Ask Billboard: Kanye West, 50 Cent and Kenny Chesney, UK artists, Rock Charts

Keith answers questions Kanye West, 50 Cent and Kenny Chesney, UK artists, rock charts and more!

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Keith Caulfield at Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


Dear Keith,

One year ago on September 11, 2007 three highly anticipated and majorly hyped albums hit the record shelves:

Kanye West's "Graduation"
50 Cent's "Curtis"
Kenny Chesney's "Just Who I Am: Poets and Pirates"

These three albums releases even had the mild mannered country artist, Kenny Chesney speaking out about his sales.

My question is now that all has been said and done with all the hype of all of the artists claiming supremacy, which album has sold the most units, which artist has the highest charting hits based on volume of singles and which album overall was the most successful.

Thank you,
Tim Sizemore
Conyers, Ga.

Hello Tim,

That was a mighty showdown, wasn't it? As most know, Kanye West's "Graduation" triumphed in its debut week, selling 957,000 in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan and bowing at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

50 Cent's "Curtis" came in second, with 691,000 while Kenny Chesney's "Just Who I Am" was third with 387,000.

Now that a year has passed, here is what each of those albums have sold, through the week ending Sept. 7:

Kanye West's "Graduation" (2,166,000)
50 Cent's "Curtis" (1,336,000)
Kenny Chesney's "Just Who I Am: Poets and Pirates" (1,424,000)

So despite how 50 Cent's album started stronger than Chesney's set, the latter's wins the long distance race.

"Graduation" has so far spawned four Billboard Hot 100 hit singles: "Stronger" (No. 1), "Good Life" (No. 7), "Flashing Lights" (No. 29) and "Homecoming" (No. 69).

"Curtis" contains three Billboard Hot 100 hits: "Ayo Technology" (No. 5), "I Get Money" (No. 20) and "Still Will" (No. 95).

As for Chesney's singles, if we only look at his performance on the Billboard Hot 100, his performance may look a little unimpressive. That's because country artists receive limited exposure on radio outside of country stations, whereas West and 50 Cent garner airplay on many different kinds of radio stations. (The Hot 100 chart is computed using radio airplay data from all commercial formats of radio.)

That said, here is how the four singles from "Just Who I Am" did on the Hot 100: "Never Wanted Nothing More" (No. 22), "Don't Blink" (No. 29), "Shiftwork" (No. 47) and "Better as a Memory" (No. 46). (On our Hot Country Songs chart, which only uses country radio stations to power its list, all but "Shiftwork" reached No. 1.)


Hi Keith,

It is great to see a lot of Non-American singers on the Billboard Hot 100 chart these days, especially from England. I noticed in the last two years a lot of artists from the other side of the Atlantic are enjoying more success in the US than ever.

I would dare to say that we are experiencing the third British wave after the ones in the '60s and the '80s. Women are doing much better, in particular Duffy, Estelle, M.I.A., Leona Lewis and Natasha Bedingfield, just to mention a few.

Could you please tell me how many copies each of these ladies have sold in the U.S. with their most recent albums?

Jaime Puentes
Toronto, Ontario

Hi Jaime,

It is great indeed to see the Billboard Hot 100 flush with a wide array of talent from all over the globe, including all of this great British talent. (Now, if only we could get Girls Aloud to come to the U.S. and give America a go.)

That said, here are the to-date U.S. sales, through Sept. 7, of the most recent albums released by the artists listed above, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Duffy, "Rockferry" (462,000)
Estelle, "Shine" (110,000)
M.I.A., "Kala" (302,000)
Leona Lewis, "Spirit" (1,064,000)
Natasha Bedingfield, "Pocketful of Sunshine" (411,000)


Hi, Keith,

I have a question inspired by the Rock Album chart question last week.

Why does the Pop 100 singles chart include hip-hop and R&B (songs)? What defines a song as pop for pop radio? For instance, I love Girls Aloud and Madonna and true pop music, but they don't get much play on the radio compared to hip-hop and R&B songs on what passes for a pop station in my city. So what makes a song qualify for "pop" status?

Benjamin Daniel Rösch
Brooklyn Park, Minn.

Hello Benjamin,

I posed this question to my co-worker Gary Trust, who is the Chart Manager of the Pop 100. Here is his response:

"Billboard's Pop 100 combines mainstream top 40 airplay from 130 U.S. Nielsen BDS-monitored stations (Pop 100 Airplay) and sales (Hot Digital Songs, Hot Singles Sales) as compiled by Nielsen SoundScan.

We noticed that as digital sales have exploded in the last few years, songs of any genre could impact the Pop 100 by sales alone, even if they were receiving minimal mainstream top 40 airplay or none at all. As the chart's original intention was to showcase songs performing at top 40 and their sales, in June we refined our rules so that songs can only be eligible for the Pop 100 once they have reached a base level of top 40 airplay (100,000 audience impressions at the format in at least one week). Songs from other genres still chart - by R&B's Robin Thicke, country's Taylor Swift and rock's Seether, for example - but only once they've crossed over to top 40 and meet our new airplay requirements.

The only way a song can now reach the Pop 100 without enough top 40 airplay is by ranking in the top 10 for at least one week on Hot Digital Songs, as a song that can sell that well points to its overall pop culture appeal, in line with the Pop 100's focus."