Ask Billboard

Keith answers readers' questions on Nicole Scherzinger, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and more!

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Keith Caulfield at


Hello Keith!

I have been a loyal fan of Billboard since 1987, when I was 14 years old. The first time I saw a Billboard printed chart was in a Spec's Music store in Miami and I looked keenly to see why "Skin Trade" by Duran Duran was not on Casey Kasem's "American Top 40" countdown after only one week. LOL! (Footnote: That single had peaked at No. 39 the week prior and fell out of the top 40 portion of the Hot 100 the following week when I saw the chart.)

As 2007 drew to a close two days ago, I realized for the first time (reflecting on the noted incident above, as I read the Year End Charts issue) that '07 had marked my 20th anniversary as a fan of Billboard. Marking this momentous occasion for me (an amateur 1980s musicologist), I have a loaded question that would really make my new year with your answer.

Which 1980's new wave artists have scored the best total Nielsen SoundScan sales (and chart positions in the U.S.) with new studio releases in the 2000's?

Duran Duran: "Pop Trash," "Astronaunt" and "Red Carpet Massacre"
Depeche Mode: "Exciter" and "Playing the Angel"
The Cure: "Bloodflowers" and "The Cure"
Tears For Fears: "Everybody Loves a Happy Ending"
Blondie: "No Exit" and "The Curse of Blondie"
INXS: "Switch"

Thank you in advance, Keith. I would be truly surprised (and thrilled!) to see your answer.

Douglas Armstrong

Hello Douglas,

I'm a loyal fan of Billboard, too! And not just because I work here either. I was a fan of Billboard's charts back in high school and always wanted to work in the charts department someday. Fortunately for me, I found a job here!

That said, let's look at the 80's new wave acts you mention and see how well their recent output has fared.

Duran Duran's "Astronaut" is the best seller of the three you asked about. It has moved 260,000 according to Nielsen SoundScan since it was released in 2004. Last year's "Red Carpet Massacre" has shifted a disappointing 71,000 while 2000's "Pop Trash" has gone through a slim 44,000 copies. (I actually quite liked "Massacre," probably more than "Astronaut." However, it seems that the former album has been all but ignored by the masses.)

Depeche Mode's "Exciter," released in 2001, has done 430,000 while 2005's "Playing the Angel" has zipped through 419,000. As for the Cure, 2000's "Bloodflowers" has sold 300,000 while the band's 2004 self-titled set has sold 326,000.

"Everybody Loves a Happy Ending," Tears for Fears' 2004 album, has sold 99,000. Blondie's "No Exit" has sold 417,000 since it bowed in 1999 while "The Curse of Blondie" has sold a paltry 36,000.

Here's the quick run down of each album's peak on The Billboard 200 chart as well.

Duran Duran:
"Red Carpet Massacre" (No. 36)
"Astronaut" (No. 17)
"Pop Trash" (No. 135)

Depeche Mode:
"Playing the Angel" (No. 7)
"Exciter" (No. 8)

Tears for Fears:
"Everybody Loves a Happy Ending" (No. 46)

The Cure:
"The Cure" (No. 7)
"Bloodflowers" (No. 16)

"The Curse of Blondie" (No. 160)
"No Exit" (No. 18)

(Jan. 8 update: When this column was originally posted on Jan. 4, we neglected to included the stats for INXS' "Switch." The 2005 album has sold 391,000 and peaked at No. 17 on The Billboard 200.)


Hi Keith,

I'm a huge fan of Nicole Scherzinger (of the Pussycat Dolls) and I have been wondering for ages now when her debut album is going to hit shelves. It's release has been pushed back numerous times. I've heard that it is going to be released in January but is it true?



Hi Michelle,

In our Jan. 5 issue of Billboard, we had an in-depth story about 2008's upcoming album releases. For Scherzinger, this is what we wrote:

"She's dominated the charts and airwaves with the Pussycat Dolls, but vocalist Nicole Scherzinger is finding solo success a bit harder to come by. Her debut album was bumped last fall from Oct. 16 to Nov. 20 and then to February, after initial singles 'Whatever U Like' featuring T.I. and 'Baby Love' failed to dent The Billboard Hot 100.

Collaborations have been put to tape with Sting, Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, Akon and Kanye West, but word is Scherzinger may cut some new tracks as well."


Hi Keith,

Years ago Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers recorded a Christmas album called "Once Upon A Christmas." I know this was way before the SoundScan era (started in 1991) but I was wondering if you knew how many copies the album had sold? Both artists were very popular at that time and I still hear cuts from that album each holiday season. I would appreciate it.


Robert Becker
Knoxville, Tenn.

Hello Robert,

"Once Upon a Christmas," first released in 1984, has sold 487,000 in the U.S. since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking data in 1991.