Fred and his readers discuss Anne Murray, the success of UK artists in America, the "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits" book and more!

ANNE OF THE 13,000 DAYS

Hi Fred:

I noticed that veteran Canadian female vocalist Anne Murray's new CD "Duets: Friends and Legends" (Manhattan) debuted on The Billboard 200 this week at No. 42. I believe Anne's Billboard chart history goes back to the 1970 release of her first hit, "Snowbird." So her chart longevity span is now approximately 38 years. Since Anne's new CD contains duets of her long chart history is in order?

Steve McGuinness
Toronto, Canada

Dear Steve,

Anne Murray made her first appearance on the Billboard album chart with "Snowbird," which debuted the week of Oct. 3, 1970. That gives her an album chart span of 37 years and four months. Details of her latest accomplishment appear in the current Chart Beat column, which you can read by clicking here.

"Duets: Friends and Legends" is the 29th album by Murray to chart, so her list of titles to register on The Billboard 200 is too long to run here. Instead, I offer a list of Murray's 10 most successful albums, ranked in order of chart position:

No. 12: "Let's Keep It That Way" (1978)
No. 16: "Anne Murray's Greatest Hits" (1980)
No. 23: "New Kind of Feeling" (1979)
No. 24: "Love Song" (1974)
No. 24: "I'll Always Love You" (1980)
No. 32: "Country" (1974)
No. 36: "What a Wonderful World" (2000)
No. 39: "Danny's Song" (1973)
No. 41: "Snowbird" (1970)
No. 42: "Duets: Friends and Legends" (2008)




'AGAIN' WITH THE ACADEMY AWARDS

Hi Fred,

I have a quick note to add about Joseph West's suggestion that "Falling Slowly" will not be eligible for Oscar consideration. Janet Jackson's "Again" was nominated for an Academy Award, even though it was included on her album "Janet." If memory serves me correctly, the album did not give credit to the movie "Poetic Justice" (which was excellent). The film did not come out until a few months after the album was released. It is my understanding that, for a song to be eligible, it must be written for a specific movie, regardless of when it is released to the public. Thus, both "Again" and "Falling Slowly" would be eligible.

As usual, your column is still amazing after all these years. I am looking forward to the release of Shelby Lynne's CD next week. I have only heard "Anyone Who Had a Heart," and if it is any indication, the CD is going to be fantastic.

Thanks for hearing me out!

Tom Haley
Smyna, Ga.

Dear Tom,

You sent your e-mail before the Academy Award nominations were announced, but as we know now, "Falling Slowly" is one of the five nominated songs, along with three tunes from "Enchanted" and "Raise It Up" from "August Rush."

I'm glad you enjoy my Billboard columns and hope you now have a copy of Shelby Lynne's "Just a Little Lovin'" tribute to Dusty Springfield and are enjoying it as much as I am.



LIFE ON MARRS

Hey Fred,

Thanks for answering my "American Idol" question a couple of weeks back. I'm going to be greedy and go for my second in a month!

What is the general consensus in the United States regarding how some British acts are doing in America at the moment? Acts like Mika, Lily Allen and Kate Nash - who have all performed brilliantly in the United Kingdom - had admirable Billboard album chart debuts. But the albums quickly dropped like stones.

What does it take (in terms of sales, critical acclaim, chart longevity, etc.) to be considered a success in America? And why do you think second albums by Brit artists fail to live up to their predecessors? Of course there are exceptions, but acts like Keane, James Blunt and KT Tunstall haven't matched the success of their first albums.
Finally, why do you think Amy Winehouse was so successful? And what does Leona Lewis need to do to have similar success?

Many thanks, I love to hear your opinions on all things music-wise!

John Marrs
London, England

Dear John,

Are you sure you wouldn't rather ask another question about "American Idol"?

I'm not sure if there is a general consensus about how British acts are doing in the United States, but I know that based on chart performance, this is not a great time for U.K. acts. Amy Winehouse is an exception, and it may just be down to the fact that "Back to Black" is such a great album. CNN anchors Anderson Cooper and Erica Hill were discussing Winehouse's personal problems tonight (as I write this), and both acknowledged that despite what is going on in her life, Winehouse made a great album.

