Ask Billboard: What Should Lady Gaga's Next Single Be?

Lady Gaga's 'Marry The Night' Video Leaks Online

Lady Gaga's 'Marry The Night' Video Leaks Online

Ask Billboard is updated every week. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.

WHAT SHOULD LADY GAGA'S NEXT SINGLE BE?

Hi Gary,

I have a question related to Lady Gaga and the mid-chart success on the Billboard Hot 100 of "Marry the Night," which reached No. 29.

In "Ask Billboard" last week, you wrote: "'Marry' is, ultimately, more of a club groove than a top 40 natural." I want to know what you think are more "top 40 natural"s from Gaga's "Born This Way" album and what you think her next single should be (if you think there should be a next single).

Thanks,

Kevin Ramos
New York, New York

Hi Kevin,

If I worked at Interscope Records and had the almighty power to pick singles, I'd choose "Hair" as the sixth and final single from "Born This Way."

The song already peaked at No. 12 in its only week on the Hot 100 last June as a preview digital track from the album but has not made its way to the radio-listening masses. Co-written by Gaga and RedOne, the song, which has sold 174,000 downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and whose audio video on the official LadyGagaVEVO channel stands at 11 million views, just sounds like a smash, doesn't it? The pair also co-wrote the set's second single, "Judas."

If "Hair" remains an album cut, it'll join that bittersweet group of great songs that were never released as radio singles. Gaga has already has two others, by my humble count:

"Boys Boys Boys," also a Gaga/RedOne co-write

and, "Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)," another song from "The Fame" that showcases more of her bubblegum pop side

The artist to whom Gaga seemingly receives the most comparisons also boasts a catalog of album tracks that might've been big radio hits had they been released as singles. Here's one fan's list of five songs that may have been big singles for Madonna had they gotten the chance:

"Dear Jessie" (1989), a European-only single that might've been too left-of-center for U.S. radio. Still, it has a great hook and is similar in sound to fellow "Like a Prayer" cut "Cherish," which hit No. 2 on the Hot 100.

"Love Tried to Welcome Me" (1994), which, had it followed "Take a Bow," might've won over radio more easily than the rather experimental "Bedtime Story" and "Human Nature"

"Time Stood Still" (2000), from the movie in which she starred, "The Next Best Thing," the song built upon the melodic almost-new age vibe in places of her 1998 album, "Ray of Light"

"Amazing" (2000), from "Music," a sonic sequel to 1999's '60s-retro "Beautiful Stranger"

"Devil Wouldn't Recognize You" (2008), a song from "Hard Candy" that she co-wrote with Justin Timberlake, whose obvious influence might've made it fit in better at radio than second single "Give It 2 Me." Then again, since lead track "4 Minutes" featured Timberlake on vocals, releasing "Devil" could've been inferred as Madonna piggybacking too heavily on the starpower of a younger-generation act.

"Ask Billboard" asks you: What's on your list of songs that absolutely, positively should've been radio singles over the years? From the Beatles ("Across the Universe," "Blackbird," "Getting Better," "Here Comes the Sun," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps") to Bruno Mars (what a shame that "Marry You" was never a single), what songs do you think could've garnered years of radio airplay but instead remain hidden album gems.

Share your choices at askbb@billboard.com and we'll pick up the discussion in the next "Ask Billboard."

Ask Billboard is updated every week. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.

HOW MERRY WAS MICHAEL BUBLE'S 'CHRISTMAS'?

Hi Gary!

I am a longtime fan of the "Ask Billboard" column and I very much enjoy your professionalism and accuracy when discussing various charts and artists.

Now that the 2011 holiday season is behind us, it is clear that the adult contemporary crowd is a force to be reckoned with, as evidenced by Michael Buble's late surge to notching the second-best-selling album of 2011, "Christmas," according to Nielsen SoundScan year-end data (after Adele's "21").

I was wondering if "Christmas" now stacks up among the 10 top-selling holiday sets of the 20-year SoundScan era.

