Fred Bronson discusses the Rolling Stones, digital single sales, rock music and more with readers.
MORE BUCK FOR THE 'BANG'
I enjoy your column, and I'm a huge Stones fan, but I think the emphasis was a little off in your comments about the No. 3 debut of their new "A Bigger Bang" album.
I think the real big accomplishment here is that every Rolling Stones studio album (in addition to numerous live albums and compilations) since their second ("12 x 5") in 1964 has reached the top 5 on the Billboard album chart. Surely this must be some sort of record over a 41 year period!
The new album's success is also impressive given how little airplay it has received in the United States, notwithstanding the highly publicized and nearly sold out current tour.
Point well taken. It was my intention to emphasize how well the Rolling Stones have performed on the Billboard album chart over a long period of time, thus all the statistics about this being their 45th chart entry in 41 years, and their 22nd album to reach the top three (nine at No. 1, six at No. 2 and seven at No. 3).
I can't think of anyone else who has hit the top five of the album chart with every studio album over a 41-year period. All of the Beatles' original studio albums made the top five, but over a much shorter period of time.
COUNTING ALBUM SALES
I have a question regarding digital singles sales. Let's say that I'm a big Kanye West fan, but I dislike his single "Gold Digger." Nevertheless, I decide to buy his full album digitally from the iTunes store because I want to hear the entire record. Have I now contributed to the digital singles sales tally for "Gold Digger"? If so, I think we have a major glitch in the Hot 100.
It's a good question to raise, as we are in a new age of digital sales. Album sales have never counted toward the Hot 100, and the rules haven't changed in the download era. If you buy an entire album online, it only counts for one album sold. However, if you purchase just a few tracks, it does not count as an album sold, and those tracks are credited individually. So if you buy three tracks from "Late Registration," for example, and one of them is "Gold Digger," you have contributed to its success on the Hot 100.
HAS ROCK ROLLED OFF THE CHART?
Love your column!
I have been looking at the Hot 100 charts lately and it seems rock'n'roll is becoming less and less common. The chart is loaded with mostly rap, hip-hop and R&B. Is this really a reflection of the country? I live in Utah and we have a bunch of stations that are playing mostly rock artists like Rob Thomas, Ben Folds, Green Day and others. I don't hear hardly any of the songs that are on the Hot 100. What is going on?
I have often cautioned "Chart Beat" readers that it's not possible to see the national picture of radio airplay by looking at local radio in one city or state. If you could see an issue of Billboard Radio Monitor, you would see what radio stations all over the country are playing, playlist-by-playlist, and The Billboard Hot 100 would make more sense.
You didn't mention which radio stations you were listening to, but what you hear will depend a lot on if you are listening to mainstream top 40, modern rock, mainstream rock, adult top 40, etc.
Having said all of that, rock is doing quite well on the Hot 100. This week, Green Day's "Wake Me When September Ends" becomes the second top 10 single from the "American Idiot" CD, following the long No. 2 run for "Boulevard of Broken Dreams." Last week, Fall Out Boy's "Sugar, We're Goin' Down" was in the top 10. Weezer is No. 12 this week with "Beverly Hills." Gorillaz remains in the top 20 with "Feel Good Inc." Coldplay was in the top 10 earlier this year, and so were the Killers. Foo Fighters and 3 Doors Down had top 20 hits, and Audioslave and Nine Inch Nails are just two bands that reached the top 40.
Overall, I think it's been a pretty good year for rock on the Hot 100.
RIGHT TO THE POINT
Do you know, during a single chart run, which No. 1 song got knocked out and returned to No. 1 the most times?
(There -- short and sweet!)
Your e-mail arrived almost at the same moment as this next letter. Oddly enough, it contained the answer to your question, so read on.
Regarding Michael Ming's letter which noted Chic's "Le Freak" spending five consecutive weeks at No. 1 after Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond's "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" snuck in for a week. Actually, "Le Freak" had an even more interesting run at the top.
"Le Freak" first hit the top spot in December 1978, then dropped to No. 2 for a week to make way for "Flowers" (which coincidentally was in its second week at No. 1 -– its first was the week prior to the first "Le Freak" week, but that's a story for another day). After reassuming the No. 1 position for a second week, "Le Freak" then dropped to No. 2 again for two more weeks, this time to make way for the Bee Gees' hit, "Too Much Heaven."
Following "Too Much Heaven" (and now into January 1979), "Le Freak" then moved back into the No. 1 spot for a third time -– holding down the top spot for four more weeks -– giving the Chic song perhaps the spottiest run at No. 1 ever.
But Nile Rodgers and friends can now tell their kids that they were the only act to ever spend six of nine non-consecutive weeks at No. 1.
Thanks for reminding us of the unique run of "Le Freak" at No. 1. Back in 1979, that Chic single was the most successful 45 released on the Atlantic label. And thanks for anticipating Tony's question.