Fred Bronson discusses charts and artists with readers.

DID DONNA OR DIDN'T DONNA?

Dear Fred,

In reference to your article about artists that have held the No. 1 and No. 2 spots on The Billboard Hot 100, I vaguely recall Donna Summer doing this same thing with "Bad Girls" and "Hot Stuff." Am I mistaken? Or was it that her two songs were consecutive No. 1s on the Hot 100, but she didn't hold the No. 1 and No. 2 spots simultaneously?

Thanks,

Dave DeFranco
San Francisco

Dear Dave,

There must be something in the collective consciousness about Donna Summer pulling off the chart feats you mentioned, because every time an artist has the top two songs on the chart, someone asks a similar question.

Donna didn't occupy the top two positions, and she didn't succeed herself at No. 1, although "Hot Stuff" and "Bad Girls" were hits at the same time, and these two songs did hold down the second and third positions on the chart for two weeks, beginning the week of June 30, 1979. That week, "Hot Stuff" fell 1-2 and the follow-up, "Bad Girls," moved up 5-3. The following week, "Bad Girls" advanced to No. 2 and "Hot Stuff" cooled off to No. 3. The song that replaced "Hot Stuff" at No. 1 was "Ring My Bell" by Anita Ward.



WHAT ABOUT ASHANTI?

Hi Fred!

I just found out that Mariah Carey topped The Billboard Hot 100 once again, but this time with her two singles. I read that she broke another record -- she is the first female to have two songs in the top two. But I thought Ashanti did it back in 2001, when she was in the top two with "Foolish" (No. 1) and "What's Luv?" featuring Fat Joe (No. 2).

And didn't Mariah do the same thing back in 1995 when "Fantasy" was No. 1 and then "One Sweet Day" replaced it?

Another question: next week, "Shake It Off" will likely be No. 1, so is Mariah going to be the first female to knock herself out of the top spot? I didn't read anything about that.

I appreciate and enjoy your column.

Best regards,

Luis Fonseca

Dear Luis,

You're right about Ashanti having two songs in the top two, but there was one major difference between her accomplishment and Mariah Carey's feat. You mentioned that "What's Luv?" featured Fat Joe. Actually, it was a Fat Joe single that featured Ashanti. That's why I qualified Mariah's achievement. She is the first female lead artist to occupy the top two positions.

Ashanti wasn't the lead artist on "What's Luv?" but held a featured position. It still counts, but there is a distinction.

"One Sweet Day" didn't succeed "Fantasy" at No. 1, though it was a close call. After "Fantasy" held pole position for eight weeks, it was followed by Whitney Houston's "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" for one week, and then "One Sweet Day" debuted at No. 1.

If "Shake It Off" does end the reign of "We Belong Together," Mariah Carey will be the first female artist to replace herself at No. 1.



WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN

Dear Fred,

In your most recent column on Mariah Carey, you said: "The all-time champ is another Carey single, 'One Sweet Day,' recorded with Boyz II Men. That superstar collaboration was No. 1 for 16 weeks in 1995-96."

Remembering your columns of 1998, Celine Dion would have had 19 weeks or more at No. 1 with "My Heart Will Go On." But back then airplay only [singles were not allowed to chart] on the Hot 100, so the record company waited until the title was announced as an Oscar-nominated song to release the song at retail. So, of course, the title debuted at No. 1 but stayed there for only two weeks, as the record company only released a very limited amount of the single to retail. Otherwise had the Hot 100 then accepted airplay-only songs, "My Heart" would have been No. 1 at the end of January 1998, and would have stayed there for 19 weeks or more.

Celine Dion was gyped out of a chart record that would hold for years, if not decades. "My Heart" was that popular. (I know I won't see this in your online column).

Take care.

Tom Gazdayka
Mtn. View, Calif.

Dear Tom,

I'm not sure why you thought your letter wouldn't be posted. If you thought it's because I wouldn't agree with speculation about what might have been, you're correct, but that's no reason not to include your e-mail in "Chart Beat Chat."

I think you're right about "My Heart Will Go On" being incredibly popular. I do think the record company should have released the commercial single weeks earlier and I also think that the single shouldn't have been deleted for sale as early as it was. Had these events occurred, I'm sure "My Heart Will Go On" would have had a lengthier stay at No. 1, though I won't speculate for how many weeks.

