Fred and his readers discuss "You're a Mean One, Mr Grinch," adult contemporary music, performing rights societies and more!
IN THE 'MEAN' TIME
I was perusing the 2007 year-end lists on Billboard.biz when I spotted an error that made my heart shrink three sizes. On the Top Ringtones of the year chart, "You're a Mean One, Mr Grinch" from the perennial holiday cartoon classic "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is No. 40. The artist credit on the ringtone is incorrectly given to the cartoon's narrator, Boris Karloff.
However, the actual singer of this song was unmistakably Thurl Ravenscroft, better remembered as the original voice of Tony the Tiger on decades of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes commercials. As indicated on the Internet Movie Database for the cartoon, Thurl was mistakenly left off the credits and Dr. Seuss himself wrote to every major columnist in America identifying Ravenscroft as the singer on "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch."
I recognize that it's too late to stop the presses and get this corrected in the printed edition, but perhaps some 41 years after he performed the track and two years after his passing, the late Mr. Ravenscroft can receive just credit for his contributions to so many childhood memories. If you can mention this in your column, I'd feel Grrrrrrrrrrr-eat!
Brampton, Ontario, Canada
I forwarded your e-mail to the manager of our ringtones chart, Anthony Colombo. He looked into the matter and here's what he had to say:
"Effective with this week's issue we are changing the 'artist' credit on 'You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch' to that of Thurl Ravenscroft. It should be noted, however, that since a polyphonic ringtone is simply a replication of
a tune and not the actual song, there are no vocals by either Ravenscroft or Karloff on the ringtone.
"Even though there are no actual Ringtones artists, Billboard does list an artist on the Ringtones chart for identification purposes. Often if no performer information can be found, we'll simply list the composer. Or, as is often the case with Christmas songs, Billboard generally uses the performer most prominently identified with the song."
Thanks, Patrick, for bringing this to our attention.
TURNING UP THE AC
This is in response to Vincent DeTiberiis' comments in last week's Chart Beat Chat. Adult Contemporary may not be a big format in Texas. However, in New York, Adult Contemporary stations have consistently ranked in the top 10 for as long as I can remember.
I think that format benefits here because many offices and work places prefer it. I'm sure it's the same for Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, Boston and many of the major cities. Perhaps in Dallas, country stations are bigger (we have none in New York).
Richard K. Rogers
For those who didn't see Vincent DeTiberlis' letter in last week's Chart Beat Chat, he was asking how Kimberley Locke and Curb Records benefited from having a No. 1 song on the Adult Contemporary chart without a physical record for sale. In the letter, he referred to "the low number of stations playing [AC] music."
Richard, I agree that there are a lot of AC stations in the country, but I would dissent when it comes to the popularity of Adult Contemporary radio in Dallas. I checked the last three ratings periods and found Dallas AC station KVIL consistently ranked in the top 10. And for the spring and summer books, KVIL rated higher than country station KPLX. In the summer rankings, KVIL was tied for seventh with a 3.1 and KPLX was tied for ninth place with a 2.9.
Vincent's e-mail also inspired another reader to write, though on a different topic. See the next letter.
I was reading Vincent DeTiberiis' question to you about the "advantage" of having a No. 1 radio hit vs. actual unit sales. While unit sales are indeed valued by both artist and record company (probably more by the record company), I think what Vincent was getting at was a bottom-line/dollar value issue that I think is worth noting. Isn't it true that commercial radio pays royalties and fees for all the material they broadcast, and then depending on the song, the relevant contracts and deals, that money gets divided between the record company, the songwriter, the publishing rights owner, and the artist (or some combination thereof)? And with widely played Christmas songs -- many of which are in the public domain -- there is no songwriter and perhaps publisher to pay, so isn't the potential for profit for the record company and artist greater?
I appreciate your e-mail, but the scenario you described is not how it works. However, you've given me an opportunity to explain what exactly terrestrial radio pays for when it plays music, so thanks for that.
Record companies, artists and music publishers do not receive any money when songs are played on the radio. Songwriters do not receive royalties from radio play, but they do receive performing rights fees. Those fees are administered not by the music publishing companies, but the three performing rights societies that exist in the United States: ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. These three organizations keep track of music that is played on radio and television, in live venues and even in restaurants and shopping malls.
Radio stations do not pay for each individual song - so when "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion plays, they don't have to look up the contract for that song and send Diane Warren $1.99. Instead, radio stations (and television networks as well as other clients) pay blanket fees to ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. These three companies then distribute the fees to their songwriters based on the number of times their songs have been played. ASCAP and BMI are not-for-profit companies, by the way, and SESAC operates as a for-profit company. There are performing rights societies all over the world, and they have reciprocal agreements with each other. That means if you are a European songwriter signed to a performing rights society in your country, one of the American performing rights societies will work with your national organization to make sure you receive money when your songs are played in the United States.
As long as I'm on the topic, if you are a songwriter, it is to your advantage to sign with either ASCAP, BMI or SESAC (the first two have open membership but you must be invited to join SESAC). If you are not a member of one of these societies, no one is looking out for your performing rights and no one will be sending you any money if your work is heard on the radio, on TV, in a live venue or in a restaurant or shopping mall.
