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Ask Billboard: Baseball Hits, Gwen Stefani’s Delay & Demi Lovato’s Best-Selling Songs

Questions about baseball, Stefani and Lovato fill the latest mailbag. Plus, a look at one-character titles currently taking up (very little) space on the Billboard 200 and Hot 100 and more.

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20


Hi Gary,

On Tuesday (Sept. 30), the 2014 Major League Baseball postseason started.

Since 2008, MLB, in conjuction with Turner Sports (TBS/TNT), Fox Sports Networks (FOX/FS1), MLB Network and ESPN, has provided a song each year to advertise its playoff games.


Here’s the list:

2008, “I Love This Town,” Bon Jovi
2009, “We Weren’t Born to Follow,” Bon Jovi (a No. 68 Billboard Hot 100 hit)
2010, “Born Free,” Kid Rock (No. 14 on Mainstream Rock Songs)
2011, “Written in the Stars,” Tinie Tempah feat. Eric Turner (No. 12 on the Hot 100)
2012, “Land of Hope and Dreams,” Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
2013, “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up),” Fall Out Boy (No. 13, Hot 100)

AC/DC Reveals ‘Rock Or Bust’ Tracklist, Drops First Single ‘Play Ball’: Listen

2014, “Play Ball,” from AC/DC’s upcoming album Rock or Bust, due Dec. 2

There are, of course, so many other songs with baseball references in their lyrics. Two notable Hot 100 No. 1s:

“We Didn’t Start the Fire,” Billy Joel (1989): “Joe DiMaggio” (New York Yankees legend); “Brooklyn’s (Dodgers) got a winning team”; “Mickey Mantle” (another Yankee great); and “California baseball” (the New York Giants moved to San Francisco and the Dodgers, to Los Angeles).

“Mrs. Robinson,” Simon & Garfunkel (1968): “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you (woo, ooh, ooh …) / What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson? Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away …”

John Fogerty’s “Centerfield,” meanwhile, reached No. 44 in 1985 as the B-side to his No. 20 hit “Rock and Roll Girls.”

And, a British group was named after a part of baseball without which you couldn’t play it: The Outfield.

Let the games go on!

Thanks and take care,

Mackenzie (Mac) Scott,
Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Thanks Mac,

A fun musical tie-in to the best part of the baseball season. FYI, a related Billboard.com feature is in the works (or, on-deck) for this coming week.

As a Red Sox fan, I’m partial to Fall Out Boy’s song, since it conjures memories of the team’s World Series win last year. Still, this year’s playoffs have been exciting so far, with Kansas City back in the postseason for the first time since 1985 and 6-0 through its first six games. A shout-out to the band Kansas (especially since all the Royals’ opponents are so far is dust in the wind.)

Other famous baseball-related songs: Springsteen’s “Glory Days,” Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer,” Terry Cashman’s “Talkin’ Baseball,” Dropkick Murphys’ “Tessie” (did I mention I’m a Red Sox fan?) and, obviously, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Among the latter song’s countless versions, Goo Goo Dolls recorded a joyous live one.

Perhaps my favorite? Alabama’s “The Cheap Seats.” The band’s ode to dirt dogs (and hot dogs) reached No. 13 on Hot Country Songs in 1994.


Hi Gary,

Here’s an odd stat: the Billboard 200’s top 25 this week includes three album titles that are each just one letter.

Chris DeVries
Research, reporting & analytics, Sony Music Entertainment
New York, New York

Hi Chris,

That’s why you have the job you do. Maroon 5’s former No. 1 V rises 9-7 as the Greatest Gainer (up 19 percent to 31,000 sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan; it’s sold 335,000 in its first five weeks); Chris Brown’s No. 2-peaking X drops 6-9; and Ed Sheeran’s No. 1 from July x (pronounced “multiply”) holds at No. 24. The sets, thus, tie for the fewest characters for a title in the Billboard 200’s entire 58-year history. Sheeran has another and it’s not even a word: he reached No. 5 with his debut album +.

Meanwhile, Brown tied the mark for the shortest title by total characters in the Hot 100’s archives when his new album’s title cut spent a week on the chart (dated Oct. 4). And, Kendrick Lamar has just added another. Here’s an updated look at the song titles just one character long to hit the Hot 100 all-time:

“7,” Prince and the New Power Generation (No. 7, fittingly, 1993)
“O,” Omarion (No. 27, 2005)

“3,” Britney Spears (No. 1, one week, 2009)
“X,” Chris Brown (No. 98, 2014)
“i,” Kendrick Lamar (No. 39 to date, 2014)

Thus, of the more than 25,000 songs to appear on the Hot 100 since the chart launched in 1958, only five have had titles of just one character. And, two have charted this month.

The latter stat’s not that surprising, considering that one-word song titles are more prevalent than ever. But now, “X” and “i” are making even concise titles like “Rude,” “Maps” or “Don’t” look long.


Hello Gary!

Hey, that’s marvelous about Aretha Franklin’s R&B milestone: 100 career hits on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, thanks to her debut this week of her cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” I’m forgetting how high Adele’s “Deep” got on that chart. Kind of fun if Aretha’s version has charted higher than Adele’s original.

