Ask Billboard

Keith answers readers' questions on Kelly Clarkson, Grace Jones, Depeche Mode's "Martyr" and more!


Hi Keith,

I know Kelly Clarkson's new single, "Never Again," was released to radio this past Friday (April 13). I heard it was doing really well. I know that Billboard counts sales and radio play from Wednesday through Tuesday (when compiling The Billboard Hot 100). So, did Clarkson's song just not get enough airplay to debut on the charts or is Billboard waiting another week so it can have a full week out?

Also, I heard that Clarkson's record company (RCA) wasn't happy with her decision to go more rock and that she didn't want to work with one of the writers from "Since U Been Gone." Supposedly, [they] told her if her new single didn't debut well they were going to make her go back to the studio to work with one of the writers from "Since" and record more songs. This would lead to the album being pushed further back. Have you heard about this or is this just a rumor floating about?

Also any word on when her CD will be released?

Adrian Zambrano

Hello Adrian,

It's looking like when our sister publication Radio & Records releases its radio airplay charts on Monday, April 23, "Never Again" has a chance at debuting in the top 20 on both the CHR/Top 40 and Hot AC charts. If "Never" opens in the top 20 on the CHR/Top 40 chart, it would be only the seventh title to do so in the nearly 14 year history of the chart. (More realistically, "Never Again" will likely bow in the top 25 of the CHR/Top 40 chart.)

Over on the Hot AC chart, since it was established in 1995, only three singles have debuted in the top 20. The most recent was Rob Thomas' "Lonely No More" in 2005.

Clearly, the single is doing quite well. But, since it was released at the end of the week, it didn't have enough time to debut on any of our charts. The airplay charts I mentioned above track airplay on a Monday-Sunday schedule, so "Never Again" only had three days of real airplay for those charts. For The Billboard Hot 100, which includes airplay tracked from Wednesday-Tuesday, though the song had more time to build, it just missed charting on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart. Look for it to make a splash next week (April 26) when the new Billboard Hot 100 is released.

And, for what it's worth, Billboard does not "wait" for a song to have a full week's worth of airplay before we put something on a chart. If a song has enough airplay, it'll chart, regardless of how long it has been on the airwaves.

I'm unsure as to RCA's feelings on Clarkson's rock turn. It's not like she hadn't done rock music before - "Breakaway" was full of rock-edged songs. Though, "Never Again" does smack of classic rocker Pat Benatar (that was my first impression when I heard it). In a recent interview with MTV News, Clarkson said "I had somebody at my label say they didn't like it because it was too Pat Benatar. I was like, 'Now I really like it! I love her, and what's wrong with you?'" So, it would seem that according to this particular interview, at least someone at RCA was hesitant about the sound of "Never Again."

Because the song is so hard rocking, it will be interesting to see how well it fairs on Top 40 radio. While a woman like Pink can find shocking success with the rock hued "U + Ur Hand," that song still has a dance/hip-hop vibe to it. "Never Again" is all rock, all the time.

There is still no official release date for Clarkson's new "My December" album.


Hi Keith,

I am a huge Grace Jones fan. She has a strong following internationally, (but is) not that visible in the U.S. There has been confirmation that she has recorded a comeback album and I heard it was titled "Corporate Cannibal," with two tracks confirmed as "Devil In My Life" and "The Key To Funky."

Do you have any insight about release date? It's going on 20 years since "Bulletproof Heart," her last original album (1989).

Thank you,
Steven R. Thornton
Phoenix, Arizona

Hi Steven,

Her booking agency in the U.S. has confirmed that Grace Jones has a new album planned for release in 2007. I think the closest we have to any real details on the set are dodgy tidbits on MySpace sites and nuggets on Wikipedia.

Producers and contributors are sketchy at the moment. On musician/producer Ivor Guest's MySpace, he says that he has completed work on Jones's upcoming album with "Sly and Robbie, Brian Eno, Wally Badarou, Tricky, Uzziah 'Sticky' Thompson, Mikey 'Mao' Chung, Barry Reynolds, Martin Slattery, Philip Shepherd, Don-E and Tony Allen."

We'll just have to wait and see when and if Jones' album materializes.



One track from last year that escaped my radar until quite recently was "Martyr" by Depeche Mode. It's an excellent song taken from their latest, "The Best Of Depeche Mode: Volume 1." Could you tell me if it reached any Billboard chart or how many copies the "Best Of" compilation sold?

John Boylan
Hertfordshire, England

Hi John,

The only Billboard chart that "Martyr" reached was the Hot Dance Club Play tally, where it peaked at No. 22. The track was the lone previously unreleased song on last year's "The Best Of Depeche Mode: Volume 1."

The album, Depeche Mode's fourth hits compilation in the U.S., hasn't sold incredibly well. Since it was released on Nov. 14, 2006, it has sold 74,000 in America according to Nielsen SoundScan.