Keith discusses 50 Cent, Destiny's Child and more.
Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Keith Caulfield at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First, a short follow-up to last week's question about Donna Summer and her upcoming album.
Burgundy Records, Summer's new label, got back to me this week and said that the diva's new set is scheduled to come out next spring. Summer fans have been patiently waiting years for a new studio set from her - after all, her last proper studio album came out way back in 1991.
While there have been overtures of a new studio album for years with various labels, this Burgundy deal seems like the real thing. Keep your fingers crossed.
Now, on to this week's column!
I have a question concerning Kelly Clarkson. After the recent relative failure of her latest album, "My December," several news Web sites, such as Fox News, say that Kelly Clarkson had reportedly set aside her differences with recording mogul Clive Davis and is currently back in the studio recording a new more "radio-friendly" pop album. I was wondering, is this true? I mean, for me that would be great; I loved "My December," and for one of my favorite artists to release two albums in back-to-back years would be fantastic.
Also, I was wondering what the status of Clarkson's current single "Sober" is, and what, if she is planning one, will be her next single? (My vote is for the song "How I Feel.") Finally, how many copies of "My December" have been sold?
Upper Arlington, Ohio
We reached out to Kelly Clarkson's publicist at RCA and they gave us the scoop. Clarkson is certainly not rushing back into the studio, says her rep, considering that she's about to begin her rescheduled concert tour. The trek begins on Oct. 14 in New York City at the Beacon Theater.
Clarkson recently filmed a video for the song "Don't Waste Your Time," which will be released outside of America. Not a coincidence, since she'll be focusing on promoting the album internationally in the coming months.
There's no word on what the third U.S. radio single will be from "My December." The set's second release, "Sober," stalled at No. 10 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart and No. 93 on the Pop 100.
Clarkson is experiencing more success on country radio these days, as her "Because of You" duet with Reba McEntire hit No. 2 on the Hot Country Songs chart two weeks ago.
So far, Clarkson's "My December" has sold 631,000 in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan.
50'S RAPLESS TECHNOLOGY
I recently heard that there's a mix of the new 50 Cent collaboration with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake, "Ayo Technology," with no rapping on it, to make the song more palatable to adult-leaning radio stations. My question is: will Billboard track this version of the song on its charts separately from the main track? I realize you guys have a well-established policy allowing remixes that retain core elements of the original track to contribute points to the main charting song. This mix certainly does retain core sonic elements, with one massive exception: the lead artist! It would seem odd to me for a song listed on your charts as the work of "50 Cent, featuring Justin Timberlake and Timbaland" to get credit for a remix containing no vocalizing by the first name on that list.
Can you clarify if Billboard has crossed this bridge before?
I consulted with both our hip-hop correspondent as well as our R&B/Hip-hop charts manager about the existence of such a remix. They said they were unaware of it and it would be highly unlikely that Interscope, 50 Cent's label, would have serviced it to radio. One scenario suggested was that perhaps an instrumental version of the song was promoted to radio and/or clubs, which may only feature some vocals by Timberlake, but none by 50 Cent. (Though, the instrumental version on the commercially available 12" vinyl single doesn't feature any vocals from anyone.)
Additionally, there is an alleged demo recording of the song that Timberlake and Timbaland produced before 50 Cent came on board. However, I've been unable to track down the audio.
Clearly, the song that is the hit on radio is the version featuring 50 Cent as the lead artist. If, of course, we were to discover that radio stations had started playing a new version of the song en masse that didn't include 50 Cent's vocals, then that's another ballgame altogether. For example, in 2003, Beyonce recorded a version of 50 Cent's "In Da Club" which utilized the same instrumentation as the original, but removed 50 Cent completely from the song. We tracked the song separately and it ultimately peaked at No. 67 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. (It reached its peak position as 50 Cent's original version was spending its eighth week atop the chart.)
And now, for an oldie but goodie:
I was wondering who is the greatest selling girl group in history. I hear that TLC still has that record but at times I hear that Destiny's Child is on top. Can you clarify this?
Pardon the sarcasm at the beginning of this question. This is one of those queries that is quite popular. If we are only talking about the number of albums sold in the U.S., then Destiny's Child is tops. Destiny's Child has sold 16,650,000 albums in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan. Meanwhile, TLC has shifted 15,431,000.
Do note that one obvious candidate, the Supremes, doesn't factor in here. They are of course the girl group that essentially is the model for all modern R&B girl groups. They hit No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100 an amazing 12 times between 1964 and 1969. That's more No. 1s than Christina Aguilera, Fergie and Justin Timberlake have racked up - combined.
Unfortunately, since the Supremes' recording career predates the establishment of Nielsen SoundScan, we must use their album certification information from the Recording Industry Association of America. Oddly, only three of their albums were ever certified gold (500,000 shipped to retail) and none reached platinum status (1 million).
Now, I'm guessing that for your comparison, you were also purposely leaving out the Dixie Chicks, since they are an actual band as opposed to a vocal group? If we're expanding this to a question of "what female group (band or otherwise) has sold the most albums?" then it would easily be the Chicks. The country trio has sold 26,157,000 albums in the U.S.