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Ask Billboard: Jay Sean Meets The Beatles

Jay Sean, Kenny Rogers, Van Halen and the Beatles. What does that varied group have in common? For the answer, read this week's Q&A.

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Gary Trust at askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.



First, I want to say that “Happy Days Are Here Again” for Barbra Streisand and all her fans! I’m glad she has accomplished the unmatched record of having at least one No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 in five consecutive decades, beginning with the ’60s, as “Love Is the Answer” begins at the summit.


My question: if next year Streisand releases a new album and it reaches No. 1, will it count for the ’00s, or for the ’10s? I know that since there was never a year “0,” decades should be counted from year 1 to 10, 1991 to 2000, 2001 to 2010, etc. Joel Whitburn, in his books showcasing weekly Hot 100 charts, has defined decades as 1970 to 1979, 1980 to 1989, for example. I would like to know Billboard’s policy in defining decades.

Have a nice weekend,

Andy Leon,
Ruskin, Florida

Hi Andy,

The decade debate kind of reminds me of the “Seinfeld” episode where Newman incorrectly booked his Y2K party – featuring Christopher Cross – due to confusion over when the new millennium actually started. (Or, maybe I’m just very excited about the cast’s upcoming reunion on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” …)

Like Whitburn’s essential volumes, Billboard considers decades as running from ’80 through ’89, ’90 through ’99 and ’00 through ’09, for example. So, yes, Streisand could notch a No. 1 in a sixth decade as soon as the chart dated Jan. 2, 2010.

On a related note, look for a decade-encompassing charts recap section in this year’s year-end issue of Billboard.

It’s hard to believe that Streisand first arrived on the Billboard 200 (April 13, 1963) even earlier than the Beatles (Feb. 1, 1964). She owns the most top 10s (30) among women in the chart’s history and ranks as the top-selling female artist, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), with 71 million units certified.

For more on Streisand’s latest landmark achievement, here is an excerpt of Billboard 200 chart manager Keith Caulfield’s “Over the Counter” column from the print issue of Billboard (Oct. 17) that hits stores today:

“‘Answer’ was produced by Diana Krall and features Streisand accompanied by Krall’s jazz quartet on classics like ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ and ‘In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.’

“The album’s handsome opening-week sales sum (180,000) was powered by a half-hour sitdown on ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ Sept. 24 and interviews on CBS’ ‘Sunday Morning’ Sept. 27 and NBC’s ‘Today’ on the album’s release date, Sept. 29.

“Many industry prognosticators focused on what was thought to be a battle for No. 1 between Paramore and Mariah Carey. Those who look into their crystal balls to project first-week sales figures had estimated that Paramore would finish ahead of the two divas.

“As it turns out, Streisand surprised many with how well her album sold in nontraditional ways – Starbucks, QVC and her Web site – and that threw a wrench into forecasting sales.”


Hello Gary,

With “Down” by Jay Sean featuring Lil Wayne ascending to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, the song becomes the fourth, um, four-letter word to reach No. 1 this decade.

Previously, we saw two such hits by Usher top the chart, both in 2004: “Yeah!” and “Burn.” Reaching back to 2000, matchbox twenty led with “Bent.” (And, before then, it was all the way back in 1993-94 that Mariah Carey’s “Hero” spent four weeks, of course, at No. 1).

It will also be fun to see whether Britney Spears can take “3” to the top, making the song her third chart-topper, fittingly, and the shortest title to touch the top in Hot 100 history.

Take care,

Pablo Nelson
Berkeley, California

Hi Pablo,

Since you note the last five four-letter Hot 100 No. 1s, let’s run “down” every such song to top the Hot 100 since the chart launched in 1958:

1960, “Stay,” Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs
1965, “Help!,” The Beatles
1975, “Fire,” Ohio Players
1975, “Fame,” David Bowie
1979, “Rise,” Herb Alpert
1979, “Babe,” Styx
1980, “Lady,” Kenny Rogers
1984, “Jump,” Van Halen
1986, “Sara,” Starship
1986, “Kiss,” Prince & the Revolution
1992, “Jump,” Kris Kross
1993, “Weak,” SWV
1993, “Hero,” Mariah Carey
2000, “Bent,” matchbox twenty
2004, “Yeah!,” Usher
2004, “Burn,” Usher
2009, “Down,” Jay Sean featuring Lil Wayne

Had rules been in place at the time to allow radio hits that were not commercially available as singles to chart on the Hot 100, or had they been released as commercial singles, there’s a good chance that “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia and “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls, both No. 1s on Radio Songs/Hot 100 Airplay in 1998, would appear on the list, as well.

