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Chariton Noses
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Sam Cooke - Greatest Hits (1998)

The problem is that there's no longer a standard way to determinewhich singles are having the greatest impact. For all its flaws-as severalreviewers noted, the most frequently iterated sentence in thisbook is "did not make pop charts - the Billboard Hot 100 served thatpurpose for about 35 years. The Hot 100 measured a combination ofsales and airplay by a standard either proprietary or incomprehensible,I've never quite figured out which (maybe it's both). From the beginningto about the time the first edition of this book appeared, therewas a lot of guesswork (some would say manipulation) involved. SinceNovember 1991, though, the Hot 100 has been compiled using figurestaken directly from actual radio plays measured by a system calledBDS, and from the larger chains and even some independent recordstores by a computer-based company called Soundscan. The catch isthat to be eligible for the Hot 100, a record needs to be issued as acommercial single. In 1989, as I remarked, the single-in its cassetteand CD forms-had become a dinosaur. Today, the single is on lifesupport, issued only in certain genres or for certain artists. There areseparate charts for airplay and for sales, in Billboard as well as othermagazines (Radio & Records' airplay chart is most often cited as thenew standard). But it's the Hot 100 that creates the sense of continuityessential to the argument in the book, and a single has no chanceof making the Hot 100 unless it has a commercial release. So, many"singles" (that is, readily identifiable recordings of individual songs,the stuff that we all recognize as hits) that are extraordinarily populardon't register on the Hot 100 at all. There are still hits, but keepingtrack of them relative to one another has grown into a bewilderingtask, frustrating if you're trying to get a complete picture rather thanjust the fragment you need for niche marketing. Or niche listening, Iimagine. (In November 1998, a few weeks after this introduction waswritten, Billboard announced that it would henceforth list singles notcommercially released in the Hot 100. Such non-single singles will stillbe penalized, though, because singles sales remains an element ofchart ranking.)

Sam Cooke - Greatest Hits (1998)


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