Latin Grammys 2018

Chart Beat Chat

Fred and his readers discuss Garth Brooks, Carrie Underwood, misspelled werds and more!


Dear Fred,

While there is a great deal of talk about Garth Brooks' debut at No. 1 on Hot Country Songs, I noticed that songs 2-6 on the Hot Country Chart are all ranked in front of Brooks' new song on the Hot 100 Airplay chart; he is No. 36, while songs 2-6 are ranked between Nos. 27-35. I am trying to figure out why songs that are ranked up to nine places ahead of Brooks on the Hot 100 Airplay Chart would rank behind Brooks on the chart that is providing all of its airplay, since both charts are complied by impressions. I could understand Rascal Flatts and possibly the Reba McEntire/Kelly Clarkson duet receiving a little help from Adult Contemporary airplay, but not the songs by Rodney Atkins, Brooks & Dunn and Toby Keith. How did this happen?

Brian C. Cole
Gulf Shores, Alabama

Dear Brian,

Thanks for raising a question I'm sure has been on the mind of many Chart Beat readers.

The apparent discrepancy happened because the Hot Country Songs and Hot 100 Airplay charts are not based on the same seven days of airplay, and the panels of radio stations are not exactly the same.

In other words, like many of our genre charts, Hot Country Songs is not simply a distillation of the Hot 100, so you're not going to see the songs fall in the exact same order on both charts.

The Hot Country Songs chart, which is compiled solely from airplay, is based on airplay data collected from Monday to Sunday. The airplay data used to compile the Hot 100 is collected from Wednesday to Tuesday, and includes some country stations that do not report to the panel used for Hot Country Songs.


To: Fred Bronson

I figured with Garth Brooks' "More Than a Memory" debuting at No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs list that it would be there for at least a month, but this week it surprises me to see it falling 1-8 in its second week on the chart, the biggest fall from No. 1 since May 1996, when Shania Twain's "You Win My Love" fell from 1-11.

I guess it just goes show you that 1) You never know what can happen on the Billboard charts; and 2) To quote the title of a late-1980s country hit by Ronnie Milsap: "Stranger Things Have Happened."

John Maverick
Burt County, Nebraska

Dear John,

Garth Brooks' "More Than a Memory" is an anomaly compared to every other song that has ever appeared on the country singles chart. Following a huge burst of airplay in its first week at radio, spins have settled down in week two. It's true that 1-8 is a big drop, but looking at the airplay status another way, how many songs are ranked as high as No. 8 in their second week on the chart?

As Hot Country Songs chart manager Wade Jessen points out, "Where the song goes from here is dependent on callout research and audience demand."


Can you help me understand the performance of Carrie Underwood's new single? While "So Small" had a record-breaking debut on Hot Country Songs, it has subsequently risen somewhat slowly. I expected a large increase this past week since the single is now available digitally and selling well.

When the charts were published, the song made a major move on the Hot 100 due to sales but was not bulleted on the country chart. Do sales play a role on the country charts at all? How are sales distinguished between various music genres and what are the chances that Carrie could have a top five hit with this amazing song?


Steve Dick
Buffalo, N.Y.

Dear Steve,

If you read my reply to the first letter in this week's column, you already know the answer. The Hot Country Songs tally is an airplay-only chart. Sales of Carrie Underwood digital single "So Small" have no impact on Hot Country Songs, which only measures radio airplay.
It's a different story on the Hot 100, where sales and airplay are combined. That's why "So Small" was able to make that 93-17 leap once sales kicked in.

Will "So Small" be a top five hit on Hot Country Songs? It has already reversed course and is going back up the chart, and given Carrie's track record I wouldn't count "Small" out.


The last two weeks have been really interesting for country music chart-watchers. Kenny Chesney tied the all-time record for highest debut on Hot Country Songs when his "Don't Blink" debuted at No. 16. One week later, Garth Brooks blew that record into oblivion by debuting at No. 1 with his new hit, "More Than a Memory."

After Garth's monumental achievement, I thought about how many No. 1 debuts there have been on the Hot 100. Due to the way the Hot 100 is compiled (based on sales and airplay), I know it is easier to debut at No. 1 on that chart as opposed to the country songs chart (which is based only on airplay). Can you tell me how many songs have debuted at No. 1 on the Hot 100 and what they were?

Thanks, Fred. I absolutely love your column. By the way, when is your new book coming out?

Ryan Daniel
Nashville, Tenn.