Not that Lily Allen didn't. Chart Beat readers might remember that I picked her "Alright, Still" CD as my favorite album of 2006, and I expected her to do better on the Hot 100 and The Billboard 200 than she has.

And that may be one reason some of the U.K. acts you mentioned haven't had more spectacular chart careers in the United States. Hit singles fuel album sales, and Mika, Lily Allen and Kate Nash have not done as well with their singles as their labels might have hoped. The latest albums by Keane, James Blunt and KT Tunstall did not yield hit singles either.

Since we haven't seen "The X Factor" in America, Leona Lewis will have to stand solely on her musical merit. She earned a glowing review for her single "Bleeding Love" in the latest issue of Billboard, so there may be reason to be optimistic about her chart chances.



'HOTTEST' STUFF

Dear Fred,

Congratulations on the completion of "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits" (4th Edition). It's such a tremendous resource, full of fun music trivia, mixing nostalgia with the new on many levels! Thanks to you and your team.

When I first opened it, I came to "The Top 100 Songs of The Beatles." I was immediately swept into memories of their collective and individual music and personalities, and also into a recollection of Casey Kasem broadcasting a two-weekend special devoted to "American Top 40" counting down its exclusive survey of the Fab Four - plus Billy Preston et al. And like Casey, you continue the tradition of providing objective, upbeat glimpses into the records and the people who make them.

But of course, you're not Casey. Love your writing! Informative, historical, humorous...as usual, it's wonderful that you've included sections about the people and events behind the making of the music. There were so many songwriters and producers from which to choose, and you and your team didn't just stop at a handful. Gracias.

"The Top 5000 Songs of the Rock Era" is endlessly fascinating. I'm already guessing where recent blockbusters such as "Umbrella" will rank later on. Will "Apologize" by Timbaland featuring OneRepublic surpass "Promiscuous" as being that ubiquitous producer's biggest smash (where he's credited as an artist)? And yes, I have let the Chart Muse direct me to several coincidences and connections.

As you know from my missives, I often focus on themes related to song titles. "The Subjects" sections of the book has provided some fun page turning. For example, who would have thought we'd see a list where "Scar Tissue," "My Humps," "Achy Breaky Heart" and "Fingertips-Pt 2)" inhabit the same space ("The Top 100 Songs about the Body")?

Regarding the "Animals" section, I think it's clever that such not-so-obvious song titles as "Ben" and "Alvin's Harmonica" were included alongside "Turtle Power," "The Boll Weevil Song" and all those "Butterfly"/"Butterflies" tunes.

Respectfully,

Pablo Nelson
Berkeley, Calif.
pablonde88@hotmail.com

Dear Pablo,

I can tell from your e-mail that you have given the latest edition of "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits" more than a cursory glance. Thanks for all of your comments and I'm glad you're having such a good time with the book. I have said for many years that I wrote this particular book for people like me who are so into the charts.

I should correct one thing you said, though. I wish I had a team! This particular book is almost a one-man job, although I do have an incredible assistant in Brian Carroll. Brian has been my "team" for three editions of "The Billboard Book of Number One Hits" and helps out with "Hottest Hot" as well.

Like you, every time I finish an edition I always wonder where the current hits that just missed out on appearing in the latest book will show up in the next edition, but we'll have to wait a few years for the answers.



THE NUMBER OF SINGLES

Hey Fred,

I am a huge music fan and buy the new releases of my favorite artists every week. I own a lot of albums and I hear so many good songs by popular artists. But recently only one or two singles are released from their albums. I was wondering if that's because the albums don't make enough money? Or the record labels don't want to spend any more money? Or is the artist the one to decide?

Thanks.

John Dinsdale
Fresno, Calif.

Dear John,

There can be a number of reasons a record company stops issuing singles from an album. If the first single fails and the follow-up doesn't do much better, it's unlikely there will be a third single. If too much time passes, an artist may be moving on to another project. If the executives who signed an artist leave the label, the new folks running the company might not be interested in promoting artists from a previous regime. Also, a label might feel that releasing too many singles will hurt album sales.

There are a number of albums, however, that have gone deep in mining hit singles. You can read about Rihanna's fourth single from her "Good Girl Gone Bad" album in this week's Chart Beat if you click here. And of course, Fergie has had five hits from her debut album, "The Dutchess."