Fred discusses related chart entries, "American Idol" on the radio and Billboard chart eligibility with readers.
WILL PARIS MATCH?
With Ashlee and Jessica Simpson songs sandwiched around Paris Hilton's debut single, the Hot 100 has three consecutive positions occupied by reality television stars, none of whom ever appeared on "American Idol."
To be fair, Jessica had her first (and still biggest) hit long before her "Newlyweds" broadcast revived her career, and Ashlee Simpson has scored many hits since her similar show launched her onto the charts. We'll have to see if Paris can match the longevity of the sister act surrounding her this week.
Thanks for reading,
Jessica, Ashlee and Paris all move up the Hot 100 this week, but at different speeds. The biggest mover is Jessica Simpson's "A Public Affair," which leaps 30-14. Sister Ashlee Simpson bounds 28-21 with "Invisible," while Paris Hilton inches up 29-28 with "Stars Are Blind."
You won't be surprised to learn that you weren't the only reader to write in about the Simpsons this week. For a different take on the chart implications of the sisters' track record, see the following e-mail.
TALK ABOUT BEING CHART-RELATED!
Ashlee Simpson debuted last week at No. 28 with "Invisible." Two spots under her is sister Jessica with "A Public Affair" and five spots under Jessica is her ex-husband Nick Lachey with "What's Left of Me." When in the history of the charts (if ever) have three singers related to each other charted within such close proximity?
The only combination I can think of would be Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson, but that would leave out a third relative. Otherwise, it would be Donny and Marie but again, no third relative. Is this the first time three acts "relatively" have charted within eight spots of each other?
How do you feel about four Gibb brothers occupying three positions in the top 10 the week of March 18, 1978? Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb, the Bee Gees, were No. 1 and No. 2 with "Night Fever" and "Stayin' Alive" respectively, while youngest brother Andy Gibb was No. 5 with "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water." This might not meet your criteria since we're counting the Bee Gees twice, but we do have four siblings occupying three positions within eight spots of each other.
There were plenty of Osmonds charting in the '70s, and I did find a week when six of them charted within less than 30 positions of each other with three chart hits: Donny Osmond's "A Million to One" / "Young Love," the Osmonds' "Let Me In" and Marie Osmond's "Paper Roses." Little Jimmy Osmond also charted, but not at a time when two other Osmond singles were on the Hot 100.
There were other musical families that had the potential for a match, the Sylvers and the DeBarge clan, but searching their chart stats didn't come up with any results.
But wait, Travis, your own suggestion of Michael and Janet Jackson led me to paydirt. You just had the wrong Jacksons! On the Hot 100 dated Oct. 27, 1984, I found three singles by members of the Jackson family occupying positions not just within eight spots of each other, but three adjacent slots on the Hot 100.
That week, Jermaine Jackson's "Do What You Do" debuted at No. 64, Rebbie Jackson advanced 73-65 with "Centipede" and the Jacksons (Michael, Jermaine, Tito, Marlon, Jackie and Randy) entered at No. 66 with "Body."
Now let's see if any Chart Beat readers can beat that by finding four or more "relative" singles appearing in adjacent positions.
TAYLOR-MADE FOR AIRPLAY?
This is a follow-up question to one you answered last week regarding Madonna's lack of radio airplay. With the enormous popularity and viewership of "American Idol," and with the initial terrific sales and downloads of Taylor Hicks' song "Do I Make You Proud," why would radio stations simply not play the song?
You would think station programmers would choose to play a song that has become so visible. It has even received fairly limited play on Adult Contemporary stations. Thanks for your wonderful work on Chart Beat.
While the "American Idol" finale songs have been among the best-selling singles of the last four years, those same songs have received little airplay on the radio.
Radio has looked down at "American Idol" ever since the show started turning out stars, perhaps thinking the winners aren't "hip" or "cool" enough to be played on the air. There have been some exceptions when it comes to airplay. The most obvious is Kelly Clarkson, who has become a bona fide top 40 star. Clay Aiken received pop airplay with "Invisible," and has charted numerous times on the airplay-only Adult Contemporary chart.
Ruben Studdard has done exceptionally well at R&B radio, as has Fantasia. Kimberley Locke has had two top 10 AC hits, and her holiday song "Up on the Housetop" spent four weeks at No. 1 on the AC chart last December - again, remember, that is an airplay-only chart. Josh Gracin was the first "Idol" to score a No. 1 song on the airplay-only Hot Country Songs tally and Carrie Underwood has had a No. 1 hit and a No. 2 hit on that chart.
We'll have to wait and see if Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee receive airplay on the follow-ups to their finale songs -- that will be a truer test of their long-term success.
HE'S A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY AND ALSO A LITTLE BIT ROCK AND ROLL
Love your column! I've been reading it since probably 1990 when you were still in Billboard magazine. I just read the comment [in last week's Chart Beat Chat"] about [the cancellation of the British TV series] "Top of the Pops." Someone speculated the show had gone downhill because people are more into specific genres. I couldn't disagree with this more. I have many friends and family members who are into both rock and country. I think that if there were a station that played a few different [genres] that they'd have many listeners. What do you think?
