Fred Bronson discusses with readers current music vs. the music you grew up on, one-hit wonders, and a new version of one of his books.
IN THE YEAR 2025
I've loved the trivia involved with hit songs since I was a little kid and I've followed the Billboard charts in particular. While I still look at the charts to see what's going on, I can't help but feel there is nothing interesting or worthy out there. Born in 1969, I grew up with some great pop songs in the '70s and '80s. What I see now is a lot of disposable songs -- a disconcerting amount by the latest "in" artist featuring "fill-in-the-blank."
I rarely buy new music. I purchase at least two to three CDs per week and it's all music from the '40s to the '80s. Are you hearing this from other people? Any thoughts?
Santa Fe, N.M.
Someone once offered the theory that the music you will love the most for all of your life is whatever was popular when you were 14 years old. I have to admit, that's true for me. My two favorite songs of all time were No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100 when I was 14: "I Will Follow Him" by Little Peggy March and "It's My Party" by Lesley Gore.
That may account for why you're not enjoying today's music as much as the songs that were charting in the 1970s and 1980s. How do you feel about the music of 1983?
There's another way we can test this theory. Let's see if the 36-year-olds of 2025 are nostalgic for Eminem and 50 Cent.
While we're waiting, yes, I buy a lot of music from the 1940s to the 1980s, as it's released on CD. But there's a lot of current music I enjoy as well, from the U.S. and from all over the world.
'FUNKYTOWN' WITHOUT PITY
I really enjoy reading "Chart Beat Chat" every week, and the trivia contest, but most of the time I have no idea what the answer is!
Lately I think the letters in "Chat" have been too serious (people complaining about the methods used to rank songs and on which chart a particular artist should be put and whatever). So allow me to lighten things up with a question that is purely fun.
I was listening to the radio the other day, and heard the song "Funkytown," the original version by Lipps, Inc. It was never a particular favorite of mine, but it got me to thinking. I believe it was a No. 1 hit for Lipps, Inc, and their only top-40 hit, putting them in that wild and wonderful category known as one-hit wonders.
I also remember it was a top-40 hit when it was remade by an Australian band called Pseudo Echo, although it wasn't as big a hit for them as Lipps, Inc. It was also the only top-40 hit for Pseudo Echo, making them also a one-hit wonder. So my question to you and any other readers is, can you think of any other songs that were one-hit wonders for a particular singer or band, then remade later by someone else, and again went top-40, to be the only hit for that particular artist too?
I'll be curious to see what you or anyone else can come up with, because I've been thinking about it, and I'm sure there must be other songs that this has happened too. Thanks so much, I'll be looking forward to reading your answer! And let me say again how much fun it is to read "Chart Beat," and I hope it stays that way -- fun! And that people won't get so bogged down in the details of how Billboard decides the rankings of all the charts.
Foster City, Mich.
Thanks for bringing a lighter touch to "Chart Beat Chat" this week - I'm all for being less serious. Seriously.
You are correct in remembering that "Funkytown" by Lipps, Inc. was a No. 1 song. That single on the Casablanca label reached the top of the Hot 100 the week of May 31, 1980, and remained there for four weeks. The Australian quartet known as Pseudo Echo released an unlikely remake of the song, titled "Funky Town," in 1987. That version peaked at No. 6 in July of that year.
Where we differ is our definitions of one-hit wonders. It's true, some people consider a song to be a one-hit wonder if it the only song by that artist to appear in the top-40 portion of the Hot 100. To me, however, a one-hit wonder is exactly that -- the only appearance by an artist on the chart. The whole chart. Using that criterion, neither Lipps, Inc. nor Pseudo Echo are one-hit wonders. The former followed "Funkytown" with "Rock It," which only managed to reach No. 64 in August 1980. The latter had a chart entry before "Funky Town," when "Living in a Dream" went to No. 57 in May 1987.
My stricter rules aside, your question still stands. Let's see what "Chart Beat" readers have to say on the topic; I'll post the most interesting responses.
THE WRITE STUFF
I live in Toronto and have been a Billboard enthusiast and pop music fan for over 15 years. Are there plans to update and re-release your "Billboard Book of Number One Hits"? The edition I currently have is the last one, from 1997. It's my favorite book from Billboard, alongside Joel Whitburn's "Top Pop Singles" book.
Thanks for the kind words. I've been writing the fifth edition of "The Billboard Book of Number One Hits" for the past few months, although interviews with the artists, songwriters, and producers began in October 2001. The last interview was conducted at 10 p.m. PT on Feb. 18, with Ja Rule. As of today, I have written 67 of the 69 new entries, so the book is very far along, and is due to be stores in September.
During the editing process, I'll be adding in No. 1 songs as they occur, so I'm not really sure what the last entry will be in this edition. There's still room for a few more. And the back of the book will have some new elements that I think you'll enjoy.
The six-year gap between the fourth and fifth editions is the longest break between updates, but I was busy working on the third edition of "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits," and had to finish that work before I could turn my attention to "Number One Hits." I think the wait will be worth it -- there are a lot of great behind-the-scenes stories from exclusive interviews with people like Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Usher, Britney Spears, Nelly, Ashanti, Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland, Kelly Clarkson, Brandy, Monica, Shaggy, Joe, and members of Savage Garden, TLC, matchbox twenty, Crazy Town, B2K, and a whole bunch of other people, too.