Fred Bronson discusses Sean Paul, the Youngbloodz, Van Halen, "and/or" chart credits, Gloria Estefan and Clay Aiken with readers.

ONE PAUL WRITES ABOUT TWO PAULS

Dear Fred,

Thought I'd drop you a line again with another piece of trivia that I couldn't let pass, especially since Jamaica is all abuzz with how well Sean Paul is doing on the charts.

Did you realize that there is another artist named Sean Paul and that he's in the top-10 simultaneously with the Jamaican dance hall star? He's one half of the Youngbloodz, and they move to No. 5 on the Hot 100 this week with "Damn!" while Jamaica's Sean Paul tops the chart on Beyoncé's "Baby Boy."

I know it's happened several times that different songs with the same title have charted simultaneously, but it must be extremely rare to have two artists with the same name do so (though obviously one is not directly named in this case) with both being in the top-10!

What do you think about that?

Best regards,

Paul Cadogan
Kingston, Jamaica

Dear Paul,

It is quite amazing timing for both Sean Pauls to be in the top-5 of Billboard's Hot 100 at the same time. Sean Paul Henriques was born in Kingston on Jan. 8, 1975, and is the Sean Paul we know for recording "Get Busy" as well as "Baby Boy" with Beyoncé. Sean Paul Joseph from Atlanta is the Sean Paul in the Youngbloodz, along with Jeffrey Ray Grigsby, known as J-Bo.

This isn't the only case of different artists having similar names, by the way. Country singer Lorrie Morgan was born Loretta Lynn Morgan, and charter Monkee Micky Dolenz was born George Michael Dolenz.



IN FOR THE LONG RUN

Dear Fred,

Your comment regarding Meat Loaf's October 1977 debut "Bat Out of Hell," which peaked at No. 14 and went 14 times platinum, inspired me to research if this is the top [U.S.] selling non-greatest hits album to miss the top-10. It is. The only other non-greatest hits album to miss the top-10, but achieve Diamond Award status [for U.S. shipments of 10 million certified by the Recording Industry Association of America], is Van Halen's self titled debut.

The band's debut peaked at No. 19 and went 10 times platinum. It, coincidentally, debuted in March 1978, just five months after Meat Loaf's debut.

Bill Szczuka
San Diego

Dear Bill,

While some albums start out strong and taper off, others sell generous amounts over a long period of time, which is how an album can miss the top-10 but still achieve the RIAA's rare diamond status. Thanks for doing the research!



'OR' ELSE

Dear Fred,

Kid Rock's "Picture" featured Sheryl Crow on the album/radio mix and Allison Moorer on the single release and each female singer was recognized on the charts.

It is well documented that both Fabolous' "Into You" and Santana's "Why Can't You & I" were re-recorded with new vocals by Tamia and Alex Band, respectively, because Ashanti and Chad Kroeger would not allow promo singles for radio in order to avoid competing with their own new records. Therefore, I'm curious as to why those artists would receive chart credit and the resulting accomplishments since both records have been multi-format smashes.

It seems that by denying the release to radio, the versions they recorded presumably haven't received airplay. If the versions they recorded do receive airplay, then why deny the promos in the first place? Seems like a case of getting their cake and eating it too.

Nick Harris
nikwaters34@yahoo.com

Dear Nick,

The "or" credit has certainly become prominent on our charts during the last few months. But don't blame the artists. Decisions like this are rarely made by talent. It's usually the record label that is afraid a featured performance on the radio would keep an artist's own single from getting airplay.

The problem is, once a recording exists, you can't stop anyone from playing it. Radio is not beholden to record companies and don't have to follow their edicts. So if a station prefers to play Ashanti instead of Tamia, or Chad Kroeger instead of Alex Band, they are free to do so. That's why the charts continue to reflect both choices, in spite of who appears on the promo single sent to radio.



UN-WRAP MY CHART

Hi Fred,

I bought Gloria Estefan's "Unwrapped" CD this week and was I blown away. The album is definitely one of her best. "Unwrapped" definitely has shades of Carole King's "Tapestry." Every song has a beautiful melody, something lacking (in my opinion) in today's music.

I couldn't wait to see how the album charted, however the look on my face was not of joy when I saw it debuted at a dismal No. 39 on The Billboard 200. I must admit that I wasn't surprised. Many might agree that No. 39 is not that bad, but even Fleetwood Mac debuted in the top-10 with their last CD.

Has Gloria even had a single yet? There seems to be no promotion for this album at all. Like many of your recent fans, I can no longer count on the Hot 100 as a true reflection of what is popular. Yes, these songs are played to death on the radio, but I believe that The Billboard 200 album chart better reflects popularity since it measures actual albums bought. Now I have to face the fact that so much good music goes unnoticed.

