Fred and his readers discuss "Top of the Pops," Sanny X and Tina Charles, Montgomery Gentry, Mariah and Madonna.
HERE LIES TOTP, JAN. 1, 1964 - JULY 30, 2006
This Sunday (July 30) sees the last ever [broadcast of the British TV series] "Top of the Pops" after 42 years. At its peak it was watched by 10 million people a week (down to just over a million recently).
As you probably know, it featured the major hit singles of the week, together with a countdown of the [U.K. singles] chart.
In recent years it has gone into decline. There are a number of factors including poor scheduling, [moving it from] Thursday night to Friday evening then Sunday evening. However, I think the decline in the singles market coupled with people being more into specific genres than a wider choice of music are the main reasons. It was always a bit cheesy and perhaps that is out of fashion now.
What do you think?
I first visited the United Kingdom in 1974, and I couldn't wait to see "Top of the Pops." I would sometimes arrange my schedule around it, so I could be in front of a TV set on Thursday night to watch it. A few years later, I would find a way to videotape the shows while I was in London so I could take them home and show them to friends.
BBC America ran abridged episodes of the U.K. series here in the United States for a short time, just a couple of days after the U.K. airings, but the cable network dropped the show and never brought it back.
It is a sad day in broadcast history to see this long-running veteran go off the air, much as it was tough to watch the last broadcast of "American Bandstand" in 1989.
It's been a long time since I've seen "Top of the Pops," but it does seem ironic that it has been cancelled at a time when the singles market in America has been revived thanks to paid digital downloads.
TINA AND SANNY, BACK TOGETHER
Dear Mr. Bronson,
I have been reading your Chart Beat for many years now and I read your book "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits" from front to back.
I just found out a few weeks ago that there is a hit on the Hot Dance Club Play chart called "Higher." It is No. 16 this week and is by Sanny X featuring Tina Charles. I am wondering whether this is the same Tina Charles who had a No. 1 hit with "I Love to Love" 30 years ago on the U.K. chart.
She is one of my all time favorite female singers. I like her "Dr. Love" and "Dance Little Lady Dance" very much.
Sanny Xenokottas and Tina Charles have a long history together. He remixed her hit single "I Love to Love" in the '80s. Born in Greece and raised in Sweden, Sanny X is currently producing a new album for Charles, and she is featured on his single "Higher," which this week goes even higher on the Club Play chart, rising to No. 12.
This current single marks the return of Charles to the Club Play tally after 31 years. Until "Higher" charted, she was a one-hit wonder. Her lone Club Play entry was "You Set My Heart on Fire," No. 3 in 1975.
Ironically, that song never charted for Charles in the U.K. She began her British chart career in 1976 with a No. 1 single, the original "I Love to Love (But My Baby Loves to Dance)." The two songs you mentioned were her only other top 10 hits. "Dance Little Lady Dance" went to No. 6 and "Dr. Love" peaked at No. 4; both were also hits in 1976.
MONTGOMERY GENTRY: THE EARLY YEARS
Just read your recent Chart Beat column where you mentioned:
"The last debut single from a duo to land in the top 10 was 'Lonely and Gone' by Montgomery Gentry in October 1999. That single peaked at No. 5."
I seem to recall that Montgomery Gentry's debut single was actually "Hillbilly Shoes" which peaked in the top 20, but not the top 10. Both are great songs!
West Hollywood, Calif.
You're right about Montgomery Gentry's debut single. The item needed further qualification to be accurate. It should have read, "The last single pulled from a debut album by a duo to land in the top 10 was 'Lonely and Gone' by Montgomery Gentry..."
PLEASE SAY SOMETHING ABOUT MARIAH
I wrote some weeks ago, but didn't get an answer. As my question is not-so-spectacular, I can understand why you skipped it, but I would really appreciate a quick answer. I asked about Mariah Carey's recent chart success: What were the highest Hot 100 positions of "Say Somethin'" and "Fly Like a Bird"? They both seem to be quite successful on certain R&B charts, but I didn't see either song enter the top 50 portion of the Hot 100.
What does this mean? Was Mariah's 2005 comeback just an "accident" and has the public turned away again?
Thank you very much for a short reply!
