"Chart Beat" columnist Fred Bronson discusses charts with readers. This week: Kenny G, Lisa Marie Presley, reggae, and airplay.

BOOKENDS

Hi Fred,

Speaking of "Auld Lang Syne" by Kenny G in your column last week, did you ever notice that Kenny G had a song debut on the first chart of the 1990s ("Coming Home"), and the last chart of the '90s ("Auld Lang Syne").

I thought that was a strange little oddity, and wondered if you've noticed it before? I don't think anyone else has ever accomplished this feat.

Sincerely,

John Jayne
Des Moines, Iowa
city5705boy@yahoo.com

Dear John,

I'm torn between saying you have too much time on your hands, and thanking you for the "Chart Beat" item. As you're a regular contributor to this column, I think I'll just say thanks.



TRACKING LISA MARIE

Hi Fred!

Lisa Marie Presley came on so strong her first week on the album chart, debuting at No. 5. Now after only five weeks, she is No. 31. What do you think happened? Do you think she was doing too much publicity, trying too hard to promote the album, and people got sick of hearing and looking at her?

The reviews that I read regarding the debut were pretty favorable. But some people believe she got where she is now because of her name, regardless of how much raw talent she actually has.

I expected to see "Lights Out" at least make the top-40. But I check the charts every week and haven't seen it (perhaps I missed it). Could you please tell me where the single actually got to on the Hot 100 (or if it even charted at all).

In my opinion, it was a great debut by her, no matter what her name is.

Thanks!

Julie Granger

Dear Julie,

It's not unusual for a high-profile project like Lisa Marie Presley's album to have a strong debut and then slide down the chart. First-week sales are usually extremely high for a project like this, although different albums have different chart lives.

Norah Jones' album, for example, has continued to sell over a long period of time and reached the top of The Billboard 200 much later in its chart life. Marilyn Manson's latest CD, on the other hand, debuted at No. 1 and then fell to No. 21, the biggest fall from pole position in this chart's history.

Presley's song, "Lights Out," has not made an appearance on the Hot 100. It did peak at No. 18 on Billboard's Adult Top 40 chart, and at No. 40 on the Top 40 Tracks tally.



REGGAE GETS BUSY

Dear Fred,

I'd like to commend columnists Silvio Pietroluongo, Minal Patel, and Wade Jessen on the "Singles Minded" column in the print edition of Billboard dated May 31, 2003. Their feature on the Indian-derived Diwali rhythms featured in the current hits by Sean Paul ("Get Busy"), Wayne Wonder ("No Letting Go"), and now Lumidee ("Never Leave You - Uh Oooh Uh Oooh!") was right on! It's always good to see diverse forms of music being reported on in any trade publication. And I expect nothing less than the best from the music industry's foremost authority, Billboard. Please pass on this kudos to them for me!

I took note of the first two songs above when they both entered the top-40 portion of the Hot 100 during the same week back in March (although I had heard "No Letting Go" in clubs and on R&B/hip-hop radio for months before then). I'm a huge fan of the music (and I'll admit that this bias likely influenced my reaction to reading the aforementioned article). I was especially pleased when "Get Busy" reached No. 1 four weeks ago and I'm still holding out for "No Letting Go" to make the top-10, as this has become my favorite song of 2003 so far!

My question now is, has there ever been a reggae chart in Billboard? And if not, is there a Jamaican chart that the publication has ever included (or would consider including) in its Hits of the World international chart lists? If such charts ever existed, my limited knowledge would lead me to believe that Bob Marley is the king of the charts in that category, but that assumption would be based on his legend and no real research into the performance of his discography.

Thanks,

Darrell Roberts
Bethesda, Md.

Dear Darrell,

I'll pass your kind words on to Silvio, Minal, and Wade.

There is a reggae chart in Billboard. The top-15 reggae albums survey is compiled every week, but published in the print edition on a bi-weekly basis. The current chart finds Sean Paul at No. 1 with "Dutty Rock" and Wayne Wonder at No. 2 with "No Holding Back." The deluxe edition of Bob Marley & the Wailers' "Legend" falls 10-13.



AIRPLAY QUESTIONS

Fred,

Thanks for producing such a wonderful print and online column each week. I always look forward to visiting the Billboard Web site on Thursday and Friday to see what is going on.

My question deals specifically with music genres and where they land with respect to chart position. As an example, and this was a topic a few months ago, the trend seems to be that the R&B/hip-hop and rap genres are now very popular and the charts reflect that trend. Without going into too much detail about how the process works, and the fact that sales data does not factor in too much, this would lead me to believe that airplay is the major factor in determining chart position.

Does this then mean that there are more "outlets" or radio stations playing R&B/hip-hop and rap (compared to rock, AC, or country), or does this just mean that a smaller number of outlets are spinning these songs more frequently? As an example, very few country songs make it past the high 30s in chart position, and they tend to peak within a few weeks and then drop off the chart. Yet every week we can see as many as 10 to 15 R&B/hip-hop and rap songs in the top-30, and these tend to have a longer chart life.

In my radio market (St. Louis, Mo.), there is only one major rap station, and only one major top-40 station, yet there are numerous AC, rock, and country stations. Given this demographic, it would seem that my market would heavily weight the airplay numbers for AC, rock, and country.

Is airplay data weighted geographically? Does BDS measure the number of spins based upon listener demographics as well as geography? Or does BDS just listen for fingerprints across the entire radio spectrum and tally the number of spins each week? I would guess that BDS' tracking is measured as a statistical sample like Nielsen TV research, but I just don't know. Can you please enlighten us?

Thanks,

Dan Miller
St. Louis, Mo.

Dear Dan,

While BDS can tell you how many times a song is played in St. Louis as opposed to Orlando, there is no geographical weighting. It wouldn't make sense for one spin in your city to count more or less than one spin in another city.

BDS counts airplay in different ways, however. There is the total number of spins a song receives, but there is also an audience figure -- in other words, how many people heard a song in a particular week. That data is compiled by multiplying the number of spins times the rating of a particular station at a particular time of day. While it's not geographic, that does mean that one spin on a popular New York radio station during afternoon drive time counts more than one spin in Dubuque at 11 p.m., when compiling audience figures.

One reason that R&B/hip-hop and rap music do so well on the Hot 100 is that top-40 radio has been favoring these genres for some time. On Billboard's Top 40 Tracks chart this week, which only measures airplay at radio stations that play top 40 (or pop) music, there are hits by Sean Paul, R. Kelly, Busta Rhymes, and two titles by 50 Cent.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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