Ask Billboard: Chart Beat's 'Piano Man' Returns!

Michael Benabib
Alfie Magliano in 2015.

Piano-player extraordinaire Alfie Magliano is back with his latest hits medley. Plus, Carrie Underwood's career sales & more.

As always, submit questions about Billboard charts, 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. Or, tweet @gthot20

CHART BEAT'S 'PIANO MAN' RETURNS

Hi Gary,

I hope all is well at Billboard!

It's been about two years since my last Billboard top 40 piano medley, so I wanted to reach out to you about my new video and explain the hiatus. After my first few viral videos (the ones you were so kind to help promote), I was inundated with literally thousands of requests for sheet music, tutorials and one-on-one lessons.

40 Current Pop Songs on Piano in 14 Minutes! (Part I)
40 Current Pop Songs on Piano in 14 Minutes! (Part II)
40 Current Pop Songs on Piano in 14 Minutes! (Part III)

In response, I decided to team up with a really fantastic music education website called MusicSchoolOnline.com so I could connect on a professional level with my fans. The site is run by world-class music producer/mixer and all-around great guy Ken Lewis (discography here). All of the teachers on the site have professional album credits (myself included), which makes it a great community and a great resource for aspiring pop musicians.

To satisfy my fans' desire for more piano medley videos and also direct them to the online school, I have put together a new 20-song compilation which includes some of the biggest songs of the last five years, played in my usual style. Considering the incredible response the first three articles/videos got, I think Billboard readers (many of whom are music students) would really enjoy the new medley:

So, the "Piano Man" is back! And I'm ready to share the joy of music with all the people who have been flooding my inbox for tutorials (most of whom were acquainted with my work from your site).

As always, thanks again for all of the support over the years.

Warmest regards,

Alfie Magliano
Pianist, producer
alfieproducer.com

Hi Alfie,

Welcome back – and well worth the wait! (Quite impressive working Awolnation's quirky "Sail," in there, too.)

And, congrats on paying your considerable musical talents forward. So glad that Billboard has played a small part (you did 99.9 percent of the work …) in helping foster music education.

It sounds like you'll be busy, and for such a great reason, but hopefully it won't it won't be as long until your next medley!

CARRIE UNDERWOOD'S SALES

Hi Gary,

With Carrie Underwood's fifth studio album creeping closer, I was wondering: could you provide her album and top singles sales?

Thank you,

Jeremy Mesich
Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Hi Jeremy,

Not only has the lead Storyteller radio single, "Smoke Break," already become a top five hit on Hot Country Songs, newly-unveiled track "Heartbeat" (which sounds like another potential radio hit from the set) reached No. 2 Friday (Oct. 9) on the Billboard + Twitter Trending 140.

As we wait for the set to arrive in full Oct. 23, here's a look at Underwood's career sales, according to Nielsen Music (of all her albums and 14 songs that have sold at least 1 million each):

Albums

Some Hearts, 7.4 million (2005); Carnival Ride, 3.4 million (2007); Play On, 2.3 million (2009); Blown Away, 1.7 million (2012); Greatest Hits: Decade #1, 397,000 (2014). (All of these titles debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart.)

Top-Selling Songs

"Before He Cheats," 4.2 million; "Blown Away," 2.8 million; "Jesus, Take the Wheel," 2.4 million; "Cowboy Casanova," 2.3 million; "Good Girl," 2 million; "All-American Girl," 1.8 million; "Undo It," 1.6 million.

"Last Name," 1.3 million; "Just a Dream," 1.28 million; "Two Black Cadillacs," 1.11 million; "Temporary Home," 1.093 million; "I Told You So," 1.089 million; "So Small," 1.088 million; "Something in the Water," 1 million.

And, in a favorite comparison for Chart Beat readers, Underwood remains the best-selling American Idol contestant, with 15.3 million in U.S. career album sales. Storyteller will help pad her lead over Kelly Clarkson, who ranks second at 13.9 million.

WEEKND READING

Hey Gary,

With The Weeknd's "The Hills" going No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, for the first of three weeks (so far?) on the Oct. 3 chart, I was wondering how rare it is for singles to top the list in a different order than released by the artist. "The Hills" was released from Beauty Behind the Madness in May, while "Can't Feel My Face" was released in June and topped the Hot 100 for the first of three weeks in August. (The set arrived atop the Sept. 19 Billboard 200.)

I remember Rihanna did the same in 2010 when "What's My Name?," featuring Drake (her second single from Loud), reached No. 1 on the Hot 100 before her first single from the album, "Only Girl (In the World)," which hit the summit two weeks later.

