Fred Bronson answers readers' questions about the state of commercial singles, Lonestar, David Lee Roth and Dobie Gray.

THE STATE OF THE SINGLE

Fred,

I read an article in the latest issue of Rolling Stone regarding the current state of the music industry. It stated that retailers are asking record labels to consider releasing more CD singles [based] on the strength of the success of singles by Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard.

We are very much aware of how you feel about record companies not releasing commercially available singles (and like myself, who grew up during the 45 rpm era, many of us agree with you wholeheartedly). And we are watching the decline of the singles market here in the U.S.

Do you think that, due to the success of Aiken and Studdard's singles, a new tide is turning and record companies will finally wise up and realize that there is indeed a buying public for the singles market? Or will it go the way things did after Kelly Clarkson and we all have to wait for the next "American Idol" to have a commercially available single reach gold and/or platinum status?

Davin Riley
driley_kean@hotmail.com
Columbus, Ohio

Dear Davin,

It's too early to tell if the platinum and gold success of Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard will convince record label execs to release more singles in the U.S. Clearly, there is an audience for this format, with well over 1.2 million singles sold by these two artists from the second season of "American Idol," according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Unfortunately, I suspect their accomplishment will be dismissed because of their connection to the TV series. I've received many e-mails from people who identify themselves as music fans who haven't purchased any music in a long time. You'd think the industry would want them to continue buying records!

Meanwhile, look for a single (and two albums) from the "American Juniors" to be the next releases from this franchise.



THE LESS THINGS CHANGE

Howdy Fred,

Until reading it here, I didn't realize Lonestar had spent six weeks at No. 2 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. I guess they were second to the Toby Keith and Willie Nelson hit, "Beer for My Horses" all six weeks. This is reminiscent of Lonestar's long-running No. 1 hit in 2000, "Amazed."

It seems like Jo Dee Messina's cover of "Lesson in Leaving" was stuck at No. 2 behind Lonestar for six or seven weeks. One of these Lonestar songs has to be part of a modern record for longest time the same songs were ranked 1 and 2 without moving. It sure makes for boring radio!

Dan Cecil
Athens, Ala.

Dear Dan,

Not to mention that the fewer changes there are on the charts, the harder it is to write "Chart Beat." I suppose if I ever had a week where no song changed chart positions, I could at least write about that!



NO GOLD, NO PLATINUM. BUT WHAT ABOUT DIAMOND?

Hi Fred,

I'm a huge David Lee Roth fan and was wondering what position Dave debuted at with his latest release, "Diamond Dave." There has been next to no media/press coverage for his album and I have yet to hear his latest single, so I am curious to see what his debut position was. My feeling is that the position is somewhere below the No. 100 mark because his most recent albums have been commercial disasters. However, I am hoping that this release will break that pattern.

Thanks for your help.

William Jonsson
Vancouver

Dear William,

You're right, "Diamond Dave" is below the No. 100 mark. Unfortunately, it is also below the No. 200 mark, which is another way of saying the album has not yet appeared on The Billboard 200.

However, this new David Lee Roth set did make an appearance on a Billboard chart last week. "Diamond Dave" is released on the independent Magna Carta label, and is thus eligible for the Top Independent Albums chart. It did indeed debut on that survey at No. 18 last week, but this week it fell off the chart.



GRAY'S GAP

Dear Fred:

For the first time in 30 years, two months and one week, Dobie Gray has, with Uncle Kracker, reached the top-10 of the Hot 100, as "Drift Away" rises from No. 12 to No. 9. The last time Gray was in the top-10 was May 26, 1973, when the original version dropped from No. 7 to No. 8. Among all acts who have ever been on the Hot 100, what are the longest time periods between consecutive top-10 appearances?

David Dana-Bashian
Garden Grove, Calif.

Dear David,

Were you peeking over my shoulder when I wrote "Chart Beat Bonus" this week? Your e-mail almost duplicates what I wrote word for word. But then, maybe you just know my column too well!

Reference to Dobie Gray's gap between top-10 hits can also be heard on The Billboard Radio Countdown for the week ending Aug. 2, to be posted on Monday, July 28 at billboardradio.com.

There's no database that can give me the longest breaks between top-10 appearances on the Hot 100, but I'm sure "Chart Beat" readers will write in with the answer.