Fred and his readers discuss Kool and the Gang, cover songs, "Girlfriend" and more!

'STILL KOOL' AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

Mr. Bronson,

I was curious how well Kool and the Gang's first new studio release in 10 years did in relation to their past albums. Are they "Still Kool"? I've seen them perform some of the new tracks live and they seemed to go over very well.

Thanks,

Mike Stoerner


Dear Mike,

Kool & the Gang's "Still Kool" entered the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart at No. 31, good enough to earn this week's Hot Shot Debut honors. It's the highest position on this tally for the New Jersey outfit since "Forever" sailed to No. 9 in 1987.

It's the first Kool & the Gang album to debut on this survey in exactly 18 years. "Sweat" bowed the week of July 29, 1989, ultimately rising to No. 52. Before that, "Everything's Kool & the Gang: Greatest Hits and More" peaked at No. 58 in 1988. That album re-entered the chart for one week in 1994.

The Jersey City guys began their chart career the week of Jan. 10, 1970, with the debut of a self-titled LP. The group's most successful albums were "Ladies' Night," No. 1 for two weeks in 1979 and "Something Special," No. 1 for one week in 1981.

"Still Kool" is the 25th entry for Kool & the Gang on the R&B/Hip-Hop album chart. If you want to know more about Kool & the Gang and check out their top 20 hits according to chart performance on the Hot 100, I've added the group to the artists' section in the forthcoming fourth edition of "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits." It's due out in October (and is going to the printer this week).


COVER STORY

Dear Mr. Bronson:

When I was out running the other morning, "You Keep Me Hangin'On" by Kim Wilde randomly popped up on my iPod. That got me thinking about successful cover songs. What was the last bona fide remake to top the chart? And do you know what was the longest period of time that elapsed between two covers hitting No. 1 on the Hot 100?

I know many songs that have sampled classic tune have mad it to the top lately, but I am at a loss thinking of any true cover songs recently going all the way.

Thanks so much!

Sincerely,

Qraig R. de Groot
East Rutherford, N.J.
whachumean@aol.com


Dear Qraig,

Cover versions -- also known as remakes -- have always been with us, but lately their impact has not been as great as in previous years. The last cover song to top the Hot 100 was "Lady Marmalade" by Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya & Pink in June 2001. Recorded for the film "Moulin Rouge," this was one of those rare songs that managed to achieve pole position on the Hot 100 in two different versions. Labelle, the trio made up of Patti LaBelle, Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx, took "Lady Marmalade" to No. 1 in March 1975.

It might surprise some people to know that Labelle's "Lady Marmalade" was also a cover version. The song was written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan in 1974 for the Eleventh Hour, a studio group that featured vocals by Nolan. There are a number of cover versions that might also surprise some, like "The Twist" by Chubby Checker and "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinead O'Connor, originally recorded by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters and the Family, respectively. There are others, like "Respect" by Aretha Franklin (originally recorded by Otis Redding), "Someday We'll Be Together" by Diana Ross & the Supremes (first sung by Johnny & Jackie) and "Twist and Shout" by the Isley Brothers (recorded a year earlier by the Top Notes).

The longest gap between cover versions at No. 1 is the seven years and one month between the "Moulin Rouge" version of "Lady Marmalade" in June 2001 and "I Swear" by All-4-One (first a hit for country singer John Michael Montgomery) in May 1994. Working backward to 1955, I couldn't find a gap longer than three years between cover versions at No 1.



SPAM? A LOT!

Hi Fred -

I am a longtime chart watcher and big fan of your column. I was going to put "Long Term Relationship with 'Girlfriend'" as the subject of this e-mail, but I was afraid it would make it look like spam!

But that is the subject of my e-mail. Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" showed incredible staying power for a song that debuted in the top 10 of the Hot 100. Most songs that do so make their big debuts on the strength of massive first-week sales (digital or physical) and then drop fairly quickly as the sales level off.

"Girlfriend," however, spent its first 18 weeks on the Hot 100 in the top 10, including one week at No. 1, after debuting at No. 5 the week of March 17. That is the longest stay in the top 10 at the start of a chart run in over a decade. The double-sided No. 1 hit "You're Makin' Me High" / "Let It Flow" by Toni Braxton spent its first 20 weeks on the Hot 100 in the top 10 (including one week at No. 1) after debuting at No. 7 in 1996. The only other song to top Lavigne's mark is "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, which remained in the top 10 for its first 19 weeks - its first 16 at No. 1 - in 1995 and 1996.

Had current chart policies been in effect in 1996, allowing songs to chart without the availability of a single, there is a good chance "You're Makin' Me High" and "One Sweet Day" would not have entered in the top 10, as they were established radio hits at the time of their debuts. That makes Lavigne's achievement all the more impressive!

On another note, Fantasia's "When I See U" is No. 1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart but has yet to crack the top 40 on the Hot 100. If that remains the case, Fantasia's hit will be the first R&B chart-topper in the Nielsen SoundScan era to fall short of the Hot 100's top 40. The last song with that dubious distinction was "Games" by Chuckii Booker, which peaked at No. 68 in late 1992 - two weeks before the R&B/Hip-Hop's conversion to monitored data.

Best wishes,

Mike Falk
Allentown, Pa.


Dear Mike,

Thanks for all of your chart news and for thinking about the spam problem before choosing a subject header. I always want to read every e-mail sent in by readers, even if I can't respond personally or don't select an e-mail for posting here. But an ill-advised subject header can get a missive tossed into the spam file. There's a very strong filter that automatically sends some e-mails through the exit door before they even reach me, so for all readers, a word to the wise about choosing your subject header well, allowing your e-mails to reach me intact.

