Weekly Chart Notes: Elton John, Taylor Swift, Shakira

BLESSED 'UNION': As previously reported, country duo Sugarland bursts onto the Billboard 200 at No. 1 with "The Incredible Machine." At No. 2, Kings of Leon arrive with "Come Around Sundown."

At No. 3, another duo - and another Leon - enjoys its own landmark week.

Elton John and Leon Russell bow with "The Union," granting the legendary singer/songwriters their highest ranks on the survey since the '70s.

The set is Russell's third top 10, following 1972's "Carney" (No. 2) and 1973's "Leon Live" (No. 9).

John scores his 17th top 10 and highest placement since "Blue Moves" reached No. 3 in 1976. He had last ranked in the top 10 with "Rocket Man: Number Ones" (No. 9) in 2007 and last achieved the feat with an album of new material with 1997's "The Big Picture" (No. 9).

Where do 17 top 10 albums place John in the history of the Billboard 200? Here is a look at the acts with the most top 10 sets since the chart premiered as a weekly survey March 24, 1956:

36, the Rolling Stones
33, Frank Sinatra
30, the Beatles
30, Barbra Streisand
27, Elvis Presley
19, Bob Dylan
19, Madonna
17, Elton John
17, Paul McCartney/Wings
16, Neil Diamond
16, Johnny Mathis
16, Bruce Springsteen
16, George Strait
15, Mariah Carey
15, Rod Stewart

With his latest entrance, John expands his Billboard chart discography to 40 years, two months and three weeks, dating to the arrival of "Border Song" on the Aug. 15, 1970, Billboard Hot 100. He first graced the Billboard 200 with the No. 4-peaking "Elton John" Oct. 3, 1970.


NEW 'MOON': Rod Stewart joins the list above, as "Fly Me to the Moon... the Great American Songbook Volume V" begins at No. 4 on the Billboard 200.

Stewart has banked seven of his 15 top 10 albums since the first edition of his "Songbook" series entered the Billboard 200 eight years ago this week. Here is a recap of the five sets' chart performances:

No. 4, "It Had to Be You ... the Great American Songbook," 2002
No. 2, "As Time Goes By ... the Great American Songbook Vol. II," 2003
No. 1 (one week), "Stardust ... the Great American Songbook Vol. III," 2004
No. 2, "Thanks for the Memory ... the Great American Songbook Vol. IV," 2005
No. 4, "Fly Me to the Moon... the Great American Songbook Volume V," 2010

In that span, Stewart collected two additional top 10 covers albums: "Still the Same... Great Rock Classics of Our Time" (No. 1, one week, 2006) and "Soulbook" (No. 4, 2009).


BIG SHOT: After becoming the first artist in the 52-year history of the Hot 100 to post back-to-back top 10 debuts last week, Taylor Swift is the first act to claim the chart's Hot Shot Debut, awarded to the list's highest new entry, in three successive weeks, as "Mean" bows at No. 11.

The fourth and final song released a la carte ahead of Monday's (Oct. 25) release of Swift's third studio album "Speak Now," follows the lofty arrivals of the set's title cut at No. 8 two weeks ago and "Back to December" (No. 6) last week.

While no artist had previously linked three consecutive Hot Shot Debut ribbons, Justin Bieber earned the honor three times in four weeks in March and April, with "Never Let You Go," "U Smile" and "Eenie Meenie," with Sean Kingston.

Jonas Brothers likewise claimed Hot Shot Debut honors in three of four weeks in August 2008, while Swift tallied three in five weeks in November 2008. As with the countdown to the release of "Speak Now," Jonas Brothers and Swift roared in two years ago with preview songs from "A Little Bit Longer" and "Fearless," respectively.

The Beatles deserve an honorable mention, having boasted the top bows on the charts dated March 14 ("Twist and Shout," No. 55) and March 28, 1964 ("Can't Buy Me Love," No. 27). The Hot Shot Debut the week in between? at No. 73, the Carefrees' "We Love You Beatles."

(The March 21, 1964, Hot 100 was otherwise dominant for the Beatles. "She Loves You" became their second No. 1 (2-1), displacing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (1-2), while "Please Please Me" held at No. 3).
'BACK' AT ONE: Darius Rucker notches his fourth No. 1 on Country Songs, as "Come Back Song," the cleverly titled first single from his second country album, "Charleston, SC 1966," advances 2-1.

With the set having topped Country Albums last week, Rucker is the first male artist since Country Songs and Country Albums converted to Nielsen data in 1990 and 1991, respectively, to rule the surveys with his first two charted albums and the first radio single from each album. The first two chart entries ("Don't Think I Don't Think About It," "It Won't Be Like This for Long") from his 2008 No. 1 debut country collection, "Learn to Live," reached No. 1 on Country Songs.

Over the past two decades, only Carrie Underwood has also managed the feat, reigning with each of her first three albums and the maiden radio singles from each set.


'SALE' FORTH: Shakira takes over the top of six charts with the arrival of her new album "Sale El Sol" and first single "Loca."

The set is Shakira's fifth No. 1 on Latin Albums and Latin Pop Albums. It marks her fifth top 10 on the Billboard 200 (No. 7), and first since "Oral Fixation Vol. 2" opened at No. 5 the week of Dec. 17, 2005.

"Loca," featuring El Cata, becomes Shakira's ninth No. 1 on Latin Songs with an 11-1 blast. Among women, only Gloria Estefan has more (14). The song becomes Shakira's 13th Latin Pop Songs leader (4-1), second among all acts only to Enrique Iglesias' 16, and reaches the Latin Digital Songs and Tropical Songs summits.

Credited to Shakira featuring El Cata or Dizzee Rascal, "Loca" logs the greatest positional gain (84-32) on the Hot 100.


SUMMER REIGN:
Donna Summer celebrates her 14th No. 1 on Dance/Club Play Songs, as "To Paris With Love" rises 3-1.

The renowned diva's chart-topping sum equals Beyonce's and trails only those of Madonna (40), Janet Jackson (19), Mariah Carey and Kristine W (15 each), dating to the chart's inception as a national ranking Aug. 28, 1976. Summer extends her record for longest span of Dance/Club Play Songs No. 1s, having scored her first topper, "Four Seasons of Love (all cuts)," 34 years ago next week.

"I wanted to give my fans something special and exciting and I couldn't think of a better theme than the glamour and allure of Paris," says Summer of her newest hit. "I want people to feel transported, whether they're listening on the dance floors of Ibiza or on their headphones at work.

"The idea is to let them escape into that magic world."


'SULLY' LANDS:
Steve Carrell, John Stewart and Stephen Colbert debut at No. 4 on Comedy Digital Songs with "Everybody's Talking 'Bout Sully."

The song, which premiered on Comedy Central's autism benefit "Night of Too Many Stars" (Oct. 21), lauds pilot Chesley Sullenberger, who safely landed US Airways Flight 149 in the Hudson River off New York City in January 2009.

Non-chart-related highlight from the special: an uncomfortable Larry David acting frustrated that Sullenberger would not vacate a more desirable aisle seat while fielding telephone pledges.

(At least, hopefully, it was an act).