Fred and his readers discuss Maroon 5, "American Idol," Eurovision and more!

5 OUT OF FIVE

Hello Fred,

Such an exciting week on the Hot 100. With Maroon 5 at No. 1, I was "wondering" if they are coincidentally the fifth act with '5' as part of their name. I'm counting '50' as its own number for 50 Cent, and I think the biggest hits for the 5 Satins occurred before the Hot 100 was introduced. [Here are the No. 1 acts I found with "5" in their name]:

Dave Clark Five
5th Dimension
Jackson 5
Hi-Five
Maroon 5

In terms of some No. 1 acts with colors as a part of their name, we've visualized: Pink and Pink Floyd; Simply Red; Al Green (and Lorne Greene); The Product G&B (Ghetto & Blues), Shocking Blue and Blue Suede; Chris Brown, Bobby Brown and the Browns; Silver Convention; BLACKstreet and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts; Barry White, Karyn White and Whitesnake; and for some hue-mor here -- Color Me Badd. Now, the musical color wheel is a little more diverse with Maroon 5.

Coloring by numbers,

Pablo Nelson
Berkeley, Calif.
pablonde88@hotmail.com


Dear Pablo,

After an e-mail like yours, I can only give you a high five. Or a gold star. Or both!


IDOLIZING THE 'IDOLS'

Hi Fred,

Here in England, we've had "Popstars," "Pop Idol" and "The X-Factor," all made by the same people and with basically the same format as "American Idol" with a few tweaks and changes.

Our shows get the viewers, they get the votes and they get the headlines -- so far, very much like "American Idol."

But over here, there's only been two artists who have ever had any real success from these competitions and who have gone on to have more than one hit album -- Will Young and Girls Aloud (neither of which have made it in your country).

In the United Kingdom, the original home of "Idol," the artists [from these shows] aren't taken seriously and rarely get radio airplay. They are seen as a joke or a novelty and once initial interest dies down, so do sales. Their albums often debut in the top 20, but sink like a stone pretty quickly afterward. Our only hope is Leona Lewis, winner of last season's "The X-Factor," who releases a debut album in August.

In the United States, your winners and top 10 contestants ARE taken seriously -- they seem to get top notch producers, airplay, awards and more importantly, sales.

I wondered why do you think America takes its Idols more seriously? What does our record industry need to do to make sure winners and runners up have a long career instead of being one-hit wonders?

All the best,

John Marrs
London


Dear John,

It hasn't been that easy for the contestants from "American Idol" to gain respect in the United States. They've had a very hard time at radio, with most programmers dismissing the finalists because they found fame on a television series.

That has changed a little bit now that "Idol" is in its sixth season and has produced stars like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. They are not only accepted at radio, they are megastars in multiple formats. Ruben Studdard and Fantasia have done well at R&B radio, and Josh Gracin, Kellie Pickler and Bucky Covington have all been embraced by country radio.

Kimberley Locke is a favorite of Adult Contemporary radio, a format that has also played Clay Aiken and Taylor Hicks. And Chris Daughtry's band, Daughtry, has done well at many different formats.

Other "Idol" singers have had a harder time gaining radio airplay, including Taylor Hicks, Katharine McPhee, Diana DeGarmo and Bo Bice. But then some "Idols" have found fame in other arenas –- DeGarmo and Constantine Maroulis have both appeared on Broadway and Anthony Fedorov is currently starring in the off-Broadway musical, "The Fantasticks."

I think as long as the Idols keep proving themselves with sales, and keep releasing music that radio wants to play, they will be taken seriously. One problem you have in the United Kingdom is that Will Young did well after the first season of "Pop Idol," as did runner-up Gareth Gates, but Michelle McManus, winner of the series' second season, had one hit single and then disappeared off the charts. It's true that the "Popstars" group Girls Aloud has found acceptance at radio and at the cash register, and that helps.

