Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Gary Trust at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.
WHERE THE BOYS ARE
This question is not about an artist currently charting with new material, but it does perplex me.
Do you think that the Beach Boys' Billboard Hot 100 success during their heyday (let's say, from their first top 10, "Surfin' U.S.A.," in 1963, through "Good Vibrations," in 1966) is disappointing, when compared to other groups of that time?
In the '60s, the Beach Boys charted 13 top 10s, three of which hit No. 1. Other groups from that time scored more chart-toppers, namely the Beatles and the Supremes. The Beach Boys' three No. 1s were relative short-timers at the top, as well: "I Get Around" led for two weeks, "Help Me, Rhonda" (two weeks) and "Good Vibrations" (one week).
As well-regarded as the Beach Boys are now, it seems that their overall chart success doesn't necessarily match their legacy, even if their Hot 100 history spans 27 years (1962-89). I understand that much of why they are so evergreen is based on Brian Wilson's amazingly rapid development as a producer and songwriter.
Do you have any insights as to why the Beach Boys' chart history wasn't as great as some of their contemporaries?
Interesting question. An analysis of the charts, however, reveals that the Beach Boys were well-represented on the Billboard Hot 100 during their prime hit-making days.
True, three No. 1s in the '60s might seem like a low number for such an iconic act, but that sum is among the top 10 for the decade. Looking at the more focused era that you cite, from March 1963 to December 1966, here are the acts with the most leaders:
12, The Beatles
8, The Supremes
3, The Beach Boys
3, The Rolling Stones
3, Bobby Vinton
As for most top 10s between 1963 and 1966, the Beach Boys' 13 rank second only to the Beatles' 20.
I also wouldn't put too much weight in each of the Beach Boys' three No. 1s in the '60s spending no more than two weeks on top. Turnover abounded atop the chart at the time: from March 1963 through the reign of "Good Vibrations" in December 1966, 81 of the 91 No. 1s in that span spent between one and three weeks in charge.
While your question pertains specifically to the Beach Boys' chart appearances in the mid-'60s, it also seems worth mentioning that, of all the acts to top the Hot 100 in that decade, the Beach Boys are the most recent to reach the summit, having notched their fourth No. 1 on the chart with "Kokomo" in 1988. Brian Wilson himself charted on Adult Contemporary as recently as 2006.
In Billboard's Hot 100 50th anniversary special issue dated Sept. 20, 2008, Senior Retail Correspondent Ed Christman wrote that not only were the Beach Boys a chart force in the '60s, but they also helped forever change the business of pop music, as you allude to in noting Wilson's artistic growth. From that issue:
"The '50s and '60s were when artists began to take control of their own creative destiny: the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Four Seasons, the Beach Boys, Ray Charles and the Rascals. Each were largely responsible for their own music and each in their own ways stretched the boundaries of rock'n'roll and songwriting."
From membership in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to a symbol of Americana with their fun-in-the-sun imagery, the Beach Boys are, of course, an institution. It's fitting that their chart history in the '60s mirrors their high standing in pop culture.
PEAS ON R&B/HIP-HOP MENU?
Hi Gary ... Trust all is well,
I am not trying to hate on the Black Eyed Peas, but recently you noted in Ask Billboard how "Boom Boom Pow" was only slowly inching up the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
This week, their new set "The E.N.D." is No. 1 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. I truly do not believe this. I am African-American and listen mainly to R&B and gospel stations, and I have never heard a Black Eyed Peas song on any R&B station. I am proud of will.i.am and the Peas' accomplishments, but how is their latest offering leading Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums? They may as well be No. 1 on the Country chart.
"Boom Boom Pow" continues to climb at a measured pace up Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. This week, it lifts 55-51 (tying "Request Line" in 2001, before the addition of Fergie, as the band's biggest hit on the chart).
On the Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop airplay chart, the track edges 40-39. It is, then, receiving airplay at R&B radio. A total of 54 R&B/hip-hop stations (of 82 total panelists) played the song in the current chart week's tracking period, accounting for 4.5 million audience impressions at the format. The sum does certainly pale, however, in comparison to the song's audience of 56 million at mainstream top 40 radio and 32 million at rhythmic in the same span.
