"Chart Beat" columnist Fred Bronson discusses charts with readers. This week: Pop radio, Annie Lennox, and "American Idol."

HOT STUFF, AND NOT

Fred,

You mentioned in a recent column that pop radio in America might be turning its back on Celine Dion. Could this be part of a bigger trend that I've noticed; when an act is considered to be hot (i.e. at one time Prince, Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men, Whitney Houston, etc.) pop radio will shove that artist down the throats of the public, even when the material involved is questionable (remember "Batdance" and "Honey"?).

However, once that act is considered to have fallen out of vogue, it seems that they can't get a break at radio. Madonna's latest single may not be one of her best, but not that long ago it would not have mattered as she would've probably reached No. 1 regardless.

Keith Webster
Albuquerque, N.M.

Dear Keith,

Something else I've mentioned before is that every artist hits a slump at one time or another -- look at Elvis Presley's Hot 100 history if you don't believe me.

That's not to deny your premise. It is very much a case of "When you're hot, you're hot" at radio, and "When you're not, you're not." But it has always been so -- this is not a new trend, nor it is confined to music.

It might mean, however, that you, and others who are noticing this, have been paying attention long enough to experience the rise and fall of some superstars who seemed invincible. Stick around long enough, and many of them will rise again.



ANNIE TIMES FOUR

Hi Fred,

I read an article by Jon Pareless (The New York Times) that appeared in the Orange County Register regarding Annie Lennox's next album "Bare," due June 10, 2003. The article included the following pop question (I instantly thought of you):

Q: Annie Lennox has sung on four U.S. top-10 hits. Can you name them?

I was surprised by the answer and was wondering if it was accurate.

A: The Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," "Here Comes the Rain Again," and "Would I Lie to You?," plus Lennox's 1988 duet with Al Green, "Put a Little Love in Your Heart."

I was surprised that the following were not top-10 U.S. hits: "Missionary Man," "Why," "Walking on Broken Glass," and "No More 'I Love You's.'"

By the way, you have been a part of my Friday morning rituals since I have been online: coffee, paper, and Billboard.com -- not a bad way to get ready for the weekend.

Thanks,

Mario Ortega
Huntington Beach, Calif.
marioortega2000@aol.com

Dear Mario,

I'm flattered to be part of your Fridays - thanks for the kind words!

Pareless was peerless when it came to naming the top-10 hits of Annie Lennox in the U.S. Eurythmics' "Missionary Man" peaked at No. 14, and Lennox's "Why" stopped at No. 34, "Walking on Broken Glass" surfaced at No. 14, and the cover of Giant Steps' "No More 'I Love You's'" only went to No. 23.

Now have some more coffee, put down that paper, and read on!



IDOLS SING BILLBOARD'S NO. 1 HITS

Hi, Fred,

I was a huge Clay Aiken fan who was thinking he'd win [the "American Idol" competition] in the end but, alas, that didn't happen. Or will it? According to Amazon.com, Clay's CD single is No. 1 on pre-order sales while Ruben's upcoming song is No. 7.

First of all, will this count toward The Billboard Hot 100 once it's officially released?

And lastly, do you think that with Ruben's single coming out on June 3 and Clay's coming out on June 10, just one week later, Ruben will possess the top spot on the Hot 100 for one sole week before being knocked off by Clay? That would be impressive if it happens!

John Stephenson
Buffalo, N.Y.

Dear John,

It was less than two months ago that the "American Idol" contestants came to Billboard's Los Angeles offices to find out how the charts work, and how one of them might earn their own No. 1 hit, as Kelly Clarkson did last year. Now, that lesson is paying off, as it looks like two contestants from the series' second season may be sitting on top of the Hot 100 in successive weeks.

Ruben Studdard's "Flying Without Wings" is a remake of a song by the Irish boy band Westlife and due out on J Records. Clay Aiken's "This Is the Night," written by Aldo Nova, will be released by RCA. [Ed Note: Although originally expected June 3 and June 10, respectively, at deadline the labels did not have an exact release date pegged for the singles.]

When I checked the Amazon website last week, Aiken's single was ranked No. 1 and Studdard's was No. 90. But as deadline drew near, Clay was still No. 1 while Ruben ranked No. 2.

If both Idols have massive sales, they could each have No. 1 songs on the Hot 100, with Ruben having a turn for a week and then Clay getting his moment in the limelight.



THE IDOL SONGS WE WANT

Fred,

Although "American Idol" [second season finalists] put out a rather fluffy album recently, I'm surprised that they aren't capitalizing on the strong performances of the past few weeks. Forget creating more singles like "What the World Needs Now" and give us the single and various remixes of Kimberley Locke's version of "Band of Gold" (with the B-side being her rendition of "I Can't Make You Love Me"). Trash Justin Guarini's version and release Clay Aiken's much better version of "Unchained Melody" with "I Could Not Ask for More" and "Build Me Up Buttercup."

As for Ruben, double A-side "Flying Without Wings" with "If Ever I'm in Your Arms Again." It may make the competition moot, but I don't think it really matters anyway.

What were your favorites that you said to yourself, "Release it now, please?"

Brian Dominguez
Troy, N.Y.

Dear Brian,

It would be nice to have some of the performances from the series issued as singles, but I'm more interested in how the first albums from Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard will shape up. During the series run, there is one song in particular I suggested Clay should sing, but the opportunity didn't arise. Now, I've sent that song suggestion along with a list of other ideas to his A&R person at RCA.

I also suggested a few songs for Ruben to record, including "If This World Were Mine" as a duet with either Tamyra or Trenyce. Now, I hear that Ruben mentioned this song on Monday night's special, but I don't know if this was independent of my suggestion or not. I say I heard that Ruben mentioned the song, because I haven't seen the final week of "Idol" episodes. As I write this, I'm in Latvia for the Eurovision Song Contest, and the series isn't shown here.

I was surprised on arriving in Riga to be greeted by the members of the Icelandic delegation, who all saw me on "American Idol" just before heading to Latvia. The series is shown there, but a few weeks after the U.S. broadcast. So don't tell anyone from Iceland how it all turned out.



SHOULD AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE BE FORGOT?

Fred,

Larry Dhooghe pointed out last week that the American Idol Finalists set a new record for the top-10 hit that spent the fewest weeks in the top-40: two. But actually, it tied the record set by Kenny G with "Auld Lang Syne" in January 2000.

Josh Hosler
Seattle

Dear Josh,

And Kenny probably thinks it best forgotten.