Chart Beat Chat

Fred and his readers discuss Static Major, "Lollipop," "4 Minutes" and more.



I am surprised that you did not mention Static Major in Chart Beat this week, since he is credited as a featured artist on Lil Wayne's "Lollipop."

Steve "Static Major" Garrett died in February and by rising to No.
1 this week he becomes the seventh artist to earn a posthumous Hot 100 chart-topper, following Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, Jim Croce, John Lennon, the Notorious B.I.G. and Soulja Slim.

A bittersweet achievement indeed, but worth mentioning nonetheless.


Eric Hiller
Boston, Mass.

Dear Eric,

As I write this, it is two months to the day (Feb. 25) that Stephen Garrett, a.k.a. Static Major, died at age 33 in a hospital in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

While this posthumous No. 1 is Garrett's first time in pole position as an artist, he has a previous visit to the penthouse on his resume.

Garrett wrote Aaliyah's "Try Again" with Timbaland. That song from the "Romeo Must Die" soundtrack was No. 1 in June 2000.

Garrett does have prior artist credits on the Hot 100, but not under his own name. He was a member of the trio Playa. Their "Cheers 2 U" peaked at No. 38 on June 6, 1998.


Dear Fred,

As always, I have been a fan of your column and with time I have enjoyed watching the changes as the charts are adjusted to [keep up with] the ever- changing music industry.

That said, how in the world is "Lollipop" by Lil Wayne No. 1 when it is not No. 1 in airplay or sales? Madonna (yes I'm a little biased here) has had the best-selling digital track for a number of weeks and I know airplay is picking up, but can you explain what combination of numbers helped "Lollipop" become No. 1?


Jorge Escobar
New York, N.Y.

Dear Jorge,

Glad you enjoy Chart Beat and thanks for your question.
The answer lies not in any changes in chart policy or the technology used to compile the charts. The answer is as old as the Hot 100 itself, and for anyone who is counting, that is 49 years and nine months.

The Hot 100 was conceived as a chart that combined sales and airplay information and while the formula has been changed many times, it has continued to be a chart that blends sales and airplay information. So it is not uncommon for a song that is neither No. 1 in sales or airplay to be the No. 1 song of the week once sales and airplay figures are combined. Whichever song has the largest grand total of sales and airplay figures is No. 1 on the Hot 100.

It is an objective figure, not influenced by any personal feelings for or against any artist, as some other readers have suggested in e-mails I have received over the last few weeks.

The only way "Lollipop" could be No. 1 is that when you add its sales and airplay together, the number you get is larger than any other combined sales and airplay total for the week. And that is exactly what happened this week and you can be sure that is what happens every week, no matter which song is No. 1.

WHY ISN'T '4' 1?

Hi Fred,

Lately I've been following the charts closely, expecting Madonna's new single, "4 Minutes," to reach the top of the Hot 100. Sadly (yeah, I am a huge Madonna fan), the song has already started dropping down. Too bad for my expectations.

On the other hand, the song has topped the Canadian Hot 100 chart for three weeks in a row now. Personally, I thought Madonna would be more popular in the United States. Why do you think the new single hasn't been such a hit in the United States?

I love reading Chart Beat and Chart Beat Chat every Thursday. Thank you.

Vincent Morin-Côté
Quebec City, Quebec

Dear Vincent,

Like I told Jorge above, I'm glad you enjoy my columns, and thanks for your question. I have had a lot of inquiries from readers over the last three weeks, mostly from Madonna fans, asking why "4 Minutes" hasn't achieved pole position on the Hot 100.

From my reply to Jorge, you already know the answer – when you combine the sales and airplay figures for "4 Minutes," the song doesn't have the largest grand total, even with the single being No. 1 on the Hot Digital Songs tally.

