"Chart Beat" columnist Fred Bronson answers readers' questions on Erma Franklin, "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson, No. 1 singles in Europe and the U.S., criteria for ranking top artists of all-ti



I was saddened to learn of the death of Erma Franklin on Sept. 7 and since then I have been listening to the few original songs of hers that I have and the Aretha songs with [her sister] Erma singing background.

My question relates to a song called "Gotta Find Me a Lover (24 Hours a Day)." I was not aware of this song as a top-40 hit, However Billboard mentioned that it was in [Erma's obituary]. I have "The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits" and Erma Franklin is not listed nor is the song listed as a top-40 hit. Can you confirm if it was a top-40 hit? How many Hot 100 hits has Erma had?

Thanks. An avid fan,

Shaun Bailey

Dear Shaun,

I was also sad to read of Erma Franklin's untimely passing. There's a tinge of irony in that her death comes so close to the forthcoming release of her classic original recording of "Piece of My Heart" on the album "The Heart and Soul of Bert Berns," a collection of songs by the underappreciated songwriter, released on Universal, with liner notes by Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Doug Morris, who personally selected the album's 10 tracks.

"Piece of My Heart," which most people know from Janis Joplin's remake, was Erma Franklin's only single to chart on the Hot 100. It peaked at No. 62 in 1967.

"Gotta Find Me a Lover (24 Hours a Day)" was a top-40 hit, but on Billboard's R&B singles chart. "Piece of My Heart" was Franklin's first entry on our R&B tally; it peaked at No. 10. Her only other single to chart R&B was "Gotta Find Me a Lover," which went to No. 40 in 1969.


Hi, Fred.

With all the hype about "American Idol" and its winner, Kelly Clarkson, I was wondering if you felt she could translate that success to a pop career. I keep thinking back to Sam Harris, the artist who won the TV series "Star Search" week after week, for several months in a row, back in the 1980s. However, after one minor top-40 hit, "Sugar Don't Bite," he all but disappeared from the pop charts (although I believe he did make some waves on Broadway). Do you see a similar fate for Kelly, or will those TV watchers become record buyers and push her into a substantial pop career?


Chris Feldman
Dubuque, Iowa

Dear Chris,

Sam Harris is still making waves on Broadway. He's playing the flamboyant Carmen Ghia in the hit musical "The Producers." Harris went into the role on July 2, for a four-month run. A great way to spend the summer, perhaps only second best to being hooked on watching "American Idol" (maybe Harris taped it).

For the record, Harris has appeared on Billboard's Hot 100 with two Motown singles. "Sugar Don't Bite" peaked at No. 36 in 1984 and "I'd Do It All Again" reached No. 52 in 1986. Ironically, No. 52 is exactly where Kelly Clarkson finds herself this week, as "A Moment Like This" (RCA) moves up from No. 60. But any notion that Kelly Clarkson will share the same chart fate as Sam Harris will evaporate next week when "Moment" makes Hot 100 history by making the biggest leap of all time to No. 1. Airplay and a very small amount of sales (based on street-date violations) have brought Clarkson this far, but when a full week of sales data is included in compiling next week's chart, she will be unstoppable. She sold more singles in the first day of release than any recent single has sold in a week.

Clarkson will be on tour with other "American Idol" contestants, will be part of a multi-artist album ("American Idol: Greatest Moments") due out Oct. 1, and will have her own album released in 2003. We'll be seeing her in magazines and reading about her in newspapers and watching her on television. I don't know if she'll sustain her career over a number of years, but she'll have our full attention for some time to come.


Hey Fred!

I read that Eminem's "Without Me" was No. 1 in Europe for 15 weeks. This reign was preceded by Shakira's 13-week spell at the top. I'm guessing this will be the year with the least number of chart-toppers in that part of the world.

I also remember that last year we had a stretch of five Hot 100 No. 1s that lasted at least a month each on top. That streak was broken by "Always on Time," but now we have had a new streak of four No. 1s that lasted at least a month each on top. Turnover has not been the slowest, but it makes me wonder: What was the last song to stay at No. 1 for a single week? Is this the longest that we haven't had a song stay there for a lone week?

I hope you can satisfy my curiosity! Thanks!

Jon Bagtas
Amanpulo, Philippines

Dear Jon,

When you read about the European charts, keep in mind that every country in Europe has its own chart, and that some of them turn over quickly. The chart you're referring to is no doubt the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles tally, published by Billboard's sister magazine, Music & Media. On that chart, songs tend to remain No. 1 longer because rankings from all over Europe are added together. "Without Me" by Eminem was toppled this week by a song that has been sweeping through the Continent -- "Asereje/The Ketchup Song" (Columbia) by the Spanish femme trio Las Ketchup [see Chart Beat Bonus].

