Fred discusses palindromes, country radio and charts with readers.


Hello Fred,

I loved the letter from the Chart Beat reader asking about palindromes (spelled the same forward and backward). Although I couldn't find many true palindromes beyond "SOS" (a hit for ABBA, Rihanna and a British hit for ABC), I did discover the following:

• 'N Sync reached the top 20 with "Pop."
• Jorgen Ingmann went to No. 54 in 1961 with "Anna."
• The Willis Brothers had a No. 14 country hit in 1967 called "Bob."
• OutKast also charted with a song called "B.O.B," but the title may have included the parenthetical "(BombsOver Baghdad)."
• Andre Gagnon would probably be pleased that something brought attention to his lone chart entry that stalled at No. 95: "Wow."
• They Might Be Giants recorded a song called "I Palindrome I," which, despite the intended pun, is not a palindrome.
• The Ohio Players came close with their hit "O-H-I-O."
• R. Kelly also could have made the list if he had shortened his '90s hit to its parenthetical title: "I Can't Sleep Baby (If I)."
• Napoleon XIV's unforgettable mid-'60s novelty hit"They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haa!" was reissued in 1973 and re-charted at No. 87 with the flip side listed as "!AaH-Ah, Yawa Em Ekat Ot Gnimoc Er'yeht," which makes the 45 single a complete back-and-front palindrome (strangely enough, the original version had an additional "a" at the end of the title, and did not repeat the backward version in true palindrome fashion, since it saved the "!Aaah-Ah" for the endof the flip title).
• The longest palindrome I can recall, which to myknowledge has not yet become a pop hit is: "A man, a plan, a canal: Panama."

Perhaps some artist will record a song called "Strap Parts"?

Thanks for reading,

Vince Ripol (aka Lopir Ecniv)
San Diego (or Ogeid Nas)

Dear Vince,

The topic of palindromes inspired a lot of readers to send in e-mails this week. A couple of notes about your letter:

• "Weird Al" Yankovic also recorded a song titled "Bob," which was composed of rhyming palindromes. It's a parody of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues."
• "Anna" was also the title of a 1962 hit for Arthur Alexander, although it included the parenthetical "(Go to Him)."
• There was an EP released in 1992 by the band Soundgarden. The title was "Satanoscillatemymetallicsonatas."
• Palindromes much longer than "A man, a plan, a canal: Panama" exist. Do an online search for "longest palindrome" and you'll be amazed.

There's more palindromic e-mails, so keep reading:



I will make this short and sweet. "SOS" by ABBA holds the distinction of having the only song title AND act that is the same, coming and going.

How was this missed in last weeks "Chart Beat Chat?"

Kevin Martin
Brooklyn, N.Y.


Hi Fred,

"SOS" by ABBA is not the only palindromic song title in chart history, but it is the only palindromic song by a palindromic artist. That's a record that's likely to stick around for a while, at least until Eve decides to do a remake of the Crash Test Dummies' "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm."

Trip Payne
Boca Raton, Fla.

Dear Kevin and Trip,

Thanks for noticing the double palindromes on "SOS" and ABBA. Trip, we'll see if Eve takes your suggestion.


Good day, Fred!

Last week someone mentioned T.I.'s "What You Know" making one of the biggest jumps into the top five of the Hot 100. However, if memory serves me well, wouldn't that be the biggest jump within the top 40?

Shawn Michaels
Wisner, Neb.

Dear Shawn,

In my reply to the e-mail about T.I.'s 39-4 move, I listed 10 songs that made bigger jumps into the top five between 1990-2006 than "What You Know," but all of them made the leap from the bottom 60 positions on the Hot 100.

The 35-point jump of T.I.'s single is the biggest leap I can find within the top 40. The next five biggest jumps in the rock era are:

35-2 "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" Elvis Presley (Nov. 21, 1960) +33
35-3 "Black or White," Michael Jackson (Nov. 30, 1991) +32
37-5 "Missing You," Case (April 14, 2001) +32
36-5 "Penny Lane," The Beatles (March 11, 1967) +31
36-5 "Because You Loved Me," Celine Dion (March 16, 1996) +31



Are you sure country airplay has been eliminated from the Hot 100? There are five songs within the top 50 of the Hot 100 Airplay chart, with Hot 100 positions too high to be justified with the small amount of Digital Download sales country songs normally attain (however, Rascal Flatts is a major exception to that rule this week).

The songs by Toby Keith, Blake Shelton and Brooks and Dunn are far too country to be receiving crossover airplay. Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts may be receiving some crossover airplay on Adult Contemporary, but certainly not enough to put them in or just outside the top 30 of that chart. If it has been deleted, it is a real shame for the Hot 100, since all of the other formats are included.

Brian C. Cole
Gulf Shores, Ala.

Dear Brian,

Am I sure? Well, uh, no, as it turns out.

Country airplay is, of course, still very much factored into the Hot 100, as is airplay from other genres. What's happened is that since sales of singles have been energized by the popularity of paid digital downloads, some country singles aren't charting as high on the Hot 100 as their predecessors did.