Chart Beat Chat: Leona Lewis, Rihanna, Patti LaBelle

Fred and his readers discuss British acts' success in the states, Rihanna, James Bond theme songs and more!

BRITS AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY

I've been following Leona Lewis’ success in America (I voted for her on “The X Factor” after all!) and am pleased to see a British act doing well over there.

But I was wondering, were many of the late ’90s/early ’00s bands that I know and love successful in the United States? Pop bands like 5ive, Steps and S Club 7 had great hits and I was wondering if they were recognized over there?

On the subject of S Club 7, did Rachel Stevens get any love on your album chart? She was criminally overlooked here. She's currently on “Strictly Come Dancing” so let's hope she uses it as a base to finally get a (well-deserved) solo No. 1 in the United Kingdom!

Rob Ward

Dear Rob,

Unfortunately, the bands you listed did not fare as well on the Hot 100 as Leona Lewis. While 5ive and S Club 7 each managed to score one top 10 hit each, these three groups’ overall success was not great.

Even though they had a TV series that aired in the United States, S Club 7 must be considered one-hit wonders on the Hot 100. Their only chart entry was “Never Had a Dream Come True,” No. 10 in 2001.

5ive had three chart entries, including the No. 10 hit “When the Lights Go Out” in 1998. Later that year, “It’s the Things You Do” stopped at No. 53 and “Slam Dunk” wasn’t, faltering at No. 86.

But both bands have better track records than Steps, even though that pop outfit is one of my favorite groups from that time. Steps never charted on the Hot 100, not even with my favorite song of theirs, “Better Best Forgotten.”

Rachel Stevens never charted on The Billboard 200, but as far as I know her albums are only available on import in the United States, which would make them ineligible for our domestic charts. We don’t see the U.K. “Strictly Come Dancing” here, so her appearance on this show won’t help her on the U.S. charts.



RELOADED EDITIONS

Hi Fred,

I was intrigued by your item in last week's Chart Beat regarding Rihanna's octet of Hot 100 hits from her most recent album, making her the first woman to do that since Shania Twain's "Come On Over" back in 1997-1999. I know that, in the eyes of the charts, the original "Good Girl Gone Bad" is the same as the "Reloaded" version, but isn't it sort of unfair to suggest that it's the same accomplishment? To my knowledge, although there was an "International" version of "Come On Over" with more pop-friendly remixes, all of Shania's hits were on that album from the day that it was released, as compared to the three that were added for the reissued version of Rihanna's album. Just wondering about that! Thanks, Fred!

Harrison Baker

Dear Fred:

Thanks for your column. I have made the charts part of my regular Web surfing thanks to your insight and care.

I am not trying to take away anything from Rihanna's success with “Good Girl Gone Bad” and now “Good Girl Gone Bad Reloaded,” but isn't the comparison to Janet Jackson unfair?

From my count, “Reloaded” added three tracks that (guess what?) turned out to be huge successes! This is a neat advantage of the music industry, which can release singles based on trends and past successes on repackaged CDs that are still popular. Perhaps Janet had some advantage over artists who came before her and whose records she broke, too. I'm starting to take all of these new chart records with a grain of salt because it seems to me all based on context, and an argument could be made in favor of past records (an artist who accomplished a huge jump on the Hot 100 before the era of digital downloads seems more dazzling to me than artists doing the same nowadays). What do you think about this question of context?

Chael Needle
Whitestone, N.Y.

Dear Harrison and Chael,

I received quite a few e-mails this week from readers expressing the same sentiments, so your two letters will have to represent all of folks who wrote to me on this topic.

I understand your point of view, and perhaps Rihanna’s accomplishment requires an asterisk. But as long as the original and “special edition” versions of an album are combined for chart purposes, it just makes sense that “Chart Beat” treat them the same way.

These revisited albums are basically marketing tools, and record companies have been marketing their products in many different ways ever since the labels first came into being. Do I personally like the idea that an album I bought 12 months ago is obsolete because an artist added a few more songs and re-issued the album? No. Do I like some of the ew songs that have been added to these special editions? Yes. Have I bought some of them? Yes.

This does bring up a point I’ve made several times over the years in Chart Beat Chat. Chart methodologies and marketing strategies have constantly changed over the years but one thing has remained consistent: every week, one song is No. 1 and nine others are also in the top 10, another song is the highest jumper of the week and yet another is the highest debut. Chart Beat compares and contrasts chart positions and places the current week’s achievements in the context of the entire rock era. If I could only compare chart achievements of charts fueled by digital sales to other charts published since digital downloads became popular, it would be too restrictive and would make for some fairly boring Chart Beats.



MY WORD IS MY BOND

Hi Fred!

Thanks for the article in this week's Chart Beat on the James Bond theme songs. Over the past 46 years the 007 franchise has not only given us some classic films but also some great music!

However, I do have to question your inclusion of Patti LaBelle's "If You Asked Me To" on the list of charting Bond themes. While certainly a great song, the Diane Warren-penned tune is not the theme song to 1989's “License to Kill.” The song was played over the film's closing credits but has never, to my knowledge, been considered an "official" Bond theme or even been included on any of the numerous Bond theme compilations. I don't believe it should be included on this list.

The official theme song of that film was Gladys Knight's "License to Kill."

Scott Foltz
Columbus, Ohio

P.S. - Keep those excellent books coming!

Dear Scott,

You make a good point, but I would count any song from a James Bond film that charted on the Hot 100. Gladys Knight did a great job on “License To Kill” but that main theme didn’t appear on the pop singles chart, while Patti LaBelle’s “If You Asked Me To” did.

Sheryl Crow’s “Tomorrow Never Dies” was one of two songs in that 007 flick; the other was k.d. lang’s “Surrender,” which I thought was a better song (and very Bond-like). If either one or both had charted, they would have appeared on my list as well.