Thanks for the insightful info!
I agree with you, but radio does not. I know a lot of people who love pop, rock, country and R&B. I would love to see someone invest in a format that would play multiple genres of music and I'd love to see what kind of a rating such a station would earn.
By the way, the fate of "Top of the Pops" isn't entirely sealed. The BBC will continue to produce segments for use in international markets. And if they're still producing "Top of the Pops" for export, there's always a chance of it returning in some form in the United Kingdom.
AN E-MAIL THAT'S A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY AND A LITTLE BIT R&B
I have always wondered why the R&B album chart is compiled differently than all other album charts. For example, Top Country Albums is obviously derived directly from The Billboard 200. Simply go down The Billboard 200 and find any album that fits the country format and you can compile that chart. You cannot say that about the R&B albums chart which, per Billboard.com, "uses a panel of core stores that specialize in the genre."
What makes the R&B format unique to justify this approach? Not all of Johnny Cash's current album sales are being purchased by country music fans. Yet, all of those sales will factor into the country album chart. If an R&B fan buys a Johnny Cash CD, it adds to Cash's "country" chart success. Conversely, if a country fan buys a Jamie Foxx CD at a major retailer, why shouldn't that sale count toward the R&B chart?
Also, how does Billboard define what is a country album? In the 1990s, pop veterans Neil Diamond ("Tennessee Moon"), Olivia Newton-John ("Back With a Heart") and Linda Ronstadt ("Feels Like Home") all released country CDs and sent singles to country radio. Diamond's and Newton-John's CDs charted country; Ronstadt's, however, did not. I found this surprising since, like Newton-John, Ronstadt had charted several other times on Top Country Albums.
Thanks for reading and for giving me plenty to read every week!
To answer your question about the R&B album chart, I turned to Billboard's Director of Charts, Geoff Mayfield. Geoff sent me a detailed reply, which follows in its entirety:
There are actually a few core panels assembled at Nielsen SoundScan. The R&B/hip-hop panel is the one we've used the longest, but we've never used the ones that were assembled to track core activity on hard rock or dance music. Late last year, Billboard added Nielsen's new Tastemaker chart, which is informed by independent stores and small chains, for a closer-to-the-ground view of the market than can be seen in the overall panel.
In 1991, when we converted The Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums to SoundScan and prepared to migrate our other charts to the new system, R&B divisions were concerned that an overall panel might obscure the impact at stations they promote.
In those days, it was not uncommon for a single to move to R&B stations at least weeks, if not months, before that same song would be worked at Top 40 or other formats. Given that scenario, if a second single came to R&B stations at the same time that top 40 stations started playing the first one, readers could not discern whether an album's rebound was attributed to airplay at stations in R&B and hip-hop formats playing the new song, or pop stations playing the earlier one.
With so many stations playing lots of hip-hop these days, that is not currently as keen a concern for big-name artists, but there still can be a lag between when R&B/hip-hop-oriented stations are targeted and when other formats receive consideration. Since country shares so few songs with most pop stations, that has not been as keen an issue for that genre.
There was also a concern in regard to artist development, believing that many newer R&B and hip-hop artist break at stores that specialize in that format.
Stores in the panel come from independents, chains and even some department stores. The locations are stores that sell a higher-than-average volume of R&B/hip-hop music, and carry a broader selection of those genres, than the typical store. Further, each store in the panel is in a market that includes at least one R&B/hip-hop station that plays current music.
That we have used the core R&B/hip-hop panel for more than a decade does not mean that we always will. We constantly re-evaluate our various chart rules and methodologies and there may be changes at some point. There is no immediate plan to alter the way we construct our R&B/hip-hop charts, but the growing impact of digital track sales, which cannot be factored into a core-panel, may reshape industry opinion. We are keeping our eyes and ears open.
Thomas, it's Fred again, with the answer to your question about Linda Ronstadt's "Feels Like Home" album. This time, I called upon the manager of our country charts, Wade Jessen. He wrote an equally detailed reply, and here it is:
"To make eligibility determinations for our specialty charts, including Top Country Albums, Billboard looks first to stylistic content, and secondly to marketing effort. Any album that's considered for our country chart must contain at least 50% material deemed stylistically appropriate for the genre. An additional consideration is radio airplay, although that consideration is secondary to overall content. For example, Elvis Presley is an artist that periodically appears on Top Country Albums -- when at least half of a given Presley album's tracks either had country chart impact (radio), or are stylistically appropriate for Top Country Albums.
In Linda Ronstadt's case, she's an artist that has a country singles and albums chart history dating back to 1972. Specifically, in the case of the 1995 "Feels Like Home" album, the overall stylistic content of the album and the label's marketing thrust were incongruent with our long standing chart eligibility rules, and was therefore not included on Top Country Albums. Although one track from that album made a very brief appearance on our Hot Country Songs chart, it was our assessment that the album's overall content was decidedly more adult pop/contemporary than it was country.