Prior to Jay Sean, who else has gotten “down” at No. 1 on the Hot 100? Petula Clark (“Downtown”), Gordon Lightfoot (“Sundown”), KC and the Sunshine Band (“Get Down Tonight”), Diana Ross “(Upside Down”), Men at Work (“Down Under”), Gregory Abbott (“Shake You Down”), Bob Seger (“Shakedown”), George Michael/Elton John (“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”) and Puff Daddy, featuring Mase (“Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down”).

As for Spears’ “3,” the song has ranked atop iTunes’ sales chart since its release Tuesday (Oct. 6). It will blast onto the Hot 100 next week, but the song’s radio life is still beginning, which could prevent it from arriving at No. 1 on the Hot 100 (depending on how many downloads it sells). This past week, the song just missed the 75-position all-format Radio Songs/Hot 100 Airplay chart, registering an audience of 17.3 million (up 455%) among 169 stations, according to Nielsen BDS.

Still, a No. 1 start on Digital Songs looks well within reach.

(And no song is more truly digital than one entitled ‘3’).NASHVILLE STARS

Hi Gary,

Something I realized this week: Chris Young‘s “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song),” up 3-2 on Country Songs, passes Buddy Jewell‘s No. 3 hit from 2003, “Help Pour Out the Rain (Lacey’s Song)” as the highest-peaking chart hit from a “Nashville Star” alumnus. Other than Miranda Lambert, who hit No. 7 earlier this year with “Gunpowder and Lead”, no other “Nashville Star” contestants have enjoyed top 10 success. (Jewell added a second top 10 in 2004, the No. 3-peaking “Sweet Southern Comfort”).

Young has an excellent chance of becoming the first “Nashville Star” winner/graduate to reach the top of the Country Songs chart. He would also be the third act from either “Nashville Star” or “American Idol” to score a No. 1 on Country Songs, following the latter show’s Josh Gracin (one No. 1) and Carrie Underwood (seven).


John Maverick
Burt County, Nebraska

Hi John,

Insightful observation, and a nice way to keep the spirit of the late “Nashville Star” alive. Beginning in 2003, the series ran for five seasons on USA. The sixth and final season aired on NBC last year.

As you point out, the series introduced us to Miranda Lambert, who this week becomes just the third artist in the 18-year Nielsen SoundScan era to send her first three albums to No. 1 on the Country Albums chart.

Here is a look at the artists to segue from the “Nashville Star” stage to Billboard’s Country Songs chart (and each artist’s total entries):

10, Miranda Lambert (3rd place, season 1)
4, Whitney Duncan (5th place, season 4)
4, Buddy Jewell (1st place, season 1)
4, Chris Young (1st place, season 4)
3, Brad Cotter (1st place, season 2)
1, George Canyon (2nd place, season 2)
1, Erika Jo (1st place, season 3)
1, Melissa Lawson (1st place, season 6)
1, John Arthur Martinez (2nd place, season 1)

The one season of “Nashville Star” that I regularly watched was the last one, and its judges reminded me of the original “American Idol” judging trio. Jeffrey Steele shared Randy Jackson’s friendly demeanor, John Rich channeled a direct, and sometimes brutally honest, Simon Cowell, and Jewel was perhaps a more critical version of Paula Abdul.

I remember liking many of acts in the top 12, including Gabe Garcia, Shawn Mayer, Ashlee Hewitt and Pearl Heart. (My lasting memory of the show, however, will always be John Rich’s scathing chiding of teen contestants Laura and Sophie, after the duo’s infamous eye-rolling incident).

Melissa Lawson, who won the series’ final season, reached No. 43 on Country Songs last year with the John Rich-produced “What If It All Goes Right.”

Warner Bros. Nashville was due to release Lawson’s debut album but dropped her from its roster earlier this year.

Wrote Lawson last month on her MySpace blog, “I have been spending a lot of time working on the album. Although we are half-done, the record label has decided not to finish the record. I am not giving up and have made many contacts and friends in order to finish the project.

“I am so grateful to all the fans for supporting me through the show.”