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Ask Billboard: Madonna, Yoko Ono, Gospel

Lots of chart action - and intriguing reader questions - this week, so we've got a monster mailbag to hold us over until next week's charts.

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


Hi Gary,

While I enjoyed Tuesday’s Chart Beat column on Madonna and her Dance/Club Play Songs dominance, it made me wonder where the data for this chart comes from. Can you please tell me how this specialized chart is created each week? And, is radio airplay or sales included?

Thanks, and keep up the good work,

Tom Frank

Hi Tom,

Madonna notching her 40th No. 1, “Celebration,” on Dance/Club Play Songs is an extraordinary achievement. Even Madonna seems to ‘cherish’ the honor, as evidenced on her official website.

Billboard’s Dance/Club Play Songs chart is one of the few surveys in our menu that is not based on Nielsen SoundScan point-of-sale data or BDS-monitored airplay. Such methodology would be almost impossible for the chart, which is compiled from reports submitted by club DJs, many of whom spin and mix at multiple venues.

Sales and airplay do not contribute to Dance/Club Play Songs. Rather, Billboard compiles charts for that data separately: Hot Dance Singles Sales and Hot Dance Airplay (each viewable at

As Billboard’s dance charts manager, Gordon Murray, can attest to, the dance community is a tight-knit one, and the DJs contributing to the Dance/Club Play Songs chart take great pride in their responsibility to help shape a format that’s so unique; unlike pop, adult, rock, R&B or country, for example, there are few dance-oriented radio stations (San Francisco’s KNGY just defected to mainstream top 40 last week), so club play is a key barometer of the format’s trends.

I posed your question to Gordon, and here is his deeper analysis of Dance/Club Play Songs:

“The chart is compiled from the playlists of a carefully screened and consistently scrutinized panel of U.S. club DJs (currently 140), even those in Hawaii and Puerto Rico. These playlists are reflective of what the DJs are playing to crowds on the dance floors each week in clubs. Because of the nature of this type of music, which is often mixed together and which can include many different remixes of the same song, there is no means of compiling the data electronically.

“As for Madonna, her achievement is particularly noteworthy because of the changing nature of club tastes and styles of music. What becomes mainstream popular music often starts out as more underground music, played first in the clubs before it is accepted by radio’s larger audiences. So, for one artist to be able to change with the times and perhaps even set the trends to the extent that she has is, indeed, truly remarkable.”


Hi Gary,

Thanks so much for running down the amazing chart feats by one of the world’s most ‘celebrated’ artists! Out of curiosity, how many of Madonna’s Dance/Club Play Songs tracks peaked at No. 3, since you noted that her first two entries reached that level? Better yet, how many stopped just short of No. 1, peaking at No. 2? I recall that “Miles Away” was her most recent No. 2 earlier this year.

Thanks again!

Jackson David Kelly

Hi Jackson,

In addition to her 40 Dance/Club Play Songs No. 1s, Madonna has sent six other titles into the top three, including “Miles Away”:

No. 2 (three weeks), “Human Nature” (1995)
No. 2 (two weeks), “Miles Away” (2009)
No. 3, “Everybody” (1982)
No. 3, “Burning Up/Physical Attraction” (1983)
No. 3, “Dress You Up” (1985)
No. 3, “Buenos Aires” (1997)

Now you’ve got me curious, too, so let’s expand our scope to Madonna’s entire discography on the survey. After her 40 No. 1s, two No. 2s and four No. 3s, here are how her other 10 entries have fared, listed by peak rank:

No. 4, “Borderline (1984)
No. 4, “Papa Don’t Preach” (1986)
No. 4, “Nobody Knows Me” (2003)
No. 5, “GHV2 Megamix” (2002)
No. 6, “True Blue” (1986)
No. 6, “Rescue Me” (1991)
No. 9, “Mother and Father” (2005)
No. 16, “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” (1996)
No. 41, “Sky Fits Heaven” (1998)
No. 44, “Who’s That Girl (Remix)” (1987)


Hello Gary,

After the recent invasion of questions about divas in Ask Billboard, and your other cool artist information (Prince, the Beatles), I would like to ask about the third charted album, “Live in Ukraine,” by Queen and Paul Rodgers.

How have their collaborations sold and what is each artist’s biggest-seller of the Nielsen SoundScan era?

Thank you for your weekly updates. I always enjoy reading them.

Daniela Lopez
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Thank you Daniela,

From Madonna’s “Buenos Aires” cited in the previous item, to the origin of your e-mail, your question makes for a fitting segue.

