CHART BEAT CHAT

Fred Bronson discusses with readers Eminem's Oscar chances, the lenght of singles reigns at No. 1, collections of Billboard magazines, Russian artists on Billboard charts, songs that have stalled at N

WILL OSCAR GO HOME WITH MARSHALL?

Hi Fred!

Eminem's "Lose Yourself," from the "8 Mile" soundtrack, logs a 12th week at No. 1 on the Hot 100. This is a record for an original song, written and originally recorded for a movie soundtrack, and therefore eligible for Oscar consideration. The previous record was "Independent Women Pt. 1" from the "Charlie's Angels" soundtrack. Although it was eligible, the Destiny's Child song was not nominated for the Oscar that year.

The longest running No. 1 Oscar-winning song so far was "You Light Up My Life" (on top for 10 weeks in 1977) from the film of the same name. I know Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" from "The Bodyguard" soundtrack had a 14-week run at No. 1, but this was a cover of a pre-existing Dolly Parton song, and as such was ineligible for Oscar consideration.

It will be interesting to see if Eminem gets an Oscar nomination next month.

Hillel M. Zelman
hillelz@hotmail.com

Dear Hillel,

It's true, only original songs written for the films they grace are eligible in the best original song category for the Academy Awards. As this is posted, we are two days away from finding out if Eminem walks home with a Golden Globe for "Lose Yourself." If so, that will enhance, but not guarantee, his Oscar chances.

Now that "Lose Yourself" has garnered a 12th week at No. 1, it is the second most-successful soundtrack song of the rock era, using highest position and weeks in that position as criteria. As you note, Whitney Houston's version of "I Will Always Love You" from "The Bodyguard" soundtrack had a 14-week run on top.

But, back to Oscar for a moment: with so much heat on the film "Chicago," I'm betting that the John Kander-Fred Ebb song "I Move On," written for the film, will be among Oscar's five nominees, even though it didn't make the Golden Globe cut.



POPULARITY VS. QUALITY

Dear Fred,

I have a question regarding the longest-running No. 1 songs in the rock era from last week's "Chart Beat Bonus." I'm wondering why all but one of the longest-running songs comes from 1992 or later. How can this be? Why did songs from the '50s, '60s, '70s, and '80s not have long shelf lives at the top? What does it say about our consumption of music today versus yesterday?

Also, as a sidebar, don't the longest-running No. 1 songs in the rock era seem suspiciously weak? When you consider great songs from the last 40 years I wonder if even one of these songs would register. Obviously a song's greatness cannot be measured by weeks spent at No. 1. Kind of minimizes the relevance of charts, doesn't it?

Darrin Simmons
Calgary, Alberta

Dear Darrin,

For 36 years, Elvis Presley held the record for the longest-running No. 1 song of the rock era, with an 11-week reign for "Don't Be Cruel" / "Hound Dog." A couple of singles came close -- Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" (1977) and Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" (1981) both remained on top for 10 weeks. And there were a few No. 1 songs that managed nine-week visits, like Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife," Percy Faith's "Theme From 'A Summer Place'," the Beatles' "Hey Jude," Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes," and Diana Ross & Lionel Richie's "Endless Love."

A couple of things happened in the 1990s to increase the number of weeks that some songs stayed in pole position. Advanced technology, supplied by Nielsen SoundScan and Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems, gave us more accurate sales and airplay information data. Also, radio stations kept songs on their playlists longer. Plus, record companies didn't release a new single every few weeks, as they did in the 1960s. Add it all up, and we started having more songs remain No. 1 for a longer amount of time.

Still, only nine songs in the rock era have been No. 1 for 12 weeks or more, including Eminem's "Lose Yourself," which reached the 12-frame mark this week.
As for equating how long a song was No. 1 with how great a song it was -- well, have you noticed how well "Fear Factor" does in the TV ratings, or that "Just Married" was the No. 1 film at the box office last week? That doesn't make the charts irrelevant; it's just important to remember what the charts are measuring.



ROOM FOR 2,222

The issue [of Billboard] dated Jan. 25, 2003 will be my 2,222nd. The first issue was dated June 20, 1960 and "Cathy's Clown" was at the top. I have saved that chart and all since. Don't ask why, my wife asks the same. It's probably to relive my youth from time-to-time.

I have always read with interest your column to find out new records being set and similar tidbits. William Simpson in Los Angeles has made some contributions over the years -- my problem is that I am usually a few weeks behind in reading my issues so that by the time I spot something it's old news. So, the [fact that I have] 2,222 [issues] is the only timely tidbit I can come up with.

