Fred discusses chart rules, Elvis' chart career, his favorites of 2005 and more with readers.

WHY ISN'T 'CHRISTMAS' PRESENT?

Hi Fred,

I noticed that "All I Want for Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey is the No. 1 song on the digital download chart. My question pertains to the Hot 100. I always thought that the Hot 100 is a reflection of the combination of what radio is playing and what the public is buying.

I realize that the Mariah Carey song is more than 10 years old but, if the public is buying this song, more so than any others, shouldn't that be reflected on the Hot 100?

Gary Nelson
Canoga Park, Calif.
nelsongand3m@earthlink.net

Dear Gary,

The Billboard Hot 100 is designed to chart the most popular current hits in America, and that's why a song that's 11 years old, like Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You," is ineligible to appear on the survey. If older songs were allowed to chart, the Hot 100 could become clogged with non-current hits, leaving less room for new songs to enter the chart.

Exceptions are made for old hits that become current again. That's why "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen was allowed to return to the Hot 100 when it was included on the soundtrack of "Wayne's World" and reissued as a commercial single, and why the Four Seasons' "December 1963 (Oh What a Night)" encored on the Hot 100 when Curb Records issued a remix and promoted it as a current single.

Something I've said many times in this space is that the Billboard charts are meant to be useful tools for the record industry. What I haven't said as often, but is still true, is that the policies aren't set in a vacuum. Record companies and radio stations are aware of chart rules and their input is considered. If it served the industry to have older titles included on the Hot 100, they probably would be there.

The success of "All I Want for Christmas Is You" as a paid digital download is reflected on Billboard's Hot Digital Songs chart, but you won't find this song or older holiday hits like Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" on the Hot 100.



HOW LONG?

Hi Fred!

On The Billboard Hot 100, Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men have the longest run at No. 1 with "One Sweet Day" (16 weeks) and Usher has the longest run at No. 1 by an artist (19 weeks; 12 with "Yeah!" followed by seven with "Burn"). On the Hot 100 Airplay chart, the Goo Goo Dolls have the longest run at No. 1 with "Iris" (18 weeks).

I would like to know which artist has the longest run at No. 1 as an artist on the Hot 100 Airplay chart. I know Mariah had 16 weeks at No. 1 with "We Belong Together" and then replaced herself with "Shake It Off," but I don't remember how many weeks she was No. 1 with that single. Was it enough to give Mariah the longest run at No. 1 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart?

Also, what is the difference between the Hot Digital Songs and Hot Digital Tracks charts?

Best wishes this holiday for you and everyone who reads your column.

Xavier Minchala
Guayaquil, Ecuador
xaviminch@yahoo.com

Dear Xavier,

After Mariah Carey led Hot 100 Airplay for 16 weeks with "We Belong Together," she had another three weeks on top with "Shake It Off." But those 19 weeks as leader of the pack wasn't enough to break the 23-week record set by Usher in 2004. He was No. 1 consecutively with "Yeah!" (12 weeks), "Burn" (eight weeks) and "Confessions Part II" (three weeks).

On Hot Digital Songs, all versions of a song are counted together. On Hot Digital Tracks, different versions of the same song, such as an original track vs. a clean edit, are charted separately.



ANTICIPATION

Hi Fred!

I'm going to ask a huge favor. Mariah Carey is about to tie Elvis Presley [for second place among artists with the most No. 1 hits], and that feat is going to cause a huge buzz. I think you should be ready for that; please, can you explain why Elvis has 17 No. 1 singles, not 18 (although we know that is due to a double-sided single) and why he has 79 weeks at No. 1, not 80. Mariah will have her 76th week at No. 1.

Thanks for your patience. This might be the first e-mail you'll receive about this matter, but I hope you can clear this up for us readers!

Best regards,

Luis Fonseca
Oporto, Portugal

Dear Luis,

You anticipated this week's chart action. As you know by now, Mariah Carey's "Don't Forget About Us" has indeed moved into pole position on the Hot 100, giving her 17 No. 1 hits.

After the storm of letters I received two weeks ago when "Hung Up" became Madonna's 36th top 10 hit, tying Elvis Presley's record, I thought it would be a good idea to explain why the Billboard count differs from the count found in Joel Whitburn's books. Check this week's "Chart Beat" for details on why Mariah has tied Elvis with 17 No. 1 hits.

Elvis has a total of 79 weeks at No. 1. By counting his time at No. 1 on other charts, Whitburn credits "All Shook Up" with nine weeks on top instead of eight weeks, which is how he comes up with 80 weeks at No. 1 instead of 79.



PLAYING FAVORITES

Hi Fred,

I always look forward to your [favorite] singles and albums at the end of the year. I think we have similar taste because we are both fond of good pop music, and your lists have introduced me to some good music.

A friend and I have been compiling end-of-the-year charts for the last several years, and I made the same comment [as you]: "there's a distinct British tint to my chart." I included artists such as James Blunt, Katie Melua ("Nine Million Bicycles" is on my singles list too and the album is my No. 1; what a great voice), K.T. Tunstall, Lisa Stansfield, Jimmy Somerville, Coldplay, Robbie Williams and Erasure, just to name a few.

I noticed you included Texas' "Red Book" on your list. That album is No. 4 on my favorites list; it is full of awesome pop songs. I know they had a contract in the United States once upon a time. What is their chart history on the U.S. album chart? They have had tremendous success in the United Kingdom and are one of my favorite groups.

I look forward to reading the rest of your list (For now I'm off to search for Robyn's music).

