Ask Billboard

Answers to readers' questions about Rihanna, Grace Jones and Sheryl Crow.


Hi Keith,

What's the deal with Rihanna's "SOS?" It's doing pretty well on the Billboard Hot 100, but as of this writing it's not available for download at the Apple iTunes Music Store. I would think the sales could really boost the song's [chart] performance. Any idea when it might be available? And is "SOS" the lead single from a new Rihanna album? It's not on her debut set "Music of the Sun" (which was released last year).


Mark Blankenship
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Hi Mark,

"SOS" is not available at the Apple iTunes Music Store, likely following in the footsteps of other songs like Ne-Yo's "So Sick" and LL Cool J's "Control Myself." In Ne-Yo's case, "So Sick" was withheld from iTunes because his label, Def Jam, wanted to encourage consumers to buy the album once it came out -- instead of only buying a 99-cent track. LL and Rihanna are also Def Jam artists.

"SOS" is the first single from Rihanna's second album, "A Girl Like Me," due April 25 via Def Jam. The song, which rises 46-44 on the Billboard Hot 100 dated March 25, samples the classic 1980s song "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell.

Rihanna's 2005 debut, "Music of the Sun," debuted and peaked at No. 10 on The Billboard 200. It has sold 416,000 in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.


Hi Keith

Are there any updates as far as Grace Jones' recording career goes? I recently picked up the album "Private Life: The Compass Point Sessions" and it seems to be the last release of hers in some time.

Does she have a complete greatest hits album and did she have any "hits" on the charts?


Los Angeles


While there have been rumblings that Grace Jones may be in the process of putting together a new album, don't hold your breath. Jones hasn't released a studio album since 1989's "Bulletproof Heart."

The singer/actress, most famous to the general public for playing the role of May Day in the James Bond film "A View to a Kill," recently turned up at New York's Olympus Fashion Week in February. Jones was the final model in Diesel's fall 2006 runway show.

Jones has scored a number of hits on Billboard's album and singles charts. She netted top 10 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs hits with "Pull Up To The Bumper" (No. 5, 1981) and "I'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect For You)" (No. 9, 1987). Jones also notched a top 10 placing on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums list with 1981's "Nightclubbing," which climbed to No. 9.

It's no surprise to many that her most notable chart achievements have occurred on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart. She has registered 17 entries on that tally, including 11 top 10s. They include the No. 1s "I Need a Man" (1977), "Slave to the Rhythm" (1986), "Love on Top of Love - Killer Kiss" (1989) and "Sex Drive" (1993). The aforementioned "Pull Up To The Bumper" reached No. 2 there in 1981, while "Nipple to the Bottle" reached the same placement the following year.

Only three of Jones' nine U.S. studio albums are still in print: 1977's "Portfolio," 1981's "Nightclubbing" and 1985's "Slave To The Rhythm."

However, she does have three greatest hits compilations available in America. 1985's "Island Life," the 1998 "Compass Point Sessions" set that you own and 2003's "20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection." Unfortunately, none of the albums cover Jones' entire career.


Hi Keith,

Why was Sheryl Crow's latest album "Wildflower" such a flop? Did the record company lose steam? I know "Good is Good" wasn't her best track to date, but I thought the album had at least two or three noteworthy singles on it!

I have also heard speculation that she was planning on releasing a pure "rock" album this year. Can you shed any new light on that?


Ryan Gibson

Hi Ryan,

There are always a number of reasons why an album doesn't perform up to expectations. With Sheryl Crow's "Wildflower," it could be due to the underwhelming reception of first single "Good Is Good." The single completely missed appearing on Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 chart and only managed a No. 64 showing on the Billboard Hot 100.

"Wildflower" has sold 741,000 in its first 24 weeks of U.S. release, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That's not bad for most artists, but Crow's last set, 2002's "C'mon, C'mon," moved 1.4 million in the same span of time. Of course, that album had the massive multi-format hit single in "Soak up the Sun," which certainly encouraged the sales of the album.

Things are looking up for Crow though. Her new single, "Always On Your Side," has been revamped to include Sting on guest vocals. That's helped attract attention to the song, which rose to No. 33 on the Hot 100 last week. The new version of "Always" will be added to the April 11 reissue of "Wildflower" that A&M/Interscope has planned.