There are so many artists that are putting out some of their best material late in their career. The Bee Gees last recorded album, "This Is Where I Came In" is another example that proves that older artists can deliver the "goods." Cher's "Living Proof," Cyndi Lauper's "Shine," Olivia Newton-John's "Back With a Heart" are just a few albums that went unnoticed.

Fred, in this day and age of throwaway artists, do you think that veterans are doomed? Do you think that "Unwrapped" has a chance of moving up the chart? If it doesn't sell well do you think that Gloria will be releasing many more albums?

Phil Fogel
Montreal

Dear Phil,

I have seen some promotion for Gloria Estefan's "Unwrapped," including a special section in the Oct. 11 issue of Billboard (you can read the Q&A with Estefan by clicking here). One problem may be that -- as you mention -- there is no hit single yet from the album.

There is also the problem of being a veteran artist. Many of the artists you cite, like Olivia Newton-John, Cyndi Lauper and even Cher, find it difficult to compete on the radio with current faves like Nelly, P. Diddy and Ashanti. As Billboard has documented in a series of articles, record companies often fail to market to older audiences, instead concentrating on the hip, the edgy and the young.

As you feared, "Unwrapped" took a dive this week, falling 39-54. Now we'll have to wait and see if a hit single or more promotion helps the album to reverse course, or whether the label will abandon the project.



CLAY MAIL

Hi,

I wanted to thank you for your Clay Aiken interview. I enjoy so much when you interview Clay, as you treat him with respect, ask questions that show that you want to hear what he has to say and, in general, you just write great interviews.

I've admired Clay Aiken since I first heard him open his mouth to sing on "American Idol." With each new TV interview, magazine article and radio interview he does, I admire him more and more.

I'm amazed that his Charlotte audition for "American Idol" wasn't even one full year ago, and he's been featured in Time, Rolling Stone, Elle, Vanity Fair and was on [ABC-TV's] "Primetime" this week. It's unreal when you think that a year ago, he thought he'd be teaching in an autism classroom right now. He's handling it all so admirably, which is even more amazing.

I read the Time article, which was informative. Even though I expected much of what I read, some of it still irked me -- a lot. Yet, I came away from it with even more respect for Clay. It's been the same with each article I've read. He impresses me as a singer and as a person.

I found it interesting to read that RCA -- where they laugh in near unison at the thought of listening to Clay Aiken's new CD -- is the Foo Fighters' label. Clay has as much potential to change the face as music as [Nirvana singer/songwriter] Kurt Cobain did, and RCA should know better than to underestimate that potential.

If a guy with greasy hair from Seattle wearing baggy corduroys and sweaters while strumming on an acoustic guitar met the challenge when he was up against a legion of singers with big hair, glitzy outfits and tons of synthesizers, why couldn't a guy with messy hair who also wears baggy corduroys and sweaters while using an amazing vocal instrument do the same against a legion of banal-voiced singers wearing pasties or wrapping themselves in snakes?

Look for my letter to the editor of Time, making and expanding on that comparison.

What I didn't bother to tell Time was that one of the things that pissed me off was their portrayal of Clay fans as mindless idiots who haven't yet figured out which music is good, let alone how to download that music.

I have 1,855 music files on my computer ranging from Vivaldi to the Chili Peppers. I preordered "Measure of a Man" at Amazon.com the day it went on sale. I choose to purchase Clay Aiken's CDs because he is the only artist whose voice and music I like enough to want to spend money on. I am making a conscious choice to support his career.

Anyway, thanks for the great interviews, and for the respect you show to Clay. I'm old enough to be his mother, and I guess I feel protective of him. (But my son is the same height and weight as Clay, so I don't think he's too skinny :-))

Maryann Grey

Dear Maryann,

I received too many E-mails from fans thanking me for the latest Q&A with Clay Aiken to run on Billboard.com, so your letter will have to represent all of them. The interview covered a number of topics, but mainly focused on his thoughts about the songs on his new CD, "Measure of a Man."

The Q&A appeared in the Artist of the Day feature last weekend. For those who missed it, check this link. And for those who want more, a second Q&A with Clay is scheduled to appear in the Oct. 25 print edition of Billboard.

After this new Clay Q&A was posted, I learned a new lesson about the power of Clay's fans. In my reply to one E-mail, I mentioned that "This Is the Night" was the final entry in the fifth edition of my book, "The Billboard Book of Number One Hits," and that there was a message from Clay on the back cover.

Last Sunday, the Amazon ranking of the book was below 2,000,000. By Monday, the ranking had skyrocketed to 252, thanks to all of the Clay fans who pre-ordered it in that 24-hour period. I'll never underestimate the strength of Clay's fans again!