Chart Beat Chat: Erin Hamilton, Katy Perry, Jill Sobule, ABBA, Madonna

Fred and his readers discuss Erin Hamilton, Katy Perry and Jill Sobule, the year-end singles charts, ABBA and more!


Hi, Fred.

I love Chart Beat and Chart Beat Chat. Your knowledge of and interest in music extends far beyond a single genre, which I find most refreshing and informative.

I was wondering if you have any information about dance vocalist Erin Hamilton. She claimed pole position on the Hot Dance Club Play charts earlier this year with a re-release of her 1999 club hit, "The Flame," and is now back in action with "Control Yourself." "The Flame" originally peaked at No. 12 on the Club Play chart.

Why the long wait between releases and is there an album in the works? I think the lady has chops and tons of potential. I place her on the same plane as Suzanne Palmer, Ultra Nate' and the supreme Kristine W. Any information you can provide would be most helpful. By the way, is she really the daughter of Carol Burnett? Thank you!


Michael H. King
Minneapolis, Minn.

Dear Michael,

Erin Hamilton is indeed the daughter of the legendary Carol Burnett and her husband, producer Joe Hamilton. Burnett and Hamilton were married in 1963 and had three children before their divorce in 1984 (Joe Hamilton died of cancer in 1991).

"Control Yourself" is Erin's seventh chart entry on Hot Dance Club Play and the second biggest hit of her career, as it is up to No. 7 this week. As you mention, her previous single, an updated version of her 1999 remake of Cheap Trick's "The Flame," was a No. 1 hit.

"The Flame 2008" and "Control Yourself" are Hamilton's first chart entries since her string of five hits from 1998-2002. To fill in the details about the gap between chart hits, you might want to check out her MySpace page, where she talks about losing her way, and now being sober for four years. If you do some further research online, you will also read about the difficult times in her life, including the death of her 38-year-old sister Carrie from lung cancer and the suicide of a close friend.

But she has come through all of that and is taking great joy in raising her children. The fact that her career on the dance chart is more successful than ever is an added plus.


Hi Fred!

I was wondering if the success of Katy Perry's smash single "I Kissed a Girl" has parlayed into increased digital sales for Jill Sobule's 1995 single of the same name, either from people accidentally downloading the latter or from people downloading it after seeing it in the search results and saying to themselves "Oh yeah, I remember that song."

Also, if you wanted to give me an (early) birthday gift (seven-and-a-half months early to be exact), I would love to know the record sales figures for the Monkees, including any "recent" best-of compilations.


Mitchell Miller
Montreal, Quebec

Dear Mitchell,

I would love to give you an early birthday present, but can I just send a gift certificate instead? Per Billboard policy, I can't discuss sales figures in my columns, just chart positions. However, you can pose this question to Keith Caulfield, who writes the Ask Billboard column. He can answer questions about sales if you write to him at:

Although I can't give out sales figures, I can tell you that between the beginning of May and the end of July, Jill Sobule's "I Kissed a Girl" had a 200% increase in sales over the corresponding period last year. There's no way to tell if this is due to people downloading the wrong song or being inspired to hear another song with the same title as the Katy Perry hit. Either way, anyone who downloads Sobule's "I Kissed a Girl" shouldn't be disappointed. It's a great song in its own right and I was a big fan of the track when it was originally released.


Hi Fred,

I have been developing a strong interest in the year-end single charts. What is a good predictor of a single making it onto the year-end recap? Number of weeks on the chart? Positions while on the chart? Both? For example, if a song is on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for 18 weeks but spent most of its chart life in the bottom 50 compared to a song being on for 18 weeks but in the top 40 for most of its chart life, does it have a lesser chance of making the year-end Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart?


V'Luck Wiles
Union City, Georgia

Dear V'Luck,

Strictly speaking, chart position and number of weeks on a chart are not determining factors for our year-end charts, although they used to be, back in the days before Nielsen SoundScan started providing exact sales figures and Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems started providing precise airplay information.

Thanks to modern technology and more accurate data, the positions on the year-end charts are determined by total sales and/or total airplay for the 52 weeks of the chart year.

In other words, charts determined solely by airplay, such as Hot Country Songs, Adult Contemporary and Modern Rock Tracks, have annual recaps based on total airplay for the 52-week chart year. Charts determined by sales only, such as Hot Digital Songs and Hot Singles Sales, have recaps based on total sales for the chart year. And the recap for The Billboard Hot 100, which is a chart compiled by combining sales and airplay data, is based on adding total sales and total airplay for the chart year.