You are right about the most recent four chart-toppers on Billboard's Hot 100. Together, they've dominated the U.S. chart for the last 30 weeks. "Ain't It Funny" by Jennifer Lopez featuring Ja Rule was No. 1 for six weeks, succeeded by Ashanti's "Foolish," which reigned for 10 weeks. Then came Nelly's "Hot in Herre," which led the list for seven weeks, and was followed by the current occupant, "Dilemma" by Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland. "Dilemma" is in its seventh week in pole position.

None of the songs that have advanced to No. 1 in 2002 have been limited to one-week turns. Last year, two songs dominated for just one week each: "Ms. Jackson" by Outkast and "Angel" by Shaggy featuring Rayvon. The year before, there were five No. 1 songs with one-week reigns: "Thank God I Found You" by Mariah Carey featuring Joe & 98 Degrees, "Try Again" by Aaliyah, "Everything You Want" by Vertical Horizon, "Bent" by matchbox 20, and "With Arms Wide Open" by Creed.

The only other year in Hot 100 history without a No. 1 song that only reigned for one week was 1994.



I have all your books and read your column without fail. This, however, is my first time writing.

I find it interesting the different criteria used to determine all-time success among recording artists. Some people go by the number of Hot 100 or top-40 hits, and the most common barometers seem to be most top-10 and most No. 1 singles.

The criteria I have often used, however, is top-5, and I can never find any information about the record-holders in this area. Could you please tell me the male and female soloists, group, and duo, with the most top-5 hits, and the overall record holder? I figured it was a good time to write, what with your temporary ban on airplay and single-sales questions!


Shane M. Billings

P.S. Am looking forward to the next "Hottest Hot 100 Hits" book. Any date?

Dear Shane,

I feel like I should say, "Welcome, first-time caller... um, writer." But seriously, thanks for your kind words about my books and the column. There couldn't be a wider difference between the two in one fashion -- the books literally take years, while columns are often written, because of chart schedules and deadlines, in a matter of minutes.

I've been working on the third edition of "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits" for four-and-a-half years. That's an exact figure, with no hyperbole. There are a number of reasons this edition has taken so long -- one being that I revised the point system used to determine the top 5,000 hits of the rock era. That affected the entire book and made for much more work than a simple revision.

The good news is that the book now covers all of the Billboard pop singles charts from July 9, 1955 to June 29, 2002. And the book is on-track to be published in November. I just saw the new graphic design this week, and am very happy with the clean and contemporary look.

Now, after all the nice things you said, you'd think I'd be able to come up with a great answer for you. Unfortunately, I can't. You're right, no one (at least at Billboard) has kept track of achievements in the top-5. The main way to compile the information would be to go through all of the singles charts over the last 48 years manually, a task beyond the scope and time of "Chart Beat." Even just looking at all the top-10 achievements and then checking each one to narrow the focus down to top-5 achievements would take more time than I could spend on the project (especially since I am now writing the fifth edition of "The Billboard Book of Number One Hits," due out in November 2003).


Dear Fred,

I read with interest Don Dixon's letter about top-40 radio and tight playlists and lack of variety. He really seems to have a point.

I collect "American Top 40" shows, primarily from the 1970s, and occasionally will play them for others, such as on a car trip. And without fail, everyone comments on the sheer variety of the songs heard on a typical countdown.

On the Hot 100 in the '70s, one can safely assume that every single on that chart was on a top-40 radio station playlist somewhere. Not every hit on a given "AT40" program was on the playlist of a particular radio station carrying the show, but it's safe to say they were playing a good chunk of them.

Take, for instance, the AT40 program of Sept. 28, 1974. One hears such different artists as Cat Stevens, Stevie Wonder, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cheech and Chong, the Ohio Players, Joni Mitchell, Charlie Rich, the Beach Boys, and the very country and gospel tinged "One Day at a Time" by Marilyn Sellers.

What it shows is that top-40 radio tackled variety and apparently did it well enough. Too bad, radio today seems very comfortable in tight-format niche and seems unwilling to sample from the variety of music out there.

Christopher Elliott

Dear Christopher,

I'm glad I grew up in the era of diversity on top-40 radio. As you demonstrate, most listeners who have only heard today's narrow casting would be shocked to listen to a few hours of top-40 radio from 30 or 40 years ago.


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