"Chart Beat" columnist Fred Bronson discusses charts with readers. This week: Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard, Madonna, Nena, Kim Wilde.



I just wanted to send a quick thank you for the very enjoyable interviews you did with Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard. Your questions were excellent, so much better than the typical "fluff" interview I have been seeing and reading. It was interesting to read about both artist's journey through life and through "American Idol," and to get some "behind the scenes" insight. Clay will always be my favorite, with that infectious, sparkling personality that comes through on stage. In his music and even in print he is such a pleasure to listen to and read about, but your interview with Ruben managed to show a little more of his personality. Very good read!

Thank You,
Donna Donnell
Southampton, Pa.

Dear Donna,

Both Ruben and Clay were generous with their time, which allowed me to ask all of the questions I wanted. In fact, the interviews ran so long that both required two sessions. And if they weren't so busy with recording and making personal appearances, I could have asked more questions.

I'm glad you enjoyed both interviews.


Dear Mr. Bronson,

I just wanted to thank you for the Clay Aiken interview. I had stopped reading after two pages, thinking that was the end, and was so pleased with how comprehensive it was. I told everyone to go read it. Then someone alerted me to the fact that there were two more pages! It was a real pleasure to read, and much more interesting and informative than the same old Q and A they've been doing. And, by the way, much better than the "Rolling Stone" interview. Thanks!

Jo Statton

Dear Jo,

Yes, well, the "Rolling Stone" reporter decided to go in a different direction with his questions. But then, "Rolling Stone" and "Billboard" are different publications, and his questions were more suited to his magazine and mine were more suited to ours.

I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. I probably shouldn't mention that when I transcribed it, it ran 11,000 words, and we only had room for 4,700. If we ran the whole thing, you'd still be reading it.

By the way, almost every E-mail I received this week was from someone thanking me for the interviews with Ruben and Clay, another indication of the popularity of these two men.


Dear Fred:

I just returned from London and was surprised how I heard Madonna's "Hollywood" and "American Life" about every two minutes on the radio. I can't ask about "American Life"'s future performance, as it has already peaked at No. 37. However, "Hollywood" has yet to make an appearance on any Billboard chart. Why is radio turning its back on Madonna and do you think "Hollywood" has any future potential of hitting at least the top-40?

Thank you,
Eduardo Sanchez
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Dear Eduardo,

At this point, I'm not even sure that "Hollywood" will debut on the Hot 100, although remixes of the Madonna track have just gone out to radio and the video premiered on June 23. We'll have to see if that helps improve the airplay picture on this second release from the "American Life" album.

Checking the latest airplay figures as reported in Billboard's sister magazine, Airplay Monitor, "Hollywood" isn't even close to appearing on the Mainstream Top 40 chart. Another bad sign is that KIIS-FM in Los Angeles played the song 19 times last week, down from 35 the week before.

On the Adult Top 40 chart, "Hollywood" declines 35-38, with 240 spins this week, compared to 272 last week. With "American Life" considered a disappointment in chart terms, radio is not rushing to play the follow-up.


Hi Fred,

Last week the song "Anyplace, Anytime, Anywhere," a duet by Nena and Kim Wilde, peaked at No. 3 on Germany's singles chart. That gave Nena her third consecutive top-10 hit this year and her first top-3 hit since 1984 when "Irgendwie, Irgendwo, Irgandwann" (the original version of "Anyplace, Anytime, Anywhere") reached No. 3. The new hit is sung in German by Nena and in English by Kim Wilde. It's Nena's ninth top-10 hit. Her biggest hit is, of course, "99 Luftballons" which went to No. 1 in 1983 and also reached No.1 in the U.K. and No. 2 in the U.S.

This is Kim Wilde's 8th top-10 hit and her first since 1988 when "You Came" reached No. 5. Her return to the top-3 creates a gap between top-3 hits of 22 years! In 1981 "Cambodia" and "Chequered Love" both reached No. 2 and were her biggest hits so far.

There are more interesting facts about "Irgendwie, Irgendwo, Irgandwann." This is the fourth time that this song has managed a top-5 place in Germany. First was Nena's original in 1984. In 1999 a German sung rap-reggae version by Jan Delay reached No. 2. The song returned in 2001 in a trance-disco style with English lyrics by top producers DJ's@Work and reached No. 5. So this version by Nena & Kim Wilde is the fourth time that the same song has been in the top-5.

I am so glad to see those "veteran" singers back on top and wanted to share my joy with you.

Best regards,
Karl Steinmetz
Muenchen, Germany

Dear Karl,

I'm a fan of Nena and Kim Wilde, but I haven't heard this song yet. I'll have to hunt down a copy. Thanks for supplying all of the chart facts!