Chart Beat Chat

Fred and his readers discuss Leona Lewis, artist's nationalities, Spice Girls and more!

LOVING LEONA

Hi Fred,

I wrote to you back in February regarding Leona Lewis and her new single "Bleeding Love." I asked how she was progressing on the Billboard charts.

I see that "Bleeding Love" has knocked Usher from the top spot after just six weeks on The Billboard Hot 100. Congratulations to Leona!

In last week's Chart Beat you stated that if Leona checked into the penthouse she would be the third U.K. female to have a No. 1 hit with her first single. Has her climb to the penthouse been the fastest by any (not just U.K.) female or even male artist with a debut single?

Although Leona may only spend one week at the top (fingers crossed for Mariah Carey's 18th No. 1 next week), I do hope her excellent debut album, "Spirit," which I believe is released in the United States on April 8, also hits the top spot and starts a long-lasting career for a talented and lovely young woman.

Kind regards,

Ashley McDowell


Dear Ashley,

Leona Lewis' achievement is quite remarkable, given the number of U.K. artists who have been successful on the Hot 100 over the last few years. As I mentioned in this week's Chart Beat, her success in the United States is based strictly on the merits of her song and her talent since we did not get to know her over a period of weeks while she competed on the U.K. TV series "The X Factor."

Her six-week climb to the top represents a rapid rise to No. 1, but she doesn't win the race for achieving pole position. In 1998, Lauryn Hill's "Doo Wop (That Thing)" entered the Hot 100 at No. 1. Hill had appeared on the chart as a member of the Fugees, but this was her debut single as a solo artist. Five years later, Clay Aiken debuted at No. 1 with "This Is the Night." That was his solo debut, although he had charted a few weeks earlier as one of the American Idol Finalists with a version of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A."

In 2004, Fantasia debuted at No. 1 with "I Believe," which was her first appearance on the chart in any configuration. The following year, Carrie Underwood debuted at No. 1 with "Inside Your Heaven," although like Clay, she had charted earlier that year as one of the American Idol Finalists with "When You Tell Me That You Love Me." And in 2006, Taylor Hicks made his first-ever appearance on the Hot 100 when he bowed at No. 1 with "Do I Make You Proud."



ALL YOU NEED IS 'LOVE'

Hi Fred!

The year 2007 was one of those rare years in which none of the No. 1 records featured the word "Love." Now, we're back in stride with two consecutive chart-topping "Love" songs on the Hot 100, "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis and "Love in This Club" by Usher featuring Young Jeezy.

Back-to-back No. 1 "Love" songs most recently occurred in November and December 2006 when "My Love" by Justin Timberlake featuring T.I. was replaced by "I Wanna Love You" by Akon featuring Snoop Dogg.

On this week's chart, Sara Barailles is still going strong at No. 5 with her "Love Song." (Her apparent peak at No. 4 is second to the highest-peaking song with the same name, the Cure's No. 2 hit from 1989, "Lovesong," also known as "Love Song"). Has there ever been a week when every title in the top 5 featured the word "Love"?

Joy,

Pablo Nelson
Berkeley, Calif.
pablonde88@hotmail.com


Dear Pablo,

Everybody needs love, as Gladys Knight and the Pips once sang, so thanks for pointing out that the "love drought" of 2007 is over and love is reigning once again.

Your question about "love" songs occupying every position in the top five is one of those queries that can only be answered by manually searching through every chart of the last 50 years. And you know what I'm going to say about that: time and scope, yada-yada-yada. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if some Chart Beat readers take on the challenge of doing that manual "love" search.




SPICE UP YOUR CHARTS

I noticed that the Spice Girls charted again on the Hot Dance Club Play chart with "Wannabe." Is this the original version? How well has it been doing on the charts, where did it peak after how many weeks and how is the song eligible to re-chart? Is that within the rules? Either way, I am thrilled for them because I saw them in concert and they were great!

Thanks,

Mike Rand


Dear Mike,

I also happened to see the Spice Girls in concert. I was in Las Vegas for a few days in December with five friends and noticed the Spice Girls were performing those same days at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. So the six of us bought tickets and had a great time.

The "Wannabe" that recently appeared on the Hot Dance Club Play chart was a new remix, not the original single. New remixes of older songs are eligible to chart. In fact, the song that is currently No. 2 on the Club Play tally is Erin Hamilton's "The Flame 08," a new mix of her 1999 remake of the Cheap Trick hit. Hamilton, who is the daughter of Carol Burnett, peaked at No. 12 with her first recording of "The Flame" and could be No. 1 on next week's Club Play survey with the 2008 rendition.

The update of the Spice Girls' "Wannabe" debuted on the Club Play chart at No. 48 the week of Dec. 15, 2007 and spent three weeks in its peak position of No. 15 in February of this year. The track spent 14 weeks on the chart, making its final stand the week of March 15.