What's keeping this Madonna song out of first place is its airplay. The spins have been increasing each week, ever since the single debuted at No. 51 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart dated April 5. Since then, the single has climbed 51-41-30-27-16. But "4 Minutes" needs more airplay of it is going to climb to the summit. If airplay does increase, it will need to keep its sales figures up to move into the penthouse.

The largest sales week for "4 Minutes" to date was its first week, when it debuted at No. 2 on Hot Digital Sales. The figure dipped slightly the second week, although that reduced number was the largest sales figure for the week, allowing the single to move up to No. 1. Sales then took a bigger drop the third week when the single dipped to No. 2, and increased slightly in the fourth chart week, helping "4 Minutes" to return to No. 1.


Dear Fred,


I'm Jon from the Philippines, currently working here in the United Arab Emirates. This is my first time writing to you but I've been a fan of your column as long as I can remember.

This is only to show that you have a worldwide fanbase! Haha!
I'm a huge fan of Mariah Carey, and I enjoy your column the most if it is about Mariah Carey. I'm truly delighted that her new album opened on top of The Billboard 200.

But my question is not about Mariah.

There's been a lot of buzz about Leona Lewis topping the American charts. I'm not surprised, because I think she really has talent and her song "Bleeding Love" is addictive and quite appealing to the younger generation. What surprised me was that (according to you – thank you) she is only the second British-born female to top The Billboard 200! Why do you think British acts (male artists, female artists and groups) have a lot of difficulty being successful in the United States?

I hope you'll post my very first letter.

More power & God bless!

Jonathan Gregas
Dubai, UAE
Manila, Philippines

Dear Jonathan,

If you keep moving to new places, my worldwide fanbase will expand even more! So get packing!

We've been through two major British invasions in my lifetime – the first in 1964, when the Beatles conquered America and led the way for acts from all over the United Kingdom to take up residence on the Billboard charts. That "Golden Age" invasion was followed by the "Silver Age" invasion of the early '80s, which brought us acts like Culture Club, Eurythmics, Tears for Fears, Paul Young and many others.

But it's been tough going for British acts the last few years. A small number of artists have experienced U.S. success, including (but not limited to) Coldplay, James Blunt, Amy Winehouse and now Leona Lewis. American music has dominated not just our own domestic charts, but charts all over the world.

Maybe the tide is shifting. In the wake of Leona Lewis' success, West London-born Estelle makes her Hot 100 debut this week with her U.K. No. 1, "American Boy." Also watch out for Estelle (not to be confused with Adele) and the Welsh singer Duffy, whose "Mercy" is one of my favorite songs of 2008 so far.


Dear Fred:

I have followed the charts closely for decades, and I discovered an interesting coincidence: in George Strait's current No. 1 country hit, "I Saw God Today," he mentions a room 508. It just so happens that the song ascends to No. 1 on May 2, 2008, or the first week in 5/08.
I have enjoyed your column for years and have had my own chart of personal favorites, on and off, since 1975.

Bob E. Ruane

Dear Bob,

Last week's Chart Beat Chat ended with the 503rd e-mail of this millennium, so let me see...that would make your letter the…by gosh, the 508th e-mail I've posted this century!
Good thing you didn't lead off this week's column.


Hello Fred –

Funny (Girl) that you should mention Barbra Streisand's phenomenal record of eight chart-topping albums, more than any other female. You might know already that today (April 24) is Barbra's 66th birthday.

Happy belated Earth Day!

Evergreen in Berkeley,

Pablo Nelson
Berkeley, Calif.

P.S.: It's amazing to think that Barbra's birthday is one day before Ella Fitzgerald's birthday.

Dear Pablo,

It's more amazing to realize that Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim share the same birthday, as do Aretha Franklin and Elton John (duet partners on "Through the Storm"), Prince and Tom Jones (both charted with Prince's "Kiss"), Carole King and Barry Mann (Brill Building-styled songwriters who worked just a cubicle apart), and Lesley Gore, Lou Gramm and Larry Gatlin (those initials!).