Answers to readers' questions about the Simpson sisters and the Verve Pipe.

A PUBLIC 'I CARE'


Hi Keith,

I was listening to Jessica Simpson's new single "A Public Affair" on her Web site and it sounds like it samples a song from the '80s but I can't figure out which one. I couldn't find any information with respect to that either. Am I correct? If so, which song is it?

Also, the chorus at the end reminds me of the recording of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Diana Ross.

Thanks,

Gabriel Duque
Miami Beach, Fla.


Hi Gabriel,

The blogosphere has been buzzing about the similarities between "A Public Affair" and Madonna's "Holiday."

While "Affair" doesn't seem to directly sample the track, the melody, arrangement and instrumentation are very reminiscent of the classic 1983 Madonna hit. Both tunes also have bright percussion and a springy, rubbery bassline. "Holiday," which was not written by Madonna, was the diva's first Billboard Hot 100 single. The tune, composed by Curtis Hudson and Lisa Stevens, peaked at No. 16 in early 1984.

However, "Affair" does credit songwriters Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, the writers of Diana Ross' "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Towards the end of "Affair," the background vocalists sing a few lines of "aaah, aaah, aaah" which clearly borrow from "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." (Those "aaah, aaahs" might look weird in print, but if you are familiar with "Ain't No Mountain," you know exactly what I mean.)

"A Public Affair" is the first single and title track from Simpson's forthcoming album.



SIMPSON DOUBLE-TAKE


Hey Keith!

I have a question regarding Ashlee Simpson. She recently released a music video for "Invisible," a song that is not featured on her sophomore album "I Am Me." Is this the first single from a new album? I'd be very surprised to hear that, considering only two singles have been released from "I Am Me."

I'm also curious about how many of Ashlee's first two releases have sold.

Thanks, and keep up the great work!

Take care,

Christopher Yannuzzi
Lake Worth, Fla.

P.S. Thanks for answering my question regarding Kevin Federline in a previous column!


Hi Christopher,

Glad I could help with the K-Fed question. It will be interesting to see if his album does well -- when (and if) it gets released.

It seems to be the week of Simpsons, as I'm answering queries about both Jessica and Ashlee.

Ashlee Simpson's new "Invisible" single is slated to be included on a reissue of her "I Am Me" album, although a release date for said reissue hasn't been officially announced yet, so these plans could change. Worst case scenario, even if the CD isn't re-released, the song might end up bundled with the "I Am Me" album via digital retailers like iTunes.

"I Am Me" has sold 900,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, since it debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 last year. Her first album, "Autobiography," has shifted 2.9 million. It also hit No. 1.



DOWN THE PIPE


Hi Keith,

I think the Verve Pipe's "Underneath" is one of the greatest albums of the past 10 years. Could you tell me how many copies it sold and why you think RCA completely dropped the ball with this incredible pop/rock album?

Thanks,

Armand Aviram
New York


Hello Armand,

Thus far, the Verve Pipe's "Underneath" has sold 37,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It was released in 2001 and failed to chart on The Billboard 200.

The band is best known for its lone Billboard Hot 100 hit, "The Freshmen." It peaked at No. 5 on the chart and spent 42 weeks on the tally. The track also spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Modern Rock chart -- one of the band's four hits on that list.

I cannot speak to the Verve Pipe and RCA's relationship, specifically. I'm unfortunately unaware of the exact reasoning why the band departed RCA.

It could have been a case of diminishing returns. The band's first album for the label, "Villians," reached No. 24 on The Billboard 200, spent 48 weeks on the chart and has sold 1.2 million in the U.S. Its follow-up, 1999's "The Verve Pipe," only managed a No. 158 placing and spent one lonely week on the chart. It has only sold 59,000 units and eked out one minor radio hit: "Hero."

It's likely that by the time 2001's "Underneath" rolled around, it was difficult to convince the general public (and rock radio programmers) that the Verve Pipe were anything but a "one hit wonder."

We can only assume that RCA would have tried to promote and publicize the band as best as it could. Perhaps radio programmers -- and the public at large -- just weren't interested. (For what it's worth, the lead single from "Underneath," "Never Let You Down," did spend 20 weeks on the Adult Top 40 chart, peaking at No. 20.)

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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