Fred Bronson answers e-mail from Billboard.com readers.

KELLY BREAKS AWAY

Dear Fred,

Kelly Clarkson has three songs in the top 40 of Billboard's Hot 100 this week! Have any other contestants from "American Idol" achieved this?

Thanks!

Sincerely,

Dean Smedley

Dear Dean,

While other "American Idol" finalists have reached the top 40 portion of the Hot 100, Kelly Clarkson is the first to have three songs in the top 40 at the same time.

Her "Breakaway" hasn't faded even while the follow-up, "Since U Been Gone," has moved up and down the chart. This week, "Behind These Hazel Eyes" breaks into the top 40 at No. 38.



THREE E-MAILS ABOUT THE POWER OF THREE

Aloha Fred!

I have been thinking about last week's letter about Gwen Stefani's third single reaching the top of the Hot 100. If I recall correctly, didn't Paula Abdul's third single from her debut go "straight up" the chart to No. 1? "Knocked Out" and "(It's Just) The Way That You Love Me" came out beforehand and were eventually re-released.

Mahalo!

Christian Yates
Honolulu

Dear Christian,

A lot of people have been thinking about Vince Ripol's e-mail, including Vince (keep reading for a follow-up from him). I received a lot of letters inspired by the original missive.

You're right about Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" being the third single from her "Forever Your Girl" album.


Dear Fred,

I would like to add to Vince Ripol's e-mail from last week. I can recall three female artists who enjoyed their very first No.1 hit on the Hot 100 by their fourth hit from one album in the same year, 1988.

Exposé had their first and only No. 1 hit, "Seasons Change," in 1988 after three top 10 hits: "Come Go with Me," "Point of No Return" and "Let Me Be the One" from the album "Exposure."

Gloria Estefan had her first of three No. 1 hits, "Anything for You," from the album "Let It Loose" on May 14, 1988 after "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You," "Betcha Say That" and "Can't Stay Away from You."

Debbie Gisbon also recorded her first No. 1 hit on June 25 of the same year with "Foolish Beat" from the album "Out of the Blue" after three top five hits: "Shake Your Love," "Only in My Dreams" and "Out of the Blue."

Can anyone recall any other artists who saved the best for fourth or even fifth?

Jeffrey Wang
San Francisco

Dear Jeffrey,

Yes, Vince can. See the next e-mail.


Hey Fred,

Thanks for printing my letter about Gwen Stefani and Vanessa Williams reaching No. 1 with the third single from their respective albums.

I just thought of a few other instances: Janet Jackson scored her first No. 1 hit with "When I Think of You," which was the third single from "Control." Unlike Gwen and Vanessa, Janet also reached the top five with her first two singles from that album.

Debbie Gibson didn't score her first chart-topper until the fourth release from her "Out of the Blue" album, "Foolish Beat." Again, the first three singles also
made the top five.

Besting all of them in this corner of music trivia is Def Leppard. The group scored its first chart-topper with the fifth single from "Hysteria," "Love Bites." After "Women" stalled at No. 80, the band enjoyed a higher chart peak with each successive single until finally hitting the top, yet never reached that peak again.

Now if only someone can find an instance where the sixth single was the album's first No. 1, that'll really be a singular achievement!

Vince Ripol
San Diego



HOT? POP?


Fred,

Please tell me I was not dreaming this week when I opened my print edition [of Billboard] and the Pop 100 is on a full page and the regular, most important Hot 100 is now on a half-page. What is going on? Please tell me it is not so and it was just a misprint in the magazine, or at least they will alternate.

The Pop 100 knocks almost all of the country artists out of the charts, which is not right. Back in the '60s, top 40 radio played everything -- rock, pop, country, soul, dance, etc. Now country has been on sort of an equal footing [on the Hot 100].

Sorry the column is not in print anymore. It does not seem right. It had become an institution for us chart lovers.

Larry Frank
Kinnelon, N.J.

Dear Larry,

If you've seen the May 14 issue of Billboard, you know that the Hot 100 is featured on a full-page and the Pop 100 on a half-page. The decision was made to alternate these charts, so the Hot 100 will be full-page every other week.

I'm sure that Billboard would love to hear from you and other readers if you have any opinions to express on this matter, or the redesign of the magazine.
The e-mail address redesign@billboard.com was activated after publication of the April 30 issue to field such comments.

Thanks for your support regarding my column.



GIRL TROUBLE

Hi Fred,

I just noticed that there has been a recent fixation with "girls" at No. 37 on the Billboard Hot 100. First, there was Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl," then Brooke Valentine's "Girlfight" and then two weeks of Destiny's Child's "Girl."

Joey Toledo
Quezon City, Philippines

P.S. Just saw the new charts. "Girl" might not be No. 37 again, but then there are three "girls" back-to-back-to-back -- "Girlfight," "Girl" and "Rich Girl."

Dear Joey,

So it's a case of "Girl" interrupted at No. 37?



ADDING SPICE TO CHART BEAT

Fred,

Since a lot of people like to point out corrections in your column, I decided to do the same. Last week you stated Coldplay was the only U.K. act to debut in the top 10 besides the Beatles. Right away I thought maybe the Spice Girls did so with one of their singles. I checked and I noticed they did it twice.

In 1997, "Say You'll Be There" debuted at No. 5 and "2 Become 1" debuted at No. 6. You may have already received several e-mails about this. But you're still the man (besides Joel Whitburn) when it comes to chart trivia.

I'd also like to make a comment about the new Billboard charts. I would like to thank Billboard magazine and its chart editor(s) for making Hot 100 chart-watching fun again. They are keeping up with the times with paid downloads and it is fun watching songs rise and fall quickly. Hopefully we will soon see a turnover rate at the No. 1 spot just like the years 1974 and 1988, back when it was easy for an act to go to the top spot.

Keep charting,

Jason Voigt
jasonvoigt@hotmail.com

Dear Jason,

Glad you're enjoying the Hot 100 these days. Most of the comments I've received have been very favorable.

One of the tricks to writing "Chart Beat" is to qualify items so they are true. That's one reason I didn't say Coldplay was the only other U.K. "act" to debut in the top 10. I used the word "group," so as to exclude Elton John, who debuted at No. 1 with "Candle in the Wind 1997" / "Something About the Way You Look Tonight."

However, "group" wasn't enough of a qualifier because of the Spice Girls. Shortly after the original item was posted, it was corrected to say "male group," the qualifier that made the item finally accurate.