Fred Bronson discusses OutKast, double-sided singles, holiday albums, online album sales, vinyl singles and more with readers.

SOMETHING ABOUT THOSE 'HEY' SONGS

Dear Fred,

If OutKast's "The Way You Move" does replace "Hey Ya!" at No. 1, it will be the first time since 1954 that two different tracks on one single have each hit No. 1 separately. The last time this happened was when Rosemary Clooney's "Hey There" was knocked out of No. 1 by the flip side, "This Ole House."

Richard K. Rogers
Brooklyn, N.Y.
dizzydoctors@hotmail.com

Dear Richard,

The coincidence of both "Hey There" and "Hey Ya!" being succeeded at No. 1 by their flip sides is almost more than a "Chart Beat" columnist can bear.

Since Billboard's Hot 100 became a song chart (as opposed to a singles chart) in December 1998, it was almost inevitable that two "sides" of the same single would both be big hits.

The conditions were just right for the two OutKast songs, with both going to radio and both appearing on the same CD single. Under current chart rules, the song receiving the most airplay of a double-sided hit at first charting receives all of the sales points for the single for the entire chart run. Thus, "The Way You Move" receives all of the sales points, but "Hey Ya!" is doing so well in airplay that it is able to sit in pole position without benefit of any sales points.

On the Hot 100 Airplay chart, "Hey Ya!" is No. 1 and "The Way You Move" is No. 2. We'll see if the first new No. 1 of 2004 is "The Way You Move," or if someone else (Kelis, perhaps?) succeeds "Hey Ya!"

The OutKast situation has prompted a number of readers to write about the duo's success with two songs at once. Keep reading.



DOUBLE-SIDED QUESTION

Hi Fred,

You mentioned in "Chart Beat" that both OutKast songs [charting on the Hot 100] are on the same commercial single. Why are they allowed then to occupy two positions on the chart? I thought the song which has the most airplay is listed. Or has the policy changed?

I am looking forward to your list of favorites (and Billboard staffers' favorites) for 2003, as I always end up checking out music that I haven't necessarily heard.

Joe Goodman
Switzerland

Dear Joe,

The top 10 lists of the Billboard staffers will be included in the special Year In Music section posted sometime today (Dec. 19) at Billboard.com, so you can check out my favorite albums of the year as well the picks of my colleagues at Billboard magazine and Billboard.com.

My choices were surprisingly American this year, with more domestic releases making the list than usual. My list of top 10 singles/songs of 2003 leans more European and can be found in "Chart Beat Bonus."

As for the OutKast situation, it's true, as mentioned above, when it comes to a double-sided hit, the song with the most airplay at the beginning of a title's chart run receives all of the sales points for the entire chart run. But, that doesn't mean the other side can't chart if it receives enough airplay.

In this case, "Hey Ya!" is leading in airplay now, but wasn't when the single first charted, so "The Way You Move" receives all of the sales points and its own airplay points, while "Hey Ya!" is charting based only on its own airplay.



THE GAME OF THE NAME

Hi Fred,

As Alicia Keys debuts at the top of The Billboard 200 with "The Diary of Alicia Keys," she has become the first person in over a year to be at the top of that chart with a CD that contains the artist's entire name since Eminem did it with "The Eminem Show" in September 2002.

In July of that year there was another such case, "Nellyville" by Nelly. By the way, I didn't include Elvis Presley's "Elvis' 30 Number 1 Hits" which reached pole position in October of that year because the title didn't include his entire name, just his first name.

Larry Cohen
Trumbull, Conn.

Dear Larry,

Thanks for the name check!



SEASON'S GREETINGS

Dear Fred,

As a long-time Whitney Houston fan, I count her most recent release, "One Wish: The Holiday Album," as the primary holiday-themed album of the season, although I'm a bit disappointed with the commercial performance so far. My first question is, which other Christmas records are noteworthy this year, and which are likely to end up the most successful on the chart?

My second question gives you the opportunity to look into the archives. Going back in Billboard history, which Christmas albums have been most successful on the charts?

With highest regards,

Peter Brandt Nielsen
Copenhagen

Dear Peter,

The most successful new holiday album of 2003 is Harry Connick Jr.'s "Harry for the Holidays." The CD peaked last week at No. 12 on The Billboard 200, and slides to No. 17 this week. On the Top Holiday Albums chart, "Harry for the Holidays" is spending its fifth week on top.

The other commercial successes of the year are "Now That's What I Call Christmas! 2: The Signature Collection" (No. 22 on The Billboard 200, down from a peak of No. 17), the Whitney Houston album you cite (No. 49, a new peak position) and "American Idol: The Great Holiday Classics" (No. 52, after reaching a peak of No. 28 two weeks ago).

In 1957, "Elvis' Christmas Album" spent four non-consecutive weeks at No. 1. Its reign was interrupted by Bing Crosby's "Merry Christmas," which spent one week on top. At the end of 1958, Mitch Miller and the Gang's "Christmas Sing Along With Mitch" started a two-week run at No. 1. In January 1962, another of Miller's albums, "Holiday Sing Along With Mitch," had one lone week in pole position. That was the last holiday album to reach the summit until 1994, when Kenny G's "Miracles - The Holiday Album" had a three-week reign at No. 1.



SELLING IN CYBERSPACE

Fred,

When the new Billboard charts appear online on Thursday mornings, I always look at the Top Internet Albums chart first, because I'm fascinated by how the tastes of online music shoppers differ from people who buy albums in brick-and-mortar shops.

That divergence has slowly been disappearing over the history of the chart. And I believe that today, for the first time in that chart's history, the top 20 Internet albums also all appear on the Top 200 albums chart -- and they even all appear in its top half!

Along with the recent news that the iTunes Music Store has now sold 25 million paid downloads, this seems to be a sign -- a healthy one, I think -- that purchasing music online in a variety of formats is becoming more and more mainstream.

Best,

Martin Kavka
Tallahassee, Fla.

Dear Martin,

While I haven't done any scientific studies, I have observed that the Top Internet Albums chart is dominated by titles that adults would buy. There may be a number of reasons for this, including the fact that older consumers feel more comfortable purchasing online than walking into a record store these days, but it is interesting to note.



IS THAT YOUR VINYL ANSWER?

Fred,

I know that Clay Aiken's "Invisible" is appearing on the Hot 100 as an album cut, ranked by airplay only. However, I recently purchased a vinyl 45 of the single and was wondering why this did not qualify "Invisible" as a single available for retail purchase?

I think Clay's internet fans might be interested to hear if purchasing the single in the vinyl format would help Clay's chart position.

Joy Mock

Dear Joy,

As a singles collector who still owns all of my vinyl 45s, it pains me to say this, but the 7" vinyl single stopped being a viable commercial format a long time ago. Nielsen SoundScan does not count sales of 7" vinyl singles, and a single released only as a 7" vinyl single is not considered to have a commercial release.

That's why "Invisible" is still considered an album cut for purposes of the Hot 100.

Sales of 7" vinyl singles are usually so small that they would have no impact anyway. If any Clay Aiken fans want to purchase the 7" vinyl single of "Invisible," it should only be if they want the single in their collection, not for chart purposes.