Chart Beat - Sales Chart Articles - Airplay Chart Column

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January 30, 2009 02:49 PM
Fred Bronson


Fred --
I was intrigued by your mention of Kelly Clarkson's latest single becoming the RCA label's 62nd No. 1 hit, and that only Columbia has had more chart-toppers during the rock era (a whopping 97 of them, just three shy of the big 100!). I'm pretty sure the big C has a better-than-OK shot of reaching that magic number before this year is done. What do you think?
Vincent T. Oddo
San Jose, Calif.

Dear Vincent,

Funny, I was thinking the same thing when I wrote about RCA's 62nd No. 1. It was more like, "note to self: keep track of Columbia's No. 1s in 2009 and write about the label's 100th chart-topper."

Not that I talk to myself.
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Since RCA is in second place among imprints with the most No. 1s in the rock era -- with its total of 62 -- Columbia will be the first label to reach the 100 mark.


Hey Fred,

Now that Kelly Clarkson has pole-vaulted to the top of the Hot 100 with "My Life Would Suck Without You," she becomes the first former "American Idol" contestant to top this chart with a song that wasn't featured on the television show. Previously, the highest-charting song by a former "Idol" contestant that wasn't linked to the show was Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone," which peaked in the runner-up spot.

Vince Ripol
San Diego, Calif.

Dear Vince,

So noted in this week's Chart Beat, though I realize you sent your e-mail before the column was posted.

I haven't heard the new Kelly Clarkson album yet but it seems likely she will have more No. 1s once the new set is released.


Hi Fred,

Although Kelly Clarkson sets a new Hot 100 record this week by jumping 96 positions to the top of the chart with her song "My Life Would Suck Without You," she is not the first artist to appear on that chart with a song having the word "suck" (as a verb) in the title. That honor went to the Murmurs, whose somewhat less-subtle title "You Suck" graced the Hot 100 for seven weeks in late 1994/early 1995, peaking at No. 89. Of course, Kelly is (and always will be) the first to go all the way to No. 1 with a song title including that word.

Randy Price
New York City

Dear Randy,

Thanks for that historical perspective on the word. This column is turning into all-Kelly, all-the-time. Let me search through my inbox and see what else people are writing about...


With Blake Shelton moving 3-1 with "She Wouldn't Be Gone," it is the first time in his career that he has scored back-to-back No. 1 country hits. He is also the fifth consecutive artist/act to score back-to-back No. 1 country hits, following Montgomery Gentry, Sugarland, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban. 

Urban may have only been featured artist on Paisley's "Start a Band," but it's still his second No. 1 in a row, following his solo hit "You Look Good in My Shirt" from September 2008.  I'm not sure how long it's been since this has happened, but I'm pretty sure it's been awhile.
Shawn Michaels
Gator County, Neb.

Dear Shawn,

Definitely worth mentioning, and thanks for doing so. More details about Blake Shelton's latest No. 1 can be found in this week's Chart Beat.


Dear Fred:

Andy Ray's query concerning Casey Kasem's show for the week ending March 12, 1977 reminded me of an earlier incident. For the week ending June 9, 1973, Casey apparently didn't have the Hot 100 by recording time. Instead, Casey (and his staff, I presume) estimated the positions. 

Only four positions turned out to be correct:

No. 1:  "My Love" by Paul McCartney & Wings
No. 2:  "Frankenstein" by the Edgar Winter Group
No. 28:  "Leaving Me" by the Independents
No. 31, "No More Mr. Nice Guy" by Alice Cooper.

Most of Casey's estimated positions were way off, with many moving in the opposite direction from what actually happened. I wonder if anyone could shed some light on this mystery.

David Dana-Bashian
Garden Grove, Calif.

Dear David,

The Hot 100 for the week-ending June 9, 1973 is a memorable chart because Billboard changed chart methodology that week. It was such a radical change that "Last Week" numbers were omitted, as there was not much connection to the prior week's chart. I remember that Hot 100 because suddenly "Bad Weather," a Stevie Wonder composition recorded by the Supremes, debuted after being available for weeks. But then it was gone the following week, never to return.

That doesn't answer your question, but it's why I remember that chart. As I did last week, I turned to "American Top 40" expert, Rob Durkee, who worked with Casey Kasem on the show and who has written a book about the series.

Rob replied that he didn't work on the show in 1973 but promised to check with Pete Battistini, who wrote a book about the series' '70s years. Pete responded that the AT40 staff received the new Billboard chart on May 30, 1977, and recorded that week's show. It was sent to stations the next day and then Billboard called Tom Rounds at the Watermark production company to let him know that the chart had been revised. It was too late to re-record that week's AT40, so the numbers you heard were from the original chart that was discarded.

I can't ask the folks who compiled the June 9, 1973 chart for Billboard what happened because they are no longer with us. I don't mean they don't work for the magazine anymore, I mean they are no longer with us, physically. But I thank Rob and Pete for their expertise.

A music chart expert and professional journalist, Fred Bronson is the author of The Billboard Book of Number One Hits and writes for numerous television and radio projects.

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Fred discusses chart action from Kelly Clarkson, 'At Last,' Coldplay and more! More...

What was the No. 1 album a decade ago today?

For the answer, check out Billboard's album chart rewind for this week's charts from previous years.

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