Dear Ryan,

Thanks for asking about my new book. I just received my first advance copy three days ago, and copies are now on their way from the printer to the warehouse, and from there they will go out to retailers and online sellers. I'm happy with how it turned out, and I hope chart fans like it, too. The fourth edition of "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits" is about 100 pages bigger than the third edition, so there is a lot of new material as well as a lot of revised pages. Let me know what you think.

There have been 15 debuts at No. 1 on the Hot 100. Under current chart policies, it is very difficult to enter the chart in pole position, although not impossible (especially for finale songs by "American Idol" contestants).

The first song to enter the Hot 100 at No. 1 was "You Are Not Alone" by Michael Jackson, the week of Sept. 2, 1995. This single was able to debut at No. 1 because of a change in chart rules implemented that week. For the first time, singles were only allowed to debut on the chart after a full week of sales. Previously, songs could enter the Hot 100 the same week they went on sale, which meant that a song could debut with airplay points only and then sales points would kick in later.

"You Are Not Alone" had a full week of sales under its belt, and those sales were large enough that when combined with airplay, a No. 1 debut was the result.

Here is a list of songs that have opened at No. 1 on the Hot 100:

"You Are Not Alone," Michael Jackson (1995)
"Fantasy," Mariah Carey (1995)
"Exhale (Shoop Shoop)," Whitney Houston (1995)
"One Sweet Day," Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men (1995)
"I'll Be Missing You," Puff Daddy & Faith Evans featuring 112 (1997)
"Honey," Mariah Carey (1997)
"Candle in the Wind 1997" /
"Something About the Way You Look Tonight," Elton John (1997)
"My Heart Will Go On," Celine Dion (1998)
"I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," Aerosmith (1998)
"Doo Wop (That Thing)," Lauryn Hill (1998)
"I'm Your Angel," R. Kelly & Celine Dion (1998)
"This Is the Night," Clay Aiken (2003)
"I Believe," Fantasia (2004)
"Inside Your Heaven," Carrie Underwood (2005)
"Do I Make You Proud," Taylor Hicks (2006)


Dear Fred,

I am a huge fan and never miss your column.

This week, 'Until the End of Time" by Justin Timberlake spends its second week in the top 10 of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. To the best of my knowledge this song is yet to be released as a single, as "LoveStoned" is still making the rounds on the Hot 100. Also, before their official releases, both "Upgrade U" and "Get Me Bodied" by Beyonce appeared on the same chart based solely on airplay. Do you think this arbitrary airplay by radio stations ruins the chances of the songs achieving a higher position or performing better on the charts when released at a later date? "Get Me Bodied" is a case in point.


James Obi
Abuja, Nigeria

Dear James,

Glad you like Chart Beat Chat, and thanks for letting me know!

The airplay on Justin Timberlake's "Until the End of Time" is more deliberate than arbitrary - at least, it is now.

I checked with Billboard's Raphael George, who manages the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. He tells me that WGCI in Chicago started playing "Until the End of Time" from Justin's album, which inspired his label, Jive, to promote the song at urban radio. That's why it is doing so much better on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Raphael adds that a remix, with Beyonce, is coming in about two weeks. Hmm, wonder if that will help the song cross over to top 40 radio!

To answer your question about early airplay on songs that later become singles, there's no one result that is always the same. It can hurt a song's chances, but it can also help.


Hello Fred,

While "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" sits atop the Hot 100, the list of No. 1 hits containing misspelled words just got a little longer. I'm not including non-existent words (e.g. "laffy" or "bootylicious"), shortened words (e.g. "snappin'" or "wanna") or foreign words (e.g. "bailamos" or "loca").

See if your spell-checker can catch some of these: Soulja, U, Shawty, Grillz, Jamz, Da, Herre, Tha, Gangsta's, Muzik, Ya, Gypsys, Falettinme, Mice Elf, Agin, Muss, Denn and Teenie. I know that mice, elf and muss are words, but they're actually the words "myself" and "must" misspelled. By the way, "splendored" is a word and is spelled correctly, even though modern spell-checkers probably won't recognize it.

And while we are on the subject, Soulja Boy also extends the list of artists that have misspelled words in their names. This list includes Soulja (Boy), Soulja (Slim), Timbaland, Ludacris, (Snoop) Dogg, (Nate) Dogg, Krayzie, OutKast, Mystikal, Boyz, Kris, Kross, Badd, Def, Leppard, Kool, Lipps, Lites, Monkees, Beatles, Byrds and Tymes. I'm not exactly sure if Eminem and P. Diddy should be on this list or not. I'd appreciate any additions or corrections to these lists.

Thanks for your column,

Pete Pait
Alpharetta, Georgia

Deer Peet,