Fred Bronson discusses charts and artists with readers.


Hi Fred,

Following on from last week's question about American radio not having one definitive Hot 100 countdown show, I wondered does the average American public now care about the charts, or know who's No. 1?

Here in the United Kingdom all the national newspapers print the charts every Monday, and national Radio One broadcasts the charts every Sunday. We also have "Top of the Pops" which runs down the official charts and there are often other newspaper or magazine stories telling us of chart battles and who's on top. Single sales may be sliding, but they're still talked about.

But with so many radio stations in the United States and so many Billboard charts, how does Joe Public know who's selling what anymore and do they care? Other than Billboard magazine, how easy is it for them to find out?

Thanks for a wonderful column.

John Marrs
London, England

Dear John,

Thanks for enjoying "Chart Beat Chat."

The Billboard charts are printed in newspapers all over America (with permission, of course). Wire services write articles about the charts, and CNN devotes plenty of "ticker space" to various Billboard charts as well as what is No. 1 on the Hot 100.

As a result, I think millions of people are aware of the charts and what is No. 1. How much they care is another matter, but my sense is that there is still a lot of interest in the charts. People always want to know what is No. 1 at the box office, on the best-selling books list, in the Nielsen ratings and on the Hot 100.


Hi Fred,

How could you not have included Del Reeves' 1965 hit "The Girl on the Billboard" when you were giving examples of hits that used titles of publications only by coincidence?


Jerome Fransblow
Abbotsford, British Columbia

Dear Jerome,

I was going to suggest someone record "On the Cover of the Billboard magazine," but now there's no need.


Dear Fred,

Kenton Beerman's letter about name-dropping in No. 1 songs left out several combinations from Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" and Madonna's "Vogue." What's more, one of the names he did mention appears to be the most commonly dropped No. 1 name of all.

James Dean, the actor from "Rebel Without a Cause" who died in a tragic auto accident on Sept. 30, 1955, is mentioned in five No. 1 hits:

• "American Pie," Don McLean (1972)
• "Jack and Diane," John Cougar (1982)
• "Rock On," Michael Damian (1989)
• "We Didn't Start the Fire," Billy Joel (1989)
• "Vogue," Madonna (1990)

There are also several other names mentioned in "We Didn't Start the Fire" and/or "Vogue" that appear in multiple No. 1s:

• Marlon Brando ("We Didn't Start the Fire" and "Vogue")
• Bette Davis and Jean Harlow ("Bette Davis Eyes" and "Vogue")
• Davy Crockett ("The Ballad of Davy Crockett" and "We Didn't Start the Fire")

Jeff Lerner
Long Island, N.Y.

Dear Jeff,

And no one mentioned that in our current No. 1, Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together," she mentions Babyface and Bobby Womack.


Hi there,

I was just wondering if Mariah Carey's new song "Shake It Off" can top the charts, and shake off all competition including herself, or will her "We Belong Together" keep it from peak position?

Another question is, how do the Grammy Awards get tallied? Are they [based] on album sales and chart positions, etc.? What are Mariah's chances of winning Grammys for best album, best song and best artist, etc.? She deserves it and so much more -- it would be quite surprising if she doesn't win Grammys for her amazing new material.

Thank you for your time.

Kind regards,

Norman Mellett
South Africa

Dear Norman,

As you've probably seen by now, Mariah Carey's "Shake It Off" (Island) has continued to rocket up the Billboard Hot 100, this week leaping 12-6. That makes it a strong contender to take over the top spot from Carey's preceding single, "We Belong Together."

Members of the Recording Academy vote for the Grammys. Their votes are not based on sales or chart positions. This is an awards show based on the music, so the voting is purely subjective. Academy members can't help but be influenced by records that have sold well and charted in high positions, but theoretically a brilliant album that didn't sell should be rewarded over an average album that sold a lot of copies.

I do expect to see Mariah on the list of nominees, but I won't predict beyond that. Just thinking of female artists, it's been a highly competitive year, with releases by Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson and Carey obvious choices for nominations.


Dear Fred,

Just wondering if you have been able to see one of Clay Aiken's Jukebox Tour concerts? He is just so great and he sings the heck out of all of those songs. I really think that this is a concert that no one should miss if they love rock and roll!

Sue Brain
Sarasota, Fla.

Dear Sue,

With the tour concentrating on the East Coast of the United States, I don't think I'll be able to attend. I'm in production on a TV special and won't be traveling out-of-town for a while. I understand Clay has acknowledged using my books to help him choose the songs he is singing on this tour. He's selected hits from the 1950s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s and '00s, so I'm glad I was able to be a reference source.