Fred and his readers discuss the curse of the No. 4 spot, No. 1 recordings with most samples and more!

FOUR MOST IN OUR THOUGHTS

Dear Fred:

Nearly four years ago I wrote that the American Idol Finalists' "God Bless The U.S.A." debuted at No. 4 but fell to No. 19 the next week, and that Clay Aiken's "Solitaire" debuted at No. 4 but fell to No. 27 the next week. Two weeks ago the Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice" debuted at No. 4 (as a re-entry) but fell to No. 28, setting, if I'm not mistaken, a new record for a drop from the top five in one week.

What is there about debuting at No. 4, unlike all other numbers, seemingly, that makes those entries fall very quickly the next week?

David Dana-Bashian
Garden Grove, CA


Dear David,

They say mathematics can explain the entire universe, but I really think these drops from No. 4 are pure coincidence. Now if you were to ask me about the numbers on "Lost," well, they clearly are cursed. Wait a minute, isn't "4" the first number in the "Lost" sequence?

And speaking of the number four, see the next e-mail.



'HOT' MALE

Hello Fred --

With "This Is Why I'm Hot" by Mims going to No. 1 on the Hot 100, I'm wondering if a new record has been set. The category I'm thinking of is: No. 1 recordings incorporating the most credited samples (and perhaps having the most credited songwriters). "This Is Why I'm Hot" samples from the following four tunes: "Jesus Walks" by Kanye West, "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" by Dr. Dre, "Shook Ones" by Mobb Deep and "Tell Me When to Go" by E-40.

A somewhat recent example of a No. 1 based on more than one record is "Angel" by Shaggy featuring Rayvon. That hit incorporated "The Joker" and "Angel of the Morning."

In terms of non chart-toppers, the rap outfit 3rd Bass had a top 40 hit called "Pop Goes the Weasel," employing elements of tunes by Stevie Wonder, Peter Gabriel, the Who and the J.B.'s. But I think Mims is the first to have pulled together so many sources of inspiration for a No. 1 record.

Be well,
Pablo Nelson
Berkeley, Calif.
pablonde88@hotmail.com


Dear Pablo,

There are a number of chart-topping songs that have sampled at least two different songs, but unless someone can come up with a No. 1 hit that has sampled five or more songs, "This Is Why I'm Hot" could be the sample champ.

As for the number of writers on a No. 1 hit on the Hot 100, there were 11 credited songwriters on "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down" by Puff Daddy featurimg Mase in 1997. A year earlier, there were 12 credited songwriters on "Tha Crossroads" by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. The Mims song thus holds the record, with 13 songwriters.



PRIOR TO JULY 9, 1955

Dear Mr. Bronson,

I'm a big admirer of yours. One of my treasures is your "Billboard Book of Number One Hits." Your biographical notes in that volume, about your own youthful discovery of top 40 charting, was so similar to my own experience that I find it thrilling to re-read.

My question for you is, since "all history" seems to begin with July 1955 when "Rock Around the Clock" inaugurated the rock era: have you, or has anyone with the backing of Billboard, undertaken a book detailing chart history prior to that date? Meaning:

1. a volume, for example, spanning the period beginning at the end of World War II and ending July 1955?
2. Is there a volume older than that? Say from 1935-1945 detailing the Swing Era?
3. Is there a volume even older? Detailing radio hits and sheet music hits all the way back to the founding of
Billboard?

Thanks very much,
Jerry Schooler


Dear Jerry,

Thank you for the kind words, and I'm glad you enjoyed the introduction I wrote for "The Billboard Book of Number One Hits." Like so many other chart fans who developed this obsession before the internet, I thought I was the only person on the planet who was THAT interested in the charts.

Your suggestions about books that would cover the pre-rock era echo sentiments expressed by other readers over the last few weeks. I've discouraged the idea about me writing these books for one main reason - I simply don't have the time. I can tell you from past experience - I've written four different books now - that undertaking such a project means devoting at least a year of your life, if not more (sometimes two or three years). Even revising and updating a new edition of an existing book can take a solid year.

I'm fortunate in that I do all kinds of writing. In November and December of 2006, while doing my regular weekly Billboard work and while continuing the year-long project of writing the fourth edition of "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits," I wrote three live television specials (the "American Music Awards," "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" and a six-hour show that aired on the local PBS station in Los Angeles on Christmas Eve).

At the same time I was writing a short story for an anthology celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," to be published by Simon & Schuster this fall. There was also ongoing work of developing new TV projects. So the idea of taking on a new book project at this point in my life is out of the question.

That doesn't mean someone else can't tackle your pre-rock era ideas, but I'm not aware of anyone else writing such books at the moment.



IS THERE A DOWNLOAD BIAS?

Dear Fred,

Are there any plans for Billboard to revamp the Hot 100? I believe that iTunes does not benefit most artists, except those who are played on pop radio. It's been said that those who download from iTunes are mostly in the age range of 13 to 19 and are white.

How is it that R&B singer Tank's song "Please Don't Go" is No. 19 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs based on airplay but is nowhere to be found on the Hot 100? Or that Tamia sits in the top 40 of the R&B chart with "Can't Get Enough" but is nowhere to be found on the Hot 100?

iTunes has the pop chart in a complete tizzy and it's not fair at all.

Rhoemi R. Smith
Bronx, N.Y.


Dear Rhoemi,

I'm not aware of any plans to revamp how the Hot 100 is compiled, although new technologies and shifts in the
marketplace could bring changes in the future that we can't foresee now.

Some things do not change, and if you look back over the history of the Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, you'll find there have always been some songs that do not crossover from R&B to the Hot 100. That has been a constant, no matter how the charts are compiled.

Keep in mind that genre charts like R&B, country, jazz, blues, classical, etc., rely on different panels of retail outlets and radio stations than all-inclusive charts like the Hot 100. Stores that specialize in a specific genre would be included in the panel for that genre's charts. Some songs may thus do well on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart but not on the Hot 100. If you look carefully at the Hot 100, I don't think you can make a case that the chart shuts out R&B/Hip-Hop music.

Also remember that Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs isn't just an airplay chart, but a chart that combines sales and airplay.

And I haven't seen any scientific evidence that proves most of the people who download from iTunes are of a specific age or skin color. Looking over the current best-sellers on iTunes, it seems fairly democratic - there are pop, R&B, country and rock hits all sharing adjacent berths.


Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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