I wrote you a year ago asking why some of the great Eurovision songs never get released in the United States. I have been an avid follower of the Billboard charts for 45 years. And I continue to be frustrated with the lack of variety and quality of music on the Hot 100 and Pop 100 charts. Songs are played on the radio for months and months and thus remain on the charts for an exhausting numbers of months. I have to search the Canadian, European, Triple A, Adult and other charts just to find original music. I long for the days when the top songs were only on the charts for 10-15 weeks so there was a lot of turnover and variety (though I do notice that this week’s chart has more “movement” in it than any chart in a long time).
And then a highly original, wonderfully crafted song is released – Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” (already my favorite song of the year). It made it to No. 1 almost entirely on the basis of digital download sales. And after dropping 1-6 this week, it could fall off the chart just as quickly unless radio stations start playing it. have been searching the Radio and Records airplay charts and see some glimmer of hope for some increases in airplay.
What I don’t understand is why wouldn’t radio stations want to play a song which has such a surge in sales and is from the No. 1 album in the country. What am I missing? What is it about that song that makes radio station programmers so resistant to playing it?
I love your column and look forward to it every week.
St. Louis, Mo.
I agree with you about what a great single “Viva La Vida” is. It’s my favorite single of the year so far, too.
While it’s true that the Coldplay song is doing well on the Hot 100 because of download sales, airplay is building at radio. Sales are more immediate and airplay can be gradual, so while the single is falling now, I expect it to rebound as airplay continues to increase.
This week, “Viva La Vida” moves 65-55 on Hot 100 Airplay in its second week on that chart. You mentioned our sister publication, Radio & Records, and the latest issue reveals that “Viva La Vida” had 817 spins last week, an increase of 425 plays over the previous week. By comparison, Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” was played 6,741 times, an increase of 1088 spins over the week before. The Coldplay song was added at 16 radio stations last week, compared to 41 for the new Jonas Brothers single and 14 for the new Madonna single.
Having a No. 1 album should help airplay increase even more for “Viva La Vida” next week. We’ll just have to keep watching the chart.
This week, Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” single and “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends” album is No. 1 on the charts in the United States and United Kingdom concurrently. Has this ever happened before? If so, when, and just how infrequent an occurrence is this achievement?
Tamir J. Bourla
New York, N.Y.
This bi-continental alignment almost happened. But just as Coldplay’s album debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200, the band’s single, “Viva La Vida,” fell 1-6 on the Hot 100.
If Coldplay had dominated the singles and album charts in the United States and the United Kingdom at the same time, it would have been the first British act to do so since Rod Stewart monopolized the charts in 1971 with his single “Maggie May” / “Reason to Believe” and his album “Every Picture Tells a Story.”
A THOUSAND NUMBER ONES
I am a long-time fan (going on 30 years) of the Billboard charts, your columns (both in print and online) and your books. In fact, my parents bought me your “Billboard Book of Number One Hits” for my 13th birthday and I was inspired to get a copy of every song. I now have every single one of them on my iPod and I listen to them all often!
As a fan of the No. 1s, I am excited to see that we have our 1000th No. 1 this week, with Katy Perry making it to the top. Which leads me to my point: I appreciated your response to Mark Blankenship’s e-mail last week, regarding his interpretation of “I Kissed a Girl.” I also tend to find that the song is meant in good humor and fun and not meant to be taken too seriously. What truly excites me about this song is that it is the 1000th #1 song in a summer when gay marriage has been at the forefront here in California and, indeed, in much of the nation. These are historic times and it is fitting to have an historic No. 1 to go with it – and a song with a decidedly appropriate topic, to boot! Here in San Francisco this week, it is Pride Week. Considering that the long fight for equality in marriage has roots in this great city, I’m sure many chart watchers in the Bay Area will take great pleasure in seeing this fun correlation between the charts and the celebratory mood that so many of us are feeling this summer!
I applaud you willingness to address these topics in your column.
Thank you, and please thank your parents for their excellent choice of birthday gifts.
The timing of Katy Perry’s visit to the penthouse with “I Kissed a Girl” seems socially fortuitous. I’m sure the marketing department at Capitol didn’t plan for the single to peak just a few days after same-sex couples started getting legally married in California, or even have the knowledge that the label would lay claim to the 1000th No. 1 song. But the chart muse has a way of working these things out.
QUEEN OF THE (CAPITOL) HOUSE
I love your Chart Beat and Chart Beat Chat columns and look forward to them every week! I wanted to point out an omission: a Capitol hit that peaked at No. 2 back in 1981 was Juice Newton’s “Queen of Hearts!” How could you forget the Juice?!
I’m not sure how Juice Newton’s “Queen of Hearts” was omitted from the list of No. 2 hits on Capitol. I loved Juice’s version as well as the original by Dave Edmunds.
I was relying on our internal digital chart archives for this list; for years they only went back as far as 1983, but they were just recently updated to go back to the beginning of the rock era. There are still some flaws in the system, but I’m sure we’ll get them all corrected.
CARRIE (STILL) ON
Carrie Underwood’s album “Some Hearts” has been on the chart for 136 weeks and she is still in the top half of The Billboard 200 at No. 97. Has she set some kind of record for the number of weeks that her album has remained on the chart, especially in the top 100?
J. Eliakim Joseph
Dear J. Eliakim,
While a 136-week chart run is impressive these days, it’s not a record. A little further up The Billboard 200 you’ll find Nickelback’s “All the Right Reasons” at No. 84 in its 142nd week on the chart. The album debuted at No. 1 the week of Oct. 22, 2005 and has spent its entire 142-week run inside the top 100 portion of this tally.
But that isn’t the record, either. A decade ago, Shania Twain’s “Come On Over” debuted at No. 2 the week of Nov. 22, 1997, and spent its entire 151-week run inside the top 100.
That’s a record for modern times, but not for all time. Keep in mind that albums were allowed to chart longer in earlier days, so Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” was on the list for 741 weeks. Now that’s a record!
LOST IN TRANSLATION
In response to Patrick Kelly’s letter re: No. 1 titles partially or wholly in another language, I would also not count names. Otherwise, you’d need to include songs such as “Rock Me Amadeus” and “Lady Marmalade,” the latter twice. I would also think twice about the west Texas town of “El Paso.” Otherwise, I’d have to include the Portuguese “Lisbon Antigua.” But the biggest omission is the Italian “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare).”
Patrick Kelly’s e-mail was based on Hot 100 songs only, which would preclude “Lisbon Antigua” and “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)” from being on the list. He did add a final sentence about pre-Hot 100 songs, however, so your point is well taken.