Fred Bronson discusses songs dropping off the Hot 100, U.S. vs. U.K. singles charts and "American Idol" with readers.

THEY TOOK IT AWAY, AND QUICKLY

Dear Fred,

Last week one of your readers inquired about big hits that drop completely out of the charts from a high position. Your reader asked if a song from the '60s had a fast fall [like the plunge of the charity single "Across the Universe"].

The first song that I could think of from back in that era was a novelty hit by Napoleon XIV, "They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa !" I remember it hitting No. 3 but its entire chart life was a mere six weeks back in the summer of 1966. The song came back for four [more] weeks on the chart as a re-release in September 1973, but only reached No. 87.

Fred, I enjoy reading your weekly column and have also purchased several of
your very informative and enjoyable books.

Derryl Chapman
Mamou, La.

Dear Derryl,

Thanks for the kind words, and for remembering when Napoleon XIV met his Waterloo. For some recent falls from on high, see the next e-mail.



THE HARDER THEY FALL

Fred,

In last week's Chart Beat Chat, Josh Hosler wondered when a record last dropped off the Hot 100 from a position higher than No. 22 (the rank held by the all-star rendition of "Across the Universe" in its one-week appearance). Josh supposed that "we'd half to go back to the frenetic chart activity of the 1960s to find another such plunge."

It is true that the years 1968-1972 saw the greatest number of records drop from the Hot 100 from positions higher than No. 22 -- an average of nearly five per year during that period -- with the "champ" being 1971, when seven records took that big a plunge. The record that fell from the highest perch was "Nights in White Satin" by the Moody Blues: it was No. 17 in its last stanza on the chart.

It could be argued that another song matched that high position: In December 1974, when "Junior's Farm" by Paul McCartney and Wings reached the top 10 of the Hot 100, it was joined by the record's B-side, "Sally G," becoming a double-sided hit. A few weeks later, the record dropped from the top 10 to No. 17, but now with "Sally" listed first. The next week, "Sally" was listed by itself as a debut at No. 66, but with the same record number as the No. 17 pairing of the week before. So, you might or might not consider "Junior's Farm" to have also dropped off the Hot 100 from No. 17.

Actually, however, the most recent departure from the Hot 100 from a position higher than No. 22 took place only a few years ago, when Mariah Carey's remake of "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)" appeared on the Hot 100 during the holiday season of December 1999. The song spent its last two chart weeks (the first two weeks in 2000) at No. 18 before disappearing from the Hot 100.

Randy Price
New York

Dear Randy,

Thanks for recalling these memorable departures from the Hot 100. Here's one more comment on the subject, though I did receive more than a dozen e-mails about the biggest drops.



'CRIMSON' AVENGED

Dear Fred:

Recently Josh Hosler asked when a song last dropped off the Hot 100 from a position higher than "Across the Universe" did at No. 22. "Nights in White Satin" by the Moody Blues dropped from the highest position, No. 17. "Crimson and Clover" by Tommy James and the Shondells was the No. 1 song that dropped from the highest position, No. 18.

However, "Across the Universe" is currently the highest ranking single to drop off the Hot 100 with only one week on the chart.

David Dana-Bashian
Garden Grove, CA


LOOK WHAT DEAN STARTED

Dear Fred,

I did not realize that my question about the most singles that charted from one artist's album would cause so much discussion, although I'm glad to see that it did. I could have listed all of those albums, but my question was in reference to the last male artist to achieve such a feat. It's somewhat ironic that most of the albums listed were released in the '80s. How times have changed! Maybe Usher's chart success and the new chart format for the Hot 100 will give music labels something to consider.

Anyway, thanks again for providing such a great avenue for chart discussions.

Have a great weekend!

Sincerely,
Dean Smedley
Georgia

Dear Dean,

You bring up an important point. Often in this column a I will mention a chart feat (or a reader will) and cite an example or two, or reference a specific time this same feat happened in the past, and people will write in citing every other example of this particular feat. Most write in just to add their voice to the discussion, and I appreciate that. Once in a while someone writes with an indignant or accusatory tone, but that's rare. I appreciate that so many Chart Beat readers are as on top of chart history as I am - or go way beyond me!




U.S./U.K. RELATIONS

Hi Fred,

Just wanted to drop you a line to let you know how much I enjoy reading your column each week on Billboard.com. I live in Sheffield, England, and closely follow both the U.K. and U.S. charts on a regular basis. The comparisons between both charts are amazing; I especially appreciate the fact that in the United States a record is allowed to steadily climb the Hot 100 and [I] also [appreciate] the length of stay on the chart of most records, which is much longer than our Top 75 here in the United Kingdom.

However, it has recently been announced that downloaded singles sales will be added to the U.K. sales chart beginning in April, so I hope to see a change in the way our singles chart works, hopefully moving in a similar way to the Hot 100.

Look forward to reading your column for many weeks to come.

Regards
Rich Ashton


Dear Rich,

You're right about the differences between the U.S. and U.K. charts. I've been following the U.K. charts ever since I started reading Billboard in the '60s, and began paying even more attention after my first visit to the United Kingdom in April 1974. In case you're curious, the song that was No. 1 during that first trip was "Waterloo" by ABBA. One big difference between the U.S. and U.K. singles charts is that the Hot 100 is compiled based on sales and airplay, and the U.K. chart is only based on sales. The addition of paid downloads is bound to have a big effect on your charts; we'll have to wait and see exactly what that effect will be.



KELLY, RUBEN, FANTASIA AND...?

Fred,

What are the chances that this year's ["American Idol"] winner will not hit or debut on the top, as most of the time their chart successes are based on almost 100% singles sales? Can you divulge how many store singles a song would have to sell to debut at No. 1 on today's charts, and also how many digital singles it would have to sell to do the same thing, with little or no airplay?

Mike Lyons
West Allis, Wis.

Dear Mike,

It's true that the winner of the fourth season of "American Idol" will be competing on the Hot 100 under different chart rules than previous winners and finalists.

However, if this year's "Idol" sells as many singles in one week as Clay Aiken did with "This Is the Night" or Fantasia did with "I Believe," they will have a No. 1 single. Clay and Fantasia had massive first-week sales, assuring their No. 1 status. Their sales were so overwhelming that they didn't need any airplay at all to debut in first place.

I can't discuss sales figures in my columns, but there is no exact number to report anyway, because that would change from week to week.