Answers to readers' questions about George Michael, Christmas albums and Pink.

GEORGE IN THE U.S.A.

Dear Keith,

I love your column and eagerly await reading it each and every week.

I have a question concerning a favorite artist of mine, George Michael. It's been some years since he last appeared on any Billboard charts (by topping Hot Dance Club Play chart with "Flawless (Go To The City)" - if I remember well). Now he is ready to circulate a new collection of hits he recorded over his 25 years of career as a solo artist or band member of Wham!

Even though I know that his new album titled "Twenty Five" will be released internationally on Nov. 13, I have no information on the U.S. release. Is it getting released and if yes, when?

Also, it seems that after the long battle he had with his recording company (the former Sony Music), all his albums had insignificant promotion stateside in contrary to the European market, where he achieved huge sales. With rumors circulating that he is planning to continue his sold out tour "25 Live" over in U.S., do you think that this album could bring him back in the spotlight in the States?

Finally, could you tell me how much sales has he achieved within the SoundScan era?

Keep up the good work!

Thanks a lot,

Nick Ieremiadis,
Athens, Greece


Hello Nick,

You are correct in thinking that the "Flawless (Go To The City)" was George Michael's last appearance on any Billboard chart. It reached No. 1 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart on Sept. 11, 2004. It was a single from his "Patience" album, released that same year. It peaked at No. 12 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 381,000 in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan.

His new greatest hits album, "Twenty Five," was originally scheduled for release in November in the U.S. through Epic Records. However, it was recently pushed back to February 2007. The set was slated to be available in two editions – a two-CD set and an expanded three-CD set. (Criminally, hits like "I Want Your Sex," "Monkey" and "I Knew You Were Waiting For Me" were not included on the tracklist for either edition.)

Here is a list of George Michael's SoundScan-era U.S. releases (1991) and how much they have sold in America.

"Songs From The Last Century," 1999; 152,000
"Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best Of George Michael," 1998; 1.1 million
"Older," 1996; 881,000
"Five Live EP" (George Michael & Queen), 1993; 358,000


(NEARLY) THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR

Hi there!

I was wondering why Christmas albums are not part of the regular Billboard 200 albums chart. Or are they and I've just missed them? I really wanted to see how Bette Midler's "Cool Yule" charted but didn't see it on the chart.

Then that got me to thinking that I hadn't seen any Christmas albums on there yet. I believe in the past I've seen a Top Christmas Albums chart on the website, when is that released? Are Christmas albums tallied the same as regular albums, as far as for being certified gold, platinum, etc.? So could you tell me how Ms. Midler's first Christmas album did and while we're on Bette Midler, how many copies have her Rosemary Clooney and Peggy Lee Songbook albums sold?

Thank you so much for your column, it's always interesting!

Dustin Olmsted


Hello Dustin,

Christmas album are very much a part of The Billboard 200. In fact two weeks ago, three new holiday albums debuted on the chart. "Now That's What I Call Christmas! 3," James Taylor's "A Christmas Album" and Third Day's "Christmas Offerings" all landed on the chart that week (Oct. 28 chart). Then, last week, Sarah McLachlan's "Wintersong" bowed.

Current Christmas albums are allowed to chart on The Billboard 200 during their first season of release. After that, they are shifted to catalog status. Thereafter, they appear on the Top Pop Catalog Albums chart instead of The Billboard 200. Of course, all Christmas titles can appear on our seasonal Top Holiday Albums chart, which runs from mid November through early January each year. (Hanukkah and Kwanzaa albums are also eligible for the Top Holiday Albums chart.)

Bette Midler's "Cool Yule" is bubbling under The Billboard 200 chart. Last week it sold about 3,000 units and the week before that, it moved about the same amount. As we get closer to Christmas, and Midler starts promoting the album more, the set will likely chart.

Midler's last release, "Bette Midler Sings The Peggy Lee Songbook," has sold 263,000 since it was released in Oct. 2005. The album gave Midler her first top 10 album since "Some People's Lives" went to No. 6 in 1991.

In 2004, she issued "Bette Midler Sings The Rosemary Clooney Songbook," which has moved 754,000 to date in the U.S.



PINK'S UNDEAD

Hi Keith,

In the U.K. this year Pink has had three top 10 singles and a 450,000-selling album "I'm Not Dead." I wondered how many singles had been released in the U.S. from this album and where they peaked on The Billboard Hot 100? Also how has her latest album sold compared to its predecessors?

Cheers mate!

John Marrs
London, England

Hi John,

Suffice it to say, Pink isn't doing as well in America as she is overseas. In the U.K., as you know, she's scored three top 10 hits from "I'm Not Dead," with the most recent being "U + Ur Hand." The latter single and video is her latest release in America, despite the fact that we were earlier told in July that it would not be a single in the U.S. Happily, the powers that be opted to release it here.

The "I'm Not Dead" album has sold 499,000 in the U.S. The set's only single to chart on The Billboard Hot 100, "Stupid Girls," reached No. 13 in March.

Pink will be the opening act for Justin Timberlake's upcoming American tour, beginning on Jan. 8 in San Diego. The trek runs through March 29.