Fred Bronson discusses "American Idol" contestants, P. Diddy, Kenny Chesney and more with readers.

SOMEONE TELL BO AND NADIA

Hey Fred,

Don't know if you noticed that "American Idol" contestants have singles in the top 10 of at least three major charts: Kelly Clarkson is No. 6 on the Hot 100 [with "Since U Been Gone"], Fantasia is No. 4 on Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles & Tracks [with "Baby Mama"] and Josh Gracin is No. 1 on Hot Country Singles & Tracks [with "Nothin' to Lose"].

I haven't checked, but I'll bet some of them are on the Adult Contemporary chart as well. Looks like a bright future for this year's winner!

Take care,

Vince Ripol
San Diego

Dear Vince,

My thought exactly when I went to the party held after this week's results show for the top 12. But I wasn't thinking there would be a bright future only for the winner, considering that with Josh Gracin now at No. 1, the top four contestants from the second season of the series have all had No. 1s on various Billboard charts.

In fact, Gracin's success inspired me to add up the total number of chart-toppers for all "Idol" contestants. Counting all album and single charts, there have been 36 No. 1s to date. That includes eight each for Clay Aiken and Kelly Clarkson, seven for Ruben Studdard, four for Fantasia, two for Kimberley Locke and Gracin and one each for Diana DeGarmo and William Hung, plus three for cast ensembles.

I shared that information with some of the fourth season contestants, so they already know they stand an excellent chance of joining their predecessors in an elite club that continues to accept new members.

Our next e-mail harks back to the first season of "American Idol" and the series' first winner. Read on.



KELLY'S STAR TREK

Fred,

Can we stop referring to Kelly Clarkson as "American Idol winner." Has she officially become a legitimate chart act without this precursory title? Or do you think she is still benefiting from the surreal success of this show?

Darrin Simmons
Calgary

Dear Darrin,

Given the success of her second album and the singles "Breakaway" and "Since U Been Gone," and given how much time has passed since the first season of "American Idol," I think it's not required to add "American Idol winner" as a description every time Kelly Clarkson is mentioned, just as I think it's not necessary to say "American Idol runner-up" every time someone writes about Clay Aiken.

This was inevitable. However, there are times when in context, it's fair and appropriate to mention "American Idol" in connection with Clarkson or Aiken, such as in my reply to Vince Ripol's e-mail above.

I can tell you that when we play Clarkson on "The Billboard Radio Countdown," we rarely refer to "American Idol," unless there is some reason to mention the show. It's part of her life history now and it's bound to be mentioned from time to time, even if Kelly would prefer that people not always mention the series when they talk about her.

This all reminds me of a time after the original "Star Trek" series completed its run when Leonard Nimoy, tired of people always connecting him to his character, wrote a 1975 autobiography titled "I Am Not Spock." Eventually, Nimoy accepted that he and Spock were always going to be linked and in 1995 he wrote a second autobiography, "I Am Spock."



WHERE DOES P. DIDDY FIT IN?

Dear Fred,

All this talk about Usher being the first since Janet Jackson to produce five top 10 hits from an album has me wondering: What about Puff Daddy's debut album? I'm pretty sure "I'll Be Missing You" was not on it, but what about "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down," "Mo Money Mo Problems," "It's All About the Benjamins," "Come With Me" and "Lookin' At Me"? That's five top 10 hits, according to my count. But I may be wrong. Some of these hits may not have appeared on his album. I honestly don't remember and I don't own the album, so I'm not as sure on this as I often believe myself to be.

Andy Ray
Indianapolis

Dear Andy,

While he has an enviable track record, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, known as Puff Daddy when his first CD was released, has not pulled five top 10 hits from one album.

"No Way Out" did include "I'll Be Missing You," as well as three other top 10 hits: "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down," "It's All About the Benjamins" and "Been Around the World."

"Mo Money Mo Problems" was a Notorious B.I.G. single that featured Puffy & Mase, and "Lookin' at Me" was a Mase single that featured Puffy, so neither track appeared on a Puff Daddy CD. "Come With Me," credited to Puff Daddy featuring Jimmy Page, was from the "Godzilla" soundtrack and appeared on the Epic label.

On the subject of one album yielding five or more top 10 hits, see the next e-mail.



KENNY'S DOUBLE

Dear Fred,

About a year and a half ago, Kenny Chesney's "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems" became the first country album since Tim McGraw's "A Place in the Sun" in 2000 to produce five top 10 hits. On Billboard's March 12 Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart, he goes one better by duplicating that feat as "Anything But Mine" moves 11-7 and becomes the fifth top 10 song from his "When the Sun Goes Down" album.

It also makes him the only act this century/decade to have back-to-back albums producing five top 10 hits. Both his "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems" and "When The Sun Goes Down" albums produced songs that spent seven weeks at No. 1: "The Good Stuff" and "There Goes My Life."

Also, "American Idol" is well represented on the March 19 chart as second-season finalist Josh Gracin moves 2-1 with "Nothin' To Lose." He could lose that spot before too long, as Craig Morgan moves 4-2 with "That's What I Love About Sunday." [That song could] become the first indie label hit to top the country chart since "Buy Me A Rose" by Kenny Rogers with Alison Krauss and Billy Dean in May 2000.

John Maverick
Omaha, Neb.

Dear John,

Thanks for bringing Kenny Chesney's chart feat to our attention. For more on Josh Gracin, see this week's "Chart Beat Bonus". And for another e-mail about five top 10 hits from one album, keep reading.



WHEN FORE EQUALS FIVE

Hi Fred,

I thought I would add two albums to the list of albums that featured five or more top 10 hits. Both Lionel Richie's "Can't Slow Down" (1983-1984) and Huey Lewis and the News' "Fore!" (1986-1987) featured five top 10 singles. Like many of the other artists with this distinction, Richie and Lewis each had one other album that spawned four top 10 singles.

These were two of my favorite albums at the time, so I didn't want them to feel left out!

Thanks,

Tony Andrade
johnnycasino1@yahoo.com

Dear Tony,

I'm sure Lionel and Huey will appreciate being remembered and included. Thanks for reminding us of their success. Vince Ripol, whose letter kicked off this week's "Chat," also wrote to add Paula Abdul's "Forever Your Girl" and Milli Vanilli's "Girl You Know It's True" to the list.



ACROSS AND DOWN BUT NOT A CROSS WORD

Dear Fred,

I see that "Across the Universe" fell off the Hot 100 from No. 22. When was the last time a song dropped off the entire chart from such a high position? I'm guessing we'd have to go back to the frenetic chart activity of the 1960s to find another such plunge.

Josh Hosler
Seattle

Dear Josh,

Debuting at No. 22 and spending one week on the Hot 100 puts "Across the Universe" into a class of its own, but probably not for long. One side effect of allowing paid digital downloads on the Hot 100 is that special event songs may only have one week of sales before the public loses interest. Since songs can be available for sale immediately without having to be manufactured, shipped and stocked in a retail store, look for this to happen again.

Billboard's charts from the 1960s aren't available in our computer database, but perhaps a reader will know of a song from that era that fell off the chart from a higher position.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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