IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE ...: More than a week before Halloween, and five weeks before Thanksgiving, the Billboard 200 is being decorated with a sleighful of yuletide albums.
Five new holiday sets enter the Billboard 200, led by Bob Dylan's "Christmas in the Heart" at No. 23. On Holiday Albums, the legend earns his first No. 1, as the collection vaults from No. 21 after street-date violations placed it on the list a week early.
David Archuleta starts at No. 30 on the Billboard 200 with "Christmas From the Heart," which opens at No. 2 on Holiday Albums.
Sugarland starts at No. 56 on the Billboard 200 and No. 3 on Holiday Albums with "Gold and Green." While Dylan and Archuleta stick mostly to the standards, Sugarland's album boasts five traditional tracks and five newly-written songs, including contributions from noted folk singer/songwriter Ellis Paul.
Neil Diamond rings in at No. 126 on the Billboard 200 and No. 6 on Holiday Albums with "A Cherry Cherry Christmas," a collection that combines cuts from his two prior holiday releases, 1992's "The Christmas Album" and 1994's "The Christmas Album Volume II." The new release also features a cover of Adam Sandler's "The Chanukah Song." (Perhaps we'll see a "Saturday Night Live" performance of the song by Sandler, Diamond and spot-on Diamond impersonator Will Ferrell?)
At No. 165 on the Billboard 200 and No. 7 on Holiday Albums, seasonal music staple Mannheim Steamroller bows with "Christmas: 25th Anniversary Collection." The set is the 14th entry for the studio troupe on Holiday Albums dating to its first, "Christmas," on the list dated Dec. 21, 1985. In that span, no other acts have reached double-digits in chart appearances. Elvis Presley ranks second in that stretch with nine charted titles on the survey.
VAMPIRE WEEK: The highly-anticipated "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" doesn't open in theaters until Nov. 20, but the movie's soundtrack has already set a Billboard 200 record.
Starting at No. 2, the album and its predecessor mark the first soundtracks from a theatrical release and its sequel to each reach the chart's top two positions. The "Twilight" soundtrack reigned in November 2008.
(For this item, we're referencing, specifically, a theatrical movie and its soundtrack and its sequel and the sequel's soundtrack. That excludes, for example, two soundtracks from "Titanic," the No. 1-peaking original companion album and the No. 2 "Back to Titanic." For the purposes of this statistic, we're also not including television movies, such as the "High School Musical" franchise, whose three soundtracks have reached the Billboard 200's top two).
SCORE IT A HIT: If you've been watching the Major League Baseball playoffs on Fox and TBS (go, Pedro Martinez, says this Red Sox fan whose choices have been narrowed to rooting for those not wearing blue pinstripes), chances are you've seen the heavily-rotated DirecTV commercial featuring the Black Eyed Peas.
In the wake of the ad's ubiquity, the song played in the spot, "Meet Me Halfway," flies 17-9 on the Billboard Hot 100 with Greatest Gainer/Digital honors.
Following the record-breaking Hot 100 No. 1s "Boom Boom Pow" and "I Gotta Feeling" from "The E.N.D.," the quartet is the first group to pull a trio of top 10s from an album since Nickelback plated three from "All the Right Reasons" in 2005-07.
"Meet Me Halfway" is the Black Eyed Peas' sixth top 10 dating to their first, the No. 8-peaking "Where Is the Love?," in 2003. Among groups this decade, the Peas tie Nickelback for second-most top 10s. Destiny's Child leads all groups with eight top 10s since 2000.
'PAPARAZZI' CLICKING: For a fourth consecutive week, the Billboard Hot 100's Greatest Gainer/Airplay accolade is bestowed upon Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi." This week, the song rebounds to its peak-to-date of No. 6.
"Paparazzi" is the first title by a solo female to earn the Hot 100's Greatest Gainer/Airplay honor for four consecutive frames since Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" in November/December 2006.
NIFTY FIFTY: With the debut of "H.A.T.E.U." at No. 76 on this week's R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, Mariah Carey becomes one of only five women to reach 50 career entries in the history of the survey.
Here are the five top female format luminaries and their total chart appearances:
98, Aretha Franklin
58, Mary J. Blige
51, Diana Ross
50, Mariah Carey
50, Dionne Warwick
You could say that Carey, who has placed 41 titles on the Hot 100, has a love/hate relationship with the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Of course, it's mostly love. A 10-to-1 ratio, in fact.
Of her previous 49 chart hits, 10 have included the word "love" (or a variation). Her first two charted titles were "Vision of Love" and "Love Takes Time." Prior to "H.A.T.E.U.," four of Carey's last five visits were with "love" songs: "I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time," "I Stay in Love," "My Love" and "I Want to Know What Love Is."
SECOND BEST: With a 3-1 rebound on Country Albums, Taylor Swift's sophomore set "Fearless" collects a 25th total week atop the chart. The sum bests the 24-week reign of her self-titled debut in 2007-08.
Swift owns two of the five sets to top Country Albums for 24 weeks or more this decade. Here is a look at the releases to lead the list the longest since 2000:
35 weeks, "O Brother, Where Art Thou," soundtrack
28 weeks, "Fly," Dixie Chicks (36 weeks total; eight weeks in 1999)
27 weeks, "Some Hearts," Carrie Underwood
25 weeks, "Fearless," Taylor Swift
24 weeks, "Taylor Swift," Taylor Swift
Read yesterday's Chart Beat for details on Swift's 2-1 ascension this week on Adult Contemporary with "You Belong With Me."
CHART BEAT BITS: The cast of Fox's "Glee" increases its total to 11 charted titles on the Billboard Hot 100 since the series' spring premiere, as "Keep Holding On" debuts at No. 56 and "No Air" enters at No. 65. Avril Lavigne took the original version of the former track to No. 17 in 2006; Jordan Sparks and Chris Brown's duet of the latter title reached No. 3 in April 2008. The "Glee" ensemble ties Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana for third-most Hot 100 entries this year. Lil Wayne leads with 19 appearances in 2009, followed by Kanye West with 13 ...
John Mayer soars onto the Hot 100 with "Who Says" at No. 17, marking a career-best entrance on the chart. His previous best launch was a No. 25 start for "Waiting on the World to Change" in 2006. "Who Says" is Mayer's seventh top 20 track on the Hot 100. "Say" produced his best ranking to-date, having reached No. 12 in May 2008 ...
Currently scaling Country Songs as guests on Jimmy Wayne's cover of their classic "Sara Smile" (36-35), Daryl Hall and John Oates return to the Billboard 200 for the first time since 2004, as "Do What You Want Be What You Are: The Music of Daryl Hall John Oates" arrives at No. 89. The duo's first box set sports 74 tracks, including all 16 of their Hot 100 top 10s, six of which reached No. 1 ...
Keith Urban collects his 11th No. 1 on Country Songs, as "Only You Can Love Me This Way" advances 3-1. Urban becomes the first artist to lead the list with three titles this year. He reigned with Brad Paisley on "Start a Band" for a week in January and solo with "Sweet Thing" for two weeks in March ...
30 years after McFadden & Whitehead carried their signature song to No. 10 on Dance/Club Play Songs, and No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100, "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" returns to the former chart, as Taborah & Darryl D'Bonneau bow at No. 48 with their version. The new entry is one of two covers of hit songs debuting on the list this week: Mariah Carey's dance remix of "I Want to Know What Love Is" begins at No. 34. The entrance of Carey's cover marks the second go-round for Foreigner's 1985 ballad on a Billboard dance chart. Wynonna's uptempo take reached No. 12 on Hot Dance Airplay in 2004.