Fred Bronson discusses No. 1s, Clay Aiken and numerical chart coincidences with readers.
TAKING A COUNT OF GEORGE
Hello again, Fred,
Thought I'd throw my two cents in regarding the question one of your readers asked about the title to George Strait's "50 Number Ones" release. This trend seems to have started with either a Merle Haggard or Alabama release.
As I recall, the Alabama CD was called "For the Record: 41 Number One Hits" (or something like that), and Merle's CD was titled similarly. Of course, having kept up with Billboard's charts for the past 27 (time flies!) years, I realized that Alabama topped out on Billboard's country charts well short of 41 (32 or so?), and that the 41 No. 1s had to have included [No. 1 songs from] other publications (are there any other industry publications? I think not!).
George's 39th trip to the top by himself even beats Merle Haggard who hit No. 1 on his own 36 times. Quite the feat, and if I'm not mistaken a record for any solo artist (not counting duets and such).
On another note -- the reader who described the Hot 100 as "meaningless" had a popular perception, but an unfortunate choice of words. It is what it is, as they say. I think where the perception of meaningless comes in is that the charts are derived mostly from airplay that the "average" user has no control over or input into (the old narrowcasting argument).
I myself have become disheartened by the fact that where I could at one time even five years ago recognize 70 songs on the chart I can now only tell you half that (if that many). When what we the public want to hear doesn't line up exactly with what the radio industry wants to play, then any chart seems incorrect, or meaningless. But it isn't. It is an accurate picture of the industry as it stands, and as you have stated many times the charts are for the industry not the public. And until the industry and the public get on the same page again, the perception of a "meaningless" chart will persist.
Kudos on the recent milestone and keep up the good work!
Many readers wrote in this week about how many No. 1 hits George Strait has accumulated. Most of those e-mails cited Strait's No. 1s on charts other than those published by Billboard. They may not count in my book, but at least it's an explanation.
Your comments on the airplay issue are well put. One thought that doesn't get mentioned here often enough, however, is that radio believes it is playing what the public wants to hear. Stations need to build ratings so they can charge more for advertising and the way to build ratings is to play what the majority of people want to hear. You may not be hearing the music you enjoy on top 40 radio, but for millions of others, it's exactly what they want.
NOT SO PROUD AFTER ALL
I noticed that you mentioned in your column that the new "Aladdin" soundtrack contains Clay Aiken's version of "Proud of Your Boy." That is unfortunately not the case. While the DVD contains Clay's video of the song, the CD contains a demo by a different singer.
A quick listen to the sample on Amazon's Web site will clarify it, as will the comments/complaints by the many buyers who bought it thinking Clay's song was on it. In fact, looking at the list of other items customers have bought it's easy to see that it was "Idol" fans who bought the CD and I would guess now feel cheated.
I heard from about a dozen other readers who also let me know that the Clay Aiken version of "Proud of Your Boy" does not appear on the revised CD of the soundtrack. I haven't received a copy from the Disney label yet, so I made a false (but logical) assumption. I don't know what contractual issues prevented the track from appearing on the special edition CD, but it seems senseless to have the song recorded for the film and then not be available on the album.
The "different singer" you referred to is Alan Menken, who composed the music for the film and was co-writer on "Proud of Your Boy."
2 GOOD 2 BE FORGOTTEN
David Dana-Bashian's challenge was 2 hard 2 pass up! Here's my list of acts that had Hot 100 hits peaking at numbers contained in the group name. Maroon5 joins Boyz II Men and the Four Tops as the only acts to accomplish the feat twice:
Boyz II Men: "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" (No. 2, 1991), "Water Runs Dry" (No. 2, 1995)
Three Dog Night: "Shambala" (No. 3, 1973)
3 Doors Down: "Kryptonite" (No. 3, 2000)
Four Tops: "Bernadette" (No. 4, 1967), "Ain't No Woman (Like the One I've Got)" (No. 4, 1973)
Count Five: "Psychotic Reaction" (No. 5, 1966)
Five Americans: "Western Union" (No. 5, 1967)
Hi-Five: "She's Playing Hard to Get" (No. 5, 1992)
Maroon5: "This Love" (No. 5, 2004), "She Will Be Loved" (No. 5, 2004)
After 7: "Ready or Not" (No. 7, 1990)
38 Special: "You Keep Running Away" (No. 38, 1982)
Some acts that failed to make the cut are U2, which had two No. 1s and a No. 3 (but no No. 2); the Classics IV, with a No. 2, a No. 3 and a No. 5 (but no No. 4); and the Dave Clark Five, with a No. 3, a No. 4, a No. 6 and a No. 7 (but no No. 5).
Long Island, N.Y.
Thanks for taking the time to so thoroughly research this! Other readers wrote in with similar lists, and one reader cited another song that contains a number in the title that is the same as the single's peak position. See the next e-mail:
EASY AS A-B-C
Your column is always one of the highlights of my Fridays!
I just wanted to add my two cents about songs with numbers in them that also peak at that numerical position. One such song is the No. 3 hit by Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine, "1-2-3." I believe it peaked at No. 3 in 1988.
Thanks for all the entertainment!
You're welcome, and thanks for remembering the Gloria Estefan song. You're correct, "1-2-3" peaked at No. 3. Another reader came up with a long list of songs that peaked in the same position as a number mentioned in the title. Keep reading...
Here's my research on David Dana-Bashian's question.
"1-2-3," Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine (No. 3, 1988)
"1-2-3," Len Barry (No. 2, 1965)
"25 or 6 to 4," Chicago (No. 4, 1970)
"808," Blaque (No. 8, 1999)
"One More Night," Phil Collins (No. 1, 1985)
"One More Try," George Michael (No. 1, 1988)
"One More Try," Timmy T (No. 1, 1991)
"One of These Nights," Eagles (No. 1, 1975)
"One Sweet Day," Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men (No. 1, 1995)
"The One That You Love," Air Supply (No. 1, 1981)
"You're the One That I Want," John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John (No. 1, 1978)
"Just the Two of Us," Grover Washington, Jr. with Bill Withers (No. 2, 1981)
"Two to Make It Right," Seduction (No. 2, 1990)
"Seventh Son," Johnny Rivers (No. 7, 1975)
Great list, but I can think of one more -- or at least, reader Andy Ray can. See his e-mail below:
I've always thought it was funny that Barenaked Ladies' "One Week" peaked at No. 1 -- with the word "one" in the title -- and it stayed there for just one week -- exactly the same as the title of the song. This is perhaps the most intriguing of all the songs which peaked in the same position as the number in their titles.
I wonder if Barenaked Ladies would have set a Hot 100 record if they had just called the song "17 Weeks."
- News