Ask Billboard: Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves

Ask Billboard: Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves

<p>Chart Beat readers contribute several more all-female collaborations, from Dolly Parton to 15 divas who joined forces for charity in 2008.</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.


SISTERS ARE DOIN' IT FOR THEMSELVES

Tuesday's (April 26) Chart Beat column, "10 All-Female Hit Collaborations," generated great reader feedback. Here are some of your additions, highlighting songs across multiple formats.

Hello Gary,

I enjoyed tremendously your Chart Beat spotlight on all-female collaborations.

One such joint venture that deserves mention is the 1987 supergroup of Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris. Still in their hit-making prime, this "Trio" was a supernova.

The set spent five weeks at No. 1 on Country Albums and yielded the No. 1 Country Songs hit "To Know Him Is to Love Him," as well as three other top 10s: "Telling Me Lies" (No. 3), "Those Memories of You" (No. 5) and "Wildflowers" (No. 6).

The album, which also hit No. 6 on the Billboard 200, was nominated for Album of the Year and the ladies won a Grammy for best country performance by a duo or group.

The group released a follow-up in 1999, "Trio II," which reached No. 4 on Country Albums and garnered a Grammy Award for "After the Gold Rush."

Parton additionally participated in another collaboration of country queens in 1993: "Honky Tonk Angels," with Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. It reached No. 6 on Country Albums and generated the No. 68 Country Songs hit "Silver Threads and Golden Needles."

Parton has sung on other notable collaborations, including tracks with Norah Jones ("Creepin' In"), Martina McBride ("I Still Miss Someone") and Rhonda Vincent ("Heartbreaker's Alibi"). She also harmonized with Shania Twain and Alison Krauss & Union Station (in an uncredited role) on "Coat of Many Colors." The cover of the Parton classic climbed to No. 57 on Country Songs in 2003.

Best regards,

DeWayne Ray
Cincinnati, Ohio

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.


SISTERS ARE DOIN' IT FOR THEMSELVES


Tuesday's (April 26) Chart Beat column, "10 All-Female Hit Collaborations," generated great reader feedback. Here are some of your additions, highlighting songs across multiple formats.

Hi Gary,

Well, thanks to frequent contributor Pablo Nelson, we've gotten onto another interesting topic: all-female collaborations.

I can think of one more: Anne Murray's "Duets: Friends & Legends" (2008), which contains 17 of Murray's hits rerecorded as duets with her favourite female singers, including Celine Dion, Dusty Springfield and Olivia Newton-John.

The album reached No. 42 on the Billboard 200 and No. 4 on the Top Canadian Albums chart. It was certified Double Platinum (200,000 copies sold) in Canada.

Thanks for introducing another fun topic for discussion.

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.


SISTERS ARE DOIN' IT FOR THEMSELVES

Tuesday's (April 26) Chart Beat column, "10 All-Female Hit Collaborations," generated great reader feedback. Here are some of your additions, highlighting songs across multiple formats.

Hello Gary,

Angie Martinez took part in two memorable all-female collaborations: "Ladies Night," with Lil Kim, Left Eye, Da Brat and Missy Elliott (1997), and "Take You Home," featuring Kelis. The latter song reached No. 62 on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs in 2003.

Thanks,

Ben Walker II
Cincinnati, Ohio


Hi Gary,

How about Macy Gray's "Sweet Baby," featuring Erykah Badu, which peaked at No. 24 on Adult Pop Songs in 2001?

Best,

Francesco Rognone
Milan, Italy

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.


SISTERS ARE DOIN' IT FOR THEMSELVES

Tuesday's (April 26) Chart Beat column, "10 All-Female Hit Collaborations," generated great reader feedback. Here are some of your additions, highlighting songs across multiple formats.

Hi Gary,

Here are two more great all-female collaborations to spotlight.

Even though it was technically a Herb Alpert release, the vocals on "Making Love in the Rain" belonged to Lisa Keith and Janet Jackson. The song, a No. 35 Hot 100 hit in 1987, is, to me, one of the most beautiful top 40 recordings of all-time.

And, one of my favorite female pairings was "It Isn't, It Wasn't, It Ain't Never Gonna Be" by Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston, a playful song in which the two fight (lyrically) over a man. (Sadly, the single stopped at No. 41 on the Hot 100 in 1989).

Thanks,

Troy Williams
Dallas, Texas


Thanks to all who e-mailed with such insightful examples of hit all-female songs and albums.

Speaking of Franklin, one such song that I didn't include in the original column? Only the obvious "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves" (and only because the single was credited to the male/female duo Eurythmics, featuring Franklin). The anthem peaked at No. 18 on the Hot 100 in 1985.

And, five more all-female collaborations worthy of highlighting:

Stevie Nicks & Sheryl Crow
"If You Ever Did Believe"

As the Lilith Fair era boomed in the late '90s/early '00s, several female artists cited Nicks as an immense influence. After recording this song for the "Practical Magic" soundtrack in 1998, Nicks enlisted Crow, Macy Gray, Natalie Maines and Sarah McLachlan to assist on her 2001 set "Trouble in Shangri-La." Nicks' first studio album since then, "In Your Dreams," arrives Tuesday (May 3).

Mary Chapin Carpenter, Rosanne Cash & Shawn Colvin
"You Ain't Goin' Nowhere"

The folk/country singer-songwriters - praised as "brilliant" by Johnny Cash before their performance - showed off their harmonies on this cut from Bob Dylan's all-star live album, "The 30th Anniversary Concert Collection." The set peaked at No. 40 on the Billboard 200 in 1993.


