to No. 12 solo two decades later in a live, unplugged setting.

And, two Elvis Presley remixes charted higher than their original counterparts: "Guitar Man," No. 43 in 1968, was remixed in 1981, and not only hit No. 28 on the Hot 100, but reached No. 1 on Country Songs. Originally a No. 69 hit in 1968, "A Little Less Conversation," as remixed by JXL in 2002, hit No. 1 in more than 20 countries, No. 50 on the Hot 100 and was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Two honorable mentions: New Order's "Blue Monday" didn't make the Hot 100 in 1983 (it reached No. 5 on Dance/Club Play Songs) but did reach No. 68 on the Hot 100 as "Blue Monday '88" in, of course, 1988.

And, Everything But the Girl's 1994 song "Missing" was a laid-back number that stalled at No. 69 in the U.K. before Todd Terry got his remixing hands on it. Fast forward to February 1996, and the single remix took 28 weeks to reach No. 2 on the Hot 100, and about as long to drop off the chart, making it one of the longest-charting songs in the survey's history (55 weeks).

On a different note, regarding Dana E. McIntyre's e-mail last week about songs that peaked in the Hot 100's runner-up slot, she should check out Christopher Feldman's "The Billboard Book of No. 2 Singles" (if she didn't already use this book for her research). Truly a good read for chart geeks like myself ;)

Ron Raymond, Jr.
Music Director, WMPG-FM
Portland, Maine

Hi Ron,

Thanks, as always, for the in-depth research. I hope all is well in the Vacationland State!

Earlier this year in Ask Billboard, we recapped artists that remade their own hits with other artists (Elton John's original "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" and his subsequent version with George Michael, for example). Since last week's Ask Billboard topic stemmed from a mention of Plumb remaking "God-Shaped Hole," currently No. 32 on Christian Songs, again in solo form as "God-Shaped Hole (2010)," I'll let your e-mail, which focuses on tracks without featured acts, and the next two submissions, represent the many I received this week from readers (thanks to all who submitted lists).

One more such song I thought of since last week: Josh Groban peaked at No. 4 on Adult Contemporary with a live version of "I'll Be Home for Christmas," recorded at a WLTW/New York holiday concert, in 2006. The studio version, from "Noel," reached No. 1 in 2007.

And, yes, Feldman's book makes for great reading for all us chart geeks. (Hey, if "Glee" fans are "Gleeks" and Josh Groban fans are "Grobanites" and Yankees fans are insufferable (um, to New Englanders, anyway), what can we call Billboard chart fans? Chart-a-holics? Billboard Boosters? Chartists? Chart Beat-les? Please feel free to think up and e-mail any and all suggestions that could cleverly brand our treasured pastime).


Hi Gary,

I can think of quite a few artists who hit the charts by remaking their own hits, including several who did so without any featured assistance:

The Police re-recorded "Don't Stand So Close to Me". While the original rose to No. 10 in 1981, the 1986 version stopped at No. 46.

Chicago reached No. 4 in 1970 with "25 or 6 to 4". When they re-recorded the rock classic, also in 1986, it peaked at No. 48.

Kiss hit twice with both studio and live versions of "Rock and Roll All Nite" (studio, No. 68 in 1975; live, No. 12 in 1975) and "Shout It Out Loud" (studio, No. 31 in 1976; live, No. 54 in 1978).

Peter Gabriel also recorded studio and live versions of "Solsbury Hill" (studio, No. 68 in 1977; live, No. 84 in 1983).

Sarah McLachlan likewise doubled up with "I Will Remember You" (studio, No. 65 in 1995; live, No. 14 in 1999).

(Not quite the same, but, going forward, I'll be curious to see if Rod Stewart can help Stevie Wonder or Smokey Robinson re-chart, as writers, with songs from his new "Soulbook" album).

Phew ...

Be well,

Dave Baskind
Saginaw, Michigan