Chart Beat Podcast: Counting Down, From No. 40 to No. 1, the Hot 100's Biggest Hits This Week in 1997

(L-R) Puff Daddy, Paula Cole & LeAnn Rimes
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(L-R) Puff Daddy, Paula Cole & LeAnn Rimes

Gary and Trevor time-travel back 20 years and chat with Paula Cole, who ranked in the top 40 this week in 1997 with her breakthrough smash "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?"

Welcome to the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast, where each week co-hosts Gary Trust and Trevor Anderson, from the Billboard charts department, discuss why what's on the charts … is on the charts, while also looking at current chart action in a historical context for even greater insights.

This week, Gary and Trevor revisit the Billboard Hot 100 this week in 1997 and count down the chart's top hits, from No. 40 to No. 1. Back in the heyday of Michael Jordan's basketball (and film) career and the early days of email, the Hot 100 this week 20 years ago blended pop and R&B boy and girl groups, dueling versions of "How Do I Live" and hits by multiple artists who thrived during the Lilith Fair singer-songwriter era.

One of those stars, Paula Cole, also stops by to discuss her hit in the Hot 100's top 40 this week in 1997, "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" "I was listening to a lot of XTC," Cole remembers of the song's origin. "They were smart, and funny, and telling stories, and I had this a-ha moment, thinking, 'There are not a lot of songs with humor written by women, for women.' I wanted to try that."

Cole also remembers being thrust into sudden fame thanks to the song, as well as follow-up '90s classic "I Don't Want to Wait." "I missed my friends and my family and I longed for meaningful conversation instead of the same questions," she muses about the whirlwind pop promotion process. "It's so repetitive. You're in this tour bubble. You think, 'I could be making shoes, or donuts.' It feels a little factory-like."

Still, Cole says fondly, "It was pretty amazing to be walking down a New York City street and hearing ['Cowboys'] from somebody's Walkman as I passed him."

Also making her Chart Beat Podcast debut is Billboard charts dept. intern Kristin Corpuz, who studied under Cole (and got a good grade) at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where Cole has been a professor since 2013. Cole, who originally studied jazz at the school, will release her new jazz album, Ballads, Aug. 11.

Enjoy the entire latest Chart Beat Podcast, which hopefully would make Casey Kasem and Ryan Seacrest proud, and check back for more upcoming episodes with artists, label executives, radio programmers and personalities, songwriters, producers and more. And, to receive every episode automatically in your inbox, subscribe to (and rate) the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast on iTunes!