Fred Bronson discusses songs on television and Elvis Presley's No. 1 singles with readers.
BIG SCREEN, LITTLE SCREEN
Thanks so much for your weekly column. I always look forward to reading Keith Caulfield's column on Wednesdays, and Fridays I impatiently wait for both of your columns to be posted.
I have a question about television shows. When a song is played in a movie (even if it's only for a few seconds, or if a character in a movie sings it), the relevant information about the song (title, writers, artist, publisher, etc.) appears in the credits. Why aren't television shows required to do the same?
I've been reading a lot lately about lesser-known bands that have reached a larger audience after their songs are featured on shows like "The O.C." and "Gilmore Girls." I think that's wonderful. But it bothers me that, if I hear a great song on a television show, I have to hope it's listed in a book somewhere (as in "The Watcher's Guide" for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") or listed online (as in HBO's extensive Web site information for each episode of "The Sopranos").
Why do movies list all that information, but television shows don't?
Winston Salem NC
It can be frustrating to watch an episode of a television series and not find out information about a song you enjoyed that was played on the soundtrack. I watch "Smallville," and at least at the end of every episode they identify the artists played and the albums the songs came from, even if they don't give you the title of the specific track played.
The key to your question about the difference between movie credits and TV credits is timing. Think about how long it takes credits for films to unfold -- sometimes you want to laugh because they are endless, though everyone who worked on a film deserves to be credited.
TV credits are incredibly shorter by comparison, especially for network broadcasts. For the last few years, networks have made special versions of credits for their shows, so they are all uniform and squeezed to one side, to allow coming attractions or promotional material for other network shows to run. When those same network shows run later in syndication on local stations, you'll notice the credits are regular sized, because it's the network that squeezed the credits, not the production company that made the TV show.
TV credits are too short to include detailed information about songs. Some parts of credits are mandated by agreements. For example, I am a member of the Writers Guild of America, and when I write a TV episode or special, the placement and timing of my credit is guaranteed under the agreement the WGA has with broadcasters. Song credits do not have any such guarantee.
NOT IN MY BOOK
Recently you said that Elvis Presley had 17 No. 1s in the United States. But since "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" each occupied the No. 1 slot, Elvis' total of No. 1s in the United States would be 18.
Garden Grove, Calif.
That's the problem with chart history -– it's not always black and white. When there are shades of gray, decisions have to be made.
Since "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" were two sides of the same single, and since I use Billboard's Best Sellers in Stores chart as my source before the Hot 100 was introduced, the single only counts as one No. 1 hit in my book (literally).
Those who want to are free to count Elvis' total as 18, but I and many others consider his total to be 17.