THIS WEEK'S COLUMN IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE NUMBER 2

Hi Fred,

You didn't focus on any particular theme for last week's Chart Beat Chat questions. While not unusual, I thought the poet in you did something else that became the thread for that column. I am not sure if you intended it be a week about seeing double but consider:

First you touched on two similarly-titled songs (one renamed to avoid confusion) and next you mentioned a song spending two consecutive weeks in the same position. After you untwisted the mystery of how an old song can enjoy two chart runs, you highlighted another hit that reached No. 1 in more than two versions. And finally, we learned of an artist's two No. 1s back-to-back!

This is the stuff chart success is made of, isn't it, Fred? Just having some fun with Chart Beat Chat trivia! Thanks for the great column each week.

Mun Kong

munkong001@yahoo.com.sg


Dear Mun,

Chart Beat Chat rarely has themes, because what I write about depends on what readers write to me about each week. Sometimes threads do form, but it's unpredictable.

I actually did have a theme last week, though it was in the headlines, not the letters or my replies. Just to review, two of the headlines were:

ENOUGH ABOUT 'LOST' - WHAT ABOUT 24?

and

JUST WHEN YOU HAVE IT FIGURED OUT - THERE'S A 'TWIST'

By the way, I think you cheated a little bit when you were making a case about my references to the number two. You mentioned a song reaching No. 1 in "more than two versions." Yes, it was three versions. But your point is well-taken and I appreciate you bringing us to the lighter side of Chart Beat Chat.



DOES SHE COME FROM A LAND DOWN UNDER?


Hi Fred,

Love the column. Just wanted to clear something up. In last week's Chart Beat you mentioned Leona Lewis' rise into the top 10. In that article you mention Olivia Newton-John as a British artist. She is actually Australian. Just because she was born in the United Kingdom doesn't mean that she is a British artist. She grew up in Australia, was discovered in Australia, has always maintained an Australia accent and most importantly, IDENTIFIES as Australian. Place of birth as sole criterion by Billboard is therefore discriminatory and meaningless.

Having followed her career with interest I can assure you that it would be news to Olivia that she is "British" and not Australian. Having migrated to Australia from Lebanon when I was five years old, I find the policy offensive.

I grew up in Australia, was educated here, I'm an Australian citizen and identify as Australian and have no ties to my country of birth. It would be the ultimate slap in the face for me to be identified as a Lebanese artist were I to make the Hot 100 (of course an unlikely proposition). It would segregate me as somehow different from other Australians simply because I wasn't born here. Under Australian law, this treatment is illegal.

What the artist identifies as their country should be the ultimate determinant of nationality. Can you please justify Billboard's policy to me?

Kind regards,

Robert Ghanem
Sydney, Australia

P.S. You might as well cross off Savage Garden, AC/DC, Air Supply, John Farnham and Jimmy Barnes from the list of Australian artists if you're looking at their places of birth. It would be a great surprise to these artists, let me assure you!


Dear Robert,

I'm glad you started off by saying you love my column, or I might have sensed some hostility in your e-mail.

Billboard has no official policy concerning country of origin, since that's not something we keep track of on an official basis. I have mentioned in Chart Beat that when I compiled lists of greatest hits by country for my book "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits," I used country of origin to determine which song belonged on which chart. That was a fairly objective means of determining nationality, rather than have to figure how old a specific individual member of a group was when they moved to a different country, and at which age would you consider someone to be from one country or another.

For example, you mentioned AC/DC, formed by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. They were born in Scotland in 1953 and 1955 respectively and moved to Australia in 1963. Are they Scottish or Australian? Their older brother, George, was in the Easybeats ("Friday on My Mind"). He was born in 1947, some 15 years before the family's move to Australia. Is he Scottish or Australian? You consider Olivia Newton-John to be Australian, as many people do (I saw her perform at a gala dinner in Hollywood celebrating Australia just a couple of months ago).

What about the Bee Gees? Barry Gibb was born in 1947 and his brothers Robin and Maurice were born in 1949, all on the Isle of Man, which is technically not a part of the United Kingdom, but a self-governing Crown dependency. The family moved to Manchester, England, and then emigrated to Brisbane, Australia in 1958. After a series of hit records in Australia, the brothers decided they wanted to return to England and their reluctant father booked passage home. Are the Bee Gees Manx, British or Australian?

Recently I wrote about Yael Naim in Chart Beat because she is currently on the Hot 100 with "New Soul." I identified Naim as a French-born, Israeli-raised artist in order to give an accurate description (she was born in Paris in 1978 and moved with her family to Tel Aviv four years later). But should I ever include a section in "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits" about the greatest hits by artists from France, Naim would be on that list.

Common sense must also prevail, so for example, if an artist is born into an American family while their mother or father is serving on a military base in a foreign country, I would still consider them American. Cliff Richard was born to British parents in Lucknow, India, in 1940 while that country was still under British rule. They moved back to England in 1947 when India achieved independence. I think it's logical to consider Cliff a U.K. artist.

The good news is that I have no interest in dictating what other people must think or believe. Just because I identify Olivia Newton-John as being a U.K. artist because of where she was born doesn't mean that other people have to accept that. It doesn't upset me when other people identify her as Australian because you can make a case for that. There are ambiguities in life, or different ways of looking at the same thing, and I can appreciate your point of view while holding my own.

I do promise that if you ever happen to appear on a Billboard chart, I will check with you before mentioning your nationality.