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.
I love Chart Beat and look forward to reading the charts every week.
Recently, I've noticed a few tracks that have perhaps logged higher chart positions in part because of the availability of multiple versions.
Cee Lo Green's "F**k You (Forget You)" benefited from having both the original and censored version on iTunes. Katy Perry's "E.T." also notably sports the original version and remix featuring Kanye West.
In terms of Billboard chart purposes, is it unfair for some songs to have two versions available? There is twice as much for consumers to buy. Would Billboard consider changing the Billboard Hot 100 rules to allow different versions to chart separately, making it more equal for songs with only one version?
Thanks for the great column,
I posed your question to Billboard director of charts Silvio Pietroluongo, who reinforced the intention of the Hot 100 as a songs chart as opposed to an individual tracks survey.
"So many songs are offered in multiple versions: edited, explicit, album, etc. We take great care in making sure that the songs we merge are similar musically and/or lyrically.
"The Hot 100 should measure a song's full impact based on all its iterations."
Billboard, does however, compile a chart that breaks out individual track sales: Digital Tracks, which is viewable to subscribers at billboard.biz.
Whereas Digital Songs ranks titles by all versions combined, Digital Tracks rank each song's separate versions, making often for multiple listings of the same composition on the survey simultaneously.
Thus, when it comes to edits and remixes, Digital Tracks affords us a clear picture of which versions of the same song are the most popular.
On this week's Digital Tracks, the version of "E.T." featuring West ranks at No. 1 (with sales of 247,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan), while the Perry-only version places at No. 21 (62,000). The West edit accounts for 77% of the song's overall sales (with other versions - "Benny Benassi Radio Edit," "Noisia Remix," "Dave Aude Remix" - also registering totals).
Additionally, Green's PG-rated edit "Forget You" is at No. 18 (67,000), with the original "F**k You!" at No. 42 (41,000). The rankings echo consumers' tastes throughout the song's history: release-to-date, the song's clean edit has outsold the original explicit version, 2.4 million to 1.5 million.
The next prominent example of how a remix performs against an original album version will take center stage on next week's charts, when we'll see the impact of the Spears-assisted "Rih-mix" of Rihanna's "S&M" following the new version's first full week of retail availability.