The Alicia Keys 'Element' Billboard Cover Story & Video
RCA

ROO-KEYS OF THE YEAR: One of pop and R&B/hip-hop's leading ladies was just beginning her dominance eight years ago this week, as Alicia Keys stormed 7-1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with her debut track, "Fallin'." The song simultaneously lifted 2-1 on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The title also represented the first Hot 100 No. 1 for Clive Davis' then-new label J, now an imprint in the RCA Music Group.

"Fallin' " was the 10th song to ascend to the Hot 100 summit in 2001 and the seventh by an act celebrating its first trip to the top. Here are the artists prior to Keys to collect their first Hot 100 leaders by this date eight years ago:

Shaggy and Ricardo "RikRok" Ducent (featured artist), "It Wasn't Me"
OutKast, "Ms. Jackson"
Mystikal (featured artist), "Stutter" (second No. 1 for lead artist Joe)
Crazy Town, "Butterfly"
Rayvon (featured artist), "Angel" (second No. 1 for lead artist Shaggy)
Lil' Kim, Mya and Pink, "Lady Marmalade" (fourth No. 1 for fellow lead artist Christina Aguilera)

Keys had nowhere to go but up after "Fallin'." On the Hot 100 this decade, she is tied with Ciara and Kelly Clarkson for fifth-most top 10s among women, each with eight. The trio trails only Beyonce (12 top 10s since 2000), Ashanti and Rihanna (10 each) and Pink (nine).

"Fallin' " may have served as the introduction to Keys' music, but astute consumers may have first caught a glimpse of the future star 16 years earlier. Keys appeared in an episode of "The Cosby Show" at age 4.


OUR BACK PAGES:
On the Top 40 Tracks chart dated Aug. 18, 2001, Michelle Branch bowed with her maiden single, "Everywhere." A Billboard Singles Review three weeks earlier praised the then-17-year-old's introductory effort: "This killer track seduces with its savvily-produced wall of sound. It's been awhile since a female singer/songwriter has hit us this hard sonically and yet remained conscious of the value of a hook" ...

This week eight years ago, the compilation "Now 7" entered the Billboard 200 at No. 1, becoming the third chart-topper in the series, joining "Now 4" and "Now 6." Since "Now 7," 11 more editions of the franchise have reigned, most recently "Now 31" last month ...

Billboard's Heatseekers Albums chart this week in 2001 provided a peek at several acts that would go on to superstardom throughout the decade. A sampling of those then taking baby steps on the tally (which lists titles by developing artists yet to appear in the top half of the Billboard 200)? Rascal Flatts (No. 10), Keith Urban (No. 20) and Nickelback (No. 46).


WE'RE NO. (4)1:
Here is the top 10 on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart this week in 2001. Sum 41 enjoyed its lone week to date in the chart's penthouse, while Alien Ant Farm entered the top five (6-4) with its rock reinvention of Michael Jackson's last Billboard Hot 100 top 10 of the '80s.

No. 1, "Fat Lip," Sum 41
No. 2, "It's Been Awhile," Staind
No. 3. "Schism," Tool
No. 4, "Smooth Criminal," Alien Ant Farm
No. 5, "Hash Pipe," Weezer
No. 6, "The Rock Show," Blink-182
No. 7, "Crawling," Linkin Park
No. 8, "Clint Eastwood," Gorillaz
No. 9, "Short Skirt / Long Jacket," Cake
No. 10, "You Wouldn't Believe," 311