Melissa Etheridge & Joss Stone
"Cry Baby/Piece of My Heart"

The pair's intense 2005 Grammy Awards medley translated to a No. 32 Hot 100 peak.

VH1 Divas
A who's-who of powerhouse female vocalists, the recurring series of benefit concerts generated two Billboard 200 chart entries. "VH1 Divas Live," featuring Dion, Gloria Estefan, Franklin, Twain and Mariah Carey, reached No. 21 in 1998. A year later, the lineup of Houston, Cher, Tina Turner and Brandy produced "VH1 Divas Live/99" (No. 90).


Stand Up to Cancer
"Just Stand Up!"

15 star artists joined forces for this benefit single. Co-written and produced by Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, the empowering song peaked at No. 11 on the Hot 100 in 2008.


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.


CLASSICS ROCK

Hello Gary,

I've been noticing a trend the past few weeks on the Billboard 200 that has piqued my curiosity: many classic rock acts from the '70s and '80s are charting with greatest hits packages, some released years ago.

Pat Benatar's "10 Great Songs," for instance, ranks at No. 140 a week after it debuted at No. 123. I've also seen such classic rock albums on the chart as Rush's "Moving Pictures" and greatest hits sets by Bob Seger, Three Dog Night and REO Speedwagon in recent weeks.

Can you explain this head-scratching trend?

Thank you!

Ken Tasho
Providence, Rhode Island


Hi Ken,

I posed your question to Billboard 200 chart manager and associate director of charts/retail Keith Caulfield, who cites an influx of budget-priced (i.e., $5) albums being promoted at Walmart and other "big box" retailers.

Caulfield also cites lower album sales paving an easier chart path for such releases. Titles can now reach the lower ranks of the Billboard 200 with weekly sales of approximately 3,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That's down from about 6,000 a decade ago, so steady catalog sellers tend to make more occasional visits to the chart.

In an e-mail, Chart Beat reader Brian Quinn likewise found it surprising that Elvis Presley's "An Afternoon in the Garden" rose to No. 85 on the Billboard 200 last week, some 14 years after it was first released.

Caulfield similarly cites sale pricing at Walmart for spurring the album's current chart fortunes.


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.


CHARTIN' TO THE OLDIES

Hi Gary,

When is Billboard going to start an oldies chart?

I know that the charts menu on Billboard.biz offers recurrent airplay charts for several formats, which rank mostly songs that charted on current-based lists fairly recently. How about, however, a true "oldies" chart reflecting much older songs, from pop and soul to rock, etc.?

Thanks,

Buzz Seegert
Airwave Airplay (the name of my personal chart, which I kept from 1978 through 1995)


Hi Buzz,

While there's no Billboard-branded oldies chart, our partners at Nielsen BDS do track airplay on oldies/classic hits stations. Here is a look at the most-played songs on BDS' panel of 50 such stations, including WCBS (101.1)/New York and KRTH (K-Earth 101)/Los Angeles, in the April 22-28 tracking week:

1, "Brown Eyed Girl," Van Morrison
2, "Margaritaville," Jimmy Buffett

3, "Drift Away," Dobie Gray
4, "Sister Golden Hair," America
5, "Still the One," Orleans
6, "Dancing Queen," ABBA
7, "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet," Bachman-Turner Overdrive
8, "December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)," 4 Seasons
9, "Brick House," Commodores
10, "Rock 'n Me," Steve Miller Band

Please also feel free, Buzz, to write back with details about "Airwave Airplay."

It would be great to hear from you, as well as other chart fans who've faithfully chronicled their musical tastes by keeping personal charts over the years (a labor of love not unlike managing a fantasy sports team).

Please share your stories at askbb@billboard.com.


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.


'IDOL' THOUGHTS

Although he departed the "American Idol" stage last night, Casey Abrams provided my favorite performance so far in the series' 10th season:

It's perhaps fitting that 2010 runner-up Crystal Bowersox performed on last night's results episode. Abrams seems of a similar soulful rock vein and exits leaving fans hopeful of an intriguing debut album ahead.

Now that five finalists remain, my original prediction for the top five is just 40% intact.

As predicted:
5, Paul McDonald
4, Pia Toscano
3, James Durbin
2, Casey Abrams
And ... 1, Lauren Alaina

(My girlfriend Michelle proudly points out, however, that each of us originally picked three of the final five from auditions prior to the season's Hollywood rounds as having top 12 potential.

Still, we get to battle for bragging rights over our choices. While we both backed Durbin and Alaina, she also praised Haley Reinhart, while I envisioned Scotty McCreery competing among the top 12 finalists).

As we both predicted Alaina emerging victorious, more performances like her tender duet this week with McCreery, "Up on the Roof," can only boost her chances. Her powerful vocals in the song evoked those in her audition, when she sang her memorable impromptu duet with Steven Tyler of the judge's sole Hot 100 No. 1.

And, while contestants performed several of Carole King's best-known pop standards this week, how about an ode to this more obscure but standout, melodic single that the Songwriters Hall of Fame honoree wrote and performed?

King's "City Streets" climbed to No. 14 on Adult Contemporary in 1989.

Have a great weekend!


As always, follow Billboard.com's complete coverage of the 10th season of "American Idol" and please feel free to share your opinions in the comments section below or by e-mailing askbb@billboard.com.