Keith Caulfield answers readers' questions about Maria Mena and sales data.

THE ONLY ONE

Keith,

I heard a song on the radio last week and again on Tuesday's (June 29) episode of "Blow Out" on Bravo and would like to find out who sings it. Unfortunately I am less than helpful as I don't recall the entire song, however it kept repeating "you're the only one who ..." with a different ending each time.

It's a female singer who seems to be explaining to the person that she's with that they are the only person that understands her and she treats him/her like crap in order to keep them around.

I know this is completely random and probably doesn't help, but if you could help me, I would greatly appreciate it, as it's been driving me nuts!

Thanks!

Shannaroo

Hi,

You are thinking of Maria Mena's song "You're the Only One." The song is No. 30 this week on Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 chart and No. 86 on the Hot 100.

The singer is currently on the Teen People Rock N' Shop Mall Tour, which next plays July 17 at the Mall of America in Minneapolis. She'll also open for Hanson the night before at New York's Irving Plaza.

The 18 year-old's debut U.S. album, "White Turns Blue," will be released July 20 by Columbia.



CLARIFICATION, PLEASE!

Hi Keith,

I must say that I have always admired how you are able to answer some of the most ridiculous questions that people can come up with. But, I was so confused by last week's "Ask Billboard" question about the top selling female recording artists. Now, were the totals based only on U.S. sales or on worldwide sales?

I distinctly remember last year's Super Bowl halftime show where they introduced Mariah Carey as "the biggest selling female recording artist in history". I have also heard that she has sold over 120 million albums, definitely beating out Celine Dion.

Shania Twain is trying to steal Mariah's glory. Just because she had a bad movie, an even worse soundtrack album and a nervous breakdown doesn't mean that Mariah is gone. She will always be the best, along with Whitney Houston.

What do you have to say about this? Can people make up things like what happened on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" [where Shania was introduced as the top selling female artist of all time]? Defend your answer!

Thanks buddy,

John
Chicago

Hi John,

I received a few e-mails this week, questioning the figures that I quoted in the answer to that question. As I stated in the last column, the figures were only for U.S. sales and/or shipments. There is no firm that tabulates worldwide sales, and therefore, accurate tallies of worldwide sales are subject to interpretation.

When Mariah Carey is introduced as the "biggest selling artist" at an event, that's usually because her press materials suggest that fact. With artists like Madonna, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, and so forth, each one of them will often lay claim to some sort of sales feat or crown. Such information stems from an artist's record company's figures regarding worldwide sales or shipments.

When Shania Twain was introduced as the biggest selling female artist on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," it was a rather large error. Twain has the biggest selling album in the U.S., in the Nielsen SoundScan era -- 1999's "Come On Over," which has sold 15.1 million. But Celine Dion is the biggest selling female artist overall, in the U.S., in the SoundScan era.

And for all-time U.S. shipments, per the Recording Industry Association of America, Barbra Streisand is tops.



DEFINE 'ERA'

Hello Keith,

I know that Billboard has been using SoundScan as its sales [data] source since March 1, 1991. Whenever you provide sales from the "SoundScan era," does that mean those sales are from March 1, 1991 until the present? Or did SoundScan start compiling sales data a little earlier than that?

Thanks for a great column,

Andre Fortin
Los Angeles

Hi Andre,

Nielsen SoundScan began compiling data as of Jan. 1, 1991, and when sales figures are quoted here, it is from that point on.

However, it should be noted that Billboard did not begin publishing chart based on SoundScan data until mid-May 1991.