Glee: The Billboard Cover Story

GLEE: (L-R): Actors Kevin McHale, Jenna Ushkowitz and Chris Colfer attend an advanced screening of Glee's "Wheels" at the ArcLight Cinemas on Monday, Nov. 9 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Fox)

Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Fox

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Gary Trust at askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.

TOTAL "GLEE"-CLIPSE OF THE CHART?

Hi Gary,

With the "Glee" cast doing so well on numerous Billboard charts, I can't help but wonder if they'll ever capture the prized No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. (I'm sure that all involved are pretty content with all their success so far, of course).

Reading the list of groups with the most Hot 100 appearances in Chart Beat yesterday, it made me realize that the cast, with 43 entries, could actually surpass the Rolling Stones (second among groups with 57) and even the Beatles (first in the category with 71) in terms of Hot 100 hits. But, what about hitting - or missing - the chart's pole position?

With the No. 4 "Don't Stop Believin' " being the act's highest charter, and with most of its releases peaking outside the top 40, much less the top five, it seems possible that the celebrated "Glee" cast might never snag a No. 1 despite its volume of success.

Thus, my question: which acts have tallied the most Hot 100 hits without enjoying a No. 1? Interestingly, the "Glee" cast long ago passed the group in that category that first recorded "Don't Stop Believin'," Journey (25 Hot 100 appearances without a chart leader).

Thanks, and happy one-day-after-Stevie Wonder Day! (He turned 60 yesterday, May 13).

Pablo Nelson
Berkeley, California

Hi Pablo,

The "Glee" success story grows each week. Among non-solo acts in the Hot 100's 52-year history, the troupe now ranks among the top 10 for most chart visits. With at least four debuts next week a possibility, the ensemble could rank as high as fifth among multi-person acts with the most Hot 100 entries, trailing only the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys and Temptations.

As you point out, however, the "Glee" cast has yet to peak higher than No. 4. Here, then, is a look at the acts - solo and groups - with the most Hot 100 visits but no No. 1s:

91, James Brown
53, Jackie Wilson
48, Brook Benton
45, Fats Domino
43, "Glee" cast
42, Johnny Cash
40, the Isley Brothers
40, Tim McGraw
39, the Impressions
39, Andy Williams

As the "Glee" cast improves from 38 to 43 charted titles this week, the act passes the Isley Brothers (40) for most Hot 100 hits among non-solo acts without a No. 1. Next in line are Rascal Flatts (27) and Brooks & Dunn and the Who (26 each).

What will it take for the "Glee" club to rise to the top spot on the Hot 100's honor roll? The act has written its Hot 100 discography almost exclusively from digital sales. Without strong radio airplay, its chances for a No. 1 are impeded.

Columbia Records senior vice president of promotion/adult formats Pete Cosenza says, however, that the label is soliciting airplay as it releases each week's new "Glee" titles.

"We are promoting tracks each week and encouraging radio to play one, more or all. One of the tracks will stick sooner or later, I believe. (So far, airplay has consisted of mostly) morning and afternoon show exposure.

"Radio is afraid or unsure of how to play it. I tell them, it is simple: well-known, familiar songs that are being exposed on a giant hit TV show that is watched by the same demo (that they are targeting). It is their listeners that are watching each week."

UH-O-LIVIA?

Hi Gary,

I read your item regarding Olivia Newton-John's return to the Hot 100 this week on the "Glee" remake of "Physical" at No. 89. You wrote that it's her 37th Hot 100 appearance. I take it you're counting "I Honestly Love You" once?

She charted three times with the song. The first was in 1974, when it peaked at No. 1, the second in 1977 (No. 48, with a different catalog number than the original single), and the third in 1998, as a re-recorded version (No. 67).

Interestingly, Joel Whitburn's "Top Pop Singles" in the past had counted the multi-act song "One Heart at a Time" (No. 56, 1998) among Newton-John's chart entries, as well. In the latest edition, however, the book credits the track to the act "One Heart at a Time."

Single credits get a little confusing at times, no?

Take care,

Jim Radenhausen

Hi Jim,

They can, just as last week's "Ask Billboard" discussion of most Hot 100 No. 1s illustrated, regarding Paul McCartney and Wings titles.

Billboard's archives count "I Honestly Love You" as one title that charted in three separate runs. Thus, her total stands at 37, not 39, in her Hot 100 history. Whitburn's book lists the song as its own entry three times, so it all depends on how one classifies re-issues.

"One Heart at a Time" was a charity single released by Atlantic Records in 1998 that benefitted the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Along with Newton-John, the all-star effort featured Garth Brooks, Billy Dean, Faith Hill, Neal McCoy, Michael McDonald, Victoria Shaw and Bryan White.

The song's single cover lists all eight names, split above and below each of their pictures and a prominent "One Heart at a Time" listing in bold. Whitburn now equates the title to the artist. Billboard considers it a "various artists" project. Since all names are listed on the product cover, one could argue that all artists featured could each receive credit in their respective chart histories.

So, to answer your question again, yes, such credits can be confusing. Billboard, often in conjunction with record labels, always aims to make the most informed decision in listing any potentially ambiguous credits.

FUTURE HITS

Hey, Gary!

No question here, but, as a big Bee Gees fan, I was looking back at early '70s Hot 100s. It was interesting to note that while "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?" was charting in 1971, there were Hot 100 entries by Barbra Streisand, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Yvonne Elliman and Olivia Newton-John.

I wonder if any of them predicted that within 15 years, they'd all be recording songs written by the Brothers Gibb.

Pat Thomas
Sparks, Nevada

Hi Pat,

That's part of what makes following charts, and music in general, fun, isn't it? Connecting the dots from era to era and seeing which artists or songwriters remain relevant by working with successive generations.

A look at this week's Hot 100 reveals lineages similar to the Bee Gees'. In 1993, as 4 Non Blondes were charting with their rock ballad "What's Up," who could've known that the group's leader, Linda Perry, would go on to write several hits for a pair of then-future pop stars, Christina Aguilera ("Beautiful," "Keeps Gettin' Better") and Pink ("Get the Party Started").

And, Pink, meanwhile, co-wrote Adam Lambert's "Whataya Want From Me."

In another "Glee"-related chart feat, "Physical" was co-written by Steve Kipner. As the song returns to the Hot 100 this week for the first time since March 27, 1982, Kipner is credited on a track by a graduate from Fox TV's other musical smash, "American Idol"; he co-wrote and produced Kris Allen's "Live Like We're Dying." The song was first recorded by the Script, whose "Breakeven" at No. 19 was also co-written and produced by Kipner.

Kipner has penned an impressive list of hits in his career. Other songs sporting his writing credits include Newton-John's "Twist of Fate," Chicago's "Hard Habit to Break," Wilson Phillips' "Impulsive," 98 Degrees' "The Hardest Thing" and Aguilera's five-week Hot 100 No. 1 "Genie in a Bottle."

"I'm a very lucky songwriter," Kipner says. "I saw the Beatles live when I was 14 and I wanted to be them.

"At 15, my mates and I wanted our own band and called it 'The Board of City Blues.' At 19, with my father's help, I made two albums as a member of the duo Tin Tin.

"Most of the songs I'd written to (that) point never really changed from (the) British invasion thing I grew up on. I'd survived doing what I loved and never wanted more, but, as far as making a living was concerned, it was always a struggle.

"My solo album bombed but was recognized predominately for the amazing and now famous musicians who played on it. Getting to know guys like David Foster gave me the opportunity to write with them on other projects. This lucky break got me considering how much more liberating it would be to write for all styles, male and female.

"So began my real career as a songwriter/producer."