However, I can't write "Chart Beat" based on anything that might have happened had circumstances been different. The fact is, "My Heart Will Go On" only had two weeks on top, and given the conditions that existed, that is a fact that can't be altered. Imagine how difficult it would be to write -- and read -- "Chart Beat" if every time I mentioned a chart accomplishment, I had to mention the thousands of chart stats that might have been different if only this had happened or that had occurred.




THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER THING

Hello Fred,

I continue to enjoy your column week after week and always seem to finish wanting more -— I know some are disappointed that the print version has been discontinued, but you have at least one reader who's grateful for the expanded online edition!

First, I want to thank you for "opening my ears" to the popular music outside of the United Sates. My mp3 collection now contains a "Hits of the World" folder with various songs you've recommended, plus songs I've found charting on "Top of the Pops," the U.K. version of the "Now" compilation series and even the occasional Eurovision [Song Contest] entry.

When I burn CDs for my friends, I'm constantly questioned about where I find the incredibly catchy songs they 1) have never heard before and 2) can't find on their local station's playlist. It's particularly funny when a song like "These Words" by Natasha Bedingfield actually breaks in the U.S. and suddenly my friends are telling everyone they know how they "discovered her months ago."

But aside from that, I'm sure you can appreciate my excitement over the past few months as that particular track has practically raced up the Hot 100. "These Words" has received great press as of late (including mentions in Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone ) and the song's video has been in heavy rotation on both MTV and VH1.

Therefore, you can imagine my shock to find that the song took a five-spot tumble this week on the Hot 100. Perhaps it was just a fluke week and certainly by the time this e-mail is published we'll know whether it has gone back up or slid further. I'm just surprised that with its quick rise, building airplay and the current good press how it could be falling so soon -- what's the deal, Fred?!?

Second, after looking over the year-end Hot 100 chart for the last couple of years, it looks like 2005 will be the first year in quite some time where female artists hold down a majority of top spots at year-end. Considering the year's top song generally hits the top 40 by May of any given year, I'm guessing it will come down to "We Belong Together" by Mariah Carey and "Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson. It's basically a multiple-week No. 1, airplay record-setter vs. a song that peaked at No. 2 and has shown great longevity on the chart (including an extra four months of points as it entered the top 40 in early January).

Now, aside from which song will place higher, who could have predicted that either of these two artists would be vying for the year's most popular song? (As a side note, Mariah and Kelly are also competing with each other for the year's best-selling album by a female artist).

Finally, I couldn't help but notice that the top-selling album on The Billboard 200 this week is a greatest hits collection by…uh, Hilary Duff? Is this a sign that she is giving up on a career in music? If not (and I mean no disrespect to the artist), but when did it become acceptable to release a greatest hits collection after two albums?

I'm anticipating your response will have something to do with "marketability" as opposed to "acceptability" i.e. her record company expects to make money in releasing an album of this nature. The thing is, I can't help but recall the statements made in the press last year when Britney Spears released her greatest-hits disc, counting questionable entries like "Boys," "Outrageous" and "Overprotected" as hits. So far, Hilary has racked up two top 40 hits (and one of them comes from this week's chart based on the strength of digital downloads!). It seems Britney was way overdue!

Am I traitor to my generation Fred or should consumers start expecting less from greatest hits collections? What happened to what I'll call the "true" greatest hits collections like those by the Eagles or Fleetwood Mac? Maybe the labeling should be changed from "Greatest Hits" to "Good Enough For Now?"

Respectfully,

Nick Schafer
Columbus, Ohio
nschafer80@yahoo.com

Dear Nick,

You covered a lot of ground in your letter, even after some editing for space.

Let's start with your last question first. Keep in mind that "greatest hits" collections were a marketing tool right from the very first one. So there shouldn't be any surprise that my answer would be it was a marketing decision. My guess is that label execs believed there were enough consumers who had not purchased a Hilary Duff album in the past to make a "greatest hits" collection viable. Since the album has been No. 1 for two weeks, they should be congratulated for the decision. Also, let's give them props for not calling the album "Hilary Duff's Greatest Hits."

We'll see if your speculation about the year's top two songs is correct when the charts are published in December. One thing to keep in mind -- year-end charts are determined by adding up the total sales and total airplay for the 52-week chart year.

I'm glad to know that you are enjoying some of the great pop hits from other countries. I feel like one of my missions in life is to introduce music from around the world to Americans. We play one international track every week on "The Billboard Radio Countdown," I help program the "Global Beat" channel on United Airlines and I play my favorite pop songs from all over the world on Radio Fred Bronson, heard at www.live365.com/stations/seeaboutme.