Glee: The Billboard Cover Story

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.


JUST ANOTHER 'DREAM'

Hi Gary,

Earlier this fall, the "Glee" cast placed its version of "Billionaire" by Travie McCoy featuring Bruno Mars at No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Paramore's "The Only Exception" at No. 26 while the originals were still in the top 30.

This week, the cast does even better, as its version of "Teenage Dream" is the Hot Shot Debut at No. 8 while Katy Perry's original is at No. 13, leading to what I believe is the first time that the same song has held two places in the top 20 since the Righteous Brothers doubled up in 1990 with two versions of their beloved "Unchained Melody."

I am curious about other instances in which two versions of the same song appeared on the chart at the same time. The last time I recall this happening was the duel between LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood with "How Do I Live" in 1997. Although Rimes' version was the bigger pop hit, Yearwood's version charted higher on Country Songs, so they both enjoyed Hot 100 success.

In addition, I find it striking that "Teenage Dream" has been covered when Perry's version is only in its 17th week on the Hot 100. The original versions of "Billionaire" and "The Only Exception" were in weeks 26 and 19, respectively, when the "Glee" versions charted.

Thanks,

Michael Ming
Penn Valley, Pennsylvania

Hi Michael,

While Rimes spent four weeks at No. 2 on the Hot 100 in 1997-98 with her version of "How Do I Live," Yearwood just missed the top 20, peaking at No. 23.

The Righteous Brothers ranked in the top 20 with two recordings of "Unchained Melody" the week of Nov. 3, 1990. Following the renewed popularity of the song from its usage in the blockbuster film "Ghost," the duo's 1965 original, available in 1990 only on vinyl, placed at No. 17, while an update, released as a cassette single (or "cassingle," to use hip early '90s lingo), rose to its No. 19 peak.

There is a more recent example of concurrently charting titles, one higher than any "Glee"-related feat. It involves another musical Fox TV juggernaut.

Following Carrie Underwood's victory over Bo Bice on "American Idol" in 2005, both singers charted versions of "Inside Your Heaven" on the Hot 100. Underwood's interpretation arrived at No. 1 the week of July 2, 2005. The following week, Bice bowed at No. 2 with his version, while Underwood ranked at No. 3. (Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" was the only non-"Inside" title inside the top three that week, ascending 2-1).

The two "Inside Your Heaven"s, recorded before America's vote was tabulated and the winner revealed, remained in the top 20 simultaneously through the July 23, 2005, chart week.

Subsequent "American Idol" season finale anthems charted concurrently, though not both in the top 20, as recently as last year, when Kris Allen (No. 11) and Adam Lambert's (No. 72) "No Boundaries" both debuted the week of June 6, 2009 (the same date that the "Glee" cast first appeared on the Hot 100).

Expect the "Glee" cast to continue to mine current top 40 fare, as next week brings a "Glee"-make of Bruno Mars' "Just the Way You Are," currently No. 3 on the Hot 100. In an era where consumers can download songs as soon as they hear them on "Glee," it's savvy for the series to mix in covers of familiar, current hits.

Tuesday's (Nov. 16) episode even poked fun at the series' penchant for reviving mostly older titles, often at the frustration of the New Directions glee club. Pleaded leader Will Schuester, "Come on guys, there has to be a Journey song we haven't done yet!"

FREE FALLIN'

Dear Gary,

With today's recurrent rules, big songs often disappear from the Hot 100 after 20 chart weeks if below No. 50. However, why did it happen so often in the '60s and '70s?

The Beatles' "Hey Jude" chart pattern is a great example. After nine weeks at No. 1, it fell 2-2-6-11-15-23-30-38, off the entire Hot 100 from that last position. It seems like the song should have charted for three or four more weeks.

If "Hey Jude" was that popular at radio and retail that year, I don't see how it died at both so suddenly in one week. Were poor reporting practices by radio and retail back then to blame, or is this too far back to research?

Sincerely,

Brian C. Cole
Tampa, Florida

Hi Brian,

While Billboard has always strived to present the most accurate chart data possible, that scope was limited in the past when compared to the resources available now, including those from Nielsen BDS (airplay) and SoundScan (sales).

I posed your question to Billboard director of charts Silvio Pietroluongo. Here is his response:

"While none of us here were around during those decades, the charts at the time, and in the '80s, were compiled by utilizing ranked sales reports from record retailers and ranked playlists from radio stations.

"Unlike in our current electronic era, where computer scanning of sales and monitored airplay tell us exactly what is selling and playing at retail and radio, respectively, it was not uncommon for those reporting to Billboard in decades past to move on to the next hot song when filling out their rankings, while overlooking those titles that had already peaked, even though they were still selling well or being played on the air at a decent clip.

"Basically, those reporters didn't want to 'waste' a spot on their submitted lists on a song that the industry might have considered to be 'over'."

MARCH MADNESS

Hi Gary,

Thanks for that great interview with Peggy March.

I did not know that she co-wrote "When the Rain Begins to Fall." I remember seeing the video for that song on TV in the '80s.

I know that it was a smash in Europe and I was wondering if it, or any others by Pia Zadora, ever charted in the U.S.?

Keep up the good work.

Thanks,

Blair Buchta
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Hi Blair,

Thanks. Zadora has charted three songs on the Hot 100, including March's composition, penned with Michael Bradley and Steve Wittmack. Here is a look at their chart performances:

No. 45, "I'm in Love Again," 1982
No. 36, "The Clapping Song," 1983
No. 54, "When the Rain Begins to Fall" (Jermaine Jackson & Pia Zadora), 1985

The singer/actress received a 1984 Grammy nomination for best female rock vocal performance (for "Rock It Out"). "Pia & Phil," a collection of standards recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, represents her lone Billboard 200 appearance. The set reached No. 113 in 1986.

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