'Glee': A Record-Setting Freshman Year
With the last memories inscribed in the inside covers of the 2009-10 McKinley High yearbook, Chart Beat looks back at an honor roll of records that the "Glee" cast earned in its freshman year.
HOME, AT NO. 1: As previously reported, "Glee: the Music, Journey to Regionals" debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking the Fox TV series' third No. 1 album. "Glee: the Music, the Power of Madonna (EP)" (May 8) and "Glee: the Music, Volume 3: Showstoppers" (June 5) previously debuted at the summit.
When the two latter sets bowed at No. 1 four weeks apart, the "Glee" cast set the mark for shortest span between first weeks at No. 1 with different albums in the 54-year history of the Billboard 200. With its latest leader, the act rewrites its own record with a new No. 1 just three weeks after its last set arrived in the top spot.
With three Billboard 200 No. 1s in 2010, the "Glee" cast is the first act to enjoy as many leaders in a calendar year since another TV troupe, the Monkees, logged a trio of toppers in 1967: "More of the Monkees," "Headquarters" and "Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones LTD."
BALLADS, AND MORE: On the Billboard Hot 100 to be released tomorrow (June 17), multiple "Glee"-makes are expected to bow, marking the last week that the series' first season will impact the chart.
As noted in Chart Beat last Thursday (June 10), with 59 visits through last week, the "Glee" cast trails only the Beatles (71) for most chart entries among non-solo acts in the Hot 100's 52-year history. Among all artists, the "Glee" cast has logged the ninth-most Hot 100 titles; Elvis Presley leads with 108 visits from the chart's inception in 1958 through 2003.
Fourteen "Glee" tracks have reached the Hot 100's top 40, the most among all artists since the cast first arrived on June 6, 2009. Taylor Swift is next with 11 top 40 hits in that span.
On Digital Songs, the ensemble's 66 appearances through last week are the most since the chart began contributing to the Hot 100 in 2005. Lil Wayne ranks second with 50 Digital Songs entries in that stretch.
THE POWER OF 'GLEE': While a comprising a minority of the act's discography, certain classic songs have risen to new Hot 100 heights thanks to "Glee" cast cover versions.
The group's highest-charting Hot 100 entry, "Don't Stop Believin'," debuted and peaked at No. 4 on the June 6, 2009, chart. Journey's original recording reached No. 9 in 1981.
The cast's cover of "Last Christmas" spent a week at No. 63 in December. Neither the evergreen original version by Wham! in 1984 nor any covers by such artists as Coldplay, Hilary Duff or Taylor Swift had ever appeared on the Hot 100.
The "Glee" cast has also brought well-loved songs from Broadway to the Hot 100 for the first time, including "Defying Gravity," from the musical "Wicked" (No. 31), "Don't Rain on My Parade," from "Funny Girl" (No. 53), and "Lady Is a Tramp," from "Babes in Arms" (No. 81).
JOURNEY TO THE CHART'S TOP REGION: By debuting atop this week's Billboard 200, the "Glee" cast's tribute to Journey equals the chart-topping output of the venerable San Francisco rock band.
Journey has totaled one week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, ruling with "Escape" - the parent album of "Don't Stop Believin' " - on the survey dated Sept. 12, 1981.
(The oldest of the "Glee" club's singers, Cory Monteith, aka Finn Hudson, wouldn't be born until the following year ...)
SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER: Perhaps most remarkably, the "Glee" cast may have only begun to write its Hot 100 legacy. Fox recently announced that series has been renewed for at least two more seasons.
"It's been a whirlwind year, from shooting the pilot to performing at the White House to the concert tour, and yet we all feel like we've just begun this amazing musical journey," said "Glee" creator and executive producer Ryan Murphy. "Having time to plan ahead is wonderful and we think our Gleeks worldwide are going to love what we'll have in store for them in seasons two and three."
As long as the series continues to produce memorable episodes deftly mixing comedy, drama and theatricality (with any scenes revealing Sue Sylvester's ultimately big-hearted nature perhaps the most touching), the cast could sustain its Hot 100 staying power. (A Columbia Records executive confirms that the formula of the label and Fox teaming to release new tracks digitally alongside each new "Glee" episode is likely to continue).
If the sophomore season of the program yields Hot 100 hits at the pace of its freshman year, the "Glee" cast could pass the Beatles' 71 chart visits by Homecoming weekend. By next year's prom (with generous budgets for show choir and Cheerios, McKinley High couldn't afford one this year?), the cast could pass Presley's 108 entries for most among all acts in the chart's archives.
Though the "Glee" cast is almost never seen in class, (chart) history is sure to be a key subject in the series' second season.