Ask Billboard

Keith Caulfield answers readers' questions about Jessica Simpson, Madonna and Paul McCartney.


Hi Keith,

I was wondering if you could tell me how many copies to date Jessica Simpson has sold for all three albums since their original releases. They are: "Sweet Kisses," "Irresistible" and "In This Skin."

Best Regards,

Hi Lisa,

Jessica Simpson, now the star of her own MTV reality show, recently released her third album for Columbia. "In This Skin," released on Aug. 19, has sold 147,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Her previous two albums, "Irresistible" and "Sweet Kisses," have sold 633,000 and 1.8 million copies, respectively.



I would like to know if "American Life" (Madonna's new album) could re-enter on The Billboard 200 albums chart? Is this album considered a flop or not? And why hasn't her new single, "Hollywood," entered the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart (even though the sales of the single were very good)?

Thank You,
Fernando Augusto Pacheco
San Paulo, Brazil

Hi Fernando,

Certainly, Madonna's "American Life" album could re-enter The Billboard 200, if only its weekly sales were strong enough. However, even with her performance on the MTV Video Music Awards and her latter appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," the album still didn't gain enough in sales in order to re-appear on the charts.

As for your question of whether or not this album can be considered a flop -- that's a tough one. If we are judging solely upon her previous album sales, "American Life" is a disappointment -- despite the fact that the album debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 chart upon its release.

"Life" has been out for five months and has sold 586,000 copies. In the same span of time, her last studio album, "Music," sold over 2 million. Before that, the "Ray of Light" album had sold just under 2 million in its first five months.

Our Hot 100 chart is based upon a combination of radio airplay and singles sales data. "Hollywood" never received much of a welcome at radio to begin with, and by the time the commercial single came out in stores, what little radio support the single had already disappeared.


Dear Keith,

I recently watched Paul McCartney's concert in Red Square on TV and was amazed at how good he still sounds. I also really liked songs from his more recent albums. Can you tell me how well "Flaming Pie" and "Driving Rain" did on the charts, and how these compare to his biggest, post-Beatles sellers?

Many thanks,
Jason Kring
Orlando, Fla.

Hi Jason,

Paul McCartney's last two studio albums, "Driving Rain" and "Flaming Pie" have sold 394,000 and 670,000 units, respectively, according to Nielsen SoundScan. "Rain" debuted and peaked at No. 26 on The Billboard 200 in December 2001. "Flaming Pie" opened at No. 2 in June 1997.

His biggest SoundScan-era (1991-present) seller is "Back in the U.S. -- Live 2002" which debuted at No. 2 earlier this year and has sold 935,000 copies to date.