I'm not in the music business, but in high school I planned on being a disc jockey. I ended up being an accountant (CPA). So sad. Hey, another Everly Brothers song.

Paul M. DesJardins
Richmond, Va.

Dear Paul,

Or should I say, dear long-time reader? You said you kept the charts, but you didn't mention if you kept the entire 2,222 issues. If so, I hope you've figured out how to store them! Because sometimes even having 49 issues can create a storage problem. See the next E-mail, also from a gentleman named Paul.



CLEANIN' OUT HIS CLOSET

Hey Fred!

I am currently in the process of moving and cleaning out my closets and have come across all of my Billboard magazines. Now, we all know how big Billboard is -- and I mean physically. As far as periodicals go, it's a pretty big magazine! (And, of course, it's because it has soooo much incredible information inside!)

Here's my dilemma: I don't have the space to hang on to all of my Billboards, and I don't have the patience nor tenacity to want to sell them on eBay. I have 49 Billboard magazines that I would love to give to a good home. They range in date from 1988 to 1998, with a high concentration in 1989-1990. They are in good to very good condition, and include James Taylor, Gloria Estefan, Bob Marley, Quincy Jones, and Ozzy Osbourne tributes, and also the issue from Dec. 5, 1998, when Billboard switched to its new methodology of allowing airplay only singles to chart on the Hot 100. If you know of anyone who might be interested in these freebies, they can have them for just the cost of shipping (and I'll throw in the handling for free!)

I know you're not a clearing house for sales, but I have loved Billboard for a long time, collected the books, magazines, and more for almost 20 years (but I'm not giving up my books!). It's a big step for me to even get rid of these magazines, so I'd like to try to give them to someone who is as avid a fan as me, but has more space to keep them!

Paul Dick
Melbourne, Fla.
graphics2@adoneauto.org

Dear Paul,

You do realize that if you were getting rid of your Billboard books, I'd think twice about running your E-mail? On a more serious note, I should caution other readers that this is not an invitation to use "Chart Beat Chat" as a trading post. As Paul is the first to write in with this kind of a request, I'm glad to run his E-mail as a first and only event.

Paul, let me know if you find a taker.



THE RUSSIANS WERE HERE, THE RUSSIANS WERE HERE

Hi Fred,

In last week's "Chart Beat Chat," Pat Kelly wondered if "All the Things She Said" by t.A.T.u. was the first Russian hit on the Hot 100. Well, it isn't - in 1990, Russian rock band Gorky Park reached No. 81 with "Try to Find Me," which was its only U.S. hit. The band's eponymous American debut album climbed one rung higher on The Billboard 200, reaching No. 80.

One other Russian act made it to The Billboard 200. In 1989, Boris Grebenshikov spent two weeks on the album chart with his album "Radio Silence." After that, everything went silent as far as Russian music is concerned -- until now, that is, with t.A.T.u.'s current hit single.

Speaking of European hits on the Hot 100, Belgium has its first Hot 100 single in a couple of years. If I'm correct, the last Belgian single to reach the top-50 of the Hot 100 was "Move This" by Technotronic (featuring Ya Kid K), which reached No. 6 in the summer of 1992. The most successful Belgian hit ever remains "Dominique" by the Singing Nun, which was a No. 1 hit in December 1963.

Johan van Slooten
The Netherlands

Dear Johan,

You were the first to E-mail me about Gorky Park, but that band can take solace in the fact they have not been forgotten. I received more than two-dozen letters letting me know of their achievement, and thanks to everyone who wrote in about them.

The t.A.T.u. single is shaping up to be a big hit. "All the Things She Said" (Interscope) makes its first major move on the Hot 100 this week, leaping 78-55.

The Belgian single you refer to is "Something" by Lasgo. In its 13th chart week, the single stands pat at No. 45, but does earn a bullet.



SAFE AT SECOND

Dear Fred,

Concerning the current discussion of the songs that hold the rock-era record for most weeks at No. 2, I would like to point out that these are also all-time records. The pre-rock-era record was held by Nat King Cole's "Mona Lisa." [The single] spent 11 consecutive weeks at No. 2 after spending five weeks at No. 1.

Larry Dhooghe
Forest Grove, Ore.

Dear Larry,

Thanks for filling us in on pre-1955 stats. With Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott's "Work It" taking a 2-6 tumble, her run in second place has ended after 10 weeks. That means she remains tied with Foreigner's "Waiting for a Girl Like You" as the longest-running No. 2 hits of the rock era, and of all time. The Nat King Cole recording of "Mona Lisa" that you cite is tied with Whitney Houston's "Exhale (Shopp Shoop)" as the No. 1 singles with the longest runs at No. 2.



