FIRST, LADY (AND THE PRECEDENTS): Lady Antebellum begins atop the Billboard 200 and Country Albums with its sophomore set, "Need You Now." The trio's self-titled first album debuted and peaked at Nos. 4 and 1 on the respective charts in May 2008.
Billboard 200 chart manager Keith Caulfield points out that Lady Antebellum is just the third core country group (not including duos, such as Sugarland) to reign on the list since it launched as a weekly survey on March 24, 1956.
Coincidentally, all three commanding groups are trios.
Dixie Chicks first led, when "Fly" landed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 dated Sept. 18, 1999. The act followed with the No. 1s "Home" (2002) and "Taking the Long Way" (2006).
Rascal Flatts claimed its first No. 1 on the Oct. 16, 2004, Billboard 200 with "Feels Like Today." Since, the group's subsequent studio sets have started at the summit: "Me and My Gang" (2006), "Still Feels Good" (2007) and "Unstoppable" (2009).
(The Eagles' most recent album, 2007's "Long Road Out of Eden," arrived at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and Country Albums, although since the collection was just their second entry on the latter list, format followers would not consider the group a core country act).
As Lady Antebellum controls the Billboard 200, the title cut from "Need You Now" rebounds 18-8 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song rose as high as No. 5 on Nov. 28, 2009, the week it began a five-week rule on Country Songs.
The ballad intensifies its crossover march at radio, rising 17-14 as the Greatest Gainer on Adult Contemporary, 25-22 on Adult Pop Songs and 37-30 on Pop Songs.
If the party don't stop (to employ "TiK ToK" grammar), and Ke$ha can remain at the apex for three more weeks, the song will match the longest span in charge for a female artist's first Hot 100 single. Debby Boone dominated for 10 weeks with "You Light Up My Life" beginning Oct. 15, 1977.
(Ashanti and Beyonce inked longer runs at No. 1 with their first titles as lead acts - "Foolish" (2002) and "Crazy in Love" (2003) - but each performer had charted first in featured roles. In her first trip up the Hot 100, Kelly Rowland enjoyed a 10-week reign as a featured artist on Nelly's "Dilemma" in 2002).
'NOW' AND THEN: The "Hope for Haiti Now" benefit compilation dips from No. 1 to No. 2 on the Billