Fred Bronson discusses the letter "K," the Adult Contemporary chart and holiday music and signature songs with readers.

A VERY SPECIAL "K"

Fred,

With the song "Karma" by Lloyd Banks featuring Avant moving 47-46 on Billboard's Hot 100, we're about to see a return to the top 40 of the letter that began such classic chart titles as "Keep On Loving You," "Kiss" and "Killing Me Softly With His Song." I'm talking about the letter K, which hasn't been represented by a top 40 song title since 3 Doors Down's "Kryptonite" spent its last week in that portion of the chart on March 17, 2001.

Until recently, the letter K has been virtually absent from the beginning of song titles on the entire Hot 100 during the middle part of this decade. Now with two "Karmas" [by Banks and Alicia Keys' and a "Knuck If You Buck" [by Crime Mob] simultaneously charting, all of that is changing.

To further put this in perspective, the three-year-and-nine-month gap between the top 40 postings of "K" songs is the longest absence for that letter in the rock era. It is also the longest such current gap for any letter that has been represented by at least 100 top 40 song titles over the last 48 years. (This qualifier automatically excludes the letters X, Z, Q, V and U -- although U is quickly making its way to the 100-song club thanks to Usher and other artists who are replacing the word "You" with the more hip, alternate one-letter spelling.)

With that criteria, what is the letter with the second-longest current absence from the beginning of a top 40 song title? It is R, which was last represented by the song "Roses" on the chart dated July 31, 2004 -- a mere four-and-a-half-month absence. Ironically, that song is by an act who did its part to help the "K" cause by intentionally misspelling its name: OutKast.

I thought you'd get a Kick out of this one!

Darrell J. Roberts
Bethesda, Md.

Dear Darrell,

I get no kick from champagne, but I do get a kick out of your E-mails. As you note, Lloyd Banks isn't the only artist with a "Karma" on the Hot 100 at the moment. If Alicia Keys' "Karma" (which she performed during the Billboard Music Awards) can gain momentum, it could be the second "K" song inside the top 40 portion of the chart in the next few weeks.



A MERRY AC CHRISTMAS

Fred,

The Adult Contemporary chart now boasts numerous Christmas tunes. My question is how the chart's data is compiled this time of year. If an AC station switches to an all-Christmas format, is its airplay still used to calculate the weekly chart?

Presently, artists like Dolly Parton and Vanessa Williams are charting higher than they have in many years. Are their songs ranked that high because of the airplay they are receiving only on AC stations that are supplementing their usual format with Christmas tunes? Or are the all Christmas stations boosting the chart positions of all holiday tunes?

Since this is a holiday-themed question, I will conclude by wishing you happy holidays!

Brian Scott
New York

Dear Brian,

Thanks, and greetings of the season to you as well.

The Adult Contemporary chart is one of many airplay-only surveys compiled by Billboard. It measures airplay in one specific radio format -- in this case, adult contemporary radio.

The AC format is the only one I know of that switches to almost all Christmas music at this time of the year. About 70% of AC stations are playing holiday music exclusively, while the other 30% are playing a mix of holiday and non-holiday tunes.

That's why you see so many holiday songs on the AC chart, but you're just seeing a small fraction of them. Per chart rules, only new songs are allowed to appear on the chart. Songs from Christmases past are not listed.

If you're curious what the most-played older Christmas song is, let's count down the top five from the most recent week, according to our sister publication, Billboard Radio Monitor.

No. 5 is "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby. No. 4 is the Brenda Lee favorite, "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." No. 3 is Bobby Helms' "Jingle Bell Rock." A No. 2 we have Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song." And at No. 1, with 1,821 spins, is Burl Ives' "A Holly Jolly Christmas."

You might notice that all of those songs are at least 40 years old, and "White Christmas" was originally recorded in 1942.



'WINE' AND 'FUN'

Hi Fred,

Just wanted to toss in a couple more examples of artists who charted more than once with their signature song. The first that came to my mind was UB40. The group hit No. 32 with "Red Red Wine" in 1984. Four years later, the re-release of that single with an added rap section hit No. 1 -- which I think makes this an example of a single that didn't actually become a "signature" song until its second time around.

My other example is "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper. After taking the song to No. 2 in 1983, she brought it back to the charts in 1995, but in a distinctively different package. The new version was a hybrid, taking her original and incorporating elements of Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love." Still, enough of her original composition remained to warrant calling it "(Hey Now) Girls Just Want to Have Fun."

And that's my two cents.

Thanks!

Vince Forrington
Vancouver

Dear Vince,

Sadly, we don't even pay that much for E-mails, but figuratively speaking your letter was worth much more than that.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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