CHART BEAT CHAT

Fred Bronson discusses INXS, chart rules, feats and more with readers.

GOOD FORTUNE

Fred,

If you’ve been following the "Rock Star: INXS" TV series, you know that Canadian J.D. Fortune has been selected as the new lead singer of INXS. I think it’s an inspired choice. His slightly bad boy image (complete with tattoos), independent streak, emotional delivery, awesome stage presence and even his haircut all remind me of another singer we both think highly of. I suspect America now has its own version of Robbie Williams.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that the producer for the INXS comeback album will be Robbie’s longtime collaborator, Guy Chambers. I’m really looking forward to the results.

But on to my questions. The Rockstar MSN website has been offering paid downloads of many of the live performances of the show, including at least two different versions of Fortune’s original tune "Pretty Vegas." Are these downloads eligible for The Billboard Hot 100? And if so, are the sales of the different versions of the same song merged for chart purposes?

Patrick Kelly
Brampton, Ontario

Dear Patrick,

J.D. Fortune certainly seems like an excellent choice to be the new lead singer of INXS. "Pretty Vegas" is the official first single and will be available exclusively through iTunes for a two-week period beginning Oct. 4. That won't prevent it from being eligible to chart, as explained previously in this column. Since the song is also available for airplay, the exclusivity rule that applies to sales-based charts is not in effect.

Downloads of the live performances at the MSN site also count, and the same rules allowing the merging all versions prevail here.



DANCING WITH THE HITS

Fred,

I’m a big fan of dance/club music and look forward to that Billboard chart each week. I also love reading your "Chart Beat" column.

My question is about the Hot Dance Club Play chart. I'm curious if only certain mixes of a song count for the chart? I know most songs have more than one remixer when released. Is a particular mix picked for this chart or is the chart based on airplay, or a combination?

Thanks,

Robbie Lander
Madison, Wis.

Dear Robbie,

I'm glad you enjoy "Chart Beat" -- thanks for letting me know.

The Hot Dance Club Play chart is unique among the many charts published by Billboard. All of our other charts are sales-based, airplay-based or sales and airplay-based. Since it's not possible to monitor play of dance songs inside clubs all over the country, this chart is compiled by reports from club DJs.

You'll notice that some of the titles on this chart are followed by the word "remixes," indicating that more than one remix is being played. This would be consistent with rules for other charts, where different mixes of a song are merged.



CREEK ALLY

Fred,

Why did Nickel Creek's latest album fail to make it to Billboard's Top Country Albums chart? It has been the top-selling bluegrass album for five weeks now. Other albums from the list appear on the country albums chart (albums by Alison Kraus and Old Crow Medicine Show). I find this to be rather odd, considering Nickel Creek's previous albums were allowed to chart on the bigger chart, and Nickel Creek has had some success on Hot Country Songs as well. What gives?

Shawn Fern
Columbus, Ohio

Dear Shawn,

You raise a good question, one that's been poised by a few readers. To find the answer, I turned to Wade Jessen, who manages both the country and bluegrass charts. Here's what Wade had to say:

"All titles that are eligible for Top Bluegrass Albums are also considered for placement on Top Country Albums. Those decisions are based primarily on style and content, with the additional key consideration of marketing effort.

Nickel Creek's first two albums were decidedly more stylistically appropriate for Top Country Albums, and executives at Sugar Hill and myself mutually agreed that the group's new album simply wasn't appropriate for Top Country Albums. Although the lead track has received substantial play at country video channels, the label is not working (and has no plans to work) any singles from the new project to country radio. And none have developed an organic profile at the format as of this date. Thus, it isn't at all unusual for more progressive leaning bluegrass/acoustic albums not to be included on Top Country Albums. There have been instances also where such progressive acoustic albums have found their way onto our jazz charts, too.

The stylistic departure coupled with the label's alternative marketing plan for the new album informed our decision not to allow it to chart on Top Country Albums.

There are plenty of previous examples of albums that have charted on the bluegrass list, but not on the country chart for these same considerations (Jerry Douglas, Natalie McMaster, etc.).

However, if market forces subsequently drive any such bluegrass album title into the country music consumer sphere, we're always willing to take a second look."



THE STARS WERE ALIGNED

Fred,

On the Hot 100 dated Sept. 10, there were seven artists who had two or more titles in the top 40. Four of those artists occupied back-to-back positions:

Mariah Carey: No. 1 and No. 2
Gwen Stefani: No. 21 and No. 22
The Black Eyed Peas: No. 25 and No. 26 (and No. 14)
Pretty Ricky: No. 36 and No. 37

Bow Wow came close by being No. 5 and No. 7, Green Day was No. 15 and No. 28 and Kelly Clarkson was No. 9 and No. 33. Maybe this might be interesting enough for your column.

Have a nice day.

Volker Doerken,
Wuppertal, Germany
voldoe@t-online.de

Dear Volker,

You are one of several readers who pointed out this multiple alignment. It was unusual enough to merit running your e-mail this week -- thanks for writing in.



HOW SLOW CAN IT GO?

[In a previous "Chart Beat Chat"] Michael Ming claimed 1996 held the previous record for the year with the slowest turnover at No. 1 on the Hot 100. However, by this time in 2002, only five hits had ascended to No. 1. Further, during all of 2002, only seven hits had ascended to No. 1.

Now contrast 2002 with 1996, when by this time six hits had ascended to No. 1. During all of 1996, eight hits ascended to No. 1. Each of these statistics shows that 2002 at least ties, if not beats, 1996 in every way for slowest turnover at No. 1 so far.

David Dana-Bashian
Garden Grove, Calif.

Dear David,

You were one of several readers who wrote in about 2002 having fewer No. 1 hits than 1996. I should have noticed that Michael Ming's count of No. 1 hits included songs that reached No. 1 in the previous year. I usually qualify the count of No. 1 hits in a calendar year the way you did in your letter, by only counting songs that advanced to No. 1 in a particular year.