Holger R. Heinrich
The volume of mail received by Chart Beat Chat is so great that it's not possible to answer every question in the column. Sometimes even worthy missives are passed over; I do my best to select e-mails that are of the most general interest to post here.
It's also not possible to reply to every e-mail. If I did, writing Chart Beat Chat would become a full-time job. So, sometimes readers who send in worthy questions don't receive answers. I wish it were possible to reply to everyone, but it isn't. Please be assured I do read every e-mail, except for the obvious Spam.
One of the types of questions I usually resist answering is to simply provide chart positions, for a couple of reasons. First, if I did that in this column, I would receive hundreds of such requests. And second, if that's what Chart Beat Chat becomes -- simply a place to find out how high a single or album went -- this would become a rather dull column.
Having made you wade through this long reply, I think you deserve an answer, so I'll make an exception this time -- but this is not an invitation for other requests for chart positions. Our research department can handle those requests for a nominal fee.
On the Hot 100, "Say Somethin'" peaked at No. 79 in May. Mariah Carey's three previous singles all charted in the top two positions. "We Belong Together" spent 14 weeks at No. 1, "Shake It Off" peaked at No. 2 and "Don't Forget About Us" had a two-week reign.
"Fly Like a Bird" didn't chart on the Hot 100, but it did top the Adult R&B chart for two weeks, where it became Carey's second biggest hit, runner-up to "We Belong Together" (which ruled for eight weeks).
I don't think it means the Mariah comeback is over. I do think it means "The Emancipation of Mimi" is exhausted when it comes to releasing singles and we'll have to wait for something new to bring Carey back to the top of the charts.
RADIO PROGRAMMERS NEED TO GET INTO THE GROOVE
I'm sure you receive plenty of e-mails regarding Madonna so here is one more for you. Can you please explain to all of us Madonna fans what your own personal feeling is as to why she is being ignored by American radio.
I think that Billboard should revise the ratio of points more toward a 50-50 [ratio] since most songs may not be a single so to speak but are now [available as] downloads.
I don't see why one or two people in a radio station programmer position have the say over whether a song is played or not. If this is the case then Billboard should adjust the point system. When 50,000 people pay for a download, that is the same as buying a CD single or maxi-single. Why should the opinion of one or two people carry so much weight over what the public is buying? 50,000 people can't be wrong and when it comes to Madonna the public is never wrong!
Maybe sometime soon the radio station programmers will pull their heads out of their circuit boxes and listen to what the rest of us Madonna fans and American buying public already know: we are sick of the same old music -- put something on the radio we know we will all enjoy and stop choosing for us!
Your frustration is shared by fans of all artists who don't receive airplay on the radio. You asked about my feelings on the subject, but I think it's much more relevant to look at the facts.
An excellent piece on Madonna's airplay misfortunes in the United States was written by Billboard's Michael Paoletta and published in the July 29 issue. Normally this article would only be available to paid subscribers, but since so many Madonna fans write to this column about her radio airplay, here is a link to the story, headlined
"U.S. Radio Hangs Up on Madonna."
While I can empathize with your feelings -- many of my favorite artists do not receive airplay either -- I will take issue with your suggestion that we revise how the charts are compiled. The charts are accurate and we can't change the method of compilation because fans of any particular artist are unhappy with how much airplay their idol is receiving (or how they are selling). In other words, the problem is that Madonna isn't receiving enough airplay –- it's not that the charts are compiled incorrectly.
Also, paid downloads do count and, in fact, have had a huge influence on the Hot 100 this year. This column is about chart positions (and not sales figures), but I can say that Madonna's "Sorry" and "Get Together" would have had to sell a lot more copies as singles to fare better on the Hot 100.
I'm not sure what you mean by your reference to 50-50. That's not how the charts work. Each title on the Hot 100 has its own unique ratio. For example, a song like Taylor Hicks' "Do I Make You Proud," with massive sales and little airplay, might have a ratio of 95-5 (95% of its points from sales and 5% from airplay) while a song that is selling well and receiving a lot of airplay might have the 50-50 ratio that you mention. But having a 95-5 ratio gives you as much a chance of being No. 1 and as having a 50-50 ratio. It's the total that counts, not the split.