Fred and his readers discuss song credits, top AC songs, ageism and more!
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
I have a question that I feel strikes a chord with many chart historians. It appears that Billboard has become pretty liberal with its designation of which artists get credit on a particular song. Prior to the late 1990s, most songs were performed by individual artists or groups. Duets were rare. Now in hip-hop, a song can be sung by the Ying Yang Twins with Timbaland featuring Faith Evans and all three artists will get statistical credit for the song. Has Billboard given any consideration as to how this will affect all-time statistical records?
What are your thoughts on this?
West Hartford, Conn.
Two important points: Billboard doesn't designate which artists are credited for charted recordings and Billboard's mission is to publish accurate weekly charts, not consider how those charts affect all-time statistical records. That's an external phenomenon, a consideration for fans of the charts and not the people who compile them. Oh, and it's something a Chart Beat columnist is very interested in, of course.
Artist credits are determined by record companies in collaboration with artists and their legal representatives. Billboard is guided by how an artist is credited on a single or album. On rare occasions, if there is confusion or the credits are unclear or vague, our chart department staffers will contact the label to determine how the credits are supposed to read.
If a recording is credited to three different artists, then all three would receive credit. If an artist appears anonymously or without credit, they would not receive credit in Billboard. One song I'm asked about a lot is "Bad Blood" by Neil Sedaka. The voice of Elton John can be heard prominently on the track, but Elton did not receive artist credit on the label and so did not receive credit in Billboard.
As for all-time stats, you really don't want our chart managers to take this into consideration. If they were thinking about how a chart position might affect an artist's historical record, then it would be tempting for them to nudge a song from No. 11 to No. 10 to keep a string of top 10 hits unbroken or hold a song back from debuting one week in order to line up with an anniversary of a previous chart hit.
It's much more important for the Billboard charts to be objective and accurate than to consider all-time statistics.
THE GOOD WORD ON 'BAD'
I see in Chart Beat that "Bad Day" (one of my favorite songs this year) by Daniel Powter is tied for being the fifth longest-running No. 1 song in Billboard Adult Contemporary chart history by a solo male vocalist.
What is the longest running No. 1 song in the history of the AC chart?
The item about Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" ranking as the fifth longest-running No. 1 in the history of the Adult Contemporary chart ran a few weeks ago. With "Bad Day" still sitting in pole position for the 17th week, I've updated the standing of "Bad Day" in this week's Chart Beat.
To answer your question, the longest-running No. 1 in AC history is the remake of "Drift Away" by Uncle Kracker, featuring the man who made the song famous, Dobie Gray. Their collaboration reigned for 28 weeks.
A DISCUSSION FOR THE AGES
I completely disagree with one of your readers about teens and people in their 20s not relating to older artists. Take Madonna, for example. Her videos for "Hung Up" and "Sorry" went to No. 1 on MTV's "TRL" request show, and I'm sure it's not a whole bunch of 30 and 40 year olds calling and requesting Madonna's video. If "young" people don't relate to this older artist, how come Madonna's song "Hung Up" was one of the biggest hits this year in Europe and the rest of the world?
The longest-running No. 1 song in the United Kingdom last year was "Is This the Way to Amarillo" by Tony Christie and he certainly is no teenager. I think U.S. radio is so hip-hop driven that [there is no room for] different genres or sounds. Although I'm in my late 30s I do enjoy songs by younger artists and still enjoy looking at the Billboard charts. While I like some hip-hop, I find myself searching for other sounds, because of the lack of variety on U.S. radio. So, it is not a question of age, it is a question of what gets played.
An aging hipster,
I think the ageism is more a problem within the industry, and it applies not just to music but television and films as well. You make a lot of good points about younger people being interested in older artists. But there are people in radio (and television) who think Madonna is too old to appeal to younger listeners (and viewers). I think they're wrong but I also recognize ageism is a huge problem.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 'HOT' AND 'TOP'
Prior to the formation of the Hot 100 in August 1958, there were four Billboard charts: Best Sellers in Stores (similar to the present day sales chart), Most Played by Disc Jockeys (similar to the present day airplay chart), Most Played in Jukeboxes (obsolete today) and the Top 100. What was the Top 100? If it was a combination of the sales and airplay charts, what made it so different from the Hot 100 which began in 1958?
What I know about the Top 100 comes from reading issues of Billboard magazine from the time period. As I understand it, it wasn't based on one-week stats, but was an average over a number of weeks. What really disqualifies the chart from being counted as the official Billboard singles chart is that it was published with a disclaimer warning retailers and juke box operators not to use it when deciding which records to order, but to use the more reliable charts such as Best Sellers in Stores.
Another difference: the Top 100 had a very brief history; the Hot 100 has stood the test of time as being the most authoritative singles chart in the United States, having just celebrated its 48th anniversary.
WHY DIDN'T CHART BEAT GO 'BACK TO BASICS'
Any particular reason that you ignored the fact that Christina Aquilera topped a number of charts this week... and Chart Beat went on blah, blah, blah about country and western -- who cares -- gossip!
Lakewood, New Jersey
In a less busy news week, Christina Aguilera debuting at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 with "Back to Basics" probably would have been a Chart Beat item. If it happened last week, when I struggled to find enough worthy items, it would have been a shoo-in.
This week, there was so much happening on a number of charts that the Christina item faced tougher competition. And the reason "Back to Basics" lost out is there wasn't much context to the story. Reporting that an album debuted at No. 1 is fine for a news story that is posted at Billboard.com, but there has to be more to it to find its way into Chart Beat. Again, if it had happened last week, I would have spent more time looking for some kind of context for this item.
Each of the items appearing in this week's Chart Beat has something more going for it than merely reporting that a record debuted or achieved a particular chart position. That's the context I'm talking about, whether it's discussing reality TV stars having the five highest debuts of 2006 on the Hot 100 or how songs by Daniel Powter and KT Tunstull stack up in historical context on the Adult Contemporary and Adult Top 40 charts, respectively.
The item about Keith Urban lent itself to the human interest angle of his marriage to Nicole Kidman, but the real story I reported was Urban having the highest debut of all time on Hot Country Songs, a Chart Beat item if there ever was one.