As for the reasoning behind the album's admittance to Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, I asked Billboard Associate Director of Charts and R&B/Hip-Hop charts manager Raphael George. Here is his explanation:
"In terms of how albums are flagged for Billboard's genre album charts, releases are judged on texture, format airplay, and sometimes an artist's past chart history. It's not necessary, however, for an album to pass all three tests.
"While Black Eyed Peas may not garner complete acceptance at R&B/hip-hop radio, they have charted five singles on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, including 'Boom Boom Pow.' Some may feel that the current album is too 'pop' or 'crossover' to qualify for Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, but airplay and past history do exist for the band.
"Some artists qualify for Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums with little or no radio airplay at all. Vanessa Williams, who hasn't charted an entry on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs since 1996, has since charted several sets. Her current jazz/R&B effort debuted at No. 36 on the former list just last week.
"A review of this week's chart reveals at least a half-dozen artists that receive relatively moderate, if any, R&B/hip-hop airplay: Flo Rida, Christelle, DJ Quik, Tech N9ne, Prince and AZ.
"Admittedly, 'The E.N.D.' is more pop-leaning that most on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. You might not hear many of the Peas' songs on R&B/hip-hop radio, but, along with the format airplay of 'Boom Boom Pow,' the essence of R&B/hip-hop on the album, in my opinion, is there."
ONE HIT STARTED LEADING TO ANOTHER
"Out Last Night" is Kenny Chesney's 27th top 10 on Hot Country Songs this decade. Depending on whether or not the chart billing of Reba McEntire's top 20 hit last year, "Every Other Weekend," actually read "Reba McEntire," "Reba McEntire featuring Kenny Chesney" or "Reba McEntire featuring Skip Ewing," and excluding unpromoted album cuts or holiday material, "Out Last Night" marks Chesney's 24th consecutive top 10. I believe the only other artist with a current streak of at least 20 top 10s would be Brad Paisley, whose last 20 have all reached the top 10.
Burt County, Nebraska
Your run of insightful observations of Hot Country Songs is as impressive as Chesney and Paisley's top 10 streaks. Thank you, as always, for your thorough research.
You are correct about Chesney, though only if we add the disclaimer that we're counting only his single releases on his home label, BNA. The McEntire track you cite did, indeed, feature Chesney as a featured artist, and it peaked at No. 15 last July. Though initially listed as featuring Ewing, who recorded vocals for a radio edit, and later as a McEntire solo cut, the song was subsequently determined by Billboard's charts department, in conjunction with label sources, that Chesney should receive a featured artist credit, so that's how the billing stands in Billboard's archives.
Excluding that title for the unscientific purpose of looking at Chesney's BNA officially-promoted releases, his streak has reached an impressive 24 top 10s. Brad Paisley, as you note, is the only other artist with an active streak of 20 top 10s in-a-row.
Chesney's top 10 stretch, which began with the No. 2-peaking "Young" in April 2002 after "The Tin Man" was unable to move higher than No. 19, is the longest since Alan Jackson reached the top 10 with 27 consecutive single releases from 1990 through 1998.
BACK TO THE 'FUTURE'
I just read last week's Ask Billboard where you mentioned "Future Hits" with host Joel Denver. I, too, remember listening to this radio program when I was a teenager and really loved it. I have never heard or seen anyone mention it since, so it was really wonderful to read that someone else remembers this gem of a show.
It was awesome to get a taste of brand new songs all in one little span of time on the weekend, and it is really disappointing that it didn't continue past the mid-'90s.
I just wanted to drop a line to a fellow fan of "Future Hits"!
Thanks for your column!
SHE'S ALL A-TWITTER
This week's Ask Billboard closes with an honorary submission from none other than Pink.
We're not sure if an item mentioned in Chart Beat last week - "Please Don't Leave Me" becoming Pink's 12th top 10 on the Mainstream Top 40 airplay chart - was relayed to her by an industry contact, or if the singer peruses our pages or logs on to this site, but Keith Caulfield in our charts department noticed the following tweet that Pink posted June 11 at 7:23 a.m.:
"pretty exciting: i am 3rd (tied with mr. timberlake and nelly) [for] the most top 10 hits on u.s. radio in history [editor's note: spanning the Mainstream Top 40 chart's archives]. madonna, 2, mariah, 1"
Pretty exciting for us, too, that Pink values her latest feat. It's always a thrill to find out that an artist follows the charts with a passion akin to that of Billboard staffers and longtime readers.