Ask Billboard: Pen Pals: Readers Respond, Part 2

Joni Mitchell Hopes To Spread 'Fiddle'

<p>More examples of star acts that have written hits for other artists, plus a look at the value of Billboard's Heatseekers Songs chart.</p>

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, 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.


PEN PALS, READERS RESPOND, PART 2

Hi Gary,

Regarding the letter from Hugh Peacock regarding hit songs written by superstars that were performed by other artists, I can think of many. Here are more:

"All the Young Dudes," Mott the Hoople (No. 37 Billboard Hot 100, 1972), written by David Bowie

"Ballad of the Green Berets," SSgt. Barry Sadler (No. 1, 1966), co-written by author Robin Moore, who wrote the bestsellers "The Green Berets" and "The French Connection"

"Crazy," Patsy Cline (No. 9, 1961), written by Willie Nelson

"Dandy," Herman's Hermits (No. 5, 1966), written by Ray Davies of the Kinks

"Harper Valley P.T.A.," Jeannie C. Riley (No. 1, 1968), written by Tom T. Hall

"Human Nature," Michael Jackson (No. 7, 1983), written by David Paich and Steve Porcaro of Toto

"I'm a Believer," The Monkees (No. 1, 1966), written by Neil Diamond

"In the Ghetto" (No. 3, 1969) and "Don't Cry Daddy" (No. 6, 1970), Elvis Presley, both written by Mac Davis

"Justify My Love," Madonna (No. 1, 1991), co-written by Lenny Kravitz

"Kentucky Rain," Elvis Presley (No. 16, 1970), written by Eddie Rabbitt

"Leaving on a Jet Plane," Peter, Paul & Mary (No. 1, 1969), written by John Denver

"Lotta Love," Nicolette Larson (No. 8, 1978), written by Neil Young

"Me and Bobby McGee," Janis Joplin (No. 1, 1971), written by Kris Kristofferson

"The Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)," Manfred Mann (No. 10, 1968), written by Bob Dylan

"Party All the Time," Eddie Murphy (No. 2, 1985), written by Rick James

"Private Dancer," Tina Turner (No. 7, 1985), written by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits

"Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town," Kenny Rogers and the First Edition (No. 6, 1969), written by Mel Tillis

"Running Bear," Johnny Preston (No. 1, 1960), written by J. P. Richardson, aka the Big Bopper

"She's a Lady," Tom Jones (No. 2, 1971), written by Paul Anka

"Woodstock," Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (No. 11, 1970), written by Joni Mitchell (who never attended the rock festival)

Special mention: Three Dog Night. This band had a knack for discovering new talent, as many of its hits were written by up-and-coming stars, including:

"One" (No. 5, 1969), written by Harry Nilsson

"Mama Told Me (Not to Come)" (No. 1, 1970), written by Randy Newman

"Out in the Country" (No. 15, 1970), "An Old Fashioned Love Song" (No. 4, 1971), and "The Family of Man" (No. 12, 1972), all written by Paul Williams

"Joy to the World" (No. 1, 1971) and "Never Been to Spain" (No. 5, 1972), both written by Hoyt Axton

"Black & White" (No. 1, 1972), co-written by David Arkin, father of actor Alan Arkin

"Pieces of April" (No. 19, 1973), written by Dave Loggins, cousin of Kenny Loggins

"The Show Must Go On" (No. 4, 1974), written by Leo Sayer

"Sure as I'm Sittin' Here" (No. 16, 1974), written by John Hiatt


Thanks for discussing this fun topic,

Blair Buchta
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, 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.


PEN PALS, READERS RESPOND, PART 2

Dear Gary,

About the topic of songs written by superstars that were performed by other artists, many of these collaborations produced No. 1 songs on the Hot 100:

Beach Boys founding member Brian Wilson shared writing duties with Jan Berry of Jan & Dean on "Surf City" in 1963.

