Fred and his readers discuss the NFL, the Oscars, Diana Ross and more!

GOOD SPORTS

Dear Fred,

As a passionate music and football fan, I sometimes find myself discovering connections between the music and sports worlds. Billboard and the NFL are my two favorite corporate entities, so when I find an interesting link between them, I cannot help but run to the computer and begin typing away, as was the case this past week as I watched ESPN's buildup to the NFC Conference Championship game between the Chicago Bears and the visiting New Orleans Saints (Sunday, Jan. 21).

ESPN's "NFL Countdown" commentators did a pre-game segment on a number of coincidences involving the two teams, beginning with the name Payton; specifically, that the last team the Bears put into the conference championship game (and the Super Bowl following the 1985 season) was led by a man named Payton (hall-of-fame running back, the late Walter Payton), and that the current Bears' NFC Championship game opponents, the Saints, were being led by another Payton, namely head coach Sean Payton.

Earlier, the TV program also commented on the coincidence involving the fact that the '85 champion Bears' head coach, Mike Ditka, left the team for a coaching job with none other than the Saints -- a fact that in subsequent years was parodied on TV's "Saturday Night Live" in a long-running "Da Bears" sketch.

Finally, the commentators noted that da '85 Bears won the Super Bowl in the Saints' home stadium, the New Orleans Superdome. But what ESPN didn't report (surprisingly, given analyst Chris Berman's well-known fascination with music and the rock-n-roll world) was that the Bears and Saints share a unique Billboard Hot 100 chart connection as well.

When the Bears last were Super Bowl contenders in 1985/86, members of that team recorded a song that made the Hot 100: "The Super Bowl Shuffle" by the Chicago Bears Shuffling Crew. It peaked at No. 41. In the 21 years since, no other NFL team has had a song specifically recorded for it reach the Hot 100 until this season, when the New Orleans Saints were paid tribute with "The Saints Are Coming" by U2 and Green Day. That song spent time on the Hot 100 during the past two months (and just fell off recently).

"The Saints Are Coming" was not specifically written for or even recorded by the team (as was the case with "The Super Bowl Shuffle") but it was recorded and sung as a tribute to the Saints during the team's home opener at the Superdome back in September and it made the charts because of that fact. Now with the '06/'07 Bears facing another "Peyton" (as in Manning of the Indianapolis Colts) in this year's big game, maybe the Colts need to run out and record a hit song, so we can go through this whole exercise one more time.

Darrell Roberts
Bethesda, Md.


Dear Darrell,

Ah yes, sports. Don't know much about sports, really, but I'm sure there are a number of Chart Beat readers who do, so this is for them. If you've seen this week's Hot 100, you know that "The Saints Are Coming" re-enters the chart at No. 100.



A LITTLE 'TRAVELIN' MUSIC, PLEASE

Fred,

I noticed an error in your response to Donovan's e-mail today regarding Oscar nominations and why there were only three songs chosen last year. It was not that there were fewer than 16 potential nominees available, as the Academy had declared 42 songs from movies released in 2005 to be eligible.

The reason for the low number of nominees was because of a rule change which went into effect that year. Previously, everyone who is a music member of the Academy was allowed to vote for which songs would be nominated, regardless of whether he or she had heard any of them.

Last year (and this year), however, everyone who was to vote on the initial nominees was required to attend a screening where the scene (or credits) of the film featuring each eligible song was played. Those in attendance rated each on a scale of 6 to 10, with 10 being the highest. The top five songs receiving overall average votes of 8.25 or above are to receive the nominations, which then are open for all voting members of the music section of the Academy to vote on for the final award.

That year, though, only three songs out of the 42 scored above the minimum threshold: Dolly Parton's gospel-twinged song about a transsexual, "Travelin' Thru," Bird York's ethereal "In The Deep" and Three 6 Mafia's infectious rap, "It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp," which took home the statuette. It will be interesting to see how many songs will score high enough for nominations this year!

Sincerely,

T. Duane Gordon
Editor and Publisher Dollymania.net: The Online Dolly Parton Newsmagazine
www.dollymania.net


Dear Duane,

Thanks for the information. As we know now, there are five song nominees this year, including three from "Dreamgirls."



ROSS ON THE RADIO

Dear Mr. Bronson,

I always read your column and am quite pleased with your continued support and praise for Diana Ross. Too often she doesn't get the props she deserves! Can you believe she's never won a single Grammy despite 18 No. 1 songs?

I am thoroughly enjoying her new CD, "I Love You." To me, she goes one better than all of the other recent artists who have recorded covers albums (Rod Stewart, Barry Manilow, etc.) by choosing songs she clearly identifies with and adores. Her versions of "More Today than Yesterday," "To Be Loved," and "What About Love" are my favorites -- and I think her covers of "Lovely Day" and "I Want You" rival the originals.

Now that she has made such a splashy debut on the charts this week -- her highest ranking since 1984, thanks to some promotional spots on TV and Manhattan Records' faith in her and her product -- do you think she can finally get back on the radio and the singles chart here in the United States? Which song would you pick from this album to target radio with as a single? The title track or "More Today than Yesterday"? Is there something we, as fans, can do to get her songs on the radio where she belongs?

Best,

Lawrence Stern
Los Angeles, Calif.


Dear Lawrence,

I enjoy an album of covers as much as the next person, especially when the artist makes some inspiring choices of songs and gives us something new to hear in an old tune. Diana Ross' "I Love You" album fills that bill.

It is very difficult for veteran artists to receive top 40 airplay these days, as you may have noticed. The two formats that should welcome Diana are Adult Contemporary and Adult R&B. My personal favorites align with yours -- "To Be Loved" and "What About Love." "Lovely Day" is outstanding, too. Rather than supporting random songs, it would be helpful for Diana's fans to concentrate on one song and conduct a campaign to have it played on AC and Adult R&B stations.

You might want to check with her label and see if they have any plans to promote a single to radio so everyone is on the same page.



'FERGALICIOUS' VS. 'BOOTYLICIOUS'

Fred,

A few weeks ago, Fergie broke a record for the biggest sales in one week, yet she did not go to No. 1. I know that other artists have sold less than that and yet made it to No. 1 on sales alone with virtually no airplay (Taylor Hicks bumping "Hips Don't Lie" by Shakira from No. 1). In this case, Fergie has the airplay and she had the sales. Based on the past, her record-breaking sales alone should have put her in the No. 1 spot even if she was getting hardly airplay. How did a record- breaking song with a lot of airplay get held off by Beyonce?

Thank you,

Robert Alonzo
Astoria, New York


Dear Robert,

Since the Hot 100 combines sales and airplay data, just having the top selling song is not enough to guarantee a No. 1 placing on the chart. While I don't have the raw sales and airplay figures for the week in question, and wouldn't be able to discuss them if I did, it is a certainty that when the sales and airplay numbers were added together, "Irreplaceable" by Beyonce was ahead of "Fergalicious" by Fergie.

I think I can clear up the mystery of why Taylor Hicks was able to go to No. 1 with "Do I Make You Proud" based on massive sales and no airplay. We're talking about two different sales figures. Fergie's sales figures were for paid digital downloads. Hicks' single included paid digital downloads and commercial, physical CD singles. The commercial singles by the "American Idol" winners generally sell between 200,000-300,000 or more in the first week. That's a high enough number to push them to No. 1 without any airplay at all.