Fred discusses James Blunt, "High School Musical" and Gwen Stefani with readers.

PUTTING IT BLUNTLY

Dear Fred,

I've just checked out the latest Hot 100 and was more than happy to learn of James Blunt's rise into the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time with "You're Beautiful." As a fellow Brit I only hope he stands a chance of advancing further and possibly hitting No. 1!

If the track does make pole position, am I correct that this will be the first U.S. No. 1 hit by a British artist since Elton John's Princess Diana tribute from 1997?

I know that a lot of British music fans like myself were hoping for some sort of British re-invasion of the Hot 100 sometime last year, as we had a great run during the mid-sixties and mid-eighties. As this hasn't (yet) materialized, a U.K. act sitting on top of your prestigious chart would most certainly partially compensate!

I also noticed that our current U.K. No. 1, the brilliant "Nasty Girl" from Notorious B.I.G. and friends has stalled just outside your top 40. I cannot believe this hasn't at least made your top 10 yet -- it's a great tribute to a much-missed artist. Maybe its chart life is only just beginning over your side of the Atlantic and a climb further up the chart is possible?

I never miss your great column.

All the best,

Rich Ashton
Sheffield, England

Dear Rich,

Details about James Blunt's 5-2 move on the Billboard Hot 100 can be found in this week's "Chart Beat." He is the first British artist to reach the top 2 since Elton John did it with "Candle in the Wind 1997" / "Something About the Way You Look Tonight," as you suspect.

I don't know of "You're Beautiful" has enough power to reach No. 1 on the Hot 100. It is in pole position on Hot Digital Songs this week, so its strength is in its sales. The song is No. 19 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart.

If "You're Beautiful" peaks at No. 2, it will be the first single by a U.K.-born act to do so in 10 years, since Donna Lewis spent nine weeks in the runner-up spot with "I Love You Always Forever."

"Nasty Girl" by the Notorious B.I.G. featuring Diddy, Nelly, Jagged Edge and Avery Storm has not taken the U.S. by storm. After peaking at No. 32 on the Hot 100 Airplay list last week, the track is now down to No. 58. On the Hot Digital Songs chart, "Nasty Girl" peaked at No. 41 and this week rebounds 59-56.



IT ONLY TAKES A MINUTE (OR SO)

Hi Fred,

One of the last week's new entries, Zac Efron & Vanessa Anne Hudgens' "What I've Been Looking For (Reprise)," is probably the shortest song in the history of The Billboard Hot 100 and maybe earlier too (before Aug. 4, 1958). The timing is only 1:19. What do you think?

Adrian Ciba
Lodz, Poland

Dear Adrian,

I think you may be right. As if Zac Efron and Vanessa Anne Hudgens didn't set enough records! Although, as it turns out, they are more of a trio than a duo. See the next e-mail.



WHO ARE THE REAL STUDENT BODIES?

Hi Fred,

I saw on IMDB under "High School Musical" that Andrew Seeley, the co-writer of "Get'cha Head in the Game," was the voice of Zac Efron. So I "Googled" Andrew Seeley's name and found out that he supposedly sang the majority of the songs Zac Ephron was listed as singing [on the soundtrack]. I just wanted to check with you to see if you knew if this "fact" was true or not.

My daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed "High School Musical" (she has memorized every song now and seems to listen to the soundtrack or watch the movie every waking minute!), but I don't want to find out that we may have another Milli Vanilli incident occurring here.

Since Zac Ephron is listed as the singer on four of the songs on the Billboard Hot 100, and that is his real name and not the character in the movie's name, is he really singing the song that people are buying or is Andrew Seeley?

Thanks Fred,

Robert Harms
Sunnyvale, Calif.

Dear Robert,

Our chart department has been dealing with this issue all week, and as a result, you'll notice that credits for some of the "High School Musical" tracks have changed.

It's really not a Milli Vanilli situation, though. The Disney folks never claimed that Zac Efron was singing all of the "High School Musical" songs. On the CD, songs are credited to character names, not the names of the real actors. Billboard listed the songs on the chart by using the actors' names. It's also not unusual for actors not to sing their own songs in filmed musicals (Marni Nixon became famous for being the singing voice of Audrey Hepburn, Deborah Kerr, Natalie Wood, Jeanne Crain Marilyn Monroe in various movie musicals).

Andrew Seeley did sing some of the "High School Musical" tracks, and has been properly credited on the Billboard charts. On other tracks, Zac Efron recorded vocals and they were mixed with Seeley's vocals, so both artists are now credited.

By the way, the success of all these "High School Musical" tracks was completely unexpected. Label execs at Walt Disney were planning to promote B5's version of "Get'cha Head in the Game" as the hit single from the TV movie. Ironically, it's one of two original songs on the album that has not charted.



REVENGE OF THE SIXTH

Dear Fred,

Maybe I missed it, but doesn't Gwen Stefani have a sixth single hit from one album on The Billboard Hot 100? Isn't this something that has not happened in a long time? I think everyone got wrapped up with all the "High School Musical" talk that they forgot about this.

Robert Alonso
New York

Dear Robert,

In almost any other week, there would have been an item about Gwen Stefani's "Crash" racing onto the Hot 100 as the sixth chart single from her "Love. Angel. Music. Baby." CD. So you're right, the amazing success of "High School Musical" overshadowed her accomplishment. Your e-mail has allowed us to acknowledge her chart feat.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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