Fred Bronson discusses charts and more with readers.


Dear Fred,

I read your column every week and find it endlessly fascinating as my interest in the pop charts goes back many years, as will become evident by my question to you. I read with interest the letters in your most recent column about comparing older chart hits (1955-1991) to recent chart hits (1991-present), and it got me thinking about the reason I became interested in the charts in the first place, way back in July, 1974, and that was Casey Kasem's "American Top 40" radio show.

I know there are several weekly pop music countdown shows out there, including Casey's current one, but so far as I know, there's no countdown show based on the most important music chart out there, The Billboard Hot 100. I'm familiar with the situation that led to "American Top 40" switching to an airplay chart back in 1991 to do their countdown, but now I'm guessing all top 40 pop countdown shows, including "American Top 40," use some methodology other than Billboard's (I know there's still a country countdown that uses the Billboard survey).

For me, The Billboard Hot 100 chart was, and still is, and will continue to be, the true pop music chart and the only one that will be used and referred to when determining a song's success years down the road, and it seems a shame that there is no weekly countdown show that uses it. For some it may not matter, but my feelings run deep on this as that was how I was first exposed to the charts, and I know it was for many others of my generation as well.

My question to you is: What are your feelings on this matter? Do you ever see a day when a new top 40 countdown show based on the Hot 100 comes into existence, or that one of the current shows switches over to Billboard methodology? I still devour the weekly Billboard Hot 100, particularly the top 40, when it comes out each week, but I long for the days when you could hear the actual countdown of Billboard's top 40 chart singles on the radio each week. Am I wishing for something that once was, but whose time has come and gone? I'd love to hear your take on this!


Ken Hladky
Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Dear Ken,

There IS a weekly countdown of the Hot 100, called "The Billboard Radio Countdown," but I'll get to that in a moment.

First, let's deal with the issue of why there is no top 40 countdown based on the Hot 100 on terrestrial or satellite radio. There's really only one reason, and it has nothing to do with people wanting to use our methodology or not. There is no radio station in the United States that would play all of the songs in the top 40.

This has been discussed many times in this column, but the days when one top 40 station would play Frank Sinatra, the Rolling Stones, James Brown and Cher are long gone. Radio stations have much narrower formats these days. The songs inside the top 40 portion of the Hot 100 are from too many genres to be played on any one radio station.

Seven years ago, we initiated "The Billboard Radio Countdown," a weekly countdown of songs from the top 40 portion of the Hot 100. I write the weekly scripts and choose the music, and Chuck Taylor of Billboard and Billboard Radio Monitor is the host. The show is produced in-house by Patrick Eves. You can listen to the Countdown by going to, where the show is available on demand and can be heard through the Windows Media Player

Since we are not terrestrial or satellite radio, we're not limited by format and can play pop, rock, R&B, hip-hop and country. We ARE restricted by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which is why we aren't allowed to count down the entire top 40. The show, per the DMCA, has to be unpredictable, which means we choose 10 songs from the top 40 to play every week.

We also have special features, like a No. 1 song from so many years ago, a new single we predict will be a hit, a song from the album chart, a trivia question that pays off with a song and a selection from an international chart featured in the Hits of the World section of Billboard.

We also do special shows once in a while. A few weeks back we counted down the 30 best-selling albums of the 21st century. For the week ending Aug. 27, we'll be playing the top 15 "summer" songs, according to chart performance on the Hot 100.

We really enjoy putting the show together every week, Ken, so I hope you enjoy listening.


Dear Fred,

Thank you for a wonderful column that brightens up my Fridays. A random question has stumped me for a while, and I thought it might be the perfect question for "Chart Beat Chat" readers to mull over: Which personality not in the music industry has been name-checked on the most No. 1 hits in the rock era?

I could think of four candidates. Lucy Liu has been mentioned in two No. 1 hits, "Independent Women Part II" by Destiny's Child and "Hey Ya" by OutKast. Marilyn Monroe was name-checked in at least two No. 1s, "Vogue" by Madonna and "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel. James Dean's name is called in at least two, "We Didn't Start the Fire" and "Rock On" by Michael Damian. Going one better, Joe DiMaggio is mentioned in at least three: "Vogue," "We Didn't Start the Fire" and of course "Mrs. Robinson" by Simon and Garfunkel.

However, I feel like I'm missing a lot of references, especially in older songs. For starters, I will venture a guess that several people mentioned in "Vogue" and/or "We Didn't Start the Fire" are name-checked in other No. 1 hits since 1955.


Kenton Beerman
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Dear Kenton,

I can't think of too many older songs that did a lot of name-checking. The 5th Dimension called out the name of their own group in "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In," and Diana Ross sang about her sister Supremes Mary (Wilson) and Flo (Ballard) in the No. 1 hit "Back in My Arms Again." Paul and Paula addressed themselves in "Hey Paula," though they were using their stage names, not their real names.

I have a feeling I'll be hearing from readers with other examples of name-checking and I'll post some of the best e-mails here.


Hi Fred,

Joey Toledo was curious about artists charting twice or more with different versions of their own song. In my lifetime the following examples come to mind as singles hitting the Hot 100 in two different versions by the same artist:

• Rod Stewart's two versions of "Reason to Believe," electric (1971) and acoustic (1993).
• Real Life's "Send Me an Angel," charted in 1983, and again in a remixed version in 1990.
• Eric Clapton's "Layla," electric (1972) [by Derek & the Dominos] and acoustic (1992).
• The Four Seasons' "December, 1963 (Oh, What Night)," original (1975) and dance remix (1993).

With the exception of the original "Reason to Believe," all of the above versions were top 40 hits.

All best,

Christopher Brisson

Dear Christopher,

Four excellent examples, thanks.


Dear Fred,

Just a quick question: Doesn't Faith Hill's single "Mississippi Girl" count?

Dennis Berry

Dear Dennis,

That WAS quick. In fact, that might be the shortest question ever posted in "Chart Beat Chat."

To be fair, you didn't reference the original e-mail, so let me do that for readers who missed the "Mississippi" connection. A reader wrote in last week mentioning country songs with states in their titles. He had the states of Texas and Mississippi tied with two each, but hadn't mentioned Faith Hill's current hit, "Mississippi Girl," which would make Mississippi the most-mentioned state in the title of a country chart song.