Answers to readers' questions about INXS, Bilboard's singles charts and Madonna.

IN EXCESS

Hi Keith,

INXS is my favorite band of all time and I was wondering, in light of the group's comeback, could you please provide album sales since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking data in 1991?

Also, I visited the Recording Industry Association of America's Web site, and pre-SoundScan certifications have not been done in years. Just for the sake of clarity, could you provide those numbers as well?

Sincerely,

Daniel Carlton
Chicago

Hello Daniel,

Below is a list of all of INXS' albums that were commercially released in the United States, beginning with the band's 1982 American debut "Shabooh Shoobah." Provided are the U.S. sales of each album during the Nielsen SoundScan-era (the company began tracking sales data in 1991).

Additionally, I've indicated what the release's current gold or platinum status is according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). For further information on about the gold and platinum certification program, please visit the organization's Web site at RIAA.com.

(Gold indicates 500,000 units shipped to U.S. retailers (minus returns), platinum equals 1 million units shipped. Also, multi-disc or "double albums" abide by different standards for certification, about which RIAA.com has more information.)

Title (Year; SoundScan Sales 1991; RIAA certification)

"Shabooh Shoobah" (1982; 139,000; gold)
"The Swing" (1984; 85,000; platinum)
"Listen Like Thieves" (1985; 153,000; 2x platinum)
"Kick" (1987; 831,000; 6x platinum)
"X" (1990; 581,000; 2x platinum)
"Live Baby Live" (1991; 232,000; platinum)
"Welcome To Wherever You Are" (1992; 595,000; fold)
"Full Moon, Dirty Hearts" (1993; 152,000) - Out of print in the U.S.
"The Greatest Hits" (1994; 617,000; platinum)
"Elegantly Wasted" (1997; 176,000) - Out of print in the U.S.
"Shine Like It Does: The Anthology (1979-1997)" (2001; 35,000)
"The Best Of INXS" (2002; 373,000)
"Switch" (2005; 289,000)

The group's first two albums, 1980's "INXS" and 1981's "Underneath the Colours" belatedly saw their U.S. release in 1984. They have sold 12,000 and 10,000, respectively, and both are out of print.

While the four albums indicated as "out of print" are indeed not available in America as a physical CD, they are all obtainable through digital retailers like the Apple iTunes Music Store.



DETAILS MAKE THE DIFFERENCE

Greetings Keith,

It seems that the Hot 100 is the one all-encompassing chart provided by Billboard, but what is the difference between it and other Billboard charts that contain similar songs and cover similar markets such as the Pop 100 and Pop 100 Airplay?

Also, I understand how a song that tops the R&B/Hip-Hop charts (such as Mary J. Blige's "Be Without You") might not top the Hot 100, as the R&B/Hip-Hop market is just one of several markets accounted for in the Hot 100. However, how does a R&B/Hip-Hop song such as D4L's "Laffy Taffy" top the Hot 100, but peak at No. 15 on the R&B/Hip-Hop charts considering that it is an R&B/Hip-Hop song that received heavy rotation on R&B radio and television formats?

Lastly, when was the Hot 100 introduced and, prior to its inception did the Pop 100 serve in the role that the Hot 100 does now?

Overcoming obstacles,

Anthony Moore
Chicago

Hi Anthony,

The Billboard Hot 100 has been in existence since 1958. The chart ranks the most popular songs in the United States based upon radio audience, digital sales and physical single sales.

All commercial formats of U.S. radio that Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems monitors are included (everything from top 40 and R&B to country and Latin). Over 1,000 U.S. radio stations are monitored and that data is used to compile the chart.

If you're wondering what the phrase "radio audience" means, here's the deal: Billboard, with sister company Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems, estimates how many people actually hear a song when it is played on the radio. We take Arbitron radio ratings data and cross-reference that with what time of day a song is played on a station. That way, we can determine how many people, in theory, heard the song. For example, if you hear a song on a high-rated station in Los Angeles at 5 p.m., it will carry more weight than a play for a song at 3 a.m. on an Anchorage, Alaska, station.

It's also important to note that depending on the ratings of a particular format of radio, some songs may never achieve a certain level of popularity on the Billboard Hot 100. Right now, R&B/hip-hop stations are very highly rated, and thus register high audience numbers for songs played in that format.

The Pop 100 is put together like the Hot 100, except that it only has one radio format included: Mainstream Top 40. The Pop 100 also includes digital and physical single sales.

The Pop 100 Airplay chart ranks the most played songs, by audience, from Mainstream Top 40 stations -- it does not include any sales. The information collected for the Pop 100 Airplay chart is used to compile the Pop 100 chart.

Both the Pop 100 and the Pop 100 Airplay chart were established in 2003.

Your D4L question brings up an important point. While Billboard's Hot 100 and Pop 100 charts include digital sales, our Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart does not. (Though it does include sales of physical singles -- like CD singles or 12" vinyl.) "Laffy Taffy" rose to No. 1 on the Hot 100 based on its strong airplay and its even stronger digital sales in the week that followed Christmas. Because the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart does not include digital sales yet, "Laffy Taffy" could only peak at No. 15 on that chart.



SO SORRY

Hi Keith,

If Madonna's new single "Sorry" is dominating the charts overseas then how come I haven't heard about it in the United States? It's not on the charts (except on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play and Hot Dance Radio Airplay lists), and it's not being played on the radio. The only place I find it playing is on MTV. How come U.S. radio stations are not playing it?

Thank you!

Shant Megerdichian
Glendale, Calif.

Hello Shant,

"Sorry," the second single from Madonna's "Confessions on a Dance Floor," is indeed a huge hit across Europe. It debuted at No. 1 on the Official U.K. Singles Chart where it is the diva's 12th titled to top the chart. That's more than any other female. "Sorry" also dominates the radio airwaves in Europe and is inescapable on music video channels.

So why hasn't "Sorry" exploded in America? Chalk it up to different tastes.

Right now, hip-hop and rhythmic songs dominate American radio. A big dance track like "Sorry" has an uphill battle. Couple that with the fact that some radio programmers may perceive Madonna as too old for their listeners, and you have two strikes against the song.

Don't write off "Sorry" just yet though. It's still gaining at radio, but just not at a very fast pace.

"Hung Up," the album's first single, was a moderate hit on the radio. But with its healthy digital and physical single sales, it climbed all the way to No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Because of growing digital sales and radio play for "Sorry," I expect it will debut on the Hot 100 this week. It may also see a spike next week once the Feb. 28 release of the CD maxi and 12" vinyl singles impact the chart.

One can take solace in the fact that "Sorry" recently reached No. 1 on MTV's daily viewer-voted countdown show "TRL."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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