Fred and his readers discuss Elton John, "The Twist," AC/DC and more!

ELTON'S NIGHTS ON BROADWAY

Hi Fred,

You mentioned the cast album for "Billy Elliot" in today's Chart Beat. I loved [Elton John's] "Aida" (I have both the original cast recording and the album of celebrity interpretations). I wasn't aware that Elton had scored another musical.

Just wanted to say thanks for including an item regarding it. I'm going on Amazon right now to buy it.

Tommy Marx


Dear Tommy,

So Chart Beat does sell albums!

I think you'll be glad to hear the recording of "Billy Elliott." I find that with most Broadway musicals, I don't fully appreciate the songs until I see the show on stage. But since this is Elton John, the songs do stand on their own. Even so, you will still have a greater love for them once you see them in the context of the live stage musical.

It's hard to choose which song I like best because this really is a great score, but the Act Two opener, "Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher," is a favorite.

Aside from "The Lion King," Elton also wrote the music for another Broadway musical, "Lestat," based on the works of Anne Rice. I saw this show on Broadway in 2006 – unfortunately. It received (well-deserved) terrible reviews and closed after 39 performances. By the time I saw "Lestat," I had already seen "Billy Elliot" in the West End, so I didn't hold the misguided vampire musical against Elton.



T.I.'S TWIST

Fred,

In your Chart Beat column, you mentioned that T.I. is the first artist to have a previous No. 1 hit go back to the top after the follow-up has spent time in the tally's ultimate position. While technically not the next follow-up, it is worth noting that "The Twist" returned to No. 1 after a subsequent follow-up, "Pony Time," spent time at the top.

Joseph McGowan

Chicago, Ill.


Dear Joseph,

Chubby Checker holds the unique distinction of having the only No. 1 song to reclaim pole position in a second chart run. "The Twist" first moved into the penthouse in September 1960 during its original 18-week chart run. The single re-entered the Hot 100 in November 1961 and had a 21-week stay, which included a return to the top floor in January 1962.

Given the amount of time between chart runs for "The Twist," it would have been very odd if Checker had not racked up some additional hits. Among the singles that appeared on the Hot 100 after the first run of "The Twist" were the actual follow-up, "The Hucklebuck" (No. 14), as well as "Pony Time" (No. 1), "Let's Twist Again" (No. 8) and "The Fly" (No. 7).

So you're right, Checker had a previous No. 1 hit go back to No. 1 after another single spent time in first place. What makes the T.I. accomplishment unique is that his singles succession took place during one chart run.

T.I.'s "Whatever You Like" went to No. 1 and slid down the chart, while the follow-up, "Live Your Life," captured the crown. After a one-week reign by Britney Spears' "Womanizer," "Whatever You Like" made a surprise return to the summit.

Your point is well-taken, even if "Pony Time" wasn't the direct follow-up to "The Twist." I should have mentioned Chubby's similar accomplishment when I wrote about T.I.



HOT AS 'ICE'

Fred:

AC/DC returns to the top of The Billboard 200 with "Black Ice," its most successful "Black" album to date, topping "Back in Black." With this being the band's second No. 1 album, following "For Those About To Rock We Salute You" in December 1981-January 1982, is it very rare for an act to go nearly 27 years between No. 1 albums?

Shawn Michaels
Gator County, Neb.


Dear Shawn,

It's rare, but not very rare. As I write in this week's Chart Beat, AC/DC scores its second No. 1 album some 26 years and 10 months after its first. I then list four examples of longer gaps between No. 1 albums. You should check out Chart Beat anyway, but here are the four longer periods of time between No. 1 albums that I found in just the last three years:

42 years, four months, three weeks between Ray Charles' "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music" (1962) and "Genius Loves Company" (2005)

36 years, 10 months, one week between Johnny Cash's "Johnny Cash at San Quentin" (1969) and "American V: A Hundred Highways" (2006)

30 years, six months, one week between Bob Dylan's "Desire" (1976) and "Modern Times" (2006)

28 years, seven months between Barry Manilow's "Barry Manilow/Live" (1977) and "The Greatest Songs of the Fifties" (2006)




PASS THROUGH THE GATE, BECOME A STAR

Hi Fred -

After all his success as a songwriter for so many artists - including himself - it seems only fair that Ne-Yo finally captures the top spot on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart as a lead artist. As lead or featured artist, Ne-Yo has already earned No. 1s on the Hot 100, Hot Rap Tracks and the Hot Dance Club Play charts, along with No. 1 success on The Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts.

This week, Ne-Yo's "Miss Independent" steps up to the top spot on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, replacing "Spotlight" by Jennifer Hudson. That means the songwriting team of Shaffer Chimere Smith (a.k.a. Ne-Yo), Tor Hermansen and Mikkel Eriksen have back-to-back No. 1s, with "Miss Independent" also featuring [a credit for] songwriter Daniel Nguyen. Plus, the aforementioned trio of composers recently saw their tune "Take A Bow" by Rihanna go to No. 1 on the same chart (along with the Hot 100).

Ne-Yo and the Norwegian songwriting/production team called Stargate are making a strong case for being "Irreplaceable."

Happy Halloween, and Election Day,

Pablo Nelson
Berkeley, Calif.
pablonde88@hotmail.com


Dear Pablo,

Details of Ne-Yo's first No. 1 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart appear in this week's Chart Beat. But I'm sure the Stargate production team will be happy for the acknowledgement in your e-mail.

My assistant, Brian Carroll, interviewed Stargate's Tor Hermansen and Mikkel Eriksen for the next edition of "The Billboard Book of Number One Hits," and I thought you might be interested to know some things Brian discovered about these successful writer/producers. Here are five fun facts about the pair.

They:

+ received their first big break when Simon Fuller asked them to work on a new project for a new TV series. They said yes and wrote and produced for S Club 7, turning their single "Two in a Million" into a top three hit in the United Kingdom.

+ were inspired to name their studio after the "Stargate" movie because as artists entered their premises, they had to "pass through the Stargate to become a star," says Eriksen.

+ first met Ne-Yo at Sony Studios in 2005. Ne-Yo was there for a meeting but the office he was in had a broken CD player, and the Stargate team invited him to use their studio equipment to play his music. They liked what they heard and invited Ne-Yo to return to write with them a week later. That first writing session produced the hit "So Sick."

+ submitted the track for "Irreplaceable" to Beyonce, who didn't care for the drum beat. They reworked the drums and re-submitted the track and Beyonce then embraced the song.

+ said that being interviewed for "The Billboard Book of Number One Hits" was like having someone from the lottery call them to say they won $10 million (Thanks Tor and Mikkel!).