The Temptations' "My Girl," co-written by R&B/soul legend Smokey Robinson, climbed to the top spot in 1965.

In 1975, former Beatle John Lennon claimed writing credit with David Bowie and Carlos Alomar on Bowie's "Fame."

Bruce Hornsby and his brother John co-wrote the 1987 No. 1 "Jacob's Ladder" for their good friends Huey Lewis & the News.

The first single that debuted at No. 1 in the history of the Hot 100, 1995's "You Are Not Alone" by Michael Jackson, was written by R. Kelly.

In 1983, a 30-year-old male rock singer co-wrote a song for Laura Branigan called "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You," which reached No. 12. Seven years later, the same male rock singer, converted into a soft-soul vocalist, sent his version of the song to No. 1. Who? Michael Bolton.

Also, some notable non-No. 1s:

Former Steely Dan and Doobie Brother Michael McDonald penned Carly Simon's "You Belong to Me" (No. 6, 1978) and shared writing credits with the members of Van Halen on the latter band's 1984's No. 13 hit "I'll Wait."

Rick Springfield reached No. 8 in 1981 with Sammy Hagar's composition "I've Done Everything for You."

Bon Jovi's Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora co-wrote (with Desmond Child) Cher's No. 14 1988 hit "We All Sleep Alone."

And, in a case of pen pals coming full circle, two 1989 songs co-written by Elvis Costello and Paul McCartney made the top 25 almost a month apart. First, Costello's "Veronica" peaked at No. 19 in June. McCartney's "My Brave Face" rose to No. 25 in July.

Talk about McCartney getting by with a little help from (one of) his friends.

Thanks,

Mackenzie (Mac) Scott
Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, 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.


PEN PALS, READERS RESPOND, PART 2

Dear Gary,

In 1997, David Kersh hit No. 3 on Country Songs with "Another You," a song written by then-fairly-unknown Brad Paisley.

Two years later, Paisley would make his debut on the chart as a recording artist and the rest is country music history.

Lisa Curry
Beachwood, New Jersey



Hi Gary,

Being a big fan of Celine Dion, I thought of a few songs that were written specifically for her by fellow big-time artists:

"With This Tear," 1992, Prince
"Seduces Me," 1996, Dan Hill
"The Reason," 1998, Carole King
"Let's Talk About Love," "Another Year Has Gone By" 1998, Bryan Adams
"Treat Her Like a Lady," 1998, Dion co-wrote this song with Diana King
"Immortality," 1998, Bee Gees

"Taking Chances," 2007, Kara DioGuardi
"This Time," 2007, Ben Moody (formerly of Evanescence)

And, of course, Dion's many David Foster-written (and produced) songs, including "To Love You More."

Best,

Mark Meruenas
Manila, Philippines



Hi Gary,

It amazes me that no one has yet mentioned as a "pen pal" the great Neil Sedaka, who has written or co-written dozens of hit songs for other artists.

Perhaps the best example of his influence as a songwriter is the Captain & Tennille, for whom he co-authored three (of their seven) Hot 100 top 10s: "You Never Done It Like That" (No. 10, 1978), "Lonely Night (Angel Face)" (No. 3, 1976) and the No. 1 song of 1975 that put the act on the musical map, "Love Will Keep Us Together."

Sincerely,

David Fritz
Reseda, California
Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, 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.


MODERN 'ROCK'

Hi Gary,

I've been reading your column for a little more than a year and it is one of the best parts of my day!

I have been following the rise of LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem," featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock, on multiple Billboard charts and seeing it hit the apex of the Hot 100 is very exciting!

As it previously reached No. 1 on Heatseekers Songs, I was wondering, how many other songs have led both charts?

Thanks,

Matthew Miller
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Hi Matthew,

Thank you!

Billboard introduced Heatseekers Songs (the brainchild of director of charts Silvio Pietroluongo) the week of July 18, 2009, as the singles-focused version of Heatseekers Albums, which launched back in 1991.