Now since sales and airplay do determine week by week where a song is going to appear on a chart, and how long that song is going to remain on a chart, you could say that chart position and length of stay are predictors of where a song will be come year-end, but the annual recaps are not determined by adding up or averaging or assigning points to chart positions or weeks on a chart.


Dear Fred,

Enjoying your columns about ABBA during this renaissance of their music in 2008. Question: Has "Gold" finally hit the top of the U.S. catalog chart? According to, "Gold" is No. 6 on that chart, while "Mamma Mia!" is No. 7 on The Billboard 200. Just curious if "Gold" has finally hit No. 1 in the United States.

Thanks so much,

Graeme Dempsey
Vancouver, Canada

Dear Graeme,

You sent your e-mail before last week's chart positions were posted online, so even though the charts had been compiled and news had leaked out, when you looked at the charts at, you saw the previous week's positions.

That's why I'm sure you know now that "ABBA Gold" did indeed advance 6-1 on Top Pop Catalog Albums, giving the Swedish quartet its first No. 1 album on a Billboard chart. This week, "Gold" remains the No. 1 catalog album, is awarded "Greatest Gainer" status on that chart and soars 33-19 on the Top Comprehensive Albums tally, which includes all albums, whether they are new or catalog.

On Top Pop Catalog, "The Best of ABBA: 20th Century Masters The Millennium Collection" rises 13-9 and "Number Ones" ascends 24-11. The "Mamma Mia!" cast album rises to No. 4.

The "Mamma Mia!" soundtrack remains No. 3 on The Billboard 200, with a huge increase in sales over last week. And a certain Oscar-winning actress makes her Hot 100 debut with her version of an ABBA classic (see Chart Beat for details).

All of which leads me to call this the best chart week ever for ABBA and for songwriters and founding members Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, some 34 years after they made their Billboard chart debut with the single "Waterloo."


Hi Fred,

Great informative column as always! With Madonna scoring her 39th No. 1 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart, how close is she to being the artist with the most No. 1s on ANY Billboard chart? I also find it amusing her two most recent chart-toppers had numbers in their titles: "4 Minutes" and "Give It 2 Me." These are her only numerical titles to ever chart.


Jim Maino
Manahawkin, N.J.

Dear Jim,

Madonna owns the record on Hot Dance Club Play, and while there are at least two other artists ahead of her on other charts, she does have a chance to surpass one or possibly both of them and become the all-time champ when it comes to number of No. 1 songs.

On Hot Country Songs, Conway Twitty held the record for years with 40 No. 1 songs. His record was broken by George Strait, who has continued to collect No. 1s and now has 43 to his credit.

Since Strait and Madonna are both likely to continue collecting No. 1 hits on the country and dance charts respectively, Madonna will have to step up the pace to overcome Strait's lead.


Hey Fred:

Once again, I'd like to add to your collection of useless Hot 100 trivia! I noticed that with the Hot 100 debuts this week of Meryl Streep's cover of "Mamma Mia," Plies' single "Please Excuse My Hands" featuring Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Hudson's new single "Spotlight," we now have three Oscar actor winners on the Hot 100 at the same time. Has this ever happened before? I can't recall a similar trifecta on the chart over the past 30 years. Thanks for a great column!

Dave Kosloski
Vancouver, Wash.

Dear Dave,

I had one of those "Eureka!" moments when I noticed that Oscar-winners Meryl Streep and Jennifer Hudson both had songs debuting on the Hot 100 this week. To be honest, my first draft of Chart Beat only cited those two actors, but then I noticed the Jamie Foxx debut and had to rewrite my column before it was posted.

If you read Chart Beat, you'll notice I say that this is probably the only time that three Academy Award-winning actors have had new entries in the same week. To be absolutely sure, we'd have to check every chart for the last 50 years by hand. And it is precisely 50 years, since the first Hot 100 was published on Aug. 4, 1958. This week's chart is the first of the Hot 100's second 50 years.


Dear Readers,

Usually you write to me instead of me writing to you, so this is a rare exception. I need your help on a project and I can't think of anyone better to lend some support than Chart Beat readers around the world.

This request is directed to you if you live outside of the United States or the United Kingdom. I'm looking for Motown songs that were No. 1 in your country but not in America or Britain. I realize that would require you to have some knowledge of which Motown songs were No. 1 in the United States and the United Kingdom, but most of you have something called "The Billboard Book of Number One Hits" on your shelf, so that part should be easy. The Guinness book, "British Hit Singles," should also help.

Thanks for your support. You can write to me at and I look forward to hearing from you.

Fred Bronson