POP GOES COUNTRY
Good evening Fred:
It looks as though Huey Lewis has become the latest in a somewhat "who's who" in pop entertainers crossing over to the country field, as he guests on Garth Brooks' "Workin' for a Livin" which is the Hot Shot Debut on the Hot Country Songs list, at No. 50. "Livin'" initially was a hit for Lewis and his band, the News, reaching No. 41 [on the Hot 100] in mid-1982.
However, it looks as though Lewis will have to wait until 15-year-old Miley Cyrus (a/k/a Hannah Montana) reaches the summit, as she and her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, are just outside the top 10, at No. 13, with "Ready, Set, Don't Go," which is Billy Ray's highest charting hit so far this decade and is looking to be his first top 10 song since "Busy Man" (No. 3) in early 1999.
As far as pop stars enjoying country success, Lewis and Cyrus would follow the likes of Van Zant (member Donnie Van Zant had a rock hit with 38 Special in 1982 with "Caught Up in You"), Bon Jovi (many rock/pop hits since 1984), the Wreckers (member Michelle Branch had solo hits and also teamed up with Santana) and Sheryl Crow, who joined Vince Gill on the Brooks and Dunn No. 4 hit from 2006, "Building Bridges."
One last thing: Congratulations to Rodney Atkins, who for the second year in a row has the Top Country Song of the year with "Watching You," following last year's winner, "If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)."
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone at Billboard.com!
Burt County, Nebraska
Since you didn't ask any questions, all I can say is thanks for your contributions, this week and throughout the year, and also thanks for your holiday greetings. I wish you and every Chart Beat and Chart Beat Chat reader best wishes for the season.
B, G AND B AGAIN
I'm a huge fan of your column and look forward each week to Chart Beat Chat and Chart Beat. Unlike many of your readers I can't claim to be a chart expert but for once I have an answer to a question posed by Mike Burk in a recent column.
He asked whether any female singer had success first with one name and then with their married name. It may be cheating but I can think of one from the Spice Girls. Mel B had a No. 1 hit in the United Kingdom with "I Want You Back" with Missy Elliott. She then married a backing dancer and became Melanie Gulzar. Under the name Mel G, she had another hit with Cameo's "Word Up" on the U.K. chart. I don't think either record charted or was even released in the United States. Now, Mel has remarried and is once again Mel B (as in Belafonte) and by the way was awesome on "Dancing With the Stars" this season.
Thanks for reading,
It doesn't feel like "cheating" to me - I think you've found another to add to the list that includes Christine Perfect and another Spice Girl, Victoria Beckham. I should note that your letter was received before last week's Chart Beat Chat was posted, but it just didn't make it in to last week's column.
A 'CLUMSY' TRIP
Hello Fred -
With Fergie's "The Dutchess" boasting five Top 5 hits on the Hot 100, she stands to accomplish something that puts her in a category that only includes Janet Jackson so far. If "Clumsy" climbs to the top spot after the holiday season, Fergie will be only the second act to chalk up at least one No. 1 per year from the same album, in three separate calendar years. Of course, a fourth No. 1 would put "The Dutchess" in a rather exclusive club as it is.
Janet created this category with the extraordinary success of "Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814," generating four No. 1s in three different years:
"Miss You Much" (1989)
"Escapade" and "Black Cat" (1990)
"Love Will Never Do (Without You)" (1991)
From Fergie's debut disc, "The Dutchess," we've seen the following chart-toppers:
"London Bridge" (2006)
"Glamorous" (featuring Ludacris) and "Big Girls Don't Cry" (2007)
and now, perhaps "Clumsy" (2008).
You may have written one of the first Chart Beat items of 2008, but we'll have to wait and see how high "Clumsy" goes.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS
Happy Holidays to you! I have been a fan of yours for awhile, and like yourself, I am a chart nut. Had a question though regarding a recent re-entry on the Hot 100. Taylor Swift's "Teardrops on My Guitar" recently re-entered the chart at No. 44 in its 26th chart week.
Why was the single allowed to re-enter the chart, since the song had originally spent more than 20 weeks on the survey? Wouldn't it normally be unable to chart again after 25 weeks? What if, after the holiday season, Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" sparks a ton of airplay due to year-end countdowns? Would she be allowed to come back on? I know this happens every once in a while (Prince's "1999" comes to mind), but I can't for the life of me remember how these songs are allowed to return. Please give me (and all interested parties) the scoop. Thank you, and thanks again for all you do!
Ron Raymond, Jr.
Thanks for your kind words and I'm glad you enjoy Chart Beat and Chart Beat Chat.
While there are many chart rules in place, Billboard also makes allowances for exceptions to those rules if it makes sense to grant an exception. If a song has been removed from a recurrent chart and then becomes active again, it can return.
In the case of Taylor Swift's "Teardrops on My Guitar," the song was originally a country hit and charted on the Hot 100 based on its success in the country format.
While Swift is No. 1 on Hot Country Songs with the follow-up, "Our Song," "Teardrops" is now receiving sufficient pop airplay to give it a second life on the Hot 100.
This week, "Teardrops" bullets 17-14 on Pop 100 Airplay, leaps 21-16 on Adult Top 40 and edges up 36-34 on Hot 100 Airplay.