Here are the sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and the peak Billboard 200 positions, of the three Queen/Paul Rodgers albums this decade:

“Return of the Champion,” 2005
66,000; No. 84

“The Cosmos Rocks,” 2008
41,000; No. 47

“Live in Ukraine,” 2009
5,000; No. 111

Since the advent of Nielsen SoundScan data in 1991, Queen’s top-seller is 1992’s “Greatest Hits” (6,691,000). Paul Rodgers’ best-selling solo set is 1993’s “Muddy Waters Blues: A Tribute to Muddy Waters” (149,000).


Hi Gary,

Yoko Ono has a new CD due for release next week, her first in eight years. Do you have any Nielsen Soundscan data about two of her prior sets, 1995’s “Rising” and 2001’s “Blueprint for a Sunrise”?

Thank you,

William Lamb
New Albany, Indiana

Hi William,

The Beatles, of course, have been stealing all the headlines of late, but next week, as you note, it’s Yoko Ono’s turn.

John Lennon‘s widow has enjoyed modest sales of the two sets you reference. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the original release of “Rising” and a subsequent remix edition of the album have combined for sales of 11,000. “Blueprint for a Sunrise” has sold 3,000.

In the wake of the Beatles’ latest retail revival, we’ll see if Ono benefits from any such related nostalgia. Her recent success, however, has been impressive on its own merit. Since 2003, Ono has sent seven consecutive songs into the top five on Dance/Club Play Songs. Five of those have reached No. 1, including “I’m Not Getting Enough,” which led the chart in June.

Ono’s new release is entitled “Between My Head and the Sky,” the first album billed to Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band since 1973. John and Yoko’s son Sean Lennon (born two years after that set’s release) produced the new collection.GOSPEL GREATS

Hi Gary,

I’m sure most people don’t inquire about gospel artists, but I’m a huge fan of the genre. Could you please compare the sales figures of Yolanda Adams, CeCe Winans (her solo projects), Shirley Caesar, and Mary Mary? I realize these numbers will reflect sales dating to the beginning of SoundScan data in 1991, but I think it’s quite intriguing.

Many thanks,

Joseph Brown
Washington, D.C.

Hi Joseph,

It’s a week of chart highlights for gospel artists. Yesterday’s Chart Beat touted the first No. 1 on Gospel Songs, “Close to You,” for BeBe & CeCe Winans.

Here are the sales sums for the artists you mention, according to Nielsen SoundScan:

4,533,000, Yolanda Adams
2,721,000, Mary Mary
2,290,000, Shirley Caesar
1,882,000, CeCe Winans

Additionally, here are each act’s top-selling sets:

Yolanda Adams: “Mountain High…Valley Low” (1,374,000)
Mary Mary: “Thankful” (1,239,000)
CeCe Winans: “Throne Room” (384,000)
Shirley Caesar: “Her Very Best” (215,000)


With “I Gotta Feeling” having recently reached double-digit weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100, the Black Eyed Peas have reached rarified chart air.

Until two weeks ago, only Santana had scored two No. 1s of 10 weeks or more from one album, when “Supernatural” produced “Smooth” (12 weeks) and “Maria Maria” (10 weeks) in 1999-2000. Two weeks ago, BEP’s “The E.N.D.” became the second such album to score that distinction.

With 12 weeks at No. 1 for “Boom Boom Pow” and 12 (to date) directly following for “I Gotta Feeling,” “The E.N.D.” is now, thus, the first release to yield a pair of 12-week No. 1s.

Boyz II Men have had three hits each spend at least 13 weeks at No. 1, but “End of the Road” (13 weeks), “I’ll Make Love to You” (14 weeks) and “One Sweet Day, with Mariah Carey (16 weeks, the Hot 100’s all-time longest-reigning leader), were from three different albums.

“I Gotta Feeling” is also challenging for longest-running Hot 100 No. 1 not to be a lead single from an album. At 16 weeks on top, “One Sweet Day” was actually the second single from Carey’s “Daydream,” following “Fantasy.”


Mike Warner
Alexandria, Virginia

Hi Mike,

Thanks very much for your insightful research.

Per your Mariah Carey item, for such a superstar, it’s notable that her two longest-leading No. 1s were second, not first, singles from albums. In addition to “One Sweet Day,” “We Belong Together” (14 weeks at No. 1) followed a No. 16 peak for “It’s Like That,” the lead track from “The Emancipation of Mimi,” in 2005.

