Chart Beat Chat

Fred and his readers discuss "American Idol," Diane Warren, changing song titles and more.


Hi Fred,

I saw that Bucky Covington, the eighth-place finalist on season five of "American Idol," debuted at No. 4 on The Billboard 200 this week. It seems like season five, by far, has had the largest number of top 10 finalists release albums that have reached the top 10 of the album chart. To me, that shows how "AI" has reached a whole new stratosphere beginning with season five. Can you give a summary, by season, of any top 10 finalist that scored a top 20 album in Billboard with their first album released after "American Idol" (and the album's peak position)?

What I find remarkable about season five is that an artist can land in eighth place or fourth place (i.e. Bucky Covington and Chris Daughtry) on "American Idol" and yet yield even higher placements on the Billboard album chart -- something that this year's contestants might want to keep in mind as they get voted off.


Gordon Pogoda
Los Angeles

Dear Gordon,

Because the ratings have grown for "American Idol," there are more potential buyers for all of the "Idol" albums. The fifth season was the highest-rated to date, which may help explain why Taylor Hicks, Katharine McPhee, Elliott Yamin, Chris Daughtry, Kellie Pickler and Bucky Covington have all had top 10 albums with their first chart entries.

Per your request, here is a list of top 20 albums by "Idol" contestants, season by season, just counting their first release after being on the show.

Season One
"Thankful," Kelly Clarkson, No. 1 (2003)
"Justin Guarini," Justin Guarini, No. 20 (2003)

Season Two
"Measure of a Man," Clay Aiken, No. 1 (2003)
"Soulful," Ruben Studdard, No. 1 (2003)
"One Love," Kimberley Locke, No. 16 (2004)
"Josh Gracin," Josh Gracin, No. 11 (2004)

Season Three
"Free Yourself," Fantasia, No. 8 (2004)

Season Four
"Some Hearts," No. 2 (2005)
"The Real Thing," Bo Bice, No. 4 (2005)

Season Five
"Small Town Girl," Kellie Pickler, No. 9 (2006)
"Taylor Hicks," Taylor Hicks, No. 2 (2006)
"Daughtry," Daughtry, No. 1 (2007)
"Katharine McPhee," Katharine McPhee, No. 2 (2007)
"Elliott Yamin," Elliott Yamin, No. 3 (2007)
"Bucky Covington," Bucky Covington No. 4 (2007)


Hey Fred,

I've been reading your column forever, but this is my first question.

I'm listening to the radio as I write, and LeAnn Rimes' "How Do I Live" is playing. If I am correct, this is a song written by Diane Warren, who has written a bazillion other hits for various artists. Can you rank the top 20 most popular Diane Warren songs?


Tom Hoffmann
Columbus, Ohio

Dear Tom,

Yes, I can!

The reason I can say yes so quickly is that I have included a section on the greatest hits of Diane Warren in my book, "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits." Excerpted from that chapter, here are her 20 biggest hits, according to chart performance on the Hot 100. To compile this chart and all of the other charts in the book, I used a point system I developed specifically for "Hottest Hot."

And now, Diane Warren's top 20:

1 "Un-Break My Heart," Toni Braxton (1996)
2 "How Do I Live," LeAnn Rimes (1997)
3 "Because You Loved Me," Celine Dion (1996)
4 "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," Aerosmith (1998)
5 "Have You Ever?," Brandy (1999)
6 "Look Away," Chicago (1988)
7 "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," Starship (1987)
8 "For You I Will," Monica (1997)
9 "Blame It on the Rain," Milli Vanilli (1989) 10 "Don't Turn Around," Ace of Base (1994)
11 "When I See You Smile," Bad English (1989)
12 "Love Will Lead You Back," Taylor Dayne (1990)
13 "I Turn to You," Christina Aguilera (2000)
14 "Saving Forever for You," Shanice (1993)
15 "Rhythm of the Night," DeBarge (1985)
16 "If I Could Turn Back Time," Cher (1989)
17 "I'll Never Get Over You (Getting Over Me)," Exposé (1993)
18 "If You Asked Me To," Celine Dion (1992)
19 "I Get Weak," Belinda Carlisle (1988) 20 "The One I Gave My Heart To," Aaliyah (1997)

It's interesting to note that Diane has written hits for so many different artists. Only one name in the top 20, Celine Dion, shows up more than once.


Hello Fred,

I just purchased Stevie Nicks' "Crystal Visions" CD and I noticed that the name of the song "If Anyone Falls" was changed to "If Anyone Falls in Love." Do you happen to know if this was intentional or a mistake? I know that it isn't the first time a song title has changed. For example, back in January 1982, Billboard updated the name of Vangelis' hit "Titles" to "Chariots of Fire," more than three months before it hit No. 1. Also, the Jacksons' hit "Heartbreak Hotel" was later changed to "This Place Hotel." I was curious if you know of any other examples where the titles of hit songs have changed?


Pete Pait
Alpharetta, Georgia

Dear Pete,

I don't know if the change of title on the Stevie Nicks album was a mistake or not, though there are usually so many eyes checking these things before they are released that it's difficult to believe it was an error.

Song titles can be changed for different reasons. Music publishers like to avoid using the exact same titles as older songs to avoid confusion about royalty payments. That could explain the "Heartbreak Hotel" switch, although I wouldn't mind writing a song called "Heartbreak Hotel" and being sent the royalties on the Elvis Presley hit.

I remember when Polydor originally issued the "Titles" single by Vangelis. I believe this happened because on the "Chariots of Fire" soundtrack album this instrumental piece was correctly called "Titles" as it was the music over which the titles were played. But since every movie has opening titles and/or closing titles and music played over them, it wouldn't make sense to release them all with the title "Titles." Someone must have realized it would be more beneficial for everyone if every time the single was played on the radio, someone would announce, "that was 'Chariots of Fire' by Vangelis" instead of "that was 'Titles' by Vangelis."

The first song that comes to mind when you ask about titles of hit songs being changed is an instrumental by the Marketts in 1964. It was originally called "Outer Limits," though it had no connection to the TV series (and wasn't the theme song). The production company behind the series insisted on a title change, so "Outer Limits" became "Out of Limits," even though I still call it "Outer Limits" to this day.


Hi Fred!

I was waiting to read your column to see if you would mention something about rock songs reaching No. 1 [on the Hot 100]. The last one to do so was Nickelback's "How You Remind Me." But since I don't know how Billboard qualifies Avril Lavigne's music, I'm wondering if "Girlfriend" is actually considered a rock song. I am more inclined to say she sings pop/rock.

Jose Carlos Santos
Mexicali, Mexico

Dear Jose,

There are rare occasions when Billboard has to make a decision about what genre a particular single or album belongs in, but for the most part there is no need to determine such a classification.

That's because our airplay charts are determined by actual airplay on radio stations of varying formats. If rock radio played Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend," you would see that single appear on the appropriate rock charts (such as Mainstream Rock Tracks or Modern Rock Tracks). As of this week, "Girlfriend" is not receiving enough rock airplay to register on any of our rock charts.

Sometimes a song will be a hit in one genre and then cross over to another genre later. That's what is happening right now with Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats." The song's country run is long over, but it is now being played at various pop formats and the video even debuted on MTV's "TRL."