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Billboard Magazine #1 Dispute Reaction

December 04, 2005 | Other
Here is the official response from Billboard Magazine on the Elvis / Madonna #1 Hits Dispute.

"You were the first person to send me an e-mail about the stats reported in last week's 'Chart Beat' -- but you weren't the last, not by a longshot.

This item has generated more letters to "Chart Beat Chat" than almost any other subject in 2005.

I understand why I've received so many missives about Madonna tying Elvis Presley's record number of top 10 hits.

Joel Whitburn has long reported that Elvis has 38 top 10 hits. My respect and admiration for Joel knows no bounds, but it's important to know how he comes up with that number or any of the statistics reported in his books.

For example, in his latest edition of "Top Pop Singles," Joel counts songs that did not chart on Billboard's Hot 100 as Hot 100 hits if they made the Hot 100 Airplay or Hot 100 Sales charts. The same goes for songs that made a holiday chart but not the Hot 100.

On the R&B charts, which were not published between November 1963 and January 1965, Joel uses data from Cash Box, a now-defunct trade magazine that was a competitor to Billboard at the time. That data can't be used when citing Billboard stats -- for example, if I report the number of songs charted by Stevie Wonder on Billboard's R&B survey, I can't use the number of songs Joel reports because it includes titles that never charted in Billboard.

The Elvis "discrepancy" is because Joel counts things differently on pre-Hot 100 charts. Before there was a Hot 100, there were four different weekly charts. The main chart was Best Sellers in Stores, and that's the list Billboard uses as THE pre-Hot 100 chart. Joel counts information from all four charts.

When he lists a peak position, for example, he picks the highest position from any one of the four charts. He will list more than one song at No. 1 in a particular week, because he counts all four charts.

Another reason for the Elvis "discrepancy" is that rules for how a two-sided single is charted has changed many times over the years.

On Best Sellers in Stores, a two-sided single counted as one hit and charted in one position. Thus, "Don't Be Cruel" / "Hound Dog" is one top 10 single, not two.

The same goes for the early 1958 single "Don't" / "I Beg of You." Counting these two double-sided hits as four top 10 hits instead of two gives you the figure of 38 instead of 36.

When the Hot 100 was introduced, the two sides of a single charted separately. So some of Elvis' later top 10 singles DO count as two top 10 hits, if both sides made the top 10 separately.

In late 1969, Hot 100 rules were changed and two-sided hits again charted as one hit, occupying the same position. Later, the rules were changed again and they were separated once more. Then they counted as one again. Today, they are separate again (you think it's easy keeping track of all this?).

I've been consistent in my books and columns in using only the Best Sellers in Stores chart when compiling pre-Hot 100 stats, and following whatever two-sided single rule was in effect at the time. I don't favor Madonna over Elvis Presley, I just report the facts.

Having said all of this, I did shortchange Madonna in last week's column. "Hung Up" is her 47th top 40 hit, not her 45th. That pushes her past Stevie Wonder (with 46 top 40 hits) into fourth place among artists with the most top 40 hits in the rock era, behind Elvis, Elton John and the Beatles.

By the way, I could have avoided offending Elvis fans if I had just cited the number of top 10 hits collected by Madonna on the Hot 100.

