Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum Nab Big ACM Awards
Carrie Underwood at the American Country Music Awards 2010 Jordan Strauss/WireImage

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.

'PLAY ON' AND ON

Hey Gary,

I am a huge Carrie Underwood fan! If you were to be able to choose her next single from "Play On," what would you select?

I know that her label, Arista Nashville, has already chosen "Undo It" as the follow-up to "Cowboy Casanova" and "Temporary Home." She also performed "Change" on this week's "Idol Gives Back."

Sincerely,

Diego Villegas
Anaheim, California

Hi Diego,

You're clearly not alone in your admiration for Underwood, as she became the first female artist to win coveted Entertainer of the Year honors twice at the Academy of Country Music Awards when she took home her second such trophy April 18.

"Undo It," which sports Underwood and "American Idol" judge Kara DioGuardi among its writing credits, enters at No. 43 as the Hot Shot Debut on Country Songs this week. Should it reach No. 1, it would become her 10th leader on the list.

I've always thought that one of the best jobs in the music business is selecting singles from albums. Often, the process involves multiple voices, including artists, weighing in. Since you're asking only me, however, I'm more than happy to play fantasy record executive!

Taking into account how labels generally look to mix up styles from single to single, I'd follow the pattern of uptempo "Cowboy Casanova," ballad "Temporary Home" and uptempo "Undo It" like this:

Fourth single: "Change." The ballad boasts an ideal combination for country radio: a strong hook and lyrics with an inspirational message ("The smallest thing can make all the difference / Don't listen to them when they say you're just a fool to believe you can change the world"). That an estimated 18.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen, watched Underwood perform the song on "Idol Gives Back" Wednesday only adds to its strength as a potential single choice.

Fifth single: "Quitter." It's not surprising that this is the most pop-friendly song on "Play On"; it was co-written and produced by Max Martin, the writer and producer for numerous hits by Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, Pink and Britney Spears. Still, the uptempo track reminiscent of "All-American Girl" clearly sounds country in its instrumentation and offers up an instantly catchy chorus.

Sixth single: "Songs Like This." This fun song follows her line of sassy anthems that began with "Before He Cheats." The hook-heavy chorus sounds like a natural fit for country radio ("If you hadn't gone and done me wrong, I wouldn't go off like this / Yeah, even I'm surprised how easy sweet revenge rolls off my lips / If it wasn't for guys like you, there wouldn't be songs like this").

Seventh single: "Play On."
Underwood released four songs to country radio from her debut set "Some Hearts" and five from "Carnival Ride" (with "You Won't Find This" sounding like it could've been a solid choice as a sixth single). She'll likely have a new album out before her label would get this deep on "Play On," but the midtempo title cut, which she co-wrote, would undoubtedly continue Underwood's unbelievable run at country radio.

ALWAYS REIGNING

Hi Gary,

A couple of weeks ago, you mentioned that MercyMe broke a tie with Casting Crowns for most No. 1s (eight) on the Christian Songs chart.

Since I've started keeping track of this chart, there have been numerous songs that seem to stay at No. 1 for a very long period of time, including Phillips Craig & Dean's "Revelation Song," Matthew West's "Going Through the Motions" and Casting Crowns' "East to West," just to name a few. That got me thinking. What are the top songs, in terms of number of weeks spent at No. 1, on this chart?

Thanks,

Ian McDormand
Weymouth, Nova Scotia, Canada

Hi Ian,

It's always noteworthy when a new song takes over atop the Christian Songs chart, since it happens more infrequently than on many other airplay surveys.

As the chart's manager, Wade Jessen, explains, "The chart, which began in 2003, is an all-format Christian chart but dominated by nearly 60 Christian adult contemporary stations. Christian AC isn't unlike its secular AC counterpart, in terms of how long stations play the format's biggest hits for its mostly adult audience.

"The adult audience tends to want big hits played often, as opposed to the younger-skewing audiences served by Christian pop and rock. Those charts definitely have more turnover at No. 1."

With such long stays at the top common on Christian Songs, here is a look at the titles to spend the most time at the summit:

Weeks at No. 1, Title, Artist, Peak Year
23, "Word of God Speak," MercyMe, 2003
19, "Give Me Your Eyes," Brandon Heath, 2007
19, "East to West," Casting Crowns, 2007
18, "Made to Worship," Chris Tomlin, 2006
15, "Take You Back," Jeremy Camp, 2005

LONG LIFE

Hi Gary,

I've noticed saw that Lifehouse has two songs that spent over a year on the Billboard Hot 100: "Hanging By a Moment," which stayed on the chart for 55 weeks, and "You and Me," which totaled 62 weeks. Is Lifehouse the only artist that has managed to have multiple songs last for at least a year on the Hot 100?

Many thanks,

Elmerson Pascua
Quezon City, Philippines

Hi Elmerson,

Lifehouse's knack for strongholds on the Hot 100 is impressive, but the band is not the only act to remain on the Hot 100 for a year or more with more than one song.

The title cut and first single from Faith Hill's album "Breathe" spent 53 weeks (peaking at No. 2) on the Hot 100 in 1999-2000. Her No. 6-peaking follow-up "The Way You Love Me" racked 56 weeks in 2000-01.

Your e-mail reminds me of two other lengthy chart runs extended on this week's R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot 100 charts, respectively.

Mary Mary amasses as a 74th week on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs with "God in Me," featuring Kierra "KiKi" Sheard. The track has broken a second-place tie for longest stay in the chart's 58-year history, passing the 73-week run of K'Jon's "On the Ocean." If "God in Me" can remain on the list next week, it will match Mary J. Blige's "Be Without You" with a record-tying 75th week. This week, the song rebounds 49-47, and since songs are removed after 20 weeks if below No. 50, it's too close to call yet whether it will equal Blige's mark.

On the Hot 100, the Black Eyed Peas rack up a 45th chart week with "I Gotta Feeling." The song debuted at No. 2 last July and this week dips 38-40. With all 45 of its chart weeks registered no lower than its current ranking, the song is the first title in the Hot 100's history to spend its first 45 weeks within the top 40. Last week, it passed Taylor Swift's "Love Story," which spent its first 43 frames inside the top 40 from September 2008 through July 2009.

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