Fred Bronson answers readers' questions about LL Cool J, Madonna, H and Claire, and "Bonnie & Clyde."

LADIES STILL LOVE COOL JAMES

Hi Fred,

Reading Michael Ellis and Todd Martens' summary of chart news on Billboard.com last Thursday, I was amazed to discover that "Luv U Better" is LL Cool J's first No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart since "I Need Love" in 1987. It got me thinking how long he's been around. Working in a genre that is often seen as a fad, LL has been an incredibly consistent hitmaker. For example, Santana, Madonna, and LL Cool J are the only artists in the top-40 portion of this week's Hot 100 who notched their first top-40 hit before 1988.

He has also placed more songs on the top-40 of the Hot 100 (11 to date) than almost any other hip-hop artist. I could find only two hip-hop artists, the Notorious B.I.G. and P. Diddy, who had more top-40 appearances. I think it's important to note, though, that the Notorious B.I.G. and P. Diddy were guest artists on many of their top-40 appearances, whereas LL was almost always the lead artist on his. I'm also not counting uncredited performances, like LL's part in the remix of Montell Jordan's top-10 Hot 100 hit "Get It on Tonite" from 2000.

Regards,

Kenton Beerman
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Dear Kenton,

LL Cool J was the subject of last week's "Chart Beat" in the print edition of Billboard, and is worthy of an item in this week's "Chart Beat Chat." He was one of the first hip-hop artists to be successful not only on our R&B charts, but the pop charts as well, and he has maintained his popularity over a long period of time, while branching out into acting (did you ever see him in "Toys"?).

This week he debuts at No. 2 on The Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop albums tally. But, seeing as that's what "Chart Beat" is all about, check out those details in "Chart Beat Bonus," and find out why Gerald Levert has every right to be unhappy about the chart position of LL Cool J's new album.



AIRRING THEIR DIFFERENCES

Fred,

Bad call in your Oct. 11 "Chart Beat Chat" about Christina Aguilera's new single. I'm an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Nevada Reno and that is definitely the song (and video) of the fall here. Everybody, male and female, loves it, it gets tons of local airplay on the top-40 and R&B/hip-hop stations and the video has been in the top three (No. 1 frequently) on TRL since its debut.

Plus, when I called one of my friends in Las Vegas, where I'm from, the day after the song was on [MTV's] "Making the Video," the first question out of his mouth was: "Did you see the new Christina Aguilera video?" I think the public definitely has an appetite for this song, but that seems to be of less and less consequence to radio nowadays.

Sincerely,

Shane Callen

Dear Shane,

I agree with your sentiments about radio, but guess we'll have to agree to disagree about "Dirrty." While "Chart Beat" usually sticks to objective facts about the charts, it's a personal column, so sometimes you get my editorial opinion.

I know that "Dirrty" has its supporters, I'm just not among them. Not that radio programmers are always right, but I think there was a reason the song got such a negative reaction when it came to airplay, preventing it from rising any higher than No. 48 on the Hot 100. Hopefully for Aguilera, she hasn't damaged her career and will rebound with the next track from the "Stripped" album that goes to radio.



THE LIFE OF 'DIE'

Hello Fred,

With Madonna's newest song "Die Another Day" doing better than I had expected at radio, could you give me a prediction as to whether the maxi-single release, along with increased airplay, could bring her song all the way to the top of the Hot 100?

I have my doubts. I bought the single the day it was released and it has great remixes on it but it had a steep $8.99 price tag. How many copies did the record company release? I figure that this song will definitely hit the top-10 if not top-5 but roughly how many copies would you think she'd have to sell in order to make it to No. 1? I went to a fan site that said she needs to sell at least 80,00 copies to achieve another chart-topper! That seems like a high number.

I want her to surpass Michael Jackson's 13 No. 1s. At least she could tie him with this song and we'll see what goodies she has in store early next year with another album.

Let me know what you think.

Thanks,

John Stephenson
Buffalo, N.Y.
MadonnaJon@aol.com

Dear John,

As you've probably seen by now, "Die Another Day" makes a healthy 28-18 move on this week's Hot 100. That jump is still based solely on airplay. I expect the single to debut at No. 1 on our sales chart next week, but will that be enough to send this latest James Bond theme to the top of the Hot 100?

It's going to be a tough battle between two soundtrack hits. The leading candidate for pole position next week is "Lose Yourself" by Eminem, from the "8 Mile" soundtrack. The song surges 6-2 and is the "greatest gainer" in airplay this week.

"Die Another Day" will have to sell around 60,000 copies to be a serious contender for No. 1. That's not an impossible number -- it's about how many copies "Music" sold in its first week.

At the moment, I would guess that Eminem will end up at No. 1 and Madonna could collect her seventh No. 2 hit on the Hot 100. No matter what happens, Madonna has set a new record with "Die Another Day." See the next letter.



44, THANKS TO 007

Hi Fred,

Just wanted to let you know that with "Die Another Day," Madonna has surpassed Aretha Franklin with the most top-40 hits on Billboard's Hot 100. Madonna now has 44 top-40 songs and Aretha has 43. She is awesome and still going strong!

Richard Leon
Los Angeles

Dear Richard,

For more about this, and what will happen when "Die Another Day" reaches the top-10, see this week's "Chart Beat Bonus."



A MIS-STEP?

Hey Fred,

Your response to the H and Claire question in last week's column, I believe, was incorrect. All indications from the official Web site mailing list for H and Claire is that their next single, due in November, is the double A-sided "All Out of Love" / "Beauty and the Beast."

For the record, I've loved both of their singles so far ("DJ" and "Half a Heart"), but I really believe "All Out of Love" could put them at the top as it is so similar to Steps' biggest singles. If you check out their Web site, a clip of the song is featured as you enter the site.

Enjoy, and thanks for "Chart Beat!"

Craig Kile
ckile@xactservices.com

Dear Craig,

Sounds like I was given misinformation. H and Claire have recorded the song "Another You, Another Me," but it will serve as the title of their first album, due out Nov. 18. The next single is scheduled to be, as you report, "All Out of Love" and "Beauty and the Beast," and it will be released in the U.K. on Nov. 4.



OUCH!

Dear Fred,

As you know, Saddam Hussein has a son named Uday Hussein who is his designated successor. If we do succeed in ousting Saddam, Uday will become the new dictator of Iraq. Then Celine Dion will sing a song about him, titled "An Uday Has Come."

I thought of that one all by myself. I inflicted it on you because you sometimes slip puns into your columns, so I get the idea you like puns.

Larry Dhooghe
Forest Grove, Ore.

Dear Larry,

That hurts!



BANK ON IT

Howdy Fred,

This is pretty quirky, but a chart junkie might appreciate it. Looking at the charts made me notice that Bonnie & Clyde (past, present, and future) have fared pretty well lately.

"'03 Bonnie & Clyde" is on several charts this week for Jay-Z.

"Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde" was a hit for Travis Tritt earlier this year.

Albums with "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" (a.k.a "Theme From Bonnie & Clyde") showed up on the bluegrass chart in October ("Best of Flatt & Scruggs") and country chart earlier this year ("Earl Scruggs and Friends").

Dan Cecil

Dear Dan,

That's not even counting Georgie Fame's No. 7 hit from 1968, "The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde." But then, you did say "lately"...