Fred Bronson discusses "American Idol," Sarah Connor, Nena and more with readers.


Hi Fred,

Congratulations for being the subject of one of "American Idol's" theme shows. It worked well and ended up being, I think, the best show of the season so far.

However, as a chart purist and a long-time reader of Billboard, I have to comment on the inclusion of "Ain't Nobody," sung by Anwar Robinson. I am a big fan of his and expect to see him in the final four performers, however -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- "Ain't Nobody" was not a number one Hot 100 song. In fact it wasn't even a top 10 song, peaking at No. 22 by Rufus featuring Chaka Khan in 1983.

I realize that you have no control over the song choices, but it seems that Anwar did not sing a song from the chosen theme of the week. Do you think he should be penalized in some way for this? I would be interested in your thoughts on the subject.

By the way, I hope that "American Idol" continues to use your book as a basis for more programs in the future.


Blaine Bernard
St. Louis, Prince Edward Island

Dear Blaine,

Most of the e-mails I received this week were about my appearance on "American Idol" and a majority of those letters commented on Anwar Robinson's song choice.

The bit of me that you saw on television was just a brief excerpt of my appearance in the Coca-Cola red room with Ryan Seacrest and the top 11 finalists. One of the things I told the contestants was that they could choose any of the 933 songs in my book of No. 1 hits from the Hot 100, or any No. 1 hit from any Billboard chart.

Every week, the contestants work with the series' music supervisor, Susan Slamer, during the song selection process. The finalists begin by choosing several songs each, and then they narrow their lists down until only one song is left. For the "Billboard's No. 1 Hits" show, several of the contestants chose No. 1 songs from other charts, specifically the Adult Contemporary survey and Hot Country Singles & Tracks. In each case, Susan called me to be certain that they were choosing songs that were No. 1 in Billboard.

Ultimately, it just happened that during the process of elimination, 10 of the finalists sang No. 1 hits from the Hot 100 and only Robinson made another selection, in this case, a No. 1 hit from the chart we now call Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. But he didn't break any rules by choosing that song.

You're right to say I had no control over the song choices, other than to say no to any song that wasn't No. 1. Since this is a competition, the contestants must make their own song choices. The only reason their own choice would be rejected (as long as it fit under the theme) would be if a song wasn't cleared by a music publisher for a performance on the show.

After taping the segment, the producers kindly invited me to have dinner with the finalists. Some of them asked me what I thought about this song or that one, but I was careful to let them make their own choices.

I might be biased, but based on performances and song choices, I thought this was the best episode of the fourth season so far.


Dear Fred,

I am wondering what is your (and your readers') favorite album track that became a hit after the album was released?

I can remember how "Mr. Brightside" stood out when I first bought the Killers' album "Hot Fuss." I was elated when I heard it on the radio. I am sure every reader has a particular song they have heard on an album that they thought should be a single and was just as excited when it was finally on the radio.

Lenny Kravitz also stands out as an artist who seems to have more success with latter singles from albums than with the lead singles. I will be very happy if my other favorite album cut, "All These Things That I've Done," becomes a hit as well. Let the e-mails begin!

Thanks for the great columns Fred -- and nice to see you on Fox again.

Bill Foster
[email protected]

Dear Bill,

Thanks, it's always nice to be on a show watched by nearly 30 million people.

By coincidence, I just played the album that contains my favorite track that became a hit after the album was released. Opening my mail tonight, I discovered the CD commemorating the 40th anniversary of the "Where Did Our Love Go" album by the Supremes. When that LP was originally released in 1964, I thought it was full of hit singles. Turns out, there were two more No. 1 hits on the album, aside from the album track. That would be my all-time favorite, "Baby Love," and its follow-up, "Come See About Me."

My runner-up choice would be "Cloudbusting" by Kate Bush, from the 1985 album "Hounds of Love." Honorable mention would go to two Marvin Gaye album tracks that later became singles: from the 1968 LP "In the Groove," the track titled "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," and from the 1971 album "What's Going On," the follow-up to the title song, "Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)."


Hello Fred,

This week, German mega-star Sarah Connor scores her fourth consecutive No. 1 hit in Germany, "From Zero to Hero." It is the song's first chart week, entering from zero.

By the way, slipping from 1 to 2 in its second chart week is "Liebe Ist" ("Love Is") by Nena (think "99 Luftballons") who is, since 2003, more successful than ever after a chart absence of more than 10 years.

Many greetings from Germany,

Holger Heinrich

Dear Holger,

That certainly answers the question, whatever happened to Nena. Thanks for the chart trivia from Germany.


Dear Fred,

Regarding the remake of "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)" that fell from No. 18 completely off the Hot 100 in early 2000, it was Christina Aguilera who sang it, not Mariah Carey.

I love your column, keep up the great work!

Ken Hladky
Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Dear Ken,

You were one of several readers who caught this column giving credit to the wrong artist. Thanks for catching this. I'm not sure if I should apologize to Mariah or Christina!