Chart Beat Chat

Fred and his readers discuss Led Zeppelin, Billboard's European charts, Carrie Underwood and more!


Hi Fred,

Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" is selling quite well on iTunes since the release of the group's catalog. If sales are good enough, could Led Zeppelin chart with this song on the Hot 100 since it has never been available as a single before?

Jim Sanches
Sacramento, Calif.

Dear Jim,

Sales of "Stairway to Heaven" were strong enough to propel one of the most classic album tracks of all time onto the Hot Digital Songs chart at No. 30. And while you're correct that "Stairway" has never appeared on the Hot 100 because it was never released as a single, it still isn't eligible for this chart, which is a survey of the most popular current songs in the United States.

It would be a different matter if "Stairway to Heaven" was being promoted to radio by Atlantic Records as a current song, but that isn't the case. The chart rules are different in the United Kingdom, where "Stairway to Heaven" is a new entry at No. 37 on the Official U.K. Singles Chart.

While Atlantic did release Led Zeppelin singles in America during the '70s, the group was famous for not releasing any singles in the United Kingdom. A 1997 release of "Whole Lotta Love" saw that single peak at No. 21, so technically Led Zeppelin has been a one-hit wonder on the U.K. singles chart until now.

Back in the U.S., "Stairway" is not alone on Hot Digital Songs. Four other Led Zeppelin songs also enter the chart:

"Kashmir," No. 42
"Over the Hills and Far Away," No. 63
"Black Dog," No. 66
"Immigrant Song," No. 71


Hi Fred,

I love reading your column, and look forward to it each week.

I have a question regarding Billboard's European Top 100 Albums and Hot 100 Singles charts. Are they compiled by adding the sales figures from the European countries or by averaging the chart positions in each country? It would be easy to just add album sales, but for the singles chart it would be different, since single sales is only one of the factors in the chart position.

I'm glad Britney at least had her one week at No. 1, even if it had to be on the pan-European chart.

Thanks again for your informative and entertaining columns.

Ayman Helweh
Penang, Malaysia

Dear Ayman,

I thought the best person to answer your question was Paul Pomfret of Billboard's London bureau. Paul is the chart manager for all of the charts that appear on the Hits of the World pages in Billboard. Here's what he had to say, and please note that when Paul refers to the IFPI, he is talking about the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a worldwide trade organization similar to the RIAA in the United States.

"The European Hot 100 Singles and European Top 100 Albums are complied on a points-weighted system. The points allocated to the positions are based on IFPI world ranking and country size.

"Each country has points allocated for every position within the chart that is sent by the official chart supplier of that country. The points for each country's song in the No. 1 position will vary across the European territories. The points allocated by each country over the four quarters of the chart year vary to reflect the music market. So, the points gained in the fourth quarter (the strongest quarter) by an artist in Austria will be greater than the points gained by the same artist in the third quarter (the weakest quarter).

"The overall European chart position is tabulated by adding all the points across all the European territories in which the title has charted. The complied points determine the overall position for each title on the European Singles and Albums charts.

"Digital download sales are included in some European charts provided to us for the singles and albums charts. In some territories singles sales data may be solely based on digital download sales data."


Hi Fred,

Huge fan and have been for years and years. I have two questions. I very much enjoy your books, "The Billboard Book of Number One Hits" and "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits." I have multiple copies of each of these and I have been out of touch for a little while. I want to make sure I have the latest copies available.

The "Number One Hits" book I have ends with Clay Aiken and the last Hottest Hot book I bought was about two years ago. Are there updated editions available? I want to make sure I buy the updated editions.

Now for the Chart Beat Chat question...

I've been enjoying your updates each week on Carrie Underwood's race for longevity on the Hot 100. It got me to wondering though, shouldn't Jewel's single "You Were Meant For Me" / "Foolish Games" be asterisked since it endured two separate airplay runs with two different songs? Seems like that would be a different scenario from just one song's run lasting over 60 weeks. Just a thought.

Thanks for a great weekly column and forum for questions!

Jim Sewell
Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Jim,

You are up to date with the fifth edition of "The Billboard Book of Number One Hits," the one that ends with Clay Aiken's "This Is the Night." Work on a sixth edition has not begun yet, so a new volume is not imminent.

However, I spent a year-and-a-half updating and expanding "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits." I added a lot of new pages and brought the book up to 2007. The fourth edition has been in stores for about a month now, and thanks for asking.

When Jewel's "You Were Meant for Me" appeared on the Hot 100, two-sided hits were listed together on the chart. So when "Foolish Games" became the more popular side, the title was added and the song rebounded, but with both sides listed. So it was all one chart run for this double-A side hit.

You asked about Jewel, now read our next e-mail, in which a reader talks about "Jewels."



I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I realize your column for this week is not out yet. You may bring this up.
Aretha Franklin's new album debuts at No. 54 on The Billboard 200. That should give her a chart span of 45 years. Her first chart entry, "The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin," debuted Nov. 17, 1962.

Aretha's latest is her 42nd album to chart. I enjoy your column and I plan on buying your new book soon.

James Davis
Macon, Georgia

Dear James,

I just had a very enjoyable Thanksgiving, thank you, and am sitting here putting this column together on Thursday night stuffed with turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, roasted veggies, bittersweet chocolate cake and pumpkin trifle. No wonder I can hardly move and feel so sleepy.

I'm sorry that you haven't seen Chart Beat, since the column was written on Tuesday because of early deadlines but has not been posted yet. That should have been done by now but is an element beyond my control.

The debut of Aretha Franklin's duets CD, "Jewels in the Crown: All-Star Duets with the Queen," did not make Chart Beat for a couple of reasons. One was that there were a lot of items to write about this week, and the other was that early deadline which meant I had to submit the column a day earlier than usual.

So I'm glad to make note of Aretha's newly-expanded chart span here. You're correct in citing "The Tender, The Moving, The Swinging Aretha Franklin" as Lady Soul's first album to appear on the Billboard chart. It was the first of four Columbia albums to chart before Aretha signed with Atlantic Records. Her chart span is now 45 years and two weeks and "Jewels" is indeed her 42nd album to appear on The Billboard 200.

5, 7, 5

Britney sold a lot,

The Eagles more people bought,
Whether fair or not.

Vince Ripol_
San Diego, Calif.

Dear Vince,

I said the subject was closed unless someone had something new to say, and I have to admit, in 11 years of Chart Beat Chat, no one has sent a haiku before. So thanks for providing an appropriate ending for this column's Thanksgiving edition.