Don Casto
St. Petersburg, Fla.

Dear Don,

"Red Book" is definitely worth seeking out. Only one Texas album has charted on The Billboard 200. "Southside" peaked at No. 88 in 1989.

I hope you find Robyn's "Be Mine!" I know when I put Robyn's name and the title of the song in a search engine, I found the song as well as a feature on the making of the video. If you do find "Be Mine!" please let me know what you think. I'm not the only person who thought it was one of the best singles of the year; please see the next e-mail.



FLY, ROBYN, FLY

Hello there,

Just thought I would comment on your choices for best singles and albums of 2005. "Be Mine!" is an excellent choice; this is also one of my favorite songs of the year. Robyn's new material is so great; it is a shame Americans won't open their ears to a great artist like Robyn again.

And Sugababes' "Push the Button" is also a great song. Whatever happened to the release of their album "Three" with the single "Hole in the Head"?

I also like your choices from the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest. I can't believe Selma did not qualify [for the final], or Glenis Grace [from the Netherlands] for that matter. I love "Cool Vibes" and "Angel" -- those were great songs. There were actually a lot of respectable songs in Eurovision this year, especially Latvia with Walters and Kazha's "The War Is Not Over." But Greece won in the end, with a decent song and a good performance.

Jack Carr

Dear Jack,

Glad you enjoyed my choices for favorite singles and albums of 2005 [and those of the whole staff in the Billboard.com 2005 Year In Music special section]. I had to edit your letter for length, but thanks for recommending some of your favorite artists of the year: Rachel Stevens, West End Girls, Hard-Fi and Kent.



SUGA, SUGA

Fred,

Thanks again for the weekly column-and the holiday well wishes (hope you enjoy the season as well!).

I also wanted to tell you how happy I was that the Sugababes were No. 2 on your song list. I can't get enough of "Push the Button" and [the album] "Taller in More Ways" is right up there with "One Touch" on my favorites list-their best material since Siobhan Donaghy left.

I'm a huge fan of the Babes and have been since day one and am glad to hear that they just keep getting better and better. Here's hoping that 2006 sees the release of their terrific cover of Animotion's "Obsession" -- I'm anxious for a Babes video of this tune!

Craig Kile
Baltimore, Md.

Dear Craig,

Every once in a while, a pure pop single with an irresistible hook comes along, and Sugababes' "Push the Button" is the latest. I think it's the most perfect pop song since Gareth Gates' "Anyone of Us (Stupid Mistake)."

The follow-up to "Push the Button" is "Ugly." We'll see if they get around to releasing "Obsession" as a single in 2006. My personal favorite candidates for single release are "Bruised" and "Better."



THE BIG SHUT-OUT

Hi Fred!

Regarding the letter about British acts having success in the United States these days made me think about the last visit to No. 1 by a British or foreign act.

I remember the '80s (my favorite decade of music) when pole position was often occupied by artists like Duran Duran, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Culture Club, Wham!, George Michael, George Harrison, Rick Astley, etc. Now everything has changed. I was wondering if is this the longest shut-out of British/foreign acts from No. 1 during the rock era?

Eduardo Campero
Buenos Aires

Dear Eduardo,

It has been quite a while since a British artist has topped the Hot 100 -- almost eight years. That would date back to the week of Jan. 10, 1998, the 14th and final week in the reign of Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997" / "Something About the Way You Look Tonight."

However, there have been a few international artists who have ruled the chart since then, including Savage Garden from Australia, Celine Dion from Canada, Enrique Iglesias from Spain, Shaggy from Jamaica and Sean Paul, also from Jamaica.



QUNG UP

Dear Fred,

I don't know if you have ever discussed it, but I believe Madonna has had a top 40 hit starting with almost every letter in the alphabet. She is missing G,N,Q,U,X and Z. If you don't know, maybe one of your readers can find out if any other artist has accomplished this. She could get the "G" she needs with the second track on her new album, "Get Together."

It could be possible for Madonna to get all the letters. She did have a song on her "American Life" album called "X-Static Process," which brings me to my second question. How many top 40 hits, if any, started with the letter "X"?

Thanks,

Robert Alonso
New York

Dear Robert,

Thank you for your alphabetical view of Madonna's career. It's definitely not been broached in "Chart Beat Chat" before. Since you are only counting top 40 hits, Madonna's "Nothing Really Matters" doesn't qualify as an "N" song, because it peaked at No. 93 in 1999.

There have not been very many "X" titles in the history of the Hot 100. Only three have made the chart, and only one has appeared in the top 40 portion of the list. The highest-rated "X" title is "Xanadu," No. 8 for Olivia Newton-John and the Electric Light Orchestra in 1980.

For those who are curious, the other two "X" titles are "X Gon' Give It to Ya," No. 60 in 2003 for DMX and "X," No. 76 for Xzibit in 2001.



ROLE REVERSAL

Hey Fred,

On the Hot 100, song No. 47 is by Jamie Foxx featuring Ludacris, and the single at No. 48 is by Ludacris featuring Jamie Foxx.

Foxx's title track to his new album "Unpredictable" moved up 10 spots to No. 47 while Ludacris gets the Hot Shot Debut at No. 48 with "Georgia."

This HAS to be the first time two artists occupy consecutive chart positions while appearing as the alternating lead and featured artists of their respective
singles.

Thanks for keeping the "Beat,"

Vince Ripol
San Diego, Calif.

Dear Vince,

The song "Georgia" returns to the Hot 100 in time to celebrate its 75th anniversary. For details, check out this week's "Chart Beat.