Ronstadt's label at the time concurred with our decision not to include it on Top Country Albums. In other words, one country-ish single does not a country album make. While we realize that such decisions do carry an element of subjectivity, we always apply our eligibility rules on a case-by-case basis, and make every attempt to be inclusive as opposed to exclusive. This is always the case, and we do prefer to make these decisions in consultation with our record label clients--however, the final decision for inclusion is made primarily based upon a given album's content, and that often finds us agreeing to disagree with our valued label clients and sometimes, our readers.
While we make every effort to make decisions that best serve all our various constituents, our primary goal is to ensure the integrity of our charts so that they remain a useful tool to all who utilize them, and that they accurately reflect what's happening in the marketplace.
Thanks very much for your interest in Billboard charts. Please feel free to contact us at any time."
BEHIND THE RATIOS
Long time reader, second-time e-mailer. Last week [a reader wrote] about Madonna and the ratio of sales to airplay [Billboard uses to compile] the charts. Your response was that each song each week will have its own ratio, depending on how much sales and airplay it gets.
While this is true, I think when people ask questions like this, they really want to know exactly where do the points come from. For example, does a song get one point each time a single is sold/downloaded, and then get an additional point each time it is played on the radio? Or maybe it's one point for each person listening to the radio station when the song is played? Or maybe a song gets three points each time a single is sold?
Perhaps the answers to these questions are confidential, in order to keep people from going out and creating their own Billboard chart, so if you can't answer this, I understand. But I think this is what people really mean when they write in about the ratios.
The information isn't confidential and I'm glad to share it. Many other readers have posed similar questions in the last few weeks, so I asked Hot 100 chart manager Silvio Pietroluongo to come up with a succinct explanation, and he did. After you read what Silvio wrote, I'll have another word of explanation:
"The Billboard Hot 100 blends retail data from Nielsen SoundScan and airplay information from Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems to give a reflection of the 100 most popular songs across all formats in the U.S. The Billboard Hot 100 is compiled using data from the Hot Singles Sales, Hot Digital Songs and Hot 100 Airplay charts, which rank the top selling singles, top selling digital downloads and most played songs, respectively. Songs on the Hot 100 are ranked by their combined airplay, retail sales and digital download sales totals.
The Hot 100 features an all-encompassing radio panel -- represented by the Hot 100 Airplay chart -- of more than 1,000 stations, with mainstream R&B, adult R&B, modern rock, active rock, heritage rock, triple-A, country, mainstream top 40, rhythmic top 40, adult top 40, adult contemporary, dance, jazz, Latin, Christian and Gospel formats represented.
For The Billboard Hot 100, generally speaking, one sales unit or download sale will equal 2,000 radio listeners.
How to compute a title's Hot 100 point total: Take a song's audience impressions, as compiled by BDS, and divide that number by 10,000 and add to SoundScan's retail sales and digital sales which are each divided by 5."
Silvio mentioned "audience impressions," so I thought I should explain the term. There are two ways to measure airplay. One is to simply count the number of times a song is played on the radio in a one-week period. One Top 40 station might play its No. 1 song anywhere from 50-100 times in one week.
The other measurement is audience impressions, which is the number of spins multiplied by the number of people listening to a station at a specific time of day. Nielsen BDS can determine the number of people listening from a station's ratings.
THE HIP-BONE'S CONNECTED TO THE CHART-BONE
When "Hips Don't Lie" by Shakira featuring Wyclef Jean hit pole position on the Hot 100, you listed the human body parts that have appeared in No. 1 song titles.
Two of the past three R&B/Hip-Hop No. 1s have mentioned body parts: "Snap Yo Fingers" by Lil Jon featuring E-40 and Sean Paul of YoungBloodZ, and "Shoulder Lean" by Young Dro featuring T.I.
Using a similar time frame as you did for the Hot 100, I've counted 24 appearances of body parts in 24 R&B/Hip-Hop No. 1 tunes. Similar to the Hot 100 findings, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam's "Head to Toe" accounts for the 24 titles supplying 25 body parts.
Also, as with the Hot 100, the heart is the most popular. The word "body" itself is used twice, both times in songs featuring Johnny Gill as the artist: his own "Wrap My Body Tight," followed a few years later by "My Body" by LSG (Levert/Sweat/Gill).
Going back to Oct. 20, 1958, here are the parts together in alphabetical order:
If we go back just a little bit further, there's a Neck, too.
I had a knee-jerk reaction when I read your e-mail, butt then I realized it stood hands above many of the other letters I received this week. I'm glad I inspired you to shoulder the work -- eye feel like the teacher and you are the star pupil.
Since you sent your e-mail on Thursday night, it just made it into Chart Beat Chat by the skin of its teeth. I could have saved it for next week, but I had to face facts: nobody nose how much work this must have been. A big pat on the back to you; it's quite a feet to count up all of the body parts in No. 1 songs.