Ask Billboard

Keith and his readers discuss Garbage, women in country music, iTunes exclusives and more!


Hey Keith,

I was just looking at this week's Top Country Albums chart and was surprised about the number of female artists on this list. Do you remember a time when this has happened before?

This week we have Gretchen Wilson, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Allison Krauss, Martina McBride, Miranda Lambert and Sugarland (whom to many of us is Jennifer Nettles).

Also, in overall album sales do men still outsell females in the U.S.? I know I read somewhere that Shania Twain has the biggest selling country album of all time with "Come On Over" but is that for all artists or just females?

Thanks for looking,

Dean Jackson
Farmington, Mo.

Hello Dean,

On this week's 75-position Top Country Albums chart (dated June 9, 2007), there are 18 albums by female artists (or female fronted bands). That includes multiple entries from singers like Gretchen Wilson and Martina McBride.

Going back five years, to the June 8, 2002 chart, there were also 17 albums by female acts.

However, only three female acts were in the top 20, as compared to seven this week. If you wanted to find out if having so many women in the top 10 in a particular week is a record, I'd suggest reaching out to Fred Bronson and his Chart Beat column.

To continue, we don't break down overall album sales by gender, so I can't answer your questions about if females outsell males. However, we can look at some facts that may prove interesting to you.

Of the top selling country albums in 2007 (so far), seven of the top 20 sellers are by women (or female led acts). Carrie Underwood is tops with "Some Hearts," having sold 880,000 in 2007 so far. The other six acts are Taylor Swift, Dixie Chicks, Martina McBride, Sugarland, Alison Krauss and Kellie Pickler.

To compare, at this point in 2002, of the top 20 selling country albums, only three were by female acts: Martina McBride's "Greatest Hits," Alison Krauss + Union Station's "New Favorite" and Jo Dee Messina's "Burn."

If we rewind farther and go back to 1997, women were again a big presence in the year-to-date sellers. Seven of the top 20 selling country albums at this point in 1997 belonged to women. LeAnn Rimes had Nos. 1 and 2 with "Blue"
and "Unchained Melody ¬ The Early Years," while titles from Deana Carter, Shania Twain, Reba McEntire, Mindy McReady and Terri Clark were also represented.


Hi Keith,

I'm curious as to why Jordin Sparks' and Blake Lewis' EPs didn't debut this week on The Billboard 200? They're at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, on Top Digital Albums, and I know that EPs historically have been listed on the big chart. Is it because they're both digital-only releases? That would seem odd, since The Billboard Hot 100 has lots of those on it.


David Bicha
San Francisco

Hi David,

We allow iTunes-exclusive songs to chart on Hot Digital Songs and have their sales count towards The Billboard Hot 100. However, iTunes-exclusive albums (and EPs) do not chart on The Billboard 200. They can, however, chart on Top Digital Albums and our Comprehensive Albums chart.

The Billboard 200 bars retailer-exclusive titles from charting, but they can chart on the Comprehensive Albums chart.


Finally, here is a follow-up to a question posed nearly a year ago.

Andres Escobar asked if the band Garbage was prepping the release of a greatest hits album. At the time we were told that while a hits set was in the works, it likely wouldn't see the light of day until Christmas 2006.

Clearly, that album never materialized.

However, now we've got real news. "Absolute Garbage" will be released July 16 in the U.S. It will be available in both a single-disc and in a limited-edition two-disc package.

The single-disc boasts 18 songs, including the new single "Tell Me Where It Hurts." Among the 18 tunes are such hits as "#1 Crush," "Vow," "Queer," "I'm Only Happy When It Rains," "Stupid Girl" and "Why Do You Love Me."

The limited-edition version of the package boasts a second disc of remixes by everyone from U.N.K.L.E., Timo Maas, the Neptunes, Todd Terry, Crystal Method, Felix Da Housecat, Roger Sanchez and Massive Attack.

But wait, there's more!

A DVD titled "Absolute Garbage" is also coming out and it includes 15 of the band's music videos, including the eye-popping clips for "Push It" and "Special."

For further details, visit Garbage's official Web site.