CHART BEAT CHAT

Fred Bronson discusses chart methodology changes, Mario, Elvis Presley and Rascal Flatts.

RATIO

Hi Fred,

You must be flooded [with e-mails] about the change of methodology on The Billboard Hot 100. As reported on Billboard.com, the "new" Hot 100 incorporates sales from digital downloads. Before the airplay-only-tracks era, you once told me that the average hit song would have its airplay as 75% of its strength.

Now that some positions are clearly different, such as Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" (No. 9 last week on the new chart as opposed to No. 16 last week on the old chart), how do airplay and sales contribute to a song's position on the Hot 100? Is it 75-25% again?

It seems sales is having such a great impact because even though "Since U Been Gone" is up 7-3 and 12-8 on the Mainstream Top 40 Tracks and the Top 40 Tracks charts respectively, as shown on Billboard.com, the song still couldn't climb any higher than No. 9 on the Hot 100.

Thanks in advance for the explanation.

Best regards!

Gustavo Pessoa

Dear Gustavo,

The change in methodology for compiling the Hot 100 did inspire a lot of people to write to "Chart Beat Chat" this week. Most letters contained praise as well as some questions. I haven't received one negative e-mail about the changes.

I think many people have a misunderstanding about the sales/airplay ratio. Every song has a different ratio depending on how much it is played on the radio and how much it is selling. The formula is not designed to give every song the same ratio, but to have an ideal average. That average was running 75% airplay/25% sales, as you cite, though as sales of commercially released CD singles have shrunk, the ratio has been affected. Under the new formula, the average ratio has been running 67% airplay/33% sales.

The song you cite, "Since U Been Gone," is No. 4 on the new Pop 100, a chart that also combines digital and retail sales with airplay, but only airplay from Mainstream Top 40 radio.



MORE 'LOVE'

Dear Fred,

As a follow-up to your "Everlasting 'Love'" comment in "Chart Beat Bonus," Mario's "Let Me Love You" has set another rock-era mark. In the category of singles that initially hit No. 1 the first week of the new calendar year, Mario passes "At the Hop" which kicked off calendar year 1958 and spent five consecutive weeks atop the Best Sellers chart.

Mario now chases Eddie Fisher's "Oh My Papa" which rose to No. 1 on the Best Sellers chart the week of Jan. 2, 1954 and spent the first eight weeks of that year on top.

Scott Oliver
Camden, Tenn.

Dear Scott,

Mario has a good chance of matching Eddie Fisher's eight-week reign, or surpassing it. Watch this space.



ELVIS, WHAT HAPPENED

Fred,

The recent Elvis Presley revival in the United Kingdom has caused the King to set two records that probably will never be broken and probably never mentioned in Elvis bios. Two of Elvis' recent No. 1s fell out of the U.K. top 40 in a record two weeks. "Beetlebum" by Blur was the previous shortest-lived No. 1 at three weeks.

And "Jailhouse Rock" dropped from No. 1 to No. 20 in one week, the biggest ever drop from No. 1. By comparison, the previous record-holder was "When a Child Is Born" by Johnny Mathis, a Christmas themed song that fell No. 1 to No. 12 after the holidays.

We live in interesting times.

Pat Kelly
Brampton, Ont.

Dear Pat,

While the BBC only plays the top 40 portion of the singles chart, it's actually a 75-position survey. That doesn't affect the accuracy of your statements, but thought I should point that out.

With more Elvis Presley singles coming every week, the records you mention could be broken, by Elvis himself.



WHAT BECOMES OF THE 'BROKEN ROAD'?

Dear Fred,

When Darryl Worley hit No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart a couple weeks ago, it was mentioned that he and Blake Shelton share the honor of having the most No. 1s (three each) for acts that debuted on the country chart since 2000. This week, a third act joins this list.

With "Bless the Broken Road" reaching pole position, Rascal Flatts earns its third No. 1, tying the group with Worley and Shelton for this chart accomplishment. Rascal Flatts previously hit No. 1 in 2002 with "These Days" and in 2004 with "Mayberry."

Sincerely,

Tony Payne
Blacksburg, Va.

Dear Tony,

Thanks for noticing. I'm sure the members of Rascal Flatts are happy you did.