Which reminds me, I have finally realized that "Singles in Your Area" is not a reminder about where to buy records at local shops.



MY 'GIRLFRIEND'S' BACK

Hi Fred,

Knowing what a numbers guy you are, I thought you might enjoy the following. Perhaps you already have come across some of this when you researched your book of lists and quantified chart performance.

When Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" started its Hot 100 chart performance [by moving] 5-9-8-7-5-6-3-1-2-4 I began wondering if it would eventually appear at No. 10, and thus spend at least one week in each of the top 10 positions. Two months have gone by, and with last week's drop from 8-13 (on the chart dated July 21), it seems the answer is no.
Have other Hot 100 singles accomplished this feat? My research shows [a number of] near misses, with each appearing in nine of the top 10 positions during a chart run.

Lavigne's "Girlfriend" still has a chance to climb back up to No. 10, of course, but its drop this week is not promising. However, I did find exactly one single on the Hot 100 that did spend at least one week in each of the top 10 positions.

That song was "Truly, Madly, Deeply" by Savage Garden in 1998. It missed being No. 11, however.

Also noteworthy is "You Were Meant For Me" / "Foolish Games" by Jewel. While never spending a week at No. 1, it did spend time at positions 2-16, or 15 positions in a row. I do not know if that is a record, but it seems impressive. I'll leave that to someone else to figure out.

Thanks,

Alan Van Antwerp
Austin, Texas


Dear Alan,

You'll never know how grateful I am that you said you'll leave this for someone else to figure out rather than asking me. Let's see if we get any responses from Chart Beat Chat readers on the subject.


FIRST, IT'S SUMMER IN THE CITY

Hi Fred,

I have a question regarding Carrie Underwood. Much has been said about Kelly Clarkson being the most successful American Idol. But I couldn't help notice that Carrie Underwood's "Some Hearts" album has sold six million copies. Plus, her single "Before He Cheats" has sold a million copies, not to mention Simon Cowell said he wouldn't be surprised if she ended up being the most successful Idol.

I know she has collected a few No. 1s on the country charts in her short career. Is Kelly really more successful than Carrie? After all, the biggest singers in history were country crossover artists like Elvis Presley, Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, etc. So, how does Carrie stack up?

Hope your summer is going well.

Travis Vincent
New York, N.Y.


Dear Travis,

I am having a fine summer, as it turns out. Finally finishing that above-mentioned fourth edition of "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits" after a year-and-a-half is one big reason why. I've also managed to do some traveling and have more coming up. Of course, I always take the laptop and I always write Chart Beat and Chart Beat Chat, wherever in the world I am. And just two hours ago, I saw "Hairspray" and loved it. So yes, I'm having a fine summer so far and I hope you're enjoying the season as well.

You mentioned sales figures and I can't really reference them in this column, per Billboard policy. As you know, Chart Beat is all about chart positions.

As for your question about who is more popular, Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood, I think both are shining examples of the "American Idol" magic. The hits from her second album made Kelly the queen of top 40 radio and Carrie has set chart record after chart record on Hot Country Songs. Kelly has been able to enjoy international success as well. That rarely happens for country artists. Carrie is one of the few country artists who has managed to be played on pop radio, so she is going above and beyond thanks to that crossover success.



I'LL C U AND RAISE U

Hey Fred,

When Fantasia received her first No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart with "When I See U," you noted in that week's Chart Beat that she brought the number of "American Idol" No. 1s to 128, but "U" also went to the top of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart. So didn't we have 129 "Idol" No. 1s as of that week? Also, your last Chart Beat had a piece about Rihanna and Jay-Z's "Umbrella" tying Beyonce and Jay-Z's "Crazy in Love" as the biggest hit of all time. How can "Crazy in Love" be the biggest hit of all time when there are songs like Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men's "One Sweet Day" that have been at the top of the Hot 100 for more weeks. Can you clarify this for me?

Lawrence Jones
Philadelphia, Penn.


Dear Lawrence,

Yes, Fantasia did collect the 128th and 129th No. 1s for the "American Idol" franchise - good catch.

But please re-read the item about "Umbrella" being compared to "Crazy in Love." Here's what I wrote:

Rihanna and Jay-Z are No. 1 for the seventh week on the Hot 100. One more week and "Umbrella" will be tied with "Crazy in Love" (credited to Beyonce featuring Jay-Z) as Jay-Z's biggest hit of all time, using highest position reached and weeks in that position as criteria.

I was talking about the possibility of "Umbrella" becoming Jay-Z's biggest hit of all time - that's an important qualification. As we know now, "Umbrella" reigned for seven weeks, so it did not tie or surpass "Crazy in Love" by Beyonce and Jay-Z and become Jay-Z's biggest hit of all time.


THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT DELILAH

Dear Fred:

"Hey There Delilah" by the Plain White T's hitting No. 1 on the Hot 100 caused me to think about Biblical names in the titles of songs that make the chart. Although that number is too many to count over the course of the chart's history, I came up with only six that actually went all the way to No. 1:

1. "Michael," the Highwaymen (1961)
2. "Big Bad John," Jimmy Dean (1961)
3. "Jessie's Girl," Rick Springfield (1981)
4. "Jacob's Ladder," Huey Lewis & the News (1987)
5. "Sara," Jefferson Starship (1987)
6. "Hey There Delilah," by Plain White T's (2007)

I realize the Biblical names Jesse and Sarah are spelled differently, but thought you might want to point this out at church sometime.

Sincerely,

Ross Cullins
Gibson, Tenn.


Dear Ross,

I guess we can't count "Tammy," "Sherry" or "Dolly." But thanks for finding these six song titles. I'm sure some readers will be getting out their reference books to see if you missed any.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print