Chart Beat Chat
Fred and his readers discuss Lindsey Buckingham, "American Idol," Mariah Carey and more!AN 'X'-PHILE
I was reading the letter about Olivia Newton-John and the nationalities of artists. I agree with you that it's not always clear which [artist belongs to which] country. I often tell people that I'm a fan of British music, and when asked "who," the first name I mention is Kylie Minogue. As a Kylie fan of 20 years I am well aware that she is Australian. I realize most fans would disagree but in my opinion Kylie is a British recording artist. Kylie's music contract is with Parlophone Records in the United Kingdom where she has lived for the past two decades. When people mention Kylie having 31 top 10 hits, they are usually referring to the U.K. charts.
I always find it funny when she wins Best "International" Artist at the Brit Awards. Speaking of Kylie, she was in the United States this past week promoting her new album "X," which was released on April 1. Do you think it will do well? Her stateside single, "All I See," is not getting much airplay and so far doesn't have a video. I really think her European singles choices, "In My Arms" and "Wow," would have had a bigger impact.
Kylie Minogue's Canadian Fandom
I think there is a reason Kylie Minogue wins the International Award at the Brits - she is a transplanted Australian living in Britain, but she is still an Australian.
Still, I understand your idea that she is British because she is signed to a British record company and is recording her material in the United Kingdom. That's usually a fair way to classify someone. But if we go by that rule, we would have to apply it evenly, and that could lead to some surprising results - what do we do with Cher, who was signed to the British arm of Warner Bros. Records when she recorded "Believe" in the United Kingdom?
As reported in this week's Chart Beat, which you can read by clicking www.billboard.com/fred here, Kylie's "X" album found a spot at No. 139. There are two likely reasons the album did not debut higher: there is no hit single from this CD yet (as you note, "All I See" has not had an impact yet) and Kylie's core American fans would have purchased this album as in import when it was released in November 2007.
You mentioned the European singles; I should add that "2 Hearts" was the first U.K. single and would have also been an excellent choice.
FROM JON CULVER TO JOHN CULVER
I was surprised that I did not see a comment regarding Lindsey Buckingham in Chart Beat Chat. You mentioned his four solo albums that have charted, yet, did not mention his album "Law and Order," featuring his only solo top 10 hit, "Trouble." Did it chart in the early '80s? I do not have my Record Research book in front of me to verify this information, but I think it highly likely that it did.
Salt Lake City, Utah
You were one of about a dozen readers who wrote in about the missing Lindsey Buckingham album. You are all correct, and the item will be fixed so anyone who looks for it in the archives will have the right information.
If you're wondering why your e-mail was selected to represent all of the readers who wrote in, it's because of your name. When I wrote "The Counter-Clock Incident," the final episode of the animated "Star Trek" series in 1974, I needed a nom de plum because I worked for NBC at the time and the animated "Star Trek" was an NBC series. Since I grew up in Culver City, Calif., I chose "Culver" as my last name and "John" just jumped into my head.
It was only after I chose the name "John Culver" that I discovered one of Iowa's senators at the time was named John Culver (the other was named Dick Clark). John Culver's youngest son, Chet Culver, is the current Governor of Iowa.
If anyone wants more details on why I had to use a pseudonym on my animated "Star Trek" episode, the untold story is told at last in the pop-up text commentary for "The Counter-Clock Incident" on the recently released animated series DVD box set.
Ryan Seacrest mentioned on "American Idol" that the contestants' songs sold on iTunes are not allowed to chart in Billboard. Do you know why this is so?
Jersey City, N.J.
It isn't exactly that these "American Idol" tracks are not allowed to appear on the Billboard charts, though that is the net result. More accurately, iTunes does not report the sales of the downloads by the seventh season contestants. That is their prerogative, but with no sales being reported, these songs cannot appear on the sales-based Hot Digital Songs tally, or the sales-and-airplay-based Hot 100.
There is a reason behind iTunes not reporting sales of these specific downloads. Just as "Idol" does not report the raw vote for the contestants so as to not prejudice how people will vote in subsequent weeks, the show does not want the sales figures of the weekly songs to influence how you might vote for the contestants.
