Fred and his readers discuss Eurovision, the Top 100 and Hot 100 debuts .
FROM ESC TO ASC
Hello Mr. Bronson,
I know that you are an avid follower of the Eurovision Song Contest. I hear that a major U.S. TV network is working on an American version of Eurovision. Will it be called "Amerivision"? LOL.
I was wondering if many Eurovision winning songs have made it big on the Hot 100 here in America. I know that Abba's "Waterloo" went to No. 6 in 1974 after winning the contest, even though American listeners had no idea it had done so. I guess that "Waterloo" hit the top 10 in the United States based on merit alone.
Also, was Mocedades' "Eres Tu" a Eurovision winner? I think that "Eres Tu" went top 10 in the mid-'70s. I can't think of any other Eurovision winning songs that hit the upper echelons of the Hot 100. I think that Gina G's "Ooh Aah...Just a Little Bit" was a hit on the Billboard dance charts. Was "Volare" a Eurovision winner as well?
Thank you for a wonderful column.
A few months ago, NBC Universal announced that it had bought the rights to create an American version of the Eurovision Song Contest, through a production company that already produces a number of NBC shows. When I was in Athens for this year's contest, I did have a discussion with a European Broadcast Union executive about the project, which was still a "go" at that moment.
However, there has been no further news and I don't know if the project is continuing or not. I'm looking into it and will see what I can find out.
You're right, the Eurovision win for "Waterloo" meant nothing in the United States, so the ABBA single made it to No. 6 on the Hot 100 on its own merits.
Winning the contest or even doing well has never meant much in America, where the contest is mostly unknown. Domenico Modugno's "Volare," titled "Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu" in its native Italy, placed third in 1958 but is one of the most famous Eurovision entries of all time. Modugno's original topped the Hot 100, and versions by Bobby Rydell and Dean Martin also charted.
The other Eurovision song to top the Hot 100 is "Love Is Blue," although Paul Mauriat's instrumental was a cover version. The song was performed in French as "L'amour Est Bleu" by Vicky Leandros.
Mocedades' "Eres Tu" didn't win Eurovision for Spain, but did rank second in 1973. The single, in Spanish, went to No. 9 in the United States.
Gina G's "Ooh Aah... Just a Little Bit" wasn't just a dance hit. Favored to win the 1997 contest, it ultimately placed eighth but went to No. 1 in the United Kingdom and No. 12 on the Hot 100.
There have been a few other Eurovision entries that have charted on the Hot 100, without making the top 20, including "Save Your Kisses for Me" by Brotherhood of Man (No. 27 in 1976), "Beg, Steal or Borrow" by the New Seekers (No. 81 in 1972), "Knock Knock Who's There" by Mary Hopkin (No. 92 in 1972), "Congratulations" by Cliff Richard (No. 99 in 1968), "Say Wonderful Things" by Ronnie Carroll (No. 91 in 1963) and Domenico Modugno's only other U.S. chart entry, "Piove (Ciao, Ciao Bambina)," No. 97 in 1959. Italy's entry in 1961 was "Al Di La'" by Betty Curtis. The song charted in the United States by Emilio Pericoli (No. 6 in 1962), Connie Francis (No. 90 in 1963) and the Ray Charles Singers (No. 29 in 1964).
ON TOP OF THE NEWS
Here is some more info for your correspondent who wanted to know what the Top 100 was all about.
The Top 100 was first published in the magazine dated Nov. 12, 1955, for the survey week ending Nov. 2, which was a Wednesday. It was compiled from a combination of the data that went into compiling the three previously existing charts, Best Sellers in Stores, Most Played in Juke Boxes and Most Played by Jockeys. (Capitalization as it appeared in Billboard at the time). Ties for chart position were very common.
At the time, the Best Sellers chart had 25 positions and the other two had 20 each. The Top 100 was the first pop singles chart to have 100 positions.
A change was made in the issue dated June 24, 1957, for the survey week ending Wednesday, June 19. The Juke Box chart was discontinued and the Juke Box component was deleted from the Top 100. So it became a sales and airplay chart, for one week or three days.
The next issue it was changed to a sales chart only, which continued until its termination. The name was changed that same week to "The Top 100 Sides." The survey week ending date was also changed from Wednesday to Saturday. So this survey "week" apparently had only three days in it. The magazine was dated July 1 and the survey week ended June 22.
The next week (magazine dated July 8, survey week ending June 29) the Top 100 changed again, from a weekly chart to a four-week moving average. Also new this week, the "The" was dropped out of the title.
