With their new collaboration, Martin and Brickell net their highest Billboard 200 ranks in decades. Plus, Del Rey reaches new Hot 100 heights and Billboard charts spur Carey and Minaj's latest sparring.
Steve Martin and Edie Brickell make impressive returns to the Billboard 200, as their "Love Has Come for You" debuts at No. 21 (with 16,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan).
The set marks Martin's highest rank since 1978's "A Wild and Crazy Guy," which peaked at No. 2 for six weeks. His 1977 album "Let's Get Small" (No. 10) is his only other title to chart higher than his new entry. The former set produced his No. 17 Billboard Hot 100 hit "King Tut" (with the Toot Uncommons).
Martin's early chart action occurred amid his run of box office prominence. In 1979, he starred in the box office hit "The Jerk," while many other of his memorable film roles would follow, including those in "All of Me," "Three Amigos," "Roxanne," "Parenthood" and "Bowfinger."
Brickell, meanwhile, achieves her best placement since her debut album Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars, with her backing band the New Bohemians, rose to No. 4 in 1989. The set spawned the No. 7-peaking Hot 100 single "What I Am." Until this week, she hadn't appeared on the Billboard 200 since 2003, when her solo "Volcano" spent a week at No. 188.
The new collaboration concurrently begins at No. 1 on Billboard's Bluegrass Albums chart, where it's Martin's third leader in as many tries. He reigned for 31 weeks (the survey's third-longest command) in 2009-10 with "The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo" and for four frames in 2011 with "Rare Bird Alert" (the latter with the Steep Canyon Rangers).
While Brickell and Martin are longtime friends, it wasn't until 2011, at the 70th birthday party for her husband, Paul Simon, that they considered recording together. "At the party, I was brave enough to say to [Martin], 'If you ever want to make up a song together, I'd love to'," Brickell, who'd become a fan of "The Crow," remembers. "He said, 'As a matter of fact, I have a tune …' "
While Martin is known primarily as a comedian and actor, he became enthralled with banjo-infused recordings as a teen. “When it would come on the radio, my brain could part all the other instruments aside so I could focus on that sound," he says. "I was not musical, but I just thought, 'That's for me'."
"I'm essentially very much a naif in the music world," Martin concedes of his recent recordings following his distinguished stage and screen roles. "I think (with) this record, I feel like these are the banjo songs I've always been waiting to write. It's the most completely organic thing I've ever done."
Despite his status as an entertainment icon, Martin's latest musical success surprises him.
"It was a total accident. My whole life is an accident!"
'GREAT' NEWS: "Young and Beautiful," the lead single from the soundtrack to "The Great Gatsby," arrives as Lana Del Rey's highest-charting Hot 100 hit, debuting at No. 82. Her prior entry, "Video Games," spent a week at No. 91 last year.
Del Ray wrote the new song, which starts on Hot Digital Songs at No. 36 (48,000 downloads sold), with Rick Nowels, who's penned hit singles for, and/or with, such stars as Belinda Carlisle ("Heaven Is a Place on Earth," "Circle in the Sand," "Leave a Light On"); Madonna ("The Power of Goodbye"); Jewel ("Standing Still"); Dido ("White Flag"); and Colbie Caillat ("Fallin' for You").
Nowels first charted on the Hot 100 as a writer with Stevie Nicks' No. 16-peaking "I Can't Wait."
SARA STARTS: Singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles arrives at No. 61 on the Hot 100 with "Brave." Starting at No. 20 on Hot Digital Songs with 76,000 sold, she posts her best weekly download sum since her debut smash "Love Song," which peaked with a 269,000-unit frame, more than five years ago.
"Brave" previews Bareilles' third major-label studio album, "The Blessed Unrest," due in July. Her last full-length, "Kaleidoscope Heart," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 2010.
ROCKERS ROLL: Two new No. 1s on rock radio scale the Hot Rock Songs chart.
As it jumps 37-32 on the tally, Shinedown's "I'll Follow You" becomes the band's eighth No. 1 on the Heritage Rock airplay chart. The coronation ties the band with Nickelback for the most leaders in the list's 16-year history. 3 Doors Down and Aerosmith follow with five No. 1s each.
Hot Rock Songs also welcomes Serena Ryder's "Stompa," which debuts at No. 46. The song roars 5-1 on Triple A. The Juno Award-winning Toronto native peaked at No. 8 on Triple A with her prior highest-charting song, 2009's "A Little Bit of Red."
"Stompa" appears on Ryder's sixth studio set, "Harmony," which re-enters Top Canadian Albums at No. 12 (after peaking at No. 11 in March); the album is due in the U.S. on July 16.
HOT (100)-HEADED: It's always nice to see Billboard charts cited on another major platform.
It's a little more uncomfortable when they get caught in a battle between divas.
The Hot 100 earned a prominent placement in Wednesday's (May 1) episode of Fox's "American Idol" after contestant Angie Miller sang Rihanna's "Diamonds," a three-week Hot 100 No. 1 in December. Critiquing Miller's performance, Carey offered a jab at fellow judge Nicki Minaj.
"Again, back to the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 song, which you just performed … which is difficult to get. Not everybody has that," Carey said, surely in a ribbing of Minaj, who's peaked as high as No. 3. Carey has logged 18 No. 1s, the most among all soloists and second only to the Beatles' 20.
"Shes sad i tied her record for Hot 100 entries in only 3 years of being in the game," Minaj retorted on Twitter.
Um, minor related detail: the April 12 Chart Beat "Weekly Chart Notes" column revealed that upon the debut of Minaj's "High School," featuring Lil Wayne, the rapper notched her 44th Hot 100 entry … tying Carey's total. Minaj has rung up her sum since her first appearance in 2010. (Twenty-seven of her 44 chart hits have been in featured roles, however (as rappers often make multiple chart visits as featured acts), while Carey has boasted lead billing on all but two of her Hot 100 entries.)
"All dem #1s. Lol. I guess having a personality, being a secure woman, and giving genuine critique still trumps that," Minaj subsequently sneered at Carey via Twitter.
Still, despite their season-long sparring as "Idol" judges, Minaj maintains that she respects her co-star.
"I cannot hold a grudge against Mariah Carey," she says. "What people don't understand is that I've looked up to her for so many years."