Fred discusses Madonna, seasonal music and more with readers.


Hi Fred,

Madonna's "Hung Up" gets a bit of airplay during the day and is selling well on iTunes, but I noticed larger radio stations aren't playing it, especially in the evening, which is considered prime time radio.

I have been a fan of hers for a long time. I see her as an innovator, and an artist who revolutionized the music industry, and so many female artists today have adopted her model for success.

Maybe you can give me your professional opinion on Madonna's career. Has interest in her faded in the United States? At first I blamed the DJs for not playing her, especially when "Hung Up" is such a good song. Could a video spark further interest in the song and recreate an image for her, or are people just simply bored with her?

I hate the thought of that, but it would ease my mind to know. At least she'll still have her core fans.

Thank you.

Matthew Tarantino

Dear Matthew,

I don't think there is any evidence that America is bored with Madonna. She does continue to reinvent herself, which is why 22 years after making her debut on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Holiday," she returns to the chart this week at No. 20 with her new single, "Hung Up."

That's an impressive debut, her highest opening position since "Ray of Light" entered at No. 5 in 1998. The single is doing particularly well when it comes to paid digital downloads; "Hung Up" enters Billboard's Hot Digital Songs chart at No. 6.

"Hung Up" is receiving airplay as well. It's not doing quite as well on the Hot 100 Airplay list, where it debuts at No. 73, but it is the highest debut on the Pop 100 Airplay chart, where it is the highest-debuting song of the week, at No. 38.

It's a promising start, so let's keep an eye on the progress of "Hung Up" before we consider counting Madonna out.


Hey Fred,

I was wondering how Billboard charts songs that get continued airplay and sales well after original release.

With the huge success of Mariah Carey's comeback this year and the re-release of her "Merry Christmas" album, I would expect that her contemporary Christmas classic "All I Want for Christmas Is You" will receive a lot of radio airplay and heavy downloading during the holiday season. Therefore, could the song make a re-entry on the Billboard charts? Can it make it on the Hot 100?


Tom Sanchez

Dear Tom,

There are special rules for holiday songs. Only new holiday songs are eligible to appear on Billboard's singles charts, including the Hot 100. So Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" cannot show up on the Hot 100 in 2005, but neither can other classics like "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby, "The Christmas Song" by Nat King Cole and "Little Saint Nick" by the Beach Boys.


Dear Fred,

How can Tommy James' great new song "Isn't That the Guy" be No. 10 on the FMQB Adult Contemporary chart but not be listed on the Billboard AC chart? This song has a sound that would fit perfectly on today's radio. Catchy, cute lyrics, nice production and impeccable vocals.

How does Billboard come up with the charts? Is there a big board meeting, a discussion, a vote -- how does it work?

Thanks, Fred.

Michael Wilkinson
St. Petersburg, Fla.

Dear Michael,

I can't speak to why Tommy James' "Isn't That the Guy" is No. 10 on someone else's chart, but I can tell you why the song does not appear on a Billboard chart.

When it comes to compiling charts, there is no board meeting, no discussion and no vote (and you didn't mention it, but no dart board, either). Charts that are airplay-based, such as Billboard's Adult Contemporary tally, are compiled based on information supplied by Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems.

BDS electronically monitors radio stations around the country 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine exactly what songs they are playing and how many times each song is played.

The charts are objectively compiled based on this information. I checked and did not see any evidence that the Tommy James song is receiving sufficient airplay to appear on the AC chart, or any other Billboard chart as of now.