Fred and his readers discuss chart action from Darius Rucker, Dan Seals/Earl Thomas Conley, album charts, Josh Groban and more!

RUCKER AND PRIDE

Hi, Fred,

I look forward to your column every week. I am always astonished at how many other people out there are as caught up with the charts as I have been since I got my first transistor radio in 1958.

I'm writing today to tell you how excited I am to see Darius Rucker at the top of the country charts. The former lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish may seem an unlikely country artist, but I heard him interviewed on the radio and he has strong country roots. I've also seen him perform Broadway numbers on TV -- that man can sing anything!

I am really proud of country radio for embracing one of the great voices of our time. And here's the Chart Beat tidbit: I believe this marks the first time in exactly 25 years (plus a week or two) since an African-American artist has topped the country singles chart -- since Charley Pride hit the top with "Night Games" on Sept. 17, 1983. It's been a long wait!

Rick Emmer
Apollo Beach, Fla.
wordwizard@tampabay.rr.com


Dear Rick,

Since Darius Rucker tops the Hot Country Songs chart for the week ending Oct. 4, it's been 25 years and two weeks since Charley Pride was No. 1 with "Night Games." It was his 29th chart-topper, a string that began in August 1969 with "All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)."

Rucker is also No. 1 on Top Country Albums, making him one of four pop crossover acts to head this list in the last 12 months, after the Eagles, Jewel and Jessica Simpson. Details can be found in this week's Chart Beat.





SEALS AND CONLEY

Mr. Bronson:

I know Rodney Crowell's "Diamond and Dirt" was the last album to spawn five No. 1 hits [on Hot Country Songs] prior to Brad Paisley achieving this amazing feat. What I'm trying to remember is, did Dan Seals and Earl Thomas Conley have five from an album back in the late '80s, or did they just have four?

Shawn Michaels
Gator Country, Nebraska


Dear Shawn,

Dan Seals had nine consecutive No. 1 hits between 1985 and 1989, but never more than four from one album. Those nine songs include one of my all-time favorites, "Bop," and his duet with Marie Osmond on "Meet Me in Montana."

Earl Thomas Conley had five consecutive No. 1s in 1983-1984, four in a row in 1985-1985 and seven back-to-back No. 1s from 1987-1989. Two of his albums yielded four chart-topping songs, but he never pulled five No. 1s from one release.



WHY AND WHERE

Hey Fred-

I was reading your column where you highlighted Jessica Simpson's latest release, "Do You Know," as the new No. 1 Country album.

It occurred to me that although I think I understand why singles appear on certain Billboard charts, I don't get how albums are ranked on specific charts.

Songs can be gauged by the stations they are played on, outlets they are sold at, etc., but how does an album qualify for the country or the R&B/Hip-Hop album charts? It seems to me that the criteria would be more difficult to determine.

I bet you know!

Tony D'Aguanno
West Hollywood, Calif.


Dear Tony,

I do know, just from hanging around Billboard for so many years (!), but I still felt your answer needed a more official voice, so I asked Billboard's director of charts/senior analyst Geoff Mayfield to respond.

Here's what Geoff had to say:

"In the case of our radio charts, eligibility is entirely up to radio. If enough stations in a format play a song, it will appear on that format's chart, which is why four tracks by rapper Eminem showed up on Billboard's Modern Rock chart.

"As far as the sales charts, eligibility is determined by the chart manager of each particular genre list. If a pop artist like Jessica Simpson attempts the first country album of her career, we take that into account. Radio play and categorization at retail are among the factors a chart manager might weigh in making that decision.

"Also, more than a song or two on an album must fit the genre. Had Simpson only had a few country songs on 'Do You Know,' it would not have been flagged for Top Country Albums. At least half of an album's songs must be deemed to fit the genre to meet chart eligibility, which is why some 'Now That's What I Call Music' albums appear on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums while others do not."

Tony, I couldn't have put it any better, so thanks to Geoff for his explanation. By the way, there have been other artists who have crossed over from one genre to another, if only for one album. The first example that comes to mind is Willie Nelson's "Countryman," which topped the reggae album chart for nine weeks in 2005. That release peaked at No. 6 on Top Country Albums. But Willie remains a "one-hit wonder" on Top Reggae Albums.



GROBAN AND 'NOEL'

Hi Fred,

I expect the re-release of Josh Groban's huge-selling holiday album "Noel" to continue selling very well. In 2007 it was SoundScan's No. 1 selling CD of the year, but because it was released so late in the year, it was not Billboard's No. 1 album of the year. I think given the huge sales it had in December 2007, the additional sales this fall could push it high enough to be The Billboard 200's top seller of 2008.

Given this possibility, would Billboard amend its policy to allow a holiday album to chart a second year, since it is not yet over 18 months old, or would the album have to appear on the Top Pop Catalog Albums chart once its sales ramp up again? If so, could its new sales be combined with last fall/winter's sales? If the total would not make it the No. 1 album of the year, then the point would be moot. But I would hate to see this great and hugely-successful album lose its chance to be No. 1 merely over chart policy.

George G. Kitchens IIII
Bloomsburg, Penn.


Dear George,

I kept Geoff Mayfield busy this week, because in addition to being our director of charts and senior analyst, he manages The Billboard 200. So even though I know that as a holiday album in its second year of release, "Noel" would not be eligible to return to The Billboard 200, I still wanted Geoff to give you a detailed explanation. Here's what he had to say when I showed him your question:

"Holiday albums are only eligible to appear on Billboard's current album charts, including The Billboard 200, during the first year of release. However, the huge sales weeks that Josh had in December will count toward his 2008 Billboard Year in Music standing.