Keep up the great work!

Best regards,

Marc Wilson
Urbana, Illinois

Hi Marc,

Have you finished your 2012 holiday shopping yet? Just 11 months and two days until Christmas!

(Sorry, just trying to beat advertisers to the punch).

While Buble scored an impressive run with "Christmas," which led the Billboard 200 for five weeks, the set will need at least another yuletide season before it ranks among the 10 best-selling holiday albums in the U.S. dating to the advent of SoundScan data in 1991.

Here is an updated look the top 10:

1, "Miracles - the Holiday Album," Kenny G (7.3 million)
2, "Noel," Josh Groban (5.5)
3, "These Are Special Times," Celine Dion (5.2)
4, "Merry Christmas," Mariah Carey (5.2)
5, "Christmas in the Aire," Mannheim Steamroller (3.7)
6, "A Fresh Aire Christmas," Mannheim Steamroller (3.6)
7, "Christmas," Mannheim Steamroller (3.5)
8, "Now That's What I Call Christmas!," various artists (3.4)
9, "Christmas Eve and Other Stories," Trans-Siberian Orchestra (3.3)
10, "When My Heart Finds Christmas," Harry Connick, Jr. (3.1)

To-date, Buble's "Christmas" has sold 2,455,000 copies. It even continues to sell post-Christmas, having racked sales of 1,000 last week and 2,000 the week before.

Another notable holiday album that will likely continue to build in sales in its second holiday season? Justin Bieber's "Under the Mistletoe," which has moved 1,250,000 in its first year of release.

Beyond their high pop culture profiles, what also helped Buble and Bieber log such strong sales? In part, radio airplay. Buble's ballad cover of Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" spent five weeks atop Adult Contemporary, tying Josh Groban's "Believe" for the chart's longest reign for a holiday song, while Bieber's "Mistletoe" became the first holiday hit on the Pop Songs tally since 1999-2000.

Ask Billboard is updated every week. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.

1 VS. 100

Hola Gary,

How weird that Rihanna ranks at Nos. 1 and 100 on the latest Hot 100. Her "We Found Love," featuring Calvin Harris, tops the chart for a 10th week while the title cut from her latest album, "Talk That Talk," featuring Jay-Z, re-enters at No. 100.

How uncommon is it for an artist to bookend the chart?

Peace,

Pablo Nelson
Berkeley, California

Hi Pablo,

Very uncommon.

That's simply one of those quirky chart coincidences that, until the current Hot 100, hadn't occurred since Flo Rida began and ended the list almost four years ago. Before that, an artist had held the Nos. 1 and 100 spots only one other time since the chart adopted Nielsen data the week of Nov. 30, 1991. Here are the three such rare instances:

Chart Date, Artist, No. 1 Title, No. 100 Title
Jan. 28, 2012, Rihanna, "We Found Love" (featuring Calvin Harris), "Talk That Talk"

March 1, 2008, Flo Rida, "Low" (featuring T-Pain), "Elevator" (featuring Timbaland)

Oct. 29, 2005, Kanye West , "Gold Digger" (featuring Jamie Foxx), "Heard 'Em Say" (featuring Adam Levine)

Part of why such positioning is uncommon is that, per Hot 100 recurrent rules, songs depart the chart after 20 weeks if below No. 50. Since most No. 1 hits total more than 20 weeks in the chart's upper reaches, they never dip below No. 50, leaving star artists less likely to loiter in the chart's lower rungs. While at No. 1, they most likely need to be at No. 100 not with a former smash, but perhaps with an album cut or future single registering enough sales to dent the chart at No. 100 or in a featured role on another's act's song.

(Almost honorable mention, title-wise: After Usher's "Yeah!" wrapped a 12-week run at No. 1 in 2004, the song "Maps" spent the next three weeks at No. 100. The act that recorded the latter title? Indie rockers Yeah Yeah Yeahs).