HEY PAULA (AND DAUGHTRY AND MICHAEL): Twenty years ago this week, Paula Abdul moved into the Billboard Hot 100 penthouse with her second No. 1, "Forever Your Girl." (Her first, "Straight Up," held on for a final frame at No. 90). Fast-forwarding to the present, only one artist on that chart dated May 20, 1989, appears this week: the evergreen Abdul, who bows at No. 87 with "I'm Just Here for the Music."
Last year, the "American Idol" judge ended a nearly 13-year chart drought with the debut of "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow." "Music" marks her 15th Hot 100 entry.
Abdul premiered her new song May 6 on "American Idol," the same night Daughtry unveiled "No Surprise." "Idol" alum Chris Daughtry's band releases "Leave This Town," its sophomore set, July 14. The group's new hit, co-written by Nickelback's Chad Kroeger, blasts onto the Hot 100 at No. 15. That's the band's best bow, topping the No. 18 start of "What About Now" in April 2008.
After the act's "Idol" performance, Daughtry's self-titled debut album storms back from No. 177 to No. 50 on the Billboard 200. Now in its 129th chart week, the set scores its highest ranking in eight months.
Another "Idol" graduate inks his first solo Billboard chart appearance. Michael Johns, last year's eighth-place finalist, debuts on Adult Contemporary at No. 27 with "Heart on My Sleeve." The ballad introduces the Australian-born artist's first post-"Idol" album, "Hold Back My Heart, due June 23.
AN ALBUM BY ANY OTHER NAME ...: The debut of R&B singer Chrisette Michele's "Epiphany" atop the Billboard 200 caused us to have an epiphany of our own: we realized that with T-Pain having led the list with an album of the same name on June 23, 2007, only six like-titled sets have reached No. 1 on the chart by different artists. The select six, listed alphabetically by title:
T-Pain, Chrisette Michele
Elton John, Kenny Rogers, Bruce Springsteen, the Notorious B.I.G.
Original Cast, Louis Armstrong
Carole King, Madonna
"The Sound of Music"
Original Cast, Movie Soundtrack
Eric Clapton, Alicia Keys
(Note to all eagle-eyed Chart Beat readers: for this item, we included only exact titles as they appeared in Billboard's printed issues at their time of charting. Thus, close calls such as the "NOW" series ("NOW 24," "NOW 25") or similar but not identical best-of titles (Bee Gees "Greatest," Garth Brooks' "The Hits") were omitted).
CHAIRMAN OF THE (BILL)BOARD (CHARTS): Frank Sinatra extends his Billboard album-charting span to exactly 54 years, as "Live at the Meadowlands," recorded in 1986, debuts at No. 88.
The late icon first appeared on the Best Selling Popular Albums chart dated this week in 1955 with "In the Wee Small Hours." That set spent 18 weeks at its peak of No. 2. The new release marks Sinatra's 14th posthumous appearance on the Billboard 200 since his death on this exact date - May 14 - 1998.
'HALO,' IT'S B: On the Billboard Hot 100, Beyonce's "Halo" ascends 8-5. At 16 weeks, the song's climb to the top five is the longest of her 12 entries to reach such lofty heights. "Me, Myself and I" took 13 weeks in 2003-04. With her dozen top fives all logged since 2002, "Halo" grants her the decade's lead, breaking a tie with 50 Cent.
"Halo" also rises to the top of Hot Dance Club Play, becoming Beyonce's 10th No. 1 on the list, all since 2003. She matches Kristine W for second-most leaders this decade on the Club Play chart. Both artists trail only Madonna, the leader with 17 No. 1s since 2000.
OLD 'FRIEND': Why is Biz Markie's 1990 novelty hit "Just a Friend" on Hot Digital Songs for the first time this week?
The charmingly off-key cut has found a new audience thanks to its inclusion in Heineken's latest TV spot. That exposure spurs the song to a No. 62 bow on the list. (There is no catalog rule on Hot Digital Songs, so it's eligible to chart. It's not eligible for the Billboard Hot 100, where only active songs are allowed to appear). "Just a Friend" rose to No. 9 on the Hot 100 dated March 17, 1990.
Another early '90s pop/R&B hit that's been ubiquitous of late has yet to reach the Digital Songs tally: Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back," which has been revived and reworked for its inclusion in Burger King's inescapable current commercial.
We can't report on whether that song has helped sell the chain's hamburgers. Nielsen SoundScan tracks the sales of discs, but only if they're made of polycarbonate plastic, not meat.
MOTHER KNOWS 'BEST': Who says creative radio programming doesn't exist anymore? Country stations tug at listeners' heartstrings by playing Taylor Swift's Mother's Day-themed "The Best Day," which debuts on Hot Country Songs at No. 56. Its touching lyrics include the lines, "I'm 13 now and don't know how my friends could be so mean / I come home crying and you hold me tight and grab the keys / And we drive and drive until we found a town far enough away / And we talk and window shop till I forgot all their names."
Big Machine promoted the cut, from her 11-week Billboard 200 No. 1 album "Fearless," to radio especially for the holiday.
Swift explained the origin of "The Best Day" in a press release issued by her label: "I wrote this song on the road and didn't tell my mom about it. I decided that I was going to keep it a secret and give it to her as a surprise for Christmas. I wrote it in the summer and then recorded it secretly with the band in the studio.
"After it was done, I synched the song up to all these home videos of her and my family. She didn't even realize it was me singing until halfway through the song! She didn't have any idea that I could possibly write and record a song without her knowing about it. When she finally got it, she just started bawling her eyes out."
CHART BEAT BITS: With the debut of "Fantasy Ride," Ciara becomes the third female this decade to start her career with at least three top three albums on both the Billboard 200, where the set arrives at No. 3, and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (No. 1). She joins Alicia Keys and Beyonce, who began with four and three No. 1s, respectively, on each chart ...
From 1997 to 2004, Ben Harper placed five titles on the Billboard 200, peaking no higher than No. 67 with all but one, the No. 19 "Diamonds on the Inside" in 2003. Since, he's scored three consecutive top 10s: "Both Sides of the Gun" (No. 7 in 2006), "Lifeline" (No. 9 in 2007) and, this week, "White Lies for Dark Times," billed with his new band Relentless 7, at No. 9 ...
Yusuf, the former Cat Stevens, starts at No. 41 on the Billboard 200 with "Roadsinger." That's his highest-charting album since "Back to Earth" peaked at No. 33 in 1979. 1972's No. 1 "Catch Bull at Four" represents the artist's best performance on the survey ...
A pair of veteran artists make their first appearances on the Top Kid Audio chart. Jewel debuts at No. 1 with "Lullaby," while Ziggy Marley enters at No. 3 with "Family Time." Jewel joined with Somerset Entertainment and Fisher-Price for her first independent release. Marley's kid-friendly reggae set, which becomes his second No. 1 on Top Reggae Albums following 1999's "Spirit of Music," features Willie Nelson, Paul Simon and popular children's artist Laurie Berkner ...
Makano's "Te Amo" moved to recurrent status last month after a 25-week run on Hot Latin Songs, where it peaked at No. 11 in March, but two new remixes send the song soaring back in all the way at No. 1. The version featuring R.K.M. & Ken-Y is airing on rhythm and tropical stations, while the German Montero mix is playing on regional Mexican outlets.