"The long lead time required to produce the Year in Music issue has always required Billboard to use December-November as its chart year, which means there are sometimes differences between our top album and the one that will lead Nielsen SoundScan's calendar-year standings.

"For example, 50 Cent's 'The Massacre' was our album of the year in 2005, because Mariah Carey's 'The Emancipation of Mimi' didn't overtake 50 until December. In 2001, the inclusion of December 2000 sales made the Beatles' '1' Billboard's top album, while Linkin Park's 'Hybrid Theory' led Nielsen SoundScan."

George, it's Fred here again. One point that Geoff didn't address that I think merits a reply is your suggestion that we change the chart policy just so Josh Groban can have a No. 1 album of the year. That's something you really don't want us to do, because that would impugn the integrity of the charts. You can imagine the outcry from our readers if we ever did such a thing - which we won't. Even when fans of an artist are unhappy because their favorite didn't do as well on the charts as they wanted them to do, the fans know that the charts are honest and accurate.



'SO' AND 'SO'

Hi Fred,

Pink's No. 1 song "So What" has a combined total of 10 characters between the title and the name of the artist, that smallest number of characters for a No. 1 hit in over two years, since "SOS" by Rihanna topped the Hot 100 in May-June 2006. In March of that year, "So Sick" by Ne-Yo reached the summit. That title and artist combination had 10 letters but the dash between Ne and Yo gives us a total of 11 characters.

The fewest number of characters needed to make up a title and artist's name is seven, a record set in July 1993 by the song "Weak" by SWV.

Best Always,
Larry Cohen
Trumbull, Conn.


Dear Larry,

Thnx!

Fred

P.S. That five-character answer could be the shortest reply in Chart Beat Chat history. If you don't count the P.S.




'SO' AND 'LADY'

Dear Fred,

Last week Pink scored her first No. 1 on Hot 100 with "So What." She was also credited on the No. 1 song "Lady Marmalade" with Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim and Mya in 2001.

So technically, does she have two No. 1s on the Hot 100?

Please shed some light on this.

Thanks

Raditya Gunardisurya
Jakarta, Indonesia


Dear Raditya,

It's not even a technicality. Pink has two No. 1s under her belt when it comes to the Hot 100. True, only "So What" is a solo No. 1 for her, but that doesn't alter her total. As long as an artist is name-checked in the billing, they are credited with that song, so Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya and Pink are all credited for a No. 1 song with their remake of Labelle's "Lady Marmalade."



'BONNIE AND CLYDE'

Hi Fred,

I'm a regular reader of your Chart Beat column and have also had the thrill of having one of my earlier e-mails published In Chart Beat Chat. I read your latest column and noticed you mentioned that Jay-Z was a featured artist on the 2002 hit "'03 Bonnie & Clyde." I'm pretty sure he was the lead artist on that single and Beyonce was the featured artist - I remember at that time it being a reverse of the credits of "Crazy in Love." That would make "'03 Bonnie & Clyde" his highest charting track as a lead artist.

Best Regards,

Binoy Mohan
Bangalore, India


Dear Binoy,

You're absolutely right, and you were the only reader to write in with this correction. "'03 Bonnie & Clyde" was credited to "Jay-Z featuring Beyonce Knowles," a rare use of Beyonce's last name in the artist billing. But Jay-Z was definitely billed as the lead artist on this single.


TOP 100 OF THE HOT 100

Fred:

Well that all-time top 100 of the Hot 100 has certainly proved controversial, hasn't it? I've contributed my share on the comments page, trying to explain why I believe Billboard's list is at least consistent given the parameters of the task. Certainly any attempt to equalize or compare chart stats from different decades is bound to be by its nature arbitrary, but this is as good a job as I've seen.

I'd still like to ask some questions on the actual point scoring, though. The FAQ indicates that an inverse point system was used, so that a week at No. 1 got the most points but even a week a No. 100 got something. What were the actual points attributed to positions 1-10 as opposed to No. 100?

Also, what sort of range was used when comparing songs from different eras? Was the entire 1960s weighted the same or were there smaller divisions? I suspect that songs were compared to other songs during the two or three-year period before and after they peaked. That is, "I Will Always Love You" was compared to other hits in the era 1992-1994, while "Hey Jude" was compared to hits in the 1967-1969 era.

What songs just missed out on Hot 100 all-time immortality? Can you list Nos. 101-110?

Patrick Kelly
Brampton, Ont.
Canada


Dear Patrick,

This week might set a record for the number of times I turned to Geoff Mayfield to respond to readers' questions. I did do some work on the 50th anniversary of the Hot 100, but the project was really under the dominion of the chart department (and I'm a member of the editorial staff). I was not involved with any of the chart methodology or putting together the list of the top 100 songs in Hot 100 history.

That's why I asked Geoff to comment, and here's his response to your e-mail:

"We decline to give the specific point values, but the methodology was similar to that which we use for Hot Dance Club Play recaps in our Year in Music issue and which we used to use for other year-end charts before the advent of specific sales data from Nielsen SoundScan and radio metrics from Nielsen BDS. And, without going into specifics, the value of a week at No. 1 was worth 1,000 times more than a week at No. 100.

"To compensate for the quicker rates of turnover that occurred before the Hot 100 adopted data from Nielsen BDS and Nielsen SoundScan in December 1991, we weighted the points accordingly, with different values for 1958-1969, 1970-1972 and 1977-1984 weighted equally and 1973-1976 and 1985-1991 weighted equally.

"Listing titles that would have ranked 101-110 just might open a can of worms, but for those curious about some of the titles 'Bubbling Under' the All-Time chart, know that the lower-ranked titles on our various All-Time genre lists and the Global Artists chart were established by the same methodology. I'm not saying any of them ranked within the next 10 places, but you can get a feel for some of the hits that fell shy of the overall Hot 100 50th list."