Fred Bronson answers e-mail from readers.
I S-A-W THE LIGHT
Before submitting my question I want to say I enjoy reading your column week after week and reading the chart trivia you supply.
I've been a fan of (most) songs produced by the [Mike] Stock, [Matt] Aitken and [Pete] Waterman team since I first heard of their existence through Dead or Alive in 1985.
I especially like those songs performed by Rick Astley, Bananarama and Donna Summer, and while I'm aware of minor hits such as Laura Branigan's "Shattered Glass" rising only to No. 48 in late 1987 (for example), I'm curious to know if there were any S-A-W produced songs which failed to crack the Hot 100.
Jersey City, N.J.
I'm a big fan of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman's productions, too. More about that after I answer your question.
The S-A-W team had over 100 chart entries in the United Kingdom, and nowhere near that amount in the United States, so there are a great number of Stock-Aitken-Waterman productions that did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100.
You didn't mention the two artists who gave S-A-W the bulk of their U.K. chart hits: Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan. In America, Kylie charted with "I Should Be So Lucky," "The Loco-Motion" and "It's No Secret." In the U.K. there were 18 more S-A-W productions that charted for Kylie, including "Hand on Your Heart," "Better the Devil You Know" and "Step Back in Time." None of Jason's hits ever charted in the United States, including U.K. No. 1 hits "Too Many Broken Hearts" and a remake of Brian Hyland's "Sealed With a Kiss."
You also didn't mention Nicki French, who had a bigger hit in America than she did in Britain with her cover of Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart." That Stock-Aitken production peaked at No. 2 in the United States and No. 5 in the United Kingdom. I think Nicki's album "Secrets" and the Donna Summer set "Another Place and Time" are two of the production team's finest works, with every track on both albums worthy of being a hit single.
In fact, I play tracks from both albums, along with numerous other S-A-W songs, on my own internet radio station, Radio Fred Bronson. I've posted the link here before, but last time it was a bad link, so forgive me for offering it again: www.live365.com/stations/seeaboutme. You need broadband to listen and you can listen for free, but the site will ask you to supply a username and password. You'll hear the usual S-A-W suspects, but also tracks like their productions for Cliff Richard on "I Just Don't Have the Heart" and Sinitta on "G.T.O."
On a personal note, I met Mike and Matt when I was working in Billboard's London bureau in 1995. A friend of mine who is a big Kylie/Jason fan came over to visit in May and I took him to the Stock-Aitken office/studio complex in South London on May 10, 1995. After introducing him to Mike and Matt, we had lunch with their publicist, veteran U.K. journalist Chris White.
After lunch, we returned to the office and Nicki French was there, so we had a chance to meet her. Since it was a Wednesday, and since her version of "Total Eclipse" was No. 16 on the Hot 100 and rising, I offered to call her that night as soon as I had the new chart so I could tell her the new position. Even though I wasn't going to see the chart until midnight London time, Nicki said, "Yes!"
Just before the clock struck 12, I called Nicki from the Billboard office and said, "Nicki, congratulations, you've gone top 10 in America!" Her single had jumped 16-8, and she screamed with excitement.
The next morning, I left for Dublin to attend the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time. I didn't see Nicki again until she represented the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest held in Stockholm in 2000. We reunited at the U.K. press conference, and since the date was May 10, 2000, I reminded her that we had met five years ago that day.
Ivanhoe, since you are a big fan, you might be interested in a book I've just purchased (but haven't read yet since it arrived only a couple of days ago). The title is "The Hit Factory: The Stock Aitken Waterman Story" written by Mike Stock and published by New Holland in the United Kingdom. There is a very complete U.K. discography in the back.
And finally, here is an excerpt from my own book, "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits." In the producers' section, I have written about Stock-Aitken-Waterman and accompanying the text is a chart of the team's greatest hits on the Hot 100, according to a point system I developed for the book. Here is the S-A-W top 10:
1. "Never Gonna Give You Up," Rick Astley (1988)
2. "Total Eclipse of the Heart," Nicki French (1995)
3. "Venus," Bananarama (1986)
4. "Together Forever," Rick Astley (1988)
5. "The Loco-Motion," Kylie Minogue (1988)
6. "I Heard a Rumour," Bananarama (1987)
7. "That's What Love Can Do," Boy Krazy (1993)
8. "This Time I Know It's for Real," Donna Summer (1989)
9. "It Would Take a Strong Strong Man," Rick Astley (1988)
10. "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)," Dead or Alive (1985)
FINALLY BREAKING AWAY
I noticed that Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" departed the top 50 portion of the Hot 100. Her song spent 46 weeks in the top 50. I'm curious if that sets any type of record for length of time a song has spent in the top 50?
