Fred Bronson answers e-mail from readers.

WONDER MAKES ANDY WONDER

Dear Fred,

I just heard Alicia Keys' remix of "Karma" (the one which samples heavily from Stevie Wonder's "Superstition"), and that made me wonder: About three years ago, chart policy regarding remixes changed, because some remixes sounded so different from the original (i.e. "Ain't It Funny" by Jennifer Lopez). Subsequently, P Diddy scored two hits with "I Need A Girl Part I" and "I Need A Girl Part II." Each recording sounded different and even used different vocalists.

Shouldn't the same chart policy have applied to Alicia Keys? Her "Karma" was about to drop off the charts, when the Stevie Wonder remix hit, propelling "Karma" into the top 20. Shouldn't "Karma Remix" or "Karma Superstition Remix" have charted as a separate entry, since it was so markedly different from the original recording?

Thank you for clarifying,

Andy Ray
Indianapolis
Andy46032@inct.net

Dear Andy,

There is a long history of songs being remixed, and as you point out, for many years the originals and the remixes were always counted as one song for chart purposes.

The reason the policy changed is that artists started issuing remixes of songs that were essentially different from the originals -- the example you provided is a prime one ("Ain't It Funny" by Jennifer Lopez featuring Ja Rule).

There were also two versions of Lopez' previous hit, "I'm Real." Once the second version of "I'm Real" was such a big hit, producer Corey Rooney realized they needed a similar follow-up. "Because we had changed the sound of Jennifer Lopez and we didn't have anything else on the ["J.Lo"] album we could release as a single... We had to do another remix to keep the momentum going," Rooney explains. Like "Ain't It Funny," the two versions of "I Need a Girl" by P. Diddy featured different lyrics and music, so under the new policy, the two parts charted separately.

As long as either the music or lyrics remains the same, a remix is considered to be the same as the original. The remix of Alicia Keys' "Karma" that you refer to had the same lyrics as the original. The only thing new was a riff from Stevie Wonder's "Superstition." That wasn't enough to qualify the remix as a separate chart entry.



WHEN APPLE MEETS APPLE

Fred,

I was fascinated by the explanation in last week's column regarding the resurgence of Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying" on the Hot 100, based on first week iTunes sales. If a genre artist like Tim McGraw can make that big an impact, can you imagine what the effect will be on the Hot 100 when the Beatles catalog is finally available digitally? I say "when," not "if," not because of any inside knowledge, but I just can't see whoever now has the Beatles' catalog missing out on the potential financial return forever.

I can see one of two scenarios. Either the entire catalog will be released at once, or much more likely, one album or track will be released at a time. This was the method used in the 1980s when the Beatles were first available on CD: two Beatle albums were introduced to the market each month. I'd like to see one single a week released, as happened in the U.K. with Elvis' U.K. No. 1 singles.

This raises a couple of chart questions:

1) Are downloaded albums included in calculating the Billboard catalog chart? 2) Are "catalog" singles, for lack of a better term, eligible for the Hot 100?

If the answer to either of those is "yes," we are likely to see a new era in the Beatles' domination of Billboard charts.

Patrick Kelly
Brampton, Ontario

Dear Patrick,

Downloads of catalog albums are counted for the catalog chart, but "oldies" are not eligible to chart on the Hot 100 unless there is a specific reason to do so. Valid reasons would include a song's appearance on a soundtrack, such as Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" being heard in "Wayne's World," or a remix gaining current radio airplay, such as the Four Seasons' "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)."

Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying" is still considered current enough to not fall under this "oldies" rule. But don't look for "A Hard Day's Night" or "Get Back" to appear on the Hot 100 unless there is a valid reason for those Beatles' classics to reenter the chart.



CASE OF THE MISSING DECADE

Dear Fred,

I'm wondering how your recent statement regarding Paul Anka's pop singles career -- "It also means that Anka has charted in six consecutive decades, as he has not missed a decade since he kicked off his career with 'Diana'" -- could be true, since Anka's last Hot 100 hit was "Hold Me 'Til The Mornin' Comes" in October 1983, meaning Anka did not chart in the 1990s.

David Dana-Bashian
Garden Grove, Calif.

Dear David,

My item about Paul Anka concerned his new album, "Rock Swings," charting on The Billboard 200 and the Top Jazz Albums chart. I did refer to "Diana" debuting on the Hot 100, but I was writing about Anka's complete chart career, not just his appearances on the Hot 100.

Anka released a Spanish/English album in the 1990s featuring a roster of guest artists. "Amigos" peaked at No. 20 on the Top Latin Albums chart the week of Oct. 12, 1996. Two songs from the CD showed up on the Hot Latin Tracks tally. "Mi Pueblo," a remake of Anka's "My Hometown" recorded as a duet with Juan Gabriel, peaked at No. 8 the week of Aug. 24, 1996, and a remake of "Diana," done as a duet with Ricky Martin, reached No. 24 the week of Dec. 21, 1996.

Those chart entries kept Anka's streak intact in the '90s, and makes the '00s the sixth consecutive decade in which he has appeared on a Billboard chart.



SHAKIRA'S RECORD

Hi Fred,

I was gladly surprised to see Shakira enter The Billboard 200 at No. 4 with her new album. The surprise is even bigger when you think "Fijación Oral" is an all-Spanish disc.

Does Shakira set a new record for the highest debut of a non-English album on this chart?

Thanks, I never miss your column.

Andy Rodríguez Márquez
Medellín, Colombia

Dear Andy,

I can't think of a non-English album that has had a higher debut, and neither could the Billboard chart staff. You asked about an album's debut, so that would exclude the 1963 self-titled album by Belgium's the Singing Nun. Her album, recorded in French, spent 10 weeks at No. 1, fueled by the popularity of her single "Dominique." In those days, albums didn't debut in high positions on the chart.



