CHART BEAT CHAT

Fred and his readers discuss holiday hits, Kimberley Locke and more!

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE RADIO FOR THE HOLIDAYS

It's interesting in Chart Beat that you note this is the seventh year in a row that a holiday song has hit No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. In the '90s this didn't happen so much. Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" is the most notable modern holiday song, yet it only peaked at No. 6. In 2006 it would undoubtedly hit No. 1.

Why do you think holiday songs are doing so much better on the AC chart in the 00s?

Jason Englisbe


Dear Jason,

The answer becomes clear when you realize that the Adult Contemporary chart is an airplay-only chart, measuring which songs are played on radio stations that are identified as playing AC music. Changes in the chart over the years are merely reflections of changes at AC radio.

The trend in recent years - particularly in the last seven - is to turn to holiday programming in the last two months of the year. Many AC stations only program holiday music with no non-seasonal songs being played; other AC stations provide a mix of current hits with holiday music.

While I love Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You," and while it's selling well digitally (it's up 8-7 on this week's Hit Digital Songs chart, where it is the only holiday song in the top 10), your assumption that it would be No. 1 on the AC chart is incorrect. We do compile an Adult Contemporary Recurrent chart for older songs, and "All I Want for Christmas Is You" rebounds 15-10 this week after peaking at No. 9. Older holiday songs, including Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song," Burl Ives' "A Holly, Jolly Christmas" and Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, " all rank higher than "All I Want for Christmas Is You."



DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW - WHAT'S THE POINT?

Fred,

I am curious how the record label or the artist makes any money from the Kimberley Locke single, "Jingle Bells." Is it released as a single?

How does this help her career? I am sure having a No. 1 is helpful. But the realistic reason for releasing a single is to drive sales. Just curious. Happy Holidays.

Vincent Detiberiis
Dallas, Texas


Dear Vincent,

Kimberley Locke's "Jingle Bells" is available for purchase as a paid digital download.

Your point is well-taken, however; some songs are released exclusively to radio as airplay-only singles and are not available for purchase. In some cases, an artist might want a presence on the radio to bridge the gap between non-holiday releases. Or an artist might be on tour during the holiday season and would want a current song on the radio to boost awareness (and thus ticket sales). Or an artist might be planning a holiday album for the following year.



CHART YEAR VS. CALENDAR YEAR

Hi Fred,

A few weeks ago, you mentioned that the top two albums this year were the "High School Musical" soundtrack and Rascal Flatts' "Me & My Gang." Since then, I read where the Flatts had taken over the top spot. When the year-end chart came out, Carrie Underwood's "Some Hearts" was the top selling album of the year.

I was wondering if this was because [the annual recap] runs from November to November instead of starting Jan. 1? I am assuming that if we did start from Jan. 1, Rascal Flatts would have the top album since Underwood's CD was released before the holidays last year and that's when she had some of her largest weekly sales. Hopefully you can clear this up for me.

Thanks!

Steven Gales
Kalamazoo, MI


Dear Steven,

You've pretty much hit the chart nail on the head. The recaps of the year in music are summaries of chart action during the 52-week period we call the "chart year," which usually runs from the first chart week in December to the last chart week in November.

That's not unusual. Think of all the year-end top 10 lists you've already seen in other media, and they've all been released before the year is over. If we compiled our year-end charts based on the calendar year, you wouldn't see them until the end of January - way past the time when the information would be useful and interesting.

When you add up sales figures for the chart year, Carrie Underwood's "Some Hearts" comes out on top. As you speculated, she had very heavy sales in the first few weeks of the album's release, which fell in the last month of 2005.

Since I can't give out sales figures in Chart Beat Chat, I can't confirm if "High School Musical" or Rascal Flatts' "Me & My Gang" will be the best-selling album of the calendar year. That information will be covered by Billboard, so keep reading the daily news at Billboard.com.



MARY: DID YOU KNOW?

Hi Fred:

I've been watching the trajectory of Mary J. Blige's "Be Without You." It's already the longest-running song on Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs, as you undoubtedly know. Now that it's just tallied a 60th week, I'm wondering if it might have a chance at being the longest-charting single [in the history of] this survey.

I know Kirk Franklin's "Looking for You" had a lengthy and recent stint on this chart, but I don't recall how long. Now that R&B radio stations are playing their "Best ofs" for 2006, and "Be Without You" will be a staple on most lists, I imagine the song might rebound over the next few weeks, perhaps attaining the longevity award. Any thoughts? Much oBLIGEd (I couldn't resist the pun; I love Mary!)

Chris Bell


Dear Chris,

A 60-week run on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs is very impressive, and Mary J. Blige's "Be Without You" is likely to remain on the chart for additional weeks, largely due to year-end play, as you point out. However, Blige does not hold the longevity record on the current chart. Anthony Hamilton's "Can't Let Go" is slightly ahead, as it is in its 61st week on the list.

The song with the longest run in the 64-year history of this chart is Usher's "You Make Me Wanna..." which was on the tally for 71 weeks. R. Kelly's "Step in the Name of Love" is in second place with 70 weeks. Also ahead of "Be Without You" is Dru Hill's "In My Bed," with a total of 63 weeks.

We'll keep a watch on both "Can't Let Go" and "Be Without You" in the early weeks of 2007 to see where they end up on the all-time longevity hit parade.