HOW DEEP IS OUR LOVE

Dear Fred,

I am just so saddened by the passing of Maurice Gibb, as I am sure many Bee Gees fans are all over the world. A local paper wrote of his death in an article titled "The End of the Bee Gees." Personally, I think it's premature to make that conclusion... even if they are now down to a duo, as I don't see how Maurice can be replaced.

While I do not have all their albums, I have more of theirs than other artists. Not liking them at first makes my attachment to their music more special ("Run to Me" just didn't appeal to a 9-year old then). The Bee Gees are just one of a handful of groups whose music that many mature fans grew up with that are still musically active today.

I don't consider the brothers Gibb a charismatic trio, but as a concert act they are nothing short of top-notch excitement.

Long Live the Bee Gees. And Maurice, may God bless you.

Ooi Mun Kong
Singapore

Dear Ooi,

Barry and Robin Gibb were emphatic in a BBC interview that they would continue to record as the Bee Gees, and that the group would continue as a duo.

Some people forget that the Bee Gees were a duo for a brief time, when Robin quit the group. In 1969, twin brothers Robin and Maurice were not speaking to each other, and Robin split. He recorded a solo album, "Saved by the Bell," and refused his father's request to resolve the brotherly conflict. Barry and Maurice recorded the "Cucumber Castle" album as a duo, and they were both planning solo albums when Robin reconciled with them and rejoined the Bee Gees. Robin was quoted in Time magazine: "If we hadn't been related, we would probably never have gotten back together."

Of course, that was more than 30 years ago, and the Bee Gees remained together as a trio until Maurice's death on Jan. 12.

If you'd like to see a listing of the top 30 songs on the Hot 100 written by Maurice Gibb, see this week's "Chart Beat Bonus."



HOW HIGH IS 'UP'?

Hi Mr. Bronson,

Each week I check the Hot Country Singles chart to see which positions my favorite stars are occupying. I've been wondering why Shania Twain's current single, "Up!", hasn't hit the top-20 yet. I went to the Radio & Records (R&R) Web site to see which position the single held there, and must to my surprise, it was No. 12! How can this be? Usually the Billboard and R&R charts are very similar, but not in this case! Maybe you could explain this to me.

Thanks so much!

Bryant Miller

Dear Bryant,

Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart is an airplay-only chart, compiled on information supplied by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems (BDS). The company electronically monitors 150 country radio stations 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Songs are then ranked on the chart in order of how many detections they received during a seven-day period. "Up"! moves up this week, from 24-22, which means there are 21 songs receiving more country airplay on a national basis than "Up!"

In the latest issue of Billboard's sister publication, Airplay Monitor, available at deadline, "Up!" had no airplay at all on KZLA in Los Angeles. Checking other major market country stations, "Up!" was the 19th most-played song at KPLX in Dallas, while another Dallas station, KSCS, only played the song once. "Up!" was the 22nd most-played song on WUSN in Chicago, and ranked 28th at WXTU in Philadelphia. "Up!" ranked 29th at WKHX in Atlanta, 27th at WIVK in Knoxville, and received no airplay at all on KVOO in Tulsa.

"Up!" is still gaining airplay at country radio, and Shania Twain's appearance on the American Music Awards might help the song get even more spins, so we'll have to keep an eye on the song in the weeks ahead.



JUST LET US HEAR SOME OF THAT ROCK'N'ROLL MUSIC

Dear Fred,

Last week you made a very important point: "We shouldn't forget that rock'n'roll music was born out of R&B." Over the past couple of years I have had a renewed interest in 1950s R&B. If you look at the R&B charts from 1955 you would see more familiar titles and artists who influenced what was to follow than if you looked at the pop charts that year.

In early 1955 there were a few R&B crossovers that made the pop chart which became rock'n'roll classics, such as "Earth Angel" by the Penguins and "Pledging My Love" by Johnny Ace. There were also several covers of R&B songs by white artists such as Pat Boone and Georgia Gibbs, but those songs were not rock'n'roll.

"Rock Around the Clock" did indeed change everything. After that hit No. 1, more rock songs and R&B crossovers charted and even more after Elvis became the first rock'n'roll superstar in 1956. It was a slow process for the rock era to build and likewise would be a slow process for it to end. Many oldies stations are now starting to fade out the '50s (including WCBS-FM in New York, one of the most famous oldies format stations), which I think is kind of sad. Considering that the 50th anniversary of rock'n'roll is coming up I think it's bad timing to pull the plug on that decade. I'm sure as we get closer to July 9, 2005, there will be more awareness of this period of music.