We’ll see if the second single from Carey’s forthcoming “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel” outperforms the first. It’s too early to tell now, however, as both songs are still on the rise. “I Want to Know What Love Is” could debut on next week’s Hot 100, having arrived at digital retailers this week, but lead track “Obsessed” is still bulleted on the Hot 100; it dips 7-8, but gains in total chart points.

One more Hot 100 record we’ve been tracking is broken this week. Jason Mraz‘s “I’m Yours” logs a 62nd week in the top 40, passing the 61-week top 40 run of LeAnn Rimes‘ “How Do I Live,” which held the mark since Sept. 5, 1998. “I’m Yours” also extends its record overall Hot 100 stay to 74 weeks, ranking at No. 38 this week.


Hi Gary,

Five weeks ago, Sugarland debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with “LIVE on the Inside.” The album contains a cover of Kings of Leon‘s “Sex On Fire.” That same week, the Kings’ album that houses the original version of that hit, “Only By the Night,” was also in the top 10.

When has this happened in the past? When has a song appeared on two albums, by two artists, in the top 10 simultaneously? (I would not include compilations, like “That’s What I Call Music,” or two albums by the same artist).


George Nazar
Los Angeles, California

Hi George,

After researching as much as I could this week, I have yet to come up with a prior example. Finding the answer involves perusing the top 10 of the Billboard 200 week-by-week, and eyeballing albums that might have included shared tracks by different artists. Unfortunately, that’s a bit more time-consuming than time has allowed for this week.

Studious Chart Beat readers with archives of the Billboard 200 at your disposal: you’re welcome to start off the new school year with an “A” if you can find the answer to this great trivia question.

Oddly enough, when Sugarland and Kings of Leon (pictured, above left) both had recordings of “Sex On Fire” on concurrent top 10-charting albums, another title doubled up in the top 10. On that Aug. 22, chart, the Black Eyed Peas’ “The E.N.D.,” containing the original “Boom Boom Pow,” ranked at No. 4. Kidz Bop Kids bowed at No. 8 that week with “Kidz Bop 16,” which included their take on the track. (And, the Peas’ version was also at No. 2 on the “NOW 31” collection). Kidz Bop Kids would likely fall along the lines of a compilation, however, since their albums feature covers of hit songs. Plus, it was the same week as Sugarland/Kings of Leon’s feat, so we’re not any closer to finding the last previous such occurrence.

Numerous songs, of course, have achieved popularity by different artists simultaneously. LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood both enjoyed success with “How Do I Live” in 1997, and Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice charted at the same time with “Inside Your Heaven” in 2005.

Earlier this year, it was possible to scan the radio dial and hear three different versions of “Heartless.” Pop/R&B stations were spinning Kanye West‘s original, adult top 40 stations took to Kris Allen‘s stripped-down rendition that helped him win “American Idol” and alternative outlets played the Fray‘s similarly organic interpretation.


Dear Gary,

I know this is not exactly a chart question, but I thought it worthy that Billboard mention Patrick Swayze’s death this week. In 1988, he gave us the memorable top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit “She’s Like the Wind.”


German Campo
Popayan, Colombia

Hi German,

I received a similar e-mail from Jesper Subang Jaya of Selangor, Malaysia. Swayze certainly warrants a mention in Chart Beat this week, considering his impact on the charts.

His ballad “She’s Like the Wind,” featuring Wendy Fraser, rose to No. 3 on Feb. 27, 1988. This week in 1987, the song’s parent album, the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack, soared 77-19 in its second week on the Billboard 200. As the movie became one of the decade’s classics, and Swayze ascended to stardom, the album would go on to spend 18 weeks at No. 1.

In 1990, Swayze’s popularity would help make “Ghost” a box office smash, affording the Righteous Brothers‘ “Unchained Melody,” a centerpiece of the film’s most famous scene, to return to the Hot 100. The 1965 original version, then-available only on vinyl, re-entered and rose to No. 13 in October 1990. A new recording of the song by the duo, available on cassette, reached No. 19 a month later.

Swayze continued to influence the charts more recently. In 2007, Lumidee remade “She’s Like the Wind,” which reached No. 43 on the Hot 100.

This March, New Kids on the Block climbed to No. 31 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 with an ode to their early era, “Dirty Dancing.” A line from the track: “Ooh, she’s like Baby, I’m like Swayze …”

Bringing “Dirty Dancing” full circle, Righteous Brother Bill Medley, who sang the movie’s Hot 100-topping theme, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” with Jennifer Warnes, recently released a new single, a duet with Ronnie McDowell. The title? “Lost in Dirty Dancing.”