Fred Bronson discusses Billboard's Hot 100, Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts and more with readers.

ANCHOR POSITION

Hi Fred!

Did you notice that last week "Whatever U Want" by Christina Milian featuring Joe Budden became the third song to debut this year at No. 100 [on Billboard's Hot 100]? The other songs to debut at the very bottom this year were Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" and New Edition's "Hot 2Nite."

As a matter of fact, Vanessa Carlton's "White Houses," one of my favorite songs of the moment, debuts at No. 100 this week.

On this week's chart, Milian drops off completely. If she doesn't re-enter anytime soon, that's probably going to be the first song to peak at No. 100 since Tevin Campbell's "Another Way" in 1999.

Just wanted to share that with you -- thanks!

Jessica Jones
Jessica's Top 25
http://jessicastop25.50megs.com/

Dear Jessica,

No, thank you!

To date, seven songs have debuted at No. 100 and then gone all the way to No. 1. We'll see if Vanessa Carlton's "White Houses" can become the eighth. It's one of my personal favorites, too.



THE WOMEN

Fred,

On Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks Chart dated Oct. 16, the female power continues. Sara Evans tops the chart this week with "Suds in the Bucket." It's her third No. 1 and her first since she took "Born To Fly" to No. 1 the week of Jan. 13, 2001.

Evans is also the fourth female solo act to top the country chart in 2004, already the most since 2001 (when there were five No. 1s by female soloists).

Previously topping the chart this year were Gretchen Wilson with "Redneck Woman" (May 29), Reba McEntire with "Somebody" (Aug. 7.) and Terri Clark with "Girls Lie Too" (Sept. 11). Wilson had a shot at No. 1 with "Here for the Party", but lost spins and dropped to No. 4 this past week, so I can't help wonder if that song still has a chance at reaching No. 1.

John Maverick
Omaha, Neb.

Dear John,

Considering that no solo female artist had a No. 1 in 2003, it's quite a turnaround for women on this year's country singles and tracks chart. And we still have two and a half months to go, so we could have even more female chart-toppers in 2004.



THE SALES AND AIRPLAY DEBATE CONTINUES

Dear Fred,

First of all I would like to say that I love your column and really enjoy all your chart trivia.

Partly in response to Darryl Roberts' letter last week, I have to say that I hardly take any interest in Billboard's Hot 100 because I agree with you that American radio has yet to catch on to what the consumers want to hear or buy. This is, of course, a foreigner's opinion and I do not have any first-hand experience.

However, since I am an avid chart watcher I do look at The Billboard 200 closely, and what the public buys is definitely not reflected on the Hot 100. If I look at the new album entries this week, Hilary Duff outsold Ciara's album, yet Ciara has been No. 1 on the Hot 100 for six weeks and has been on the chart for 16. Duff is nowhere to be found on the Hot 100.

Even though it is Duff's second album and she may have an established fan base, I could compare her first album with that of Beyoncé. To date [her Columbia album "Dangerously in Love"] has sold 3.7 million and [Duff's Buena Vista album "Metampohosis"] has sold 3.4 million. The difference is quite large, but not if you take into account the amount of airplay that Beyoncé received for her singles from "Dangerously in Love" compared to the airplay Duff received.

All in all it is just my opinion.

Regards,

Jaco Rademan
jrademan@f2f.co.za

Dear Jaco,

This column has received numerous letters about the Hot 100, and the impact of sales and airplay data on the chart.

Your point about album sales is well taken, but just because Hilary Duff's album outranks Ciara's on The Billboard 200 doesn't mean that "Goodies" shouldn't be more popular than Duff's latest hit, "Fly," on the Hot 100. "Fly" doesn't show up on either Hot 100 Singles Sales (it's not released as a commercial single) or Hot 100 Singles Airplay, so that's why you don't see it on the Hot 100. The fact that Duff's album sold so well doesn't give "Fly" a pass on the Hot 100; it will have to earn a place on that chart on its own merits.

I've said it here many times, but the reason sales data does not have a big impact on the Hot 100 is that the singles market in the U.S. has shriveled up to almost nothing. The No. 1 song on Hot 100 Singles Sales has been selling in the 2,000 range lately.

There is a new singles market, and that is paid digital downloads. In the coming weeks you'll see a change to the Hot 100 that will incorporate this information more fully. That should give sales more weight on this chart.