Fred Bronson discusses Clay Aiken, platinum albums, lengthy titles, singles and more with readers.

SYMBOLIC

Dear Mr. Bronson,

I have a question regarding Clay Aiken's RIAA symbol, or lack thereof, on the Billboard Web site. Billboard.com states that the symbol is the RIAA's certification for shipment of 1 million units (platinum). If Clay received a plaque which certified "Measure of a Man" as double platinum for shipping two million copies within the first week, why has there not been, nor is there now, a "2" symbol beside the name of his album on The Billboard 200 on the site?

Could you please be kind enough and clarify this for me, as I am a little confused.

Thank you very much.

Dianne Melton
Rock Hill, S.C.

Dear Dianne,

It's true that Clive Davis surprised Clay on "Good Morning America" with a plaque for going double platinum. And it's also true that by shipping two million units, "Measure of a Man" qualified for double platinum status.

But, the RIAA is the industry trade organization that officially certifies gold and platinum albums. As soon as the RIAA issues an official platinum certification for "Measure of a Man," you'll see the triangle and superscript number appear on the Billboard chart.



THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT

Hi Fred,

Thanks for the birthday oddities. I do recall you once asking a trivia question about the three singers with the same initials L.G. -- Lesley Gore, Larry Gatlin and Lou Gramm -- who share the same birthday, May 2. That happened to be one of the few questions that I had answered correctly, however I was not one of the first 20.

Here is some more trivia for you. It seems as if long-titled No. 1 songs are few and far between nowadays. As of the week ending Nov. 15, there have been 10 songs at No. 1. Four of them had just two words in them: "Lose Yourself," which was a carry over from last year, "Get Busy," "21 Questions" and "Baby Boy."

Five had three words: "Bump Bump Bump," "All I Have," "In Da Club," "Crazy in Love" and "Shake Ya Tailfeather." There was just one with four words: "This Is the Night."

The last chart topper with five or more words in its title was "Come on Over Baby (All I Want Is You)" by Christina Aguilera back in October and November of 2000. The last non-parenthetical title with at least five words in its title to reach the summit was "I Knew I Loved You" by Savage Garden in February 2000.

Regards,

Larry Cohen
Trumbull, Conn.

Dear Larry,

Maybe it's because of our short attention spans, but it's been a long time since we've had No. 1 titles like, "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song" or "Theme from 'Mahogany' (Do You Know Where You're Going To)."

I don't think things will be changing soon. The next songs most likely to be No. 1 are "Hey Ya!" by OutKast and "Invisible" by Clay Aiken (once the commercial single is released on Dec. 9).



THE POWER OF SUGGESTION

Fred,

In your most recent "Chart Beat Chat," you said you suggested to RCA that they release a commercial single for Clay Aiken's "Invisible" and "Solitaire." Well, guess what's being released on Dec. 9? His fans are elated. Not only are we finally going to be able to hear the full version of one of Clay's best "American Idol" performances, we are also going to have a chance to push "Invisible" to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. It's a win/win situation for all involved.

Thanks so much for any influence you may have had on RCA's decision. I'm ecstatic!

Best wishes,

Joey Henrich
Perry, Utah

Dear Joey,

Clay's fans have been quite generous in giving me credit for the release of the commercial single of "Invisible," with the non-album track "Solitaire" on the B-side, but I was not the only one who came up with the idea. Clay told me today he made the same suggestion to RCA, so if there's any credit to be given, I'll have to share it.

I was surprised to receive a phone call from "Solitaire" composer Neil Sedaka asking me if it was true, and thanking me for making the suggestion.



BUYING SINGLES

Hi Fred,

I just want to add to what you replied to Ray Faircloth from Cordele, Ga., on the topic of singles.

You commented that "Record companies have declined to issue many hit songs as commercial singles so consumers will buy entire albums instead, but the record-buying public hasn't always gone along with the plan." I cannot agree more.

Before the Internet became commonplace, I had no idea about singles being physical media with several tracks. I always thought of them as simply "songs off the album" that radio stations play. I guess that's because I live in Canada and singles have never been big in this country, so when I was younger I didn't even know they existed.

With the Internet I became exposed to many Web sites with discographies of my favorite artists and then I realized mainly in Europe, CD singles are big business. I now think singles with rare unreleased tracks, remixes, live performances, sometimes calendars and small posters, and in the past few years, enhanced content, are precious items! I became totally hooked onto it. I used to buy an average of one album a week; now I order about 10 to 15 singles every month online and it's been a long, long time since I bought a full-length album.

Some Web sites offer discounted prices for singles for their first week releases, so putting shipment costs aside, you can buy five to six singles for the price of one album. Isn't that a good deal?

One last comment: the more artists' official sites offer free streaming listening to the entire album, the less I am inclined to buy those albums, because I can simply listen to them online.

King Koo
Calgary, Alberta

Dear King,

It's going to be interesting to see if the single can make a comeback in this digital age, when one can buy a lone song as a paid download track. Just when we thought the format was on life support, it may be coming back stronger than ever.



READ AT YOUR OWN RISK

Dear Fred,

An angel went to see St. Peter. "All I do," the angel said, "is play the harp endlessly, and I'm getting bored." St. Peter asked, "What would you rather do?" The angel answered, "I like to dance." "We don't allow dancing here in heaven," St. Peter said, "but I can see you need a change so I will allow you to take advantage of a once-in-an-eternal-lifetime offer. I will allow you 24 hours leave to return to earth and dance." "I'm gone," the angel said and in a trice was in California and quickly found a dance hall run by Samuel Frank. Checking the harp and wings, the angel boogied and danced and had a great time until just seconds remained of the leave. The angel grabbed up the wings and immediately was in heaven again. Returning to St. Peter, the angel said, "I'm back and I am so happy. I'll never feel bored again." St. Peter said, "That's wonderful, but where is your musical instrument?" "Oh, no," the angel said, "I left my harp in Sam Frank's Disco."

The British are wonders of craftsmanship, always trying to invent new weapons for war. They have invented a weapon which flings a pointed stick thru the Internet. Of course they had to give them a catchy name so they called them ... Britain E-Spears

A little rabbit was orphaned at a young age and raised by a family of squirrels. You know how squirrels move. They scurry around rather than hopping. So that's the way the little rabbit learned to travel. Time went by and the little rabbit was growing up. One day he went out into the world and saw a bunch of other critters who looked like he did, and they were hopping around all over the place. This got the little rabbit confused. What was he supposed to do? So he went home and asked his father, "What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to run like you or hop like these other creatures who look like me?" His father answered, "Don't scurry, be hoppy."

Larry Dhooghe
Forest Grove, Ore.

Dear Larry,

I'm not sure your E-mail is chart related, but I wanted to end this week's column on a light note. You did that, even if it was groan-inducing.