FACTORING SALES

Hey Fred,

I just saw the new Billboard Hot 100 and the debut of "American Idol" Carrie Underwood at No. 1. It got me wondering: does Billboard apply the same weighting factor to physical singles sales as it does to digitally downloaded sales when determining Hot 100 chart positions?

Before February 2005, when the chart methodology was revised to include paid digital downloads, singles sales were divided by a factor of 10 to arrive at a number commensurate with the weighted radio airplay factor to determine overall Hot 100 chart position. Of course, when singles sales diminished in the late '90s and this decade, it didn't matter what the weighting factor was because the impact was so negligible.

When paid downloads were included, Billboard announced that digital downloads would be divided by a smaller number, five (allowing for a larger impact on the Hot 100). Does the newer weighting factor now also apply to commercial singles (sold in brick-and-mortar record shops)? If so, this would explain why Underwood was able to debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100 with only 130,000 copies of the physical single being sold, while she lags [behind] Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" in digital sales, and in Hot 100 airplay (by nearly 200 million airplay impressions).

Also, this is the first time in nearly five years that there've been three successive No. 1s by female solo artists (with no help from featured guests). The last time I believe it happened was in fall 2000 when Janet [Jackson], Madonna and Christina Aguilera had successive runs at the top of the Hot 100.

Thanks,

Darrell J. Roberts
Bethesda, Md.

Dear Darrell,

A sale is a sale, so the sale of a paid digital download is considered equal
to the sale of a commercial single. That's why the factor of five is the same for both.

That does mean sales have more weight than they did before this rule change, but airplay still counts for quite a bit. That's why Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" stands a great chance of returning to No. 1 once sales decline on Carrie Underwood's "Inside Your Heaven."

"We Belong Together" might have to wait just a titch, however, as Bo Bice stands an excellent chance of debuting at No. 1 on next week's Hot 100 with his version of "Inside Your Heaven." See this week's "Chart Beat" for more details, including confirmation of your suspicion that we haven't had three successive solo female artists at No. 1 without any featured guests since the 2000 run of Janet Jackson, Madonna and Christina Aguilera.



HOT ONE WEEK, POP THE NEXT: STOP IT!

Hi Fred,

First let me say thank you for all the years of great tidbits of chart trivia and weekly insights into each of the many current Billboard charts your column faithfully provides. Although I was saddened when "Chart Beat" left the print edition recently due to the magazine's redesign, I am glad to see it is still thriving on the web.

The new look Billboard has taken these past few months is definitely a step up. All the charts are now in one easy to browse section. There is one change, however, that has been nagging at me, the bi-weekly swapping of the Hot 100 for the Pop 100 as a full page with all the artist, writer and producer credits assigned only to whichever chart is being spotlighted on the full page that week, while the other chart gets treated to a cramped couple of columns on the next page. The Hot 100 to me is still the crown jewel of Billboard's vast array of singles charts since it is based on all sales and airplay of the many other charts and formats being tracked, and to treat it like something of lesser importance is doing it a great injustice especially considering its overall historical value.

Just curious as to what your thoughts are on this subject.

Glen Wood
Hilton Head Island, S.C.
HH24More@aol.com

Dear Glen,

I have received similar letters of complaint from other readers about the Hot 100 switching places every other week with the Pop 100 in the print edition of Billboard. The chart department has also received a number of letters agreeing with your position, as has the editorial department. I've had my own private discussions about this matter internally. Let's just say I agree with you.

Fortunately, the matter is resolved. There will be no more alternating, and the Hot 100 will receive full-page treatment every week in Billboard, along with all of the production credits. There may be a day in the future when the Pop 100 will also be given full-page treatment, but it will not be at the expense of the Hot 100.



WELCOME TO HITS OF THE WORLD

Hi Fred!

I was in Los Angeles last week and while reading Billboard at a bookstore, I noticed in the Over the Counter column that the Hits of the World page was about to include a top 10 chart for albums in Mexico. I want to know when that is starting so I can get that issue.

I've noticed that on the international album charts, the first one is Japan which is the second largest music market in the world, then after them comes the third, fourth, etc. I was wondering if where the Mexican chart will be placed will mean the number it occupies in the biggest world markets. (If so, I'm guessing it'll be anywhere between 11 to 15).

I didn't get the print edition because I was very, very disappointed that it didn't have the Hot 100 on full display.

Musical regards!

José Carlos Santos
Mexicali, Mexico

Dear José,

Mexico has indeed joined the other nations represented on the Hits of the World page in Billboard. The Over the Counter column you read appeared in the June 18 issue, and the chart from Mexico first appeared in the issue cover dated June 25. You guessed correctly, as the chart from Mexico appeared in 13th position.

For those who missed Geoff Mayfield's column, here's an excerpt in which he discusses adding the Mexican chart:


SOUTH OF THE BORDER: A long-sought Billboard goal will be realized next week when an album chart from Mexico joins the magazine's Hits of the World lineup.Initially, it will rotate with Brazil's list, another long-sought addition that joined our pages in the May 21 issue.The Mexico chart is provided by label trade group Amprofon, which is a member of global association the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Amprofon says the chart is based on data compiled by BIMSA, which measures TV ratings in Mexico.Approximately 70% of the nation's data is collected from retailers' point-of-sales systems. The remaining 30% of its sales, including those from significant chain Mix-Up, are based on exit polls of consumers who shop stores that are not in the point-of-sale panel.
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José, as you can see from my answer to the e-mail above, the Hot 100 will no longer be rotating with the Pop 100, so the next time you're in Los Angeles, check out that bookstore again for the latest issue of Billboard.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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