"Breakaway" had an impressive run and Kelly Clarkson is having an amazing chart year, but the song from "The Princess Diaries 2" didn't set a record for the longest stay inside the top 50 portion of the Hot 100.
"Breakaway" would have needed another 23 weeks inside the top 50 to smash the old record -- that's half its top 50 run. The record is held by "How Do I Live" by LeAnn Rimes. Her single spent 69 weeks on the Hot 100 (also a record) and 68 of those weeks were inside the top 50.
THE MADONNA VS. MARIAH CAREY THING
I'm from the Philippines and work in a call center here. Most of the people I call and who call me back are from the United States (we're an outsourcing company), so I'm really into American entertainment and music.
I'd like to ask, between Mariah Carey and Madonna, who really has the most No. 1s both in singles and albums because it's confusing [when both] of them are called the "greatest female singer of all time" or "best selling female artist of all time."
I know Madonna's recent album was No. 1 but didn't reach gold or platinum status while Mariah's previous three albums before "The Emancipation of Mimi" were not No. 1 but were all certified platinum.
Anyway, its not about the sales but again, who among these fantastic females had the most No. 1s both on the singles and albums charts. Thank you.
I receive a lot of e-mails about who is better, Madonna or Mariah Carey. Usually the letter-writers ask me to tell them who is the best-selling female artist of all time, or who is the greatest. Since those questions can't really be answered, I resist posting them here in Chart Beat Chat.
Since you asked a different question, and one that can be answered, your letter is appearing in this space this week. However, it is not an invitation to receive more e-mails on the Madonna vs. Mariah issue from other readers.
On the specific question of who has the most No. 1s, on the Hot 100 Mariah has 16. Only the Beatles (with 20) and Elvis Presley (with 17) have more. Madonna's most recent No. 1, "Music," was her 12th chart-topper. That ties her with the Supremes for fifth place on the list of artists with the most No. 1s. Michael Jackson is in fourth place with 13.
On The Billboard 200, Mariah Carey has five No. 1 albums, including her latest, "The Emancipation of Mimi." Madonna also has five. Her fifth No. 1 was "American Music," which was certified platinum shortly after release.
For more Mariah Carey chart-related facts, see the next e-mail.
JUST MARIAH THIS TIME
I love your column and I look forward to reading it every week. As a longtime Mariah Carey fan I have been so happy to see her riding high on the charts again. Mariah received a great deal of attention when "We Belong Together" became her 16th No. 1 song. That got me wondering, which Mariah songs have had the most chart success? What are the top 10 Mariah songs based on the Hot 100? I look forward to seeing your Mariah countdown.
I didn't have to look very far to come up with your requested Mariah Carey countdown. In the response to the letter about Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Peter Waterman posted above, I mentioned my book, "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits." In the artists' section, I have text and a chart for Mariah Carey. Here is her top 10, based on performance on the Hot 100 (I've updated the chart through the current week):
1. "One Sweet Day" (1995) [Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men]
2. "Fantasy" (1995)
3. "Dreamlover" (1993)
4. "Always Be My Baby" (1996)
5. "Hero" (1993)
6. "We Belong Together" (2005)
7. "I'll Be There" (1992)
8. "Love Takes Time" (1990)
9. "Vision of Love" (1990)
10. "My All" (1998)
WITH OR WITHOUT YOU
I was a little surprised last week when I was reading about the high debut of Jessica Simpson's new single. The part that surprised me was that you mentioned only her first single had reached the top 10. I thought that her song "With You" from her last album had also made it to the top 10 on the Hot 100. What was the peak position of that song?
"With You" peaked at No. 14. You might be recalling that on Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 chart, "With You" went to No. 1, but that wasn't enough to lift it into the top 10 of the Hot 100.