Thanks,

Korey Kuhl
@koreykuhl

Hi Korey,

Very observant regarding the success of Beauty Behind the Madness, although the feat is with a bit of an asterisk.

In Rihanna's case, "Girl" was clearly the first single from Loud, debuting on the Hot 100 and the Pop Songs radio chart on Sept. 25, 2010. "Name" didn't debut on the surveys until Nov. 6 and 13, respectively. Despite the head start of more than a month for "Girl," "Name" led the Hot 100 first, on Nov. 20. "Girl" followed on Dec. 4.

For The Weeknd, "Hills" debuted on the June 13 Hot 100 at No. 20, while "Face" started two weeks later (June 27), at No. 24. The latter, however, was positioned as the first radio single from Beauty Behind the Madness, entering Pop Songs concurrent with its Hot 100 launch. "Hills" was released as the radio follow-up, debuting on Pop Songs two months later (Aug. 29). "The spooky-sounding ['Hills'] starts powered nearly entirely by sales and streams," Billboard wrote about the June 13 debut. Two weeks later, radio was quickly on-board for "Face": "His new pop-leaning single, co-written by Max Martin, debuts with 38 million in all-format radio audience, 4.2 million U.S. streams and 93,000 downloads sold."

Still, "Hills" has remained in the Hot 100's top 25 for all 19 of its chart weeks (and "Face has done the same for its 17-week chart run). So, technically, "Hills" is the older song, in terms of Hot 100 chart weeks, but began its three-week (and counting) reign on Oct. 3, after "Face" tallied three weeks on top beginning Aug. 22.

(Oh, another thought on "Hills," speaking of spooky … and as Halloween approaches: the song's success serves as a tribute to Wes Craven, who passed away Aug. 30. With the track's "the hills have eyes" lyrics in the bridge, it borrows the title of the beloved director's 1977 cult horror classic, remade in 2006, The Hills Have Eyes.)

NOT HALF BAD

Greetings Gary,

I've noticed that "El Perdon (Forgiveness)" by Nicky Jam and Enrique Iglesias has spent quite a bit of time on the Hot 100, but without ever reaching the top 50. As of this writing, it has charted for 28 weeks, climbing to No. 56 so far. Is that the longest a song has charted without venturing into the Hot 100's upper half?

As always, keep up the great work.

Chester Raleigh

Thanks Chester,

Jam and Iglesias' track has logged its steady Hot 100 run fueled by its 30-week reign on Hot Latin Songs (finally halted on the Oct. 17 chart), as well as its burgeoning foray into crossover success, as it rises 35-33 on the Oct. 17 Pop Songs ranking.

In fact, with one more week on the Hot 100 below No. 50, it will tie a record:

Most Weeks for Songs That Peaked Below No. 50 on Hot 100
Weeks, Peak, Title, Artist, Peak Year
29, No. 53, "HeadBand," B.o.B feat. 2 Chainz, 2014
28, No. 56, "El Perdon (Forgiveness)," Nicky Jam & Enrique Iglesias, 2015
27, No. 76, "The Rockafeller Skank," Fatboy Slim, 2000
23, No. 81, "Cold," Crossfade, 2004
22, No. 51, "Like a Wrecking Ball," Eric Church, 2015
22, No. 53, "Drinking Class," Lee Brice, 2015
22, No. 59, "Someday," Rob Thomas, 2010
22, No. 84, "Take a Walk," Passion Pit, 2013
21, No. 53, "Geronimo," Sheppard, 2015
21, No. 53, "Homeboy," Eric Church, 2011
21, No. 54, "Ready Set Roll," Chase Rice, 2014
21, No. 55, "Not Meant to Be," Theory of a Deadman, 2009
21, No. 62, "The Ballad of Thunder Road," Robert Mitchum, 1958
21, No. 72, "Jellyhead," CRUSH, 1996

Notably, much of the list above contains country and rock songs that largely lived at their home formats, never quite gaining enough reach elsewhere to chart higher on the Hot 100.

Nicky Jam Interview: 'El Perdon,' Surviving a Downfall & Enrique Iglesias' Advice

Meanwhile, the 30-week command of "Perdon" on Hot Latin Songs is the second-longest in the chart's history (which dates to Oct. 4, 1986), trailing only Iglesias' 41-week leader "Bailando," featuring Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona.

"I try not to think about this kind of success, because it’s too much pressure," Jam says humbly. "I can't write thinking about besting other songs.

"I have to write pretty songs. That’s what gets them on the charts."