Fred Bronson discusses artist's nationalities, chart records, an alleged attempt to inflate airplay data, and original songs from soundtracks that have reached No. 1.
DON'T FORGET THIS 'GROOVE'
Although I've been following your online section on Billboard.com for years, this is only my second submission to it. I hope it isn't the last.
Reading last week's letter by Johan Van Slooten about Gorky Park being the first Russian act to hit the Hot 100, I suddenly remembered that in the same year another Russian artist reached the Hot 100 as part of a band with much better results than Gorky Park. In 1990, Super DJ Dmitri, a Russian-born emigre in the U.S., hit the top-10 as a member of Deee-Lite. The song was "Groove Is in the Heart."
That leads me to a question. Which criteria do you use to classify a band with multiple national origins like Deee-Lite in your rankings? For instance, in my opinion, although only one-third of that band was American-born (singer Lady Miss Kier), I would consider Dee-Lite American, as all their career development took place in the U.S.
Thanks for remembering Deee-Lite. Super DJ Dmitri was born in Kiev, and his wife, Ohio-born Kier Kirby (known as Lady Miss Kier, as you point out), was also in the group.
The criteria used to determine a band's national origin can vary. You can decide that based on birth, or country of residence, or country of signing (though that can be confusing -- Kylie Minogue is an Australian signed to a U.K. label, but that doesn't make her British).
When I wrote chapters on the greatest hits of countries like the U.K., Australia, Canada, Ireland, Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands in the third edition of "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits," I used birthplace as the criterion.
Some groups can have shared national origins, such as Deee-Lite. There are a lot of Anglo/American bands, for example.
THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT
I noticed two occurrences on the Jan. 25, 2003 Hot 100 chart that haven't happened since the 1990s. One is a study in longevity, the other a study in brevity. And both were created by a "Dilemma." With "Dilemma" by Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland falling out of the top-40 portion of the Hot 100 that week, it made room for two chart feats by two different songs that haven't happened since the 1990s and will likely end with the next issue's chart.
First, the study in brevity: The departure of "Dilemma," which had been in the top-40 for 27 weeks, leaves "Underneath It All" by No Doubt featuring Lady Saw as the song with the longest current tenure in this week's top 40 -- at 20 weeks. That marks the first time since Sept. 11, 1999, that the song with the most weeks in the top-40 held that distinction in only its 20th top-40 week. In an era when most of the bigger hits spend between 25 and 30 weeks -- or more -- in this portion of the chart, this may be a sign that radio is turning over hits at a slightly faster clip than in previous years.
Now for the feat of longevity: by falling out of the top-40, "Dilemma" took with it the top-40's last former No. 1 song, leaving "Lose Yourself" -- that week's then-current No. 1 -- as the lone No. 1 song (former or current) in the top-40. The last time that the only No. 1 song in the top-40 was the current No. 1 was nearly 10 years ago in the Feb. 27, 1993, issue when Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" spent its 14th and last week at the top, with its immediate No. 1 predecessors at least three weeks removed from the list.
Both of these current chart feats will likely end with the Feb. 1, 2003, issue, as No Doubt's "Underneath" will no doubt spend a 21st week (and several more after that) in the top-40; and "Lose Yourself" will likely be replaced at No. 1, while remaining in the top-40 itself for a number of weeks to come.
And I'll take advantage of this opportunity by making a prediction: While we may have only had three new No. 1 songs in the last seven months ("Dilemma," "A Moment Like This," and "Lose Yourself"), I predict (and hope) that we'll have at least three new No. 1s in the next seven weeks! Mark my word!
Enjoyed your book!
P.S. A footnote to the second of the trivial subjects above: On the Hot 100 dated Nov. 26, 1994, Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love to You" was arguably the only No. 1 single on that week's chart, with "Stay (I Missed You)" having departed the top-40 a couple of weeks earlier. However, a remix of the Four Seasons' "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" was in the chart that week. While that remixed version got no higher than No. 14, the original version of the song reached No. 1 in 1976. Since the song was considered a remix, and because Billboard awarded credit for all of its chart weeks (1976 and 1994) in the weeks-on-chart column, it counts as a former No. 1.
"Lose Yourself" by Eminem plunges this week, 1-9 [see Chart Beat Bonus]. So your prediction of three new No. 1s in the next seven weeks may come true. B2K & P Diddy's "Bump, Bump, Bump" is No. 1 with some hot contenders breathing down its neck, like Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" at No. 2 and Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River" at No. 3.
"Underneath It All" collects another week in the top-40 portion of the chart, as it drops 17-25.
I just read that Mariah Carey's record company supposedly tried to inflate airplay for "Through the Rain" in a desperate attempt to "unflop" that single. They supposedly bought commercial time and filled it with that song. Is this possible? I think that because of this it will be harder for her to regain her past glory. I guess radio programmers may not be very happy about it.
If this situation did indeed happen, do you think that because of inflated airplay data that song managed to debut in the Hot 100 after months of being released to radio and never being able to chart (until the last days of December)? I'd love to hear your thoughts about this.
Thank you for your great column.
Best regards from Costa Rica,
Thanks for your E-mail, and glad you enjoy Chart Beat!
There have been reports in the press about Mariah Carey's label purchasing commercial spots on radio that included a segment of "Through the Rain" long enough to be detected as airplay by the monitoring computers of Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems, the company that supplies airplay information that is used to help compile Billboard charts.
However, BDS has safeguards in place to detect such commercial buys. When this tactic is discovered, airplay detections from commercial spots are not counted. BDS was aware of the commercial buys for "Through the Rain" before they were reported in the press.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the commercials were purchased on six small-market stations. If it was the label's intention to inflate airplay and send "Through the Rain" hurtling up the chart, buying time on six small-market stations is hardly effective. The L.A. Times also reported that executives at the label said they bought commercial time to help create awareness of the album and sell records, not inflate airplay.
Whatever the motivation, let's look at the results. "Through the Rain" never went higher than No. 81 on the Hot 100, so if the label did have a strategy to make "Through the Rain" a hit by buying commercial time for airplay, it certainly didn't work. The current issue of Billboard's sister publication, Airplay Monitor, credits "Through the Rain" with 2,086 airplay detections at mainstream top 40 radio, seven less than the week before. The L.A. Times reported that the commercial buys for "Through the Rain" resulted in less than 200 detections (which were not counted). The No. 1 song at Mainstream Top 40 radio, "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera, had 8,418 airplay detections last week. My point is, even if the strategy of buying commercial time for airplay worked, it wouldn't be cost-effective.
IT'S ALL COMING BACK TO ME NOW
I saw the answer to the question about "Lose Yourself" having the longest stay at No. 1 for an original song from a soundtrack. Didn't "End of the Road" by Boyz II Men from the "Boomerang" soundtrack remain No. 1 for 13 weeks?
I knew "Boomerang" would come back to haunt me. Sorry, couldn't resist.
Yes, "End of the Road" was No. 1 for 13 weeks, and is from the "Boomerang" soundtrack, so it's certainly ahead of "Lose Yourself." I must remember to look at "The Billboard Book of Number One Hits" every now and then.