Fred Bronson discusses physical audio formats, the state of radio, song titles and "Australian Idol."

MULTIPLE FORMATS

Dear Fred,

I was in a music store and noticed that a lot of albums are being simultaneously released in two new formats: Super Audio CD and DVD audio. If I buy an album in the DVD audio format or SACD format, will it count toward the Billboard charts?

Mike Smith
Kalamazoo, Mich.

Dear Mike,

Sales of Super Audio CDs and DVD Audio CDs definitely count for Billboard's charts. The magazine's preference is that all sales of the same title, no matter what format, be counted together. Sometimes record labels request that Super Audio CDs and/or DVD Audio formats be counted separately, but that is rare.



WHERE HAS ALL THE TALENT GONE?

Dear Fred,

I am writing to you to vent my frustration and to see if you or your readers agree with me. I think the top 40 music of today is positively dreadful.

I have been such an avid fan of popular music for the last 30 years. I would typically like 75% of the songs on the top 40 chart, but the sounds I have heard coming from the radio and TV videos the past couple of years are a cacophony of unpolished, juvenile voices. In that time I have only liked about three songs.

What has happened to the music? Am I just getting old? I truly believe that the vocal talent of today's crop of performers is at an all-time low. I feel that this situation has contributed equally to the dearth of album and singles sales as has the availability of free download sites.

Sincerely,

Glenn Martin
Fresh Meadows, N.Y.

Dear Glenn,

Age may have something to do with it, as well as personal taste. Your letter arrived in my inbox right after I had lunch with a British journalist who expressed many of the same thoughts. She was talking about the U.K. music scene, but her thoughts paralleled yours. She suggested that popular recording studio software Pro-Tools is one of the worst things that has ever happened to the music industry, as it has allowed people who can't really sing to pass for talented artists.

There are many other reasons for the state of talent today. There was a time when people who were passionate about music ran record labels. They still exist today, and some of them are even in influential positions, but there are many more money-people running things than creative people, and the results show.

As I have maintained, there is good music out there, and artists who can really sing, and write words and compose music. You just have to look a little harder for the truly talented.



RADIO FREE ANDY

Dear Fred,

There have been a plethora of letters about the sorry state of radio and the seemingly endless possibilities of XM. I'd like to offer my two cents:

I grew up in the 1960s and '70s, when top 40 stations truly played music from the top 40. I could hear John Denver, Grand Funk, Olivia Newton-John, Barry White and B.T. Express all on the same station! With today's unfortunate trend toward narrowcasting, that is no longer possible. I'd love to see a true top 40 station appear on XM Radio -- a station which plays primarily hip-hop, with some rock tracks, and even a few country songs thrown in. Just imagine, a station which actually plays all the songs on the top 40!

My other desire is one that has been brewing since Joel Whitburn came out with his first "History of the Hot 100 Charts" book. I'd love to see an XM station (or any station, for that matter) assume the persona of a top 40 station during a specific week in history.

The first week of the Hot 100 comes to mind (August 1958, I believe). This station would play the hottest songs of the week as its "hot hits," the hits from earlier in 1958 as its "recurrents" (a radio term for "songs from the recent past"), and the larger hits from 1955-1957 as its "oldies." I even imagine a minute-long newscast at the beginning of each hour, delivering the news and sports of that very week in time. The next day, this station's "hot hits" would mirror the Hot 100 chart for the next week in history, and its newscasts would move on to the news of the next week.

Obviously, 52 days after this station signs on the air, a "year" will have passed, and the station would then be playing hits from August 1959, as it "hot hits." As there are seven days in a week, one year in real time would equal seven years progression of the stations music and news. So, about a year after the station signs on, its "hot hits" would now be the big hits from summer of 1965. At this rate, it would take the station seven years to reach the big hits of 2007. When it catches up to real time, I suggest reverting back to 1958 (or 1955, if we choose the beginning of the rock era to begin things), and begin again!

What do your readers think? Is this a great idea (or at least the foundation of a great idea)? I'm sure, between Fred, [Eric Records founder] Bill Buster and Joel Whitburn, we can find every song which ever made the top 40 portion of the charts (which are the ones listeners will remember). Now, we need at least one person in the radio business (preferably XM Radio), and probably at least one lawyer. Anybody interested?

Thanks Fred. Always a great column.

Andy Ray
Indianapolis

Dear Andy,

Interesting concept. Since some folks from XM Radio read this column (anyone from Sirius reading?), let's see if their business affairs department contacts you.



IT MUST HAVE HAPPENED SOMEDAY

Dear Mr. Bronson,

When Nickelback scored its top 10 hit "Someday" earlier this year, it was the fourth time a song called "Someday" entered the top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100.

The previous [three] were by Glass Tiger, Mariah Carey and Sugar Ray. I would like to ask if [any other title used for different songs] has entered the top 10 more than four times in the rock era.

Yours sincerely,

George Galateros
Chora Naxos, Cyclades Islands
Greece

Dear George,

The most popular titles that come to mind have made three or four appearances in the top 10. I can't think of a title that has been used by five different top 10 songs, but perhaps a "Chart Beat" reader will write in with an example.

"Angel" has been a top 10 title for Madonna, Aerosmith, Sarah McLachlan and Shaggy. "Without You" has been a top 10 title for Johnny Tillotson, Motley Crüe and Nilsson/Mariah Carey.

"Hero" has been a top 10 title for Mariah Carey, Enrique Iglesias and Chad Kroeger. And "My Love" has been a top 10 hit for Petula Clark, Paul McCartney and Lionel Richie.



DOWN UNDER IDOL

Hi Fred,

As expected, Cosima this week becomes the fourth artist from the first season of "Australian Idol" to hit No. 1 and the seventh artist to make the top 40. Surely a world record for one season? Cosima's hit, titled "When the War Is Over," is a remake of a minor hit for Australian band Cold Chisel in 1982. The other track on the single is a song written by Diane Warren titled "One Night Without You,"

Fourth place finalist Paulini is still holding at No. 2, after spending three weeks at No. 1. She originally debuted at No. 1 but was relegated to No. 2 the following day after bulk sales to a DJ were excluded. Nevertheless, she moved to No. 1 the following week, displacing "Australian Idol" runner-up Shannon Noll, who was enjoying his second No. 1 with "Learn to Fly."

The winner of the third season of "American Idol," is also doing well, having debuted at No. 4 a month ago. [Fantasia is] now moving down the chart.

Regards,

John Wilton
Canberra, Australia

Dear John,

Thanks for the update on chart action for the "Australian Idol" finalists. The first season of "Pop Idol" in the U.K. was also very successful in chart terms, with top 40 entries for Will Young, Gareth Gates, Darius, Rosie Ribbons, Jessica Garlick and Zoe Birkett as well as Sarah Whatmore, who wasn't among the top 10 finalists and Rik Waller, who dropped out of the show because of a throat infection.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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