Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.
RIH-GARDING RIH-MIXES, CONTINUED
While we congratulate Rihanna for this feat (and for tying Janet Jackson and Stevie Wonder's No. 1 totals), I am confused as to why Billboard.com states that Spears also scores her fifth No. 1 with this song.
Spears surely helped the song's ascent to the top, but that version is not the single version, unlike Jennifer Lopez's "I'm Real (Remix)" (featuring Ja Rule), which was the main version that actually reached the summit (not the similarly-titled, but basically different, album version, "I'm Real").
With "I'm Real," it's understandable that Ja Rule would also enjoy a No. 1 under his name. Spears' featured status on the "S&M" remix, however, seems different.
Do you credit Da Brat with four No. 1s because she is featured on the main remixes of Destiny's Child's "Survivor" and Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby," "Honey" and "Heartbreaker"? Da Brat's versions were already present on the CD singles when they were originally released; Spears' remix was released only when "S&M" was already at No. 2.
If that's the case, then all the dance remixers should get featured credit for any Hot 100 No. 1s that they remixed. Or, artists who dream of seeing their names at No. 1 might want to persuade other artists in the top five to feature them, in hopes of receiving credit for a chart leader in coming weeks.
Thanks so much,
Richard Allan Aquino
Before the artist listing for "S&M" inspired numerous e-mails to "Ask Billboard" and comments from readers on Billboard.com, the Billboard charts department similarly considered all applicable factors.
I forwarded your e-mail to Billboard director of charts Silvio Pietroluongo. Here is his response:
"In this instance, Billboard felt that crediting Britney Spears on the listing of 'S&M' atop the Hot 100 was the correct course of action due to the fact that her guest vocal version of 'S&M' outsold Rihanna's solo version two-to-one (193,000 of the song's 293,000 overall digital sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan).
"Add that radio stations across the U.S. have played the new mix heavily; both artists have promoted the mix on Twitter; and, Rihanna promoted the remix in interviews, the hoopla surrounding the song was too much to ignore (and not give Spears credit for on this week's ranking).
"The examples you mention, Richard, differ in nature from 'S&M.' The Lopez/Ja Rule remix was a wholly different song than her original solo version, and the Da Brat remixes were never the dominantly-played versions at radio.
"All aspects considered, it's a different musical landscape today and Billboard has many more tools at our disposal to break down the success and/or reach of different versions of songs.
"We may reconsider artist listings on a week-to-week basis and adjust accordingly, based on which version is a given week's top seller. A similar chart precedent even exists: for past listings of double-sided singles on the Hot 100, the first-listed titles could flip-flop based on which was the dominant selling side (based on retail reports) week-to-week.