It changed again in the issue of Dec. 30, 1957 (survey week ending Dec. 21). The change was from a four-week to a two-week moving average.
That also lasted only one week. The moving average was dropped and Top 100 Sides became a weekly best-seller chart in the Jan. 6, 1958 issue (survey week ending Dec. 28, 1957). The two differences between the Top 100 Sides and Best Sellers in Stores were 100 positions vs. 50 positions and a side chart vs. a record chart. Both sides of flip-sided hit would appear on the Best Sellers chart together in the same position, whereas each would chart separately on the Top 100.
This situation continued until Aug. 4, 1958, when the Top 100 and Jockeys charts were discontinued and the Hot 100 began. Believe it or not, Billboard said the chart in the August 4 issue was for the week ending August 10. The previous weeks dates were July 28 (magazine) and July 19 (survey).
Forest Grove, Ore.
To quote a Cole Porter song, "You're the Top!"
P.S. Just had to add this personal note. I listen to iTunes while I write my column. With over 10,000 songs in my computer, I can set it on random and it's like a jukebox that constantly surprises me. You can see this coming -- moments after writing my reply to you, the song that played was "You're the Top" by Edd Byrnes (Kookie from "77 Sunset Strip). The song last played on Aug. 24, 2005. What were the odds? Or is my iTunes spying on Word?
YOU CAN COUNT ON ME
Not sure if you're aware of this, but (if I've counted correctly) whichever song ends up knocking Fergie out of the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100 will be the 1000th different No. 1 song of the rock era (using Joel Whitburn's traditional demarcation point of 1955). I've got 995 tracks in my iTunes "No. 1 Pop" playlist and four on my "still need to get" list. Am I right?
Notes on the counting:
-I demurred to Whitburn's No. 1 lists for the 1955-57 "multichart" era
-I counted Chubby Checker's "The Twist" only once -- it had two
No. 1 runs but it *is* only one song
-I did *not* include the five songs that topped the airplay charts in the mid-'90s without charting on the Hot 100 even though Whitburn included them in his list. My reasoning is that unlike the 1955-57 period, by 1996 the Hot 100 was already a well-established entity.
Cary, North Carolina
There has been a lot of discussion in Chart Beat Chat recently about differences between the way Billboard counts and the way Joel Whitburn counts, and your e-mail highlights some of those ways.
We're not approaching the 1,000th No. 1 of the rock era by our count. Before the Hot 100 was introduced on Aug. 4, 1958, the only official weekly Billboard pop singles chart of the period was the Best Sellers in Stores survey. This is something that was decided before I ever started writing my books or my columns, but I have adhered to the policy. It makes sense to me -- if you count all of the charts, you would come up with as many as four different No. 1 songs in one week, and that is illogical.
Counting Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" as the first No. 1 of the rock era, this week's new chart-topper, Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack," is the 971st No. 1 song.
Of course, counting "Rock Around the Clock" as the first No. 1 is purely arbitrary (though there is agreement among rock historians that the rock era began with the ascendancy of the Bill Haley single to pole position). "Rock Around the Clock" knocked Perez Prado's "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" out of the top spot, and there was a long line of No. 1s before that.
If we only count the Hot 100, then we've had 942 No. 1 hits to date, starting with Ricky Nelson's "Poor Little Fool" in August 1958.
Like you, I only count Chubby Checker's "The Twist" as one No. 1 single, even though it topped the chart in 1960 and 1962.
To sum it all up, we need another 29 No. 1 hits to reach the magic number of 1,000 for the rock era, and 58 more to reach 1,000 No. 1 hits on the Hot 100.
COMING ON STRONG
You mentioned in Chart Beat that there were eight debuts in the top 30 of the Hot 100 in 2005 as opposed to previous years, such as 2002 when only one song debuted in the top 30.
Top 30 debuts have become more common since the Hot 100 started taking download sales into account in 2005. Is my assumption right? What other factors and chart rules contribute to this?
Love your very interesting and informative column,
Auckland, New Zealand
The item you saw in Chart Beat also mentioned that there have been 14 debuts inside the top 30 of the Hot 100 during 2006.
You're right, these high debuts as well as spectacular jumps on the tally are due to the inclusion of digital download sales on the chart. Thanks to technology, it's a more instantaneous world. Songs available for online downloading can sell in the hundreds of thousands during the first week of release, allowing for high debuts and rapid rises.
The high debuts usually mean that a song is experiencing a large volume of sales and airplay at the same time; a song that makes a huge leap on the chart usually has some airplay that allows it to debut on the Hot 100, and then digital sales kick in, sending it hurtling up the survey.