Since 12 of Presley's 36 top 10 hits occurred before the Hot 100 was introduced, Madonna would be the undisputed champion. However, I think it's more relevant to use the entire rock era to measure success.
Source:The Elvis Express
see see rider wrote on December 04, 2005
first off, let me say i too have the up most respect for joel whitburn and his work in the history of charted singles, albums etc. having said that, i also agree with the person who wrote this article, elvis's 12 song's that hit the top 10 on the hot 100 out of the 36, should also be included despite the fact that the hot 100 different didn't exsist till after those song's were released. if you didn't include those song's, then it would be like those song's never existed...they have to be recognized and accounted for something. however, mr. whitburn has elvis with 38 top 10's and this person say's that's because of the way mr. whitburn does his chart information and the different charts he uses, so we still have the dispute, did elvis have 36 or 38 top 10 hits. this is what happens when you have too many charts and the changing of the rules, and when they change the rules it's like, one minute a person has a top 10 hit but when the rule changes back, then they no longer have that top 10 hit...and if that's the case, it's not right.
weberv41 wrote on December 05, 2005
So, basically Billboard is saying it is incomplete and doesn't include ALL of the facts, it is relative to the times, and awards titles anyway. Pretty bad.
John4126 wrote on December 05, 2005
For me, this shows the continuing dis-respect that much of the entertainment world has for Elvis and his achievements. The pathetic attempts to minimise his influence and standing is really quite sad. Just look at the ridiculous Variety 'Most influential Poll. Elvis in what 9th place? Behind Lucille Ball and Louis Armstrong!! It's already been pointed out how many 'Hot' charts Billboard has and the obvious confusion this brings. I ask you - the holiday chart?! As Billboard say 'I think it's more relevant to use the entire rock era to measure success' then they should bloody well do so. At the very least they should point out the discrepancy in the compilation of Elvis' chart placings.
byebye wrote on December 05, 2005
Everybody knows that you can manipulate a chart. ESPECIALLY the Elvis fans in the UK... What really does matter is TOTAL RECORD SALES wich is the only important record to hold.! In that field I believe Elvis will stay on top of the throne.
Lex wrote on December 05, 2005
This discussion shows how pathetic Elvis-fans are. So Madonna has more or the same number of top 10 hits than Elvis... so what?? If Elvis would have been a bit more careful with his talent he could have had quite some more... so blame him, not the messenger. And if Sony BMG tries to get some more hit(album)s by releasing a compilation that attract a large audience... the same fans are complaining about releasing the same stuff over and over again.
byebye wrote on December 05, 2005
The issue is not about being careful in order to generate top chart positions. It´s about having a rightful claim to accurate status reports. In that pespektive I can understand a lot of Elvis fans. On the other hand manipulating the UK chart in favor to get Elvis up there is indeed fake positions aswell, and proves the poor credibility of gaining so in 2005.
Greg Nolan wrote on December 06, 2005
Lex, why are you taking fans to task? Elvis has little to apologize for in the hits department. You are ignoring how Madonna and Billboard are manipulating the charts to manufacture phony "accomplisments." As someone hinted, the "Singles Era" is over as sales are no longer a factor. To group Elvis and Madonna together is absurd simply because a "Hit Single" today has little to zero sales behind it, just savy handlers who essentially buy air-time. Get real. Madonna's impact is minimal past her big '80s hits, as opposed to a monumental artist that was Elvis, rivaled only by the likes of Crosby, Sinatra, and the Beatles.
see see rider wrote on December 06, 2005
i am an elvis fan and i don't think my december 4th posting had anything to do with my being pathetic. so mr. lex needs to look up that word as well as the word accusation and memorize them.
Lex wrote on December 06, 2005
I rest my case :-)
see see rider wrote on December 07, 2005
what case? and who made you judge and jury.
buyep01 wrote on December 12, 2005
OK Lex You say Elvis fans are pathetic on an Elvis web site you are lucky IQ is not required to post opinions. I am 28 and 20yrs as a fan it is easy to see the manipulation of numbers not only by Billboard top 100 but the worst being the RIAA. Remember when Garth Brooks was said to be top selling artist as a solo act, which was stupid to start with the singer that was being given this title didn't even think he was and made the statement in a nice way that the RIAA has short changed the king and we all know it is Elvis but the RIAA is going to say it's me anyway. The RIAA even knew it was Elvis but when the hell has that mattered you know facts and peoples opinion, your answer never! Variety magazine listed him as 10 yet the people in not even a close poll chose Elvis #1. The records kept on Elvis are the most misrepresented issue in the entire world of music. Here in America his own country still say Elvis and the Beatles are tied for #1 hits despite new number 1's Maybe that is the next rule to handicap the all time greatest entertainer that the world has ever seen or ever will see, sorry Elvis things are not counted after you die anhd every time you are found to be number 1 again and again they will be happy to change the rules for you and cut your number many times by 50% or more so you won't be number 1 that way people can call me and the rest of your fans fanatics that can't accept defeat. I challenge any one who wants to come with facts not some manipulated numbers to put any solo or group up against Elvis Presley as the King and all time greatest to please do so, wait maybe you should wait to do that after the person you are thinking about has been dead 30 years if anybody can remember their name then. Bruce Spingsteen said it best "There have been a lot of tough guys, a lot of contenders and a lot of pretenders but only one King" As long as music is played and this world exists every one will still know who Elvis Presley is, the most unique things that have ever existed made by nature or man has for the most part only came around once. God Bless Elvis, America and all of you and I wish you a merry Christmas or the equivelant depending on your country and belief.