Gone But Not Forgotten: 2010
Teddy Pendergrass Getty

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.

TALKING PEAKS, PART THREE

Gary,

Hi again, and, again, thank you for this remarkable "Taking Peaks" series of lasting Billboard Hot 100 hits that peaked at every number between 100 and 1. I'm truly loving it.

Some of the honorable mentions I would have added to your already great list of the feature's third installment, highlighting songs that peaked between Nos. 50 and 26:

- "Cannonball" by the Breeders (No. 44, 1994), a No. 2 hit on Alternative Songs.

- Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Two Tribes" (No. 43, 1984), the song which gave new life to the band's "Relax" (the prior and follow-up single to "Two Tribes").

- The brilliant "Bedtime Story" by Madonna (No. 42, 1995), written by Bjork.

- "The Super Bowl Shuffle" by the Chicago Bears Shufflin' Crew (No. 41, 1986), which received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group and whose proceeds were given to charity.

- And, Jim Steinman's original "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through" (No. 32, 1981), 13 years before Meat Loaf's version rose to No. 13.

I also appreciated your tribute to songs that stopped short at No. 41. I'm sure you'll do the same for those titles that faded at No. 11.

Thank you again. I look forward to the top 25!

Ron Raymond, Jr.
Music Director, WMPG-FM
Portland, Maine

Hi Ron,

Thanks again for supplementing the feature with several more memorable songs that enjoyed modest chart lives in their original runs.

That's what's been so fun about writing this position-by-position journey through the Hot 100's archives. There are simply too many great songs to mention over the past 50-plus years, and that's a good problem to have. It's also what makes all Billboard tallies more than just dry lists of songs and titles. Every song has a story: someone, somewhere was inspired to write it, artists brought it to life with passionate performances, and radio stations and consumers heard something in it that made them relate and want to hear it again and again.

Music charts are ultimately diaries. We look back at a chart from 10, 20, 30 years ago and see not just what songs were the most popular, but what they meant to us personally. Where we heard them, what we were doing, of whom they remind us. And, how we've changed since.

Thanks to those who've e-mailed with thoughts on the feature or any readers who've simply enjoyed brushing up on Hot 100 history. The "Taking Peaks" series concludes Tuesday (Jan. 26) with classic songs that peaked between Nos. 25 and 1.

INDEPENDENT THINKING

Hi Gary,

I have a question regarding Wednesday's billboard.com article announcing Vampire Weekend's No. 1 ranking on the Billboard 200. The story notes that "Contra" is only the 12th "indie album" to reach No. 1 since Nielsen SoundScan data was introduced on the chart. My question is, what are the other 11 such No. 1 albums?

Thanks,

Jason Brown
Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Hi Jason,

Billboard 200 chart manager Keith Caulfield expands on the topic in this week's print issue of Billboard (Jan. 30). Here is an excerpt that answers your question and provides further background on Billboard's policy regarding the chart eligibility of independent albums:

Vampire Weekend's "Contra," distributed by Alternative Distribution Alliance, marks the 12th indie set to top the tally since Nielsen SoundScan began powering the chart in 1991 and the first since Pearl Jam's self-released "Backspacer" debuted at No. 1 on the chart dated Oct. 10, 2009.

For Billboard charting purposes, defining an independent album is done on a title level and based on its distribution. If an album is sold by an indie distributor (or, one of the major label's indie distribution arms), it is classified as an independent title and can chart on our Top Independent Albums tally. Classification is not based on a label's ownership, or if an act is signed to an independent label.

Before "Backspacer," the last indie set to reign at No. 1 was Radiohead's RED-distributed "In Rainbows" (TBD/ATO), which climbed to the pole position on the Jan. 19, 2008, chart. A couple months earlier, Eagles' self-released Wal-Mart-exclusive "Long Road Out of Eden" topped the tally in late 2007.

Before that, we had an incredible dry spell, where no indie album hit No. 1 between the tail end of 1997 until the Eagles' achievement.

From the start of the SoundScan era in May 1991 through the end of 1997, eight indie albums topped the list. Six were courtesy of then-indie Priority, while two came from formerly-indie Walt Disney Records.

N.W.A.'s "EFIL4ZAGGIN" (Ruthless/Priority) was the first indie set to hit No. 1 in the SoundScan era on June 22, 1991. After that, Priority scored No. 1s with Ice Cube's "The Predator" (1992), the "Friday" soundtrack (1995), Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's "E. 1999 Eternal" (1995) and "The Art of War" (1997) and Tha Dogg Pound's Death Row/Interscope set "Dogg Food" (1995).

Finally, Walt Disney Records scored two No. 1 soundtracks before it joined the Universal Music Group Distribution fold, with "The Lion King" (1994) and "Pocahontas" (1995).

'COME BACK' HIT

Hello Gary,

I'm about to lose my mind. I've been hearing a great new song that I think is called "Come Back," with the following lyrics sung by a female vocalist: "Go away, go away, come again another day." An excellent song in a minor key.

I've been hearing it on pop/dance stations like WPTY (Party 101.5/105.3)/Nassau, New York.

Would you know who the artist is?

Thank you very much,

Irusia Kocka

Hi Irusia,

The song is, indeed, called "Come Back," and the artist is Sophia May. The cut roars into the top 10 (16-8) this week on Billboard's Hot Dance Airplay chart, viewable at billboard.biz.

The track is her third top 10 on the chart in less than two years. "I Can't Help Myself" rose all the way to No. 1 for three weeks in April 2008, and "Another Day" reached No. 4 last July.

"Come Back" has received its strongest radio support on Sirius XM's BPM channel (300 plays to date) and WPTY (267 plays), according to Nielsen BDS.

Beyond the airplay statistics, who is Sophia May? The singer is signed to Nervous Records and has performed in concert with such dance luminaries as Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper.

According to her bio, "When not working on music, (May) spends her time being a mom to her young daughter, working with youth at risk, and, she loves sports and plays Netball in her hometown of Bristol, England."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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