As previously reported, Spears ties Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson for third-most No. 1s among women. Only Barbra Streisand (nine) and Madonna (seven) have earned more leaders since the list launched as a weekly chart March 24, 1956.
Dating to her first stay in the penthouse the week of Jan. 30, 1999, when her debut album, "...Baby One More Time," opened at No. 1, Spears is tied for second-most Billboard 200 toppers among all artists:
As her "Femme Fatale" charges in atop the Billboard 200, the set's second single, "Till the World Ends," bounds 22-13 on the Hot 100, approaching its peak to-date of No. 9 three weeks ago. The song lifts 18-15 on Digital Songs and 26-19 on Radio Songs.
Prior single "Hold It Against Me," which topped the Hot 100 in its debut week Jan. 29, dips 52-75 in its 12th week, marking a now-rare occurrence.
Since Taylor Hicks' former leader "Do I Make You Proud" wrapped an eight-week chart run at No. 98 the week of Aug. 19, 2006, just two Hot 100 No. 1s have fallen below No. 50 ... and both belong to Spears.
(Songs are removed from the Hot 100 after 20 weeks once ranking below No. 50. Of the 72 No. 1s after "Proud," 26, in fact, have logged at least 30 chart weeks before departing from the chart's upper half).
Prior to "Hold It Against Me," Spears' "3" spent that many weeks below No. 50 to close out its Hot 100 run (at Nos. 53, 63 and 72) last year.
The Hot 100 histories of "Hold" and "3," the latter of which also debuted at No. 1, suggest that their initial high levels of attention may have ultimately damaged their potential chart longevity.
While they may have burned too fast to last, both former leaders have totaled impressive digital sales. "3" has sold 2.1 million downloads and "Hold," 1.2 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
FEELING THE LOVE: Following the spotlight of his songs infusing "American Idol" last Wednesday and Thursday (March 30, 31) and his turn as host and musical guest on "Saturday Night Live" (April 2), Elton John music rockets up multiple Billboard charts.
"Rocket Man: Number Ones" re-enters Catalog Albums at No. 1, the 2007 set's first frame at the summit among its 34 weeks on the chart.
John had last boasted the top catalog collection when his "Greatest Hits" topped the Oct. 25, 1997, tally. That week, John's Princess Diana tribute "Candle in the Wind," backed with "Something About the Way You Look Tonight," spent its second of 14 weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100.
After "Idol" contestants performed the classics Wednesday, John's original versions of "Bennie and the Jets" (as interpreted by Haley Reinhart) and "Rocket Man" (Paul McDonald) debut on Rock Digital Songs at Nos. 16 and 19, respectively, and "Tiny Dancer" (Stefano Langone) re-enters at No. 19.
MEDICAL CHARTS: The cast of "Grey's Anatomy" debuts on the Billboard 200 at No. 24 with the soundtrack to its March 31 special musical episode. Cast member Sara Ramirez concurrently bows on the Hot 100 at No. 69 with her cover of Brandi Carlisle's "The Story" (besting the No. 75 peak of the original version of the folk/pop song in 2007).
Ramirez's own self-titled EP also starts in the Billboard 200 at No. 37.
The "Grey's Anatomy" actors-turned-singers (more used to medical than musical instruments) aren't the first primetime TV stars not known for regularly bursting into song to reach a Billboard chart courtesy of an episode showcasing their vocal talents.
In 2002, the cast of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" provided vocals for the series' musical episode "Once More, With Feeling" (in which a demon causes its residents to spontaneously sing. And combust).
The episode's melodic soundtrack, composed by "Buffy" creator Joss Whedon, staked out a No. 49 Billboard 200 peak.