It would be interesting if some of today's R&B/hip-hop artists did remakes of some of those '50s R&B hits. Though tame by today's standards, the lyrics were considered quite suggestive for their time. There actually seemed to be a bigger uproar back then as compared to the more explicit lyrics of rap. Imagine Missy Elliot and Mary J. Blige doing covers of Etta James and Lavern Baker's songs.

I don't know if it's still available on video but a wonderful documentary is "Rock And Roll: The Early Days" narrated by John Heard. In fact just thinking of the documentary inspired me to play it right now. A fine companion piece is "British Rock: The First Wave" narrated by Michael York.

Rock'n'roll is not dead, which is easily proven by the concert grosses of last year. Perhaps the era that ended during the '90s was the "top 40 radio era." Before the '90s, singles sales and radio airplay were a happy marriage and the Hot 100 was its wedding ring. A typical station prior to the '90s would play all kinds of music on one station. Radio promoted hit singles and that helped the quicker turnovers on the charts.

The '90s saw changes due to demographics and the increased preference of playing album cuts as opposed to singles. Since the biggest selling singles were rap, which many stations were uncomfortable playing then, that further divided [the chasm] between sales and airplay. It was these changes -- in the business, not the music -- that created the biggest challenges for The Billboard Hot 100 despite the technological improvements by SoundScan and Broadcast Data Systems. But the Hot 100 has survived and hopefully will see its own 50th anniversary in 2008.

Richard K. Rogers
Brooklyn, N.Y.
dizzydoctors@hotmail.com

Dear Richard,

You've left me with nothing to say except, "well said." Here's another E-mail on the topic from a regular "Chart Beat Chat" contributor:



DIVERSITY IN MUSIC

Hey, Fred,

Here's my two-cents worth on the recent chat about coining the mid-to late-1990s to the present as the "rap era." It all depends on which chart you are looking at. Rap and hip-hop tunes might be dominating the peak positions lately on the singles chart of the top 40 and Hot 100, but take a look at The Billboard 200 albums chart for the week of Jan. 25:

In my estimation, there are four R&B/pop CDs in the top-10 (Jennifer Lopez with guest rappers, Justin Timberlake, Aaliyah, Christina Aguilera), two rap/hip-hop ("8 Mile" soundtrack and Missy Elliott), two country (Dixie Chicks, Shania Twain), one rock (Avril Lavigne), and one pop (Norah Jones, technically a jazz artist, I think).

If you take a look at the top-50 of this week's albums chart, there's 19 rock acts (I am counting Elvis Presley as rock), 12 rap acts, eight country acts, seven R&B/pop acts (I am counting B2K here although they have guest rappers), three pop acts (also "Now 11" and Josh Groban), and one orchestral score CD ("Lord of the Rings").

I am not familiar with sales figures for 2002. Do you have year-end tallies on what the particular formats sold?

And looking at the 20 top-selling CDs of the year 2002, I count five rock acts (Creed, Linkin Park, Nickelback, Avril Lavigne, and sometimes Pink), five pop (Britney Spears, "Now 8," Shakira, Enrique Englesias, Celine Dion), four rap/hip-hop (Eminem, Nelly, Ludacris, JaRule), three country ("O Brother," Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson), two R&B/pop (Ashanti with guest rappers, Usher), and one New Age (Enya).

Looking at 2002's top-10 on the Hot 100 chart, I count four rock (Nickelback, Linkin Park, the Calling, Puddle of Mudd), three rap-hip songs (two by Nelly, Fat Joe w/ Ashanti), two R&B/pop (Ashanti, Usher) and one pop (Vanessa Carlton).

So personally, I don't think the rock era is dead by any means. There's a nice mix of all formats!

Marc LeGoff
Washington, D.C.
mlegoff@aol.com

Dear Marc,

Backing up your assertion is the list of the top-100 best-selling albums of 2002, published in the Jan. 18 issue of Billboard and based on sales figures from Dec. 31, 2001-Dec. 29, 2002, as reported by Nielsen SoundScan.

The top-10 includes albums by Eminem, Nelly, Avril Lavigne, Dixie Chicks, Pink, Ashanti, Alan Jackson, Shania Twain, and soundtracks to "8 Mile" and "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

Other artists in the top-half of the list include Norah Jones, Celine Dion, Josh Groban, Elvis Presley, Creed, Linkin Park, Faith Hill, Shakira, Nickelback, John Mayer, the Rolling Stones, Santana, Enrique Iglesias, Jay-Z, and Korn, so I think you're right -- people are buying all kinds of music these days. Top 40 radio may be focused on hip-hop, but that's just one of many viable formats of music in America in the early 21st century.