Fred Bronson discusses Mariah Carey, Madonna, chart records and more with readers.
CRAZY FOR THE MATERIAL GIRL
In your "Chart Beat" column, you wrote that Mariah Carey was one of only six acts on The Billboard Hot 100 to occupy the top spot as well as the number two spot in the same week with "We Belong Together" and "Shake it Off," as well as being the sole [lead] female to ever dominate the charts in this manner.
But if my memory serves me correctly, I believe that Madonna hit the top with "Crazy for You" in the same week that "Material Girl" charted in the No. 2 spot, sometime in the 1980s. I’m not 100% certain of this fact as I don’t recall the exact year but is there any way you could verify this and let me know?
Perhaps you have a photographic memory, because you correctly remember the image of "Crazy for You" and "Material Girl" occupying adjacent positions in the top 10 for one week, but these two songs were not No. 1 and No. 2 during any given week.
On the Hot 100 dated April 6, 1985, "Material Gil" was No. 3, down from No. 2, while "Crazy for You" was No. 4, up from No. 9.
That means "Material Girl" peaked at No. 2 before "Crazy for You" entered the top 10, although "Material Girl" remained in the runner-up spot for three weeks, and during its third week in second place, "Crazy for You" entered the top 10 with a 20-9 jump.
One week after they bumped into each other, the two songs drifted further and further apart. "Crazy for You" moved 4-3 and "Material Girl" slipped 3-5. The following week, "Crazy for You" was up to No. 2 and "Material Girl" was out of the top 10, falling 5-13.
AIRPLAY OVER SALES?
While reading your "Billboard Book of Number One Hits" and later reading on the Internet the amount of songs that stayed at No. 1 for 10 or more weeks, it seems that more songs have stayed at No. 1 longer since rankings were based on airplay, rather than when they were based on sales.
I could be wrong, but I think it was a much greater feat to stay at No. 1 based on sales than on airplay, because sales are based for the most part on your popularity with the public as opposed to airplay, which can have many factors like politics, tastes of DJs/radio stations, etc. For example, if Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" goes to 16 weeks, is it as impressive as when "One Sweet Day" held that position? What do you think?
Santa Clarita, Calif.
First of all, you get bonus points for reading my book (though your e-mail would have been posted here this week even if you didn't mention the title).
There is a misconception that the Hot 100 was once based on sales and is now based on airplay. The reason the Hot 100 was created in 1958 was to produce a chart that combined sales and airplay, and it has always been thus. As sales declined, airplay naturally became a more important factor. We're now in a period of increasing sales thanks to the growing popularity of paid digital downloads. This week's surprise new No. 1 made its impressive 18-point leap into pole position mainly because of sales (though it is also receiving healthy airplay).
I don't mean to diminish the role that airplay has played in the past. During the 1970s and '80s, it was almost impossible to go to No. 1 if you weren't being played on the leading radio stations in New York and Los Angeles.
Since airplay-only singles have been allowed to chart on the Hot 100 starting with the chart dated Dec. 5, 1998, there have been 95 No. 1 songs. Only nine of those 95 were No. 1 for 10 weeks or longer. You might be surprised to know that 39 of the 95 were No. 1 for two weeks or less (I'm not counting the current No. 1, "Gold Digger," because we don't know how many weeks it will remain in the lead spot).
Lots of factors have contributed to the speeding up and slowing down of No. 1 songs, including how long radio plays them, how long they remain on sale until they are deleted and how often labels issue follow-up singles. Whatever the circumstances, any song that remains No. 1 for 14 or 16 weeks deserves props, so to answer your question, I would not diminish the success of "We Belong Together" compared to "One Sweet Day."
By coincidence, I received another e-mail that relates to the turnover rate of No. 1 songs on the Hot 100. Keep reading...
KANYE, YOU ARE NUMBER SIX (WHO IS NUMBER ONE?)
A couple of chart records are in the process of being broken with the long stay at No. 1 by Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together."
First, its successor will be only the sixth No. 1 on the Hot 100 for 2005, even though we are now into September. This is by far the slowest turnover at the top on the Hot 100 for the rock era. In no other calendar year have we had to wait even until August for the sixth No. 1 to appear, with the latest arrival so far happening in 1996, when the sixth No. 1 (Toni Braxton's "You're Makin' Me High") didn't arrive until the week of July 27.
The year 1996 also holds the record for the fewest total No. 1 hits during the calendar year, nine. We'll have to wait to see if 2005 can break that record. Of note, 1976, 1977 and 1988 all had six different No. 1s in the first six weeks of the year; in all three cases, the sixth No. 1 stayed at the top for at least one more week and broke the streak.
Second, "We Belong Together" had 10 additional weeks at No. 1 after ceding the top spot to Carrie Underwood's "Inside Your Heaven." This is by far the longest stay at No. 1 after falling out of the top spot. The previous record holder was Chic's "Le Freak," which had five additional non-consecutive weeks at No. 1 in 1978 after losing the No. 1 position to Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond's "You Don't Bring Me Flowers."
Love your column as always,
Penn Valley, Pa.
You always come up with chart-worthy trivia, and these two items are no exceptions. With three No. 1 songs remaining in pole position for nine weeks or more, it's no surprise that a record has been set for the slowest paced turnover rate at the top.
We'll see how long "Gold Digger" remains in first place; that will be the best indication of how many No. 1s we're ultimately going to have in this calendar year.