By the way, you mentioned that Will Young and Girls Aloud haven't made it in the United States. That's true, but I should point out their records haven't been released here. You also said that "Popstars," "Pop Idol" and "The X-Factor" were made by the same people. That's not true from a production company standpoint, although there is some crossover in personnel, such as Nigel Lythgoe on "Popstars" and "Pop Idol" and Simon Cowell on "Pop Idol" and his own show, "The X-Factor."



FOCUSING ON EUROVISION

Dear Fred,

Has it really been one year since the masked Finnish monsters known as Lordi blew into Athens and stormed away with the Eurovision crown? It surely doesn't seem like it. Will you be attending the festivities in Helsinki this year? And would you be willing to let us know what songs you think have the inside track to take the title this year?

Personally, as much as it pains me to say, I really like Scooch's entry for the United Kingdom, "Flying the Flag (For You)," along with Sarbel's "Yassou Maria" for Greece (this selection does not embarrass me, though).

Look forward to hearing about your Eurovision experience!

Best,

Greg Baker
Philadelphia, Penn.


Dear Fred,

The 52nd Eurovision Song Contest will be held on May 10 (semi final) and May 12 (final). This year the show take place in Helsinki, Finland, because Finland was the winner of the contest last year (with Lordi and their impressive hard rock act).

A record 42 countries will participate this year, more than ever before. Already 14 of them are directly qualified for the final. The other 28 countries will have to participate in the semi final; the 10 most popular songs will also qualify for the final, so there will be a total of 24 countries competing for the trophy.

Have you heard some of the songs already? If so, which ones do you think have the best chance to win this year?
Internet polls say Cyprus, Belarus, Switzerland and Greece might have a good chance. Though in my opinion it wouldn't be a surprise if the contest will go to Germany or Serbia in 2008.

Oek Hofstede
Groningen, The Netherlands


Dear Greg and Oek,

This week's Chart Beat Chat is being compiled in the press center of Haartwell Arena in Helsinki, where rehearsals are underway as I write this response to you. Serbia started the day's rehearsals about 30 minutes ago and now first-time entrant the Czech Republic is on the stage.

The Serbian entry, "Molitva" by Marija Serifovic, is my personal favourite. As I talk to people here at the venue, everyone seems to have a different first choice, but everyone mentions Serbia as one of their favorites. That could bode well for the chances of "Molitva," which translates as "Prayer."

If you want to see a video for the Serbian entry, or any of the other 41 songs in the contest, go to www.eurovision.tv and check out the media centre. Although Eurovision is not broadcast in the United States, you can watch the contest live on the internet on Saturday, May 12 at 3 p.m. EDT, 12 noon PDT at that same website.

Other songs that I like a lot, in alphabetical order, are Belarus, Cyprus, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.



SIX FROM ONE

Dear Fred,

I'm surprised that nobody has yet to write to you regarding Nickelback's achievement on the Hot 100. Earlier this year, Nickelback entered the Hot 100 with its sixth single, "If Everyone Cared," from the album "All the Right Reasons." I believe this may be the first time a group has achieved such a feat since the Beatles.

The last group I could find that placed five songs on the Hot 100 from one album was the Backstreet Boys. From 1997 to 1999, they placed five songs from their self-titled album on the Hot 100. Before that, Bon Jovi did it from 1988 to 1989 with five songs from the album "New Jersey." The main difference is that every one of Bon Jovi's songs hit the top 10. If I'm mistaken, can you tell me who the last band was to place six songs from one album on the Hot 100?

Thanks, as always, for a great article!

Sincerely,

Dean Smedley
Birmingham, Alabama


Dear Dean,

I don't have to go very far back in time to find the last group to land six songs from one album on the Hot 100. In fact, I don't have to go back in time at all. This week, the Pussycat Dolls' new single, "I Don't Need a Man," enters the Hot 100 at No. 93. It's the sixth song from the "PCD" album to chart. The first five singles and their peak positions were:

"Don't Cha," No. 2 (2005)
"StickWitU," No. 5 (2005)
"Beep," No. 13 (2006)
"Buttons," No. 3 (2006)
"Wait a Minute," No. 28 (2007)