As stated in the chart's legend on Billboard.com, Heatseekers Songs ranks the most popular songs across all formats by new or developing acts, defined as those who have never appeared as a lead artist in the top 50 of the Hot 100 (or the top 50 of Radio Songs prior to Dec. 5, 1998 [the date that non-commercially-available songs became eligible to appear on the Hot 100]).

If a title reaches the top 50 of the Hot 100, it and the act's subsequent songs are then ineligible to appear on Heatseekers Songs.

Titles are ranked by radio airplay audience impressions as measured by Nielsen BDS, sales data as compiled by Nielsen SoundScan and streaming activity data provided online music sources.


Thus, Heatseekers Songs ranks, via the same formula as the Hot 100, the top songs below the Hot 100's top half by developing acts (as defined above). The chart therefore serves to present the top songs by up-and-coming artists and indicate what titles by such acts could be bound for the Hot 100's upper reaches.

In the history of Heatseekers Songs - which celebrates its two-year anniversary this week - "Party Rock Anthem" is the fifth No. 1 to repeat its success on the Hot 100.

Here is a recap of all five toppers on both tallies:

"TiK ToK," Ke$ha

"Nothin' on You," B.o.B (featuring Bruno Mars)
"Break Your Heart," Taio Cruz (featuring Ludacris)
"Black and Yellow," Wiz Khalifa
"Party Rock Anthem," LMFAO (featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock)

Easy to forget, but, as Heatseekers Songs predicted, there was a time when such now-established acts as Ke$ha, B.o.B and Cruz were aspiring acts merely on the cusp of their first appearances in the Hot 100's top 50.

(If we could create a comparable tool to predict the lottery, I'd be writing this analysis from my 20-room waterfront beach home on Martha's Vineyard).

Other now-fairly prominent acts, across multiple genres, have also ruled Heatseekers Songs once-upon-a-time, including Michael Franti & Spearhead ("Say Hey (I Love You)"), the Script ("Breakeven"), Travie McCoy ("Billionaire"), Nicki Minaj ("Your Love"), Neon Trees ("Animal"), the Band Perry ("If I Die Young"), Mumford & Sons ("Little Lion Man"), Jessie J ("Price Tag") and Rebecca Black ("Friday").

It's not too difficult to guess that a single by Lady Gaga, Katy Perry or Rihanna could reach No. 1 on the Hot 100.

It's much harder, however, to predict the eventual success of a lesser known act.

But, keeping an eye on Heatseekers Songs has, in just two years, clearly proven valuable in gauging new artists' Hot 100-topping potential.
Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, 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.


UH-OH RE: OHIO

Hi Gary,

Regarding your July 4 Chart Beat feature on the musical artists most associated with each U.S. state, as much as I love Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders, I'd have to choose Rascal Flatts as Ohio's most representative act.

Two-thirds of the band - lead singer Gary LeVox and bassist/vocalist Jay DeMarcus - are natives of Columbus.

Thanks,

Keith Ackerson
Hilliard, Ohio


Hi Keith,

With 11 No. 1s on Country Songs and six leaders on Country Albums - the highest sums on each survey among groups since its arrival in 2000 - Rascal Flatts has surely made Ohio proud.

Honorable mention to Dayton-formed funk band Ohio Players, who placed 14 songs on the Hot 100 between 1971 and 1977, including the No. 1s "Fire" (1975) and "Love Rollercoaster" (1976) (plus its last entry, the No. 45-peaking "O-H-I-O").

One more addition to the feature. Here's what I wrote for Montana:

"For such a big state, relatively few mainstream recording acts hail from Montana. Helena's Nicolette Larson reached the Hot 100's top 10 on her first try with 1979's No. 8-peaking 'Lotta Love'."

My father suggested an alternate choice for the state. Tennessee native (and, fittingly, considering the feature, "Party in the U.S.A." singer) Miley Cyrus.

Aka ... Hannah Montana.