Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: A friend with a pretty good knowledge of music trivia says there is no No. 1 hit title any shorter than “Ben,” by Michael Jackson. This came up after we read last week's column about “The Ladies' Bras” being the shortest hit ever, in terms of length.

I'm stuck for a response, so unless you can come up with one having only one or two letters I will have to humble myself and agree with him.
—Sue Grizwald, Harrisburg, Pa.

DEAR SUE: Mighty safe wording on the part of your friend. By saying none are shorter than “Ben” (1972), he allows for there to be more than just that one three-letter title.

You can tell him there are several others in that category: George Olsen's “Who” (1936); Tommy Dorsey's “You” (1936); Eddy Howard's “Sin” (1951); Johnnie Ray's “Cry” (1951); Frankie Avalon's “Why” (1960); Edwin Starr's “War” (1970); and the Jackson 5 (featuring Michael of course) with “ABC” (1970).

While his information is clearly deficient, he may not wrong. It depends on whether he limited the statement to either the Rock Era, or in another way which eliminates a No. 1 hit in 1951.

If not, then you'll be thrilled to know “If,” by Perry Como, reached No. 1 that year.

For the entire 20th century there are none with just one letter, and no others with two letters.

DEAR JERRY: Since so many of your readers have cast their votes for the 2008 Hit Parade Hall of Fame inductees, they will be interested to know the names of our 33 newest members.

Alphabetically, we welcome: Bee Gees; Chuck Berry; Bread, Freddy Cannon, Carpenters, Chicago, Lou Christie, John Denver, Dion, Doris Day; Eagles; Everly Brothers; Roy Hamilton; Tommy James and the Shondells; Elton John; Tom Jones; Kingston Trio; Jerry Lee Lewis; Frankie Laine; Dean Martin; Guy Mitchell; Monkees; Olivia Newton-John; Johnnie Ray; Johnny Rivers; Kenny Rogers; Linda Ronstadt; Sonny & Cher; Kay Starr; B.J. Thomas; Johnny Tillotson; Jackie Wilson; and Stevie Wonder.

For nomination, an artist must have at least two Top 10 hits, of any genre, during a 30-year period beginning in 1950.

It is the vote of fans, as well as other factors (career longevity, record sales, concert achievement, etc.) that are then voted on by our nominating committee at the end of each year.

Inductees and nominees for the new year are announced shortly thereafter. The nominees for 2009 have yet to be finalized, though they should be known soon. Then the voting begins.

An artist has three years to gain induction before their candidacy is discontinued as a current nominee.
—John Rook, Hit Parade Hall of Fame

IZ ZAT SO? “Ben” may be among the shortest song titles, but not so in cinema history.

Surprisingly, all but three of the 26 possible letters are already movie titles. Many letters even have more than one film of that title.

Here is an example of each single-letter film, along with the release year for my selection (often the first one made):

“A” (1965); “B” (1998); “D” (2005); “E” (1981); “F” (2000); “G” (1983); “H” (1990); “I” (2004); “J” (2000); “K” (1997); “L” (1961); “M” (1951); “N” (2005); “O” (2001); “P” (1964); “Q” (1974); “S” (1998); “U” (2003); “V” (1984); “W” (1983); “X” (1963); “Y” (1992); and “Z” (1969).

Only “C”, “R”, and “T” remain, though it is no doubt just a matter of time before they too become titles.

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