I'm sure that many of the seventh season finalists will find a place on the Billboard charts but not til after the finale on May 21.
CAN WE ALL 'COME TOGETHER' AND AGREE ON 'SOMETHING'?
I've been an avid reader of your column for years and have long wanted to send in one of my own questions. Here it is.
With all the brouhaha about Mariah Carey attaining her 18th No. 1 hit, and mindful that she is approaching the Beatles' record, I think it's time we reconsider that number of 20 No. 1 U.S. hits for the Liverpool quartet.
With close counting, you will see that the Beatles actually managed 21 No. 1 hits from "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on Feb. 1, 1964, right through to "The Long and Winding Road" on June 13, 1970. For years, "Come Together" has been considered a No. 1 hit alone, with George Harrison's "Something" being designated a No. 3 hit. Yet, if anyone takes a look at the issue of Billboard dated Nov. 29, 1969, they will see that both songs ascended to the pole position simultaneously. I know that Billboard changed their policies as to how sales information was collected starting with that issue but regardless, both songs honestly and fairly hit the top and they should be both acknowledged as such.
Those two songs were never segued as a medley for the single, and it is clear from listening to "Abbey Road" that they stand as two separate tracks. Even the "1" CD from 2000 describes both songs as having been American No. 1 hits ("Something" reached No. 4 in the United Kingdom). If Elton John can claim two No. 1 songs with "Candle in the Wind 1997" and "Something About the Way You Look Tonight," then I think the Beatles should have the same courtesy afforded them - especially as the songs were originally listed in 1969 as simultaneous No. 1 hits in this very magazine. I even find it irksome that Joel Whitburn's otherwise flawless "Top Pop Singles 1955-2006" has "Something" listed as a No. 3 hit when a close look at the Nov. 29, 1969 issue clearly indicates the Harrison composition was No. 1, alongside "Come Together."
Can something be done about this?
In any case, even if Mariah manages to equal or better the Beatles' record, it'll have taken her at least 18 years to do what they did in six. And that speaks for itself.
Thanks for your time,
Thanks for being a long-time Chart Beat fan and for sending in your first question. In order to give you an answer, I need to clarify some chart history and clear up some misconceptions.
The two-sided hit single "Come Together" and "Something" is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to the Hot 100. Prior to the introduction of this chart on Aug. 4, 1958, two-sided hits charted as one title on the Best Sellers in Stores chart. For example, Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" were both listed as a solitary No. 1 single, not as two different No. 1s.
But when the Hot 100 was introduced, two-sided hits charted separately. That's why many Beatles singles, such as "We Can Work It Out" / "Day Tripper" and "Yellow Submarine" / "Eleanor Rigby," were listed as two separate titles on the Hot 100, occupying and peaking in different positions.
The policy of how two-sided hits were charted changed in the middle of the run of the Beatles' "Come Together" and "Something" (that's the change that happened, not an alteration in how sales information was collected, as you suggest). When these songs debuted on the chart, they were listed in separate positions. Then the chart rule was revised, and "Come Together" and "Something" were combined as one chart title. The week that happened, both songs moved from different positions to No. 1 as one single. That means "Come Together" and "Something" counts as one No. 1 hit, just as the two-sided No. 1 songs "It's Too Late" / "I Feel the Earth Move" by Carole King and "Maggie May" / "Reason to Believe" by Rod Stewart do. The same goes for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997" / "Something About the Way You Look Tonight," which is one No. 1 hit, not two.
The rule about two-sided hits changed again when the Hot 100 became a song chart instead of a singles chart. For historical purposes, whatever chart rule was in effect at any given time is how we credit a song and that is applied evenly and fairly to all artists.
You're right that the Beatles' racked up 20 No. 1s in a very short amount of time, and that is an amazing feat, but to put this in historical context, in the 1960s, artists were releasing new singles every few weeks, sometimes just 10-12 weeks apart. Herman's Hermits, for example, had seven charted singles in 1965. And the group was the lead artist on all seven titles, not a featured or guest starring act.
Hope this helps address the issues you raised. I lived through much of this chart history, so it's easy for me to remember what happened (and when) in terms of changing chart rules.