Ask Billboard: It’s All About Women In The Hot 100’s Top Five

Also, regarding your fine work on women’s empowerment songs and their ongoing domination of the Hot 100’s top five, Mary Lambert is rising with her first solo Hot 100 hit, “Secrets.” It’s neat that its message is one of being happy with one’s self, just like Meghan Trainor’s reigning No. 1, “All About That Bass.”

Who’s Working on Madonna’s Album? 21 Possible Collaborators

Mary and the Mother Mary (um, I mean Madonna) sang part of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love” at the 2014 Grammy Awards. The song, of course, reworks Lambert’s “She Keeps Me Warm.” Long before “Secrets,” Madonna earned a No. 3 hit in 1994 with “Secret,” also a tune about self-acceptance.

Pablo Nelson
Oakland, California

Thanks Pablo,

Not only has the iconic Franklin become the first woman to tally 100 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs hits, but she’s also bested the chart peak of the original version of the song with which she accomplishes the honor. Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” reached No. 61 in 2011 (when the chart, now 50-positions long, was 100 positions … deep). After topping the Hot 100 for seven weeks, “Deep” became the top song of all of 2011; parent album 21 has just passed 11 million in sales.

And, a fun connecting of the dots between Lambert, whose debut full-length, Heart on My Sleeve, arrives Tuesday (Oct. 14), and Madonna. The two have been linked from the start, literally for Lambert. She was born on May 3, 1989. At the time, Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” was amid its three-week Hot 100 reign.


@gthot20 Will @gwenstefani’s “Baby don’t lie” still go to radio on October 14th? There’re some rumors that it got pushed back 🙁


More than rumors. Interscope confirmed the delay in an email on Sept. 30. “Please remove the add date. Will get new information shortly,” is the latest official word.

Still, anticipation for her third sold album, and first since 2006, appears high among fans of Stefani, No Doubt and NBC’s The Voice, her new TV vehicle.

Gwen Stefani Finishing New Solo Album With Pharrell

As Billboard reported on Sept. 29, Stefani’s manager Irving Azoff says that she’s been in Miami recording tracks with frequent collaborator (and Voice co-star) Pharrell Williams. Stefani is determining which song will be the lead single, which she plans to perform on The Voice later this season.

In August, Interscope chairman John Janick told Billboard that Stefani was working hard to finish a new album for release by December, “on the back of her role on The Voice. Benny Blanco will executive produce and it will come out in partnership with his label [Mad Love Records] as part of our overall deal with him.”


@keith_caulfield @gthot20 There was a question on the Pop Shop Podcast this week about sales of Demi Lovato’s “Neon Lights” and “Made In The USA.” Can you update “Let It Go” and “Really Don’t Care,” too?

(And, “Heart Attack” and “Remember December”?)



It was really fun filling in for Jason Lipshutz on the Podcast this week with Keith. Keith and I chat and IM daily, so this one just happened to be recorded. Hope you enjoyed it, too, as we talked about Blake Shelton topping the Billboard 200, women ruling the Hot 100 for their record fifth straight week, Franklin’s chart milestone, the returns of Carrie Underwood, Lorde and Fergie and so much more. You can listen here or download the Podcast on iTunes, as always.

We covered some of Lovato’s top-selling tracks on the Podcast, but let’s expand the list here. Here’s a look at her best-selling digital songs to date, according to SoundScan:

2.1 million, “Give Your Heart a Break” (At this song’s mention in the Podcast, Keith and I geek out about its co-writer, Billy Steinberg. His lengthy career dates back to Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” Heart’s “Alone” and the Bangles’ “Eternal Flame,” among many other hits.)
2 million, “Heart Attack”
1.5 million, “Skyscraper”
1.1 million, “Don’t Forget”

1 million, “Let It Go”

912,000, “La La Land”
901,000, “This Is Me” (with Joe Jonas)
895,000, “Neon Lights”
862,000, “Here We Go Again”
742,000, “Really Don’t Care” (feat. Cher Lloyd)

578,000, “Get Back”
329,000, “One and the Same” (with Selena Gomez)
304,000, “We’ll Be a Dream” (We the Kings feat. Lovato)
278,000, “Catch Me”
275,000, “Made in the USA”

Beyond her top 15 top-selling songs, “Remember December” has sold 144,000 (ranking it at No. 24).

Lovato continues her Demi World Tour, which rolls into Chicago on Tuesday (Oct. 14). It’s also the first date for opening act and recent Billboard Tomorrow’s Hits spotlight artist Bea Miller. Miller, 15, placed ninth on the second season of Fox’s departed The X Factor, when Lovato (and Britney Spears) joined as judges. (The show’s legacy lives on: third-season, and final, winners Alex & Sierra are due for a lofty launch on this coming week’s Billboard 200.)

Miller is currently building at pop and adult pop radio with her debut single on Hollywood Records (also Lovato’s label), “Young Blood.”

Tomorrow’s Hits: Bea Miller, Jackie Lee, Sofia Reyes

Miller is quickly building fans in high places. Like, on the Hot 100. “@BeaMiller i love this!,” Meghan Trainor Tweeted Friday (Oct. 10). “Heard it on the radio in Atlanta. New obsession.”