Fred discusses "American Idol," Daniel Powter, chart records and more with readers.
LISA, LISTEN TO ME
I know that you have access to the "American Idol" finalists. Can you please tell Lisa Tucker for me NOT to choose bubblegum pop songs anymore, and go back to choosing challenging fare which she can deliver?
In her initial performances, I became a fan when she belted out obscure "mature" songs like "I am Changing." However, when she took to heart the judges' comments to choose "younger" songs with faster beats, that's when she started being just average and [that's why she] keeps ending up in the bottom three.
Paris Bennett ignored the same comments about her "mature" choice of songs and she gets more positive feedback with her renditions.
Lisa is one of the better singers in the competition, so it would be such a shame if she gets booted out without getting to show more of her talent just because she compromised and tried to be more "young." Her strength is being able to tackle wide-range ballads with tricky notes, so she should maximize that. I hope you can help me get this advice to her before it's too late.
Quezon City, Philippines
I don't want to overstate any access I might have to the finalists. While they are competing on "American Idol," access is very limited. There was a party hosted by the American Idol Magazine where I was able to meet the top 24, and Fox Television had a party the night the top 12 was finalized, so I reconnected with the contestants who were still in the game.
They don't do interviews with the press until they are voted off the show, so if I see them now it's only when I'm at the studio for the live broadcasts. And I wouldn't presume to give them any advice while they're in competition. They've got to figure out their own strategies for winning without any outside help (although they can rely on their own families and friends for advice).
One of the first things I learned about "American Idol" was that the contestants had to select their own songs. In my naiveté, when I first met executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, I told him I had a great idea for a show where the editors of Billboard would pick songs for the contestants to sing. He explained that if anyone else chose songs for the finalists, they could blame that person for choosing the wrong song if they were voted off the show that week.
So with the exception of the annual show where the judges pick songs for the top three, this isn't done. I thought about what Nigel said, and a couple of hours later I went back to him with the idea for the second season contestants to sing "Billboard's No. 1 Hits."
During that same season, I had a song that I thought would be perfect for Carmen Rasmusen -- a Swedish hit by Jill Johnson called "Crazy in Love" (not the Beyoncé song). I knew she shouldn't sing an unknown song on the show, but I also knew I couldn't suggest a song while she was in competition. A few months after season two was over, Carmen told me she was recording some demos. That's when I told her about "Crazy in Love." She heard the song, loved it and her manager called the publisher in Sweden to make a deal. Carmen recorded the song on an EP that was released on an independent label last year and did a fantastic job.
So, back to Lisa, I've really enjoyed her performances, but I won't be able to pass along your advice. Unless she happens to read "Chart Beat Chat," she'll have to keep on doing what she's doing on her own.
BON JOUR, MAL JOUR
Who was the last artist from Canada to top the Hot 100 ?
Did you know that "Bad Day" [by Daniel Powter] was first a big hit in France because it was the music from a Coca-Cola advertisement? [The single was] No. 3 in France in March 2005.
Last summer it was No. 2 in the United Kingdom. And in the United States maybe [it is] the next No. 1 !
Mon cher Alexandre,
The last Canadian act to top the Hot 100 was a band that formed in Alberta. In December 2001, Nickelback's "How You Remind Me" began a four-week reign. So if Daniel Powter, who hails from British Columbia, does make it to No. 1 with "Bad Day," he will be the first Canadian to do so in just over four years.
It's not a Coke commercial that is driving Daniel's sales in the United States. The song has been played on "American Idol" for several weeks in a row, as the theme music behind the video for the contestant(s) leaving that week.
I mentioned Nigel Lythgoe in the response to the e-mail above; his son Chris suggested "Bad Day" and should the song be certified by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), I think he deserves a gold (or platinum) plaque from the folks at the Warner Brothers label.
WILL KELLY REPEAT FEAT?
I just read on your column about Kelly Clarkson's five consecutive singles from one album reaching the top 10 of Billboard's Adult Top 40 chart. I wonder if she will repeat this feat on the Hot 100. What surprises me the most is that I can only think of two other female singers who have had five singles from one album reach the top 10.
First, Whitney Houston's "Whitney" contained the top 10 singles "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)," "Didn't We Almost HaveIt All," "So Emotional," "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" and "Love Will Save the Day." Paula Abdul's "Forever Your Girl" contained the top 10 singles "Straight Up," "Forever Your Girl," "Cold Hearted," "(It's Just) The Way That You Love Me" and "Opposites Attract."
When it comes to males, the list isn't that long either, but there a few examples: Michael Jackson, George Michael, Bon Jovi, Milli Vanilli (do they count?), and more recently, Usher.
A lot of female artists have had several singles reach the Hot 100, like Gwen Stefani with six songs from her album "Love. Angel. Music. Baby." But when it comes to five singles from one album achieving top 10 status, it seems like the list is very short. We'll have to wait to see if Kelly Clarkson can become part of that list.
There is one more female artist who has had at least five singles from one album reach the top 10 of the Hot 100, and she's done it three times. See the next e-mail to find out who she is.
Congratulations go out to Kelly Clarkson this week! Not only does she become the first artist to score five top 10 hits from the same album on Billboard's Adult Top 40 list like you mentioned, but she is also the first female solo artist to score five top 20 hits from the same album on the Hot 100 in quite some time.
As a matter of fact (I think), you would have to go back at least 12 years to find the last female soloist to score five top 20 (Hot 100) hits from the same album, that being "janet." by Janet Jackson, who appears to be the only female soloist on the Hot 100 to do this with three albums in a row. "Control" produced six, "Rhythm Nation 1814" spawned seven, and "janet." produced six.
Just for good measure, the last album to spawn at least five top 40 (Hot 100) hits from the same album by a female act was "Fly" by the Dixie Chicks, which spawned five hits between 1999 and 2001.
Following through on the above e-mail from José Carlos Santos, thanks for bringing up Janet Jackson. Not only did she have at least five top 20 hits from the same album, she has had at least five top 10 hits from one album, and she's done it with the three albums you mentioned: "Control," "Rhythm Nation 1814" and "janet."
There were five top 10 hits from "Control" (those five singles all reached the top five), seven top 10 hits from "Rhythm Nation 1814" (again, all seven made the top five) and six top 10 hits from "janet."
TEN YEARS AFTER
I want you to know how much I've looked forward to your "Chart Beat" column over the years as well as "Chart Beat Chat." Reading about new chart records never gets old. How long has "Chart Beat" been online? It dawned on me that I probably started reading it 10 years ago because I remember Toni Braxton's hit "Unbreak My Heart" was a huge hit at the time. When was your 10-year anniversary?
It's been fascinating watching the chart over the past decade. The addition of digital downloads to the Hot 100 mix has made the charts more interesting to watch over the last year. It's gratifying to see some genre variety in the top 10, though it's still not enough for my taste.
One thing I thought I read in one of the columns was that certain radio stations were tracked for the Hot 100. I want to say it was around the time that airplay-only singles were first allowed on the chart -- it seems more country stations were monitored to contribute to the chart. Is that the case? How does Billboard go about choosing what kind of stations are monitored for the Hot 100?
Incidentally, one of my favorite columns was one in which people responded to your comment that you kept a personal chart of your own. It's something I've been doing since I was 13 back in 1985. It was terrific to know so many folks out there are as obsessed as me. I would love to hear from more people doing their own charts.
Since you included your e-mail address, I think you will be hearing from other chart-obsessed readers. And let's face it, who has more chart-obsessed readers than "Chart Beat" and "Chart Beat Chat?"
The 10-year anniversary of "Chart Beat" being online hasn't happened yet, but it's only a couple of weeks away. The column originated in Billboard magazine in March 1981 and was written by Paul Grein until the end of 1992. I began writing the column in January 1993.
Billboard's Web site debuted in Fall 1995 (as "Billboard Online") and "Chart Beat Chat" began in April 1996, along with an additional column known as "Chart Beat Bonus." When Billboard magazine was redesigned in April 2005, "Chart Beat" became an online feature exclusively.
Country radio airplay was included in the Hot 100 for a time, but now we only count sales of country singles.
ROCK CHARTS, WHERE IS THY STING?
A couple weeks ago someone cited Bon Jovi as the first act to have a top 10 on both the country and rock singles charts since Roy Orbison, and another reader thought Uncle Kracker might have accomplished this, but it turned out he never appeared on either the Mainstream Rock or Modern Rock charts.
But how about Sting? He had a No. 2 hit on the Hot Country Songs chart with Toby Keith in the late 1990s called "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying." I would think one of his solo hits might have made the rock charts -- maybe "Fortress Around Your Heart" or "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free"?
West Hollywood, Calif.
Your e-mail sent me running to the bound volumes of Billboard to see if Sting was credited on the chart for the Toby Keith cover of Sting's "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying." Checking a December 1997 issue, I found Sting's name, right there next to Toby's, in the top 10 of the country songs chart.
Sting has had many hits on the Mainstream Rock Tracks tally, and a handful on the Modern Rock Tracks list, so he definitely qualifies. Good catch!
SOMEONE'S BEEN DOING THEIR RECORD RESEARCH
I have three more Spanish acts that hit the Hot 100 to add to your list from last week:
Los Bravos had three Hot 100 hits, including the No. 4 hit "Black Is Black." All but the German-born lead singer were from Spain.
Los Pop Tops had two Hot 100 hits. All but the West Indian lead singer were from Spain.
And finally, the Madrid-born Placido Domingo hit No. 59 with "Perhaps Love," a 1982 duet with John Denver.
Menomonee Falls, Wis.
You were the first of many readers to write in with additional artists from Spain to add to the list. Hmmm, you folks in Menomonee Falls sure know a lot about music -- is it something in the water?