Fred Bronson discusses Michael Jackson, the Pet Shop Boys, Jennifer Paige and year-end No. 1s with readers.

WHAT ARE THE CHANCES FOR 'CHANCE'?

Fred,

If Michael Jackson debuts at No. 1 with his new single, "One More Chance," will he have the longest-running span of No. 1 singles? I know his first No. 1 was "Ben" in 1972.

Marco Aquino
caquin@msn.com

Dear Marco,

Michael Jackson was the first artist to debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100 when "You Are Not Alone" bowed in pole position the week of Sept. 2, 1995. But it's highly unlikely that "One More Chance" will have the juice to become the latest song to open on top.

Under current chart rules, it's almost impossible to debut at No. 1, and only one song has done so under the present policies: "This Is the Night" by Clay Aiken. The conditions were just right for "Night." It didn't have enough airplay to appear on the chart prior to its release as a commercial single, and it sold such a massive amount its first week (393,000 copies) that it was overwhelmingly No. 1.

Most songs debut on the Hot 100 when they have enough airplay to do so. Airplay usually builds over time, so songs do not have enough airplay in their first week to achieve a No. 1 debut.

"One More Chance" hasn't been doing very well on the airplay side. After peaking at No. 45 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks three weeks ago, it held at No. 46 for two weeks and then rose to No. 44. I don't know of any plans to release a commercial single in the U.S., and based on airplay alone, the song was only able to debut this week at No. 95 on the Hot 100.

You wanted to know if Michael would have the longest span of No. 1 hits if "One More Chance" did go all the way. Right now he's in second place, counting from "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5. He has a No. 1 span of 25 years, seven months and one week, up to "You Are Not Alone." If "One More Chance" topped the Hot 100 before the end of the year, he would have a No. 1 span of 33 years and 11 months, which would catapult him into first place. The record to beat is 33 years, seven months and three weeks, Cher's span from "I Got You Babe" to "Believe."



PET ROCK

Dear Fred,

As a Pet Shop Boys fan, I was thrilled to see them in the top-10 in the U.K. with "Miracles" and am eagerly awaiting the 3-CD hits and remix collection called "Pop Art" containing this song. I've been very impressed with their longevity. Apparently in 18 years "Miracles" is their 36th hit and 34th top-20 hit.

How does this compare with their chart success in the U.S.? While I know they've had some dance chart hits, when was the last time we saw the Boys on the U.S. chart?

Thanks,

Don Casto
St. Petersburg, Fla.

Dear Don,

You might be surprised to learn that it's been more than 12 years since the Pet Shop Boys have been listed on the Hot 100. Their most recent entry on this chart was their medley of songs by U2 and Frankie Valli: "Where the Streets Have No Name (I Can't Take My Eyes Off You)," No. 72 in 1991.

That single charted just five years after the duo made its Hot 100 debut in March 1986 with "West End Girls," which spent one week at No. 1 and is the Pet Shop Boys' biggest U.S. hit. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have had 12 singles appear on the Hot 100. Their second-biggest hit was their collaboration with Dusty Springfield, "What Have I Done To Deserve This?" which spent two weeks at No. 2 in 1988. Their cover of "Always on My Mind" went to No. 4, also in 1988, and is their third-biggest hit. Their two other top-10 hits were "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)," No. 10 in 1986, and "It's a Sin," No. 9 in 1987.

There are three more recent singles that charted on Hot 100 Singles Sales: "New York City Boy" (No. 53 in 1999), "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Anymore" (No. 66 in 2000) and "Break 4 Love" (No. 51 in 2001), recorded with Peter Rauhofer.

This is all in sharp contrast to their U.K. track record. Their new entry of "Miracles" debuted 18 years to the day after their first chart single. "West End Girls" entered the U.K. singles chart on Nov. 23, 1985 and "Miracles" debuted at No. 10 on Nov. 23, 2003. Only two of the Pet Shop Boys' 38 U.K. chart entries missed the top-20: a remix of "DJ Culture" (No. 40 in 1991) and "Was It Worth It?" (No. 24, also in 1991).

"Miracles" is the duo's first top-10 hit since "You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk" (No. 8 in 2000) and is their 21st top-10 hit.



PAGING JENNIFER

Hi Fred!

I'm a big Jennifer Paige fan. I wonder how much success she has had in the U.S. singles and albums chart.

Magnus Larsson
Stockholm

Dear Magnus,

I'm sorry to report that as of now, Jennifer Paige is a one-hit wonder on the Hot 100. "Crush" was a big hit, peaking at No. 3 in 1998, but she's never been able to follow it up. In 1999, her single "Always You" went as high as No. 31 on Hot 100 Singles Sales, but didn't have the power to reach the Hot 100. It wasn't all Paige's fault; she wasn't helped by being on a label, edel America, that was closing its doors in the U.S.

And of course, one-hit wonder status can be revoked. In the last few weeks, two other female artists lost their one-hit wonder titles: Tina Arena and Liz Phair.

You asked how Paige fared on our album chart. Her eponymously-titled CD peaked at No. 139 in 1998, and is her only album to appear on this list.

I don't know if this will be any consolation to you, but on the lost of the top-100 One-Hit Wonders of the rock era, as published in my book "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits" (3rd edition), "Crush" ranks No. 4, topped only by Zager & Evans' "In the Year 2525," the Singing Nun's "Dominique" and USA for Africa's "We Are the World."



CORRECTING THE STREAK

Fred,

Recently, Dean Smedley stated: "In the last two years, a song that peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100 ended the year in pole position on the year-end chart, but I think the streak comes to an end this year."

Not quite. [He] was off by a year, since he was referring to "Breathe" by Faith Hill, Billboard's No. 1 for 2000, and "Hanging by a Moment" by Lifehouse, Billboard's No. 1 for 2001. The streak ended last year.

David Dana-Bashian
Garden Grove, Calif.

Dear David,

You're correct. Last year's No. 1 song on the recap of the Hot 100 was "How You Remind Me" by Nickelback. The year before it was Lifehouse's "Hanging by a Moment," as you said, which means we've had two No. 1 songs of the year by male rock groups. We'll have to wait and see if this year makes it three years in a row -- or if at least the men have taken the title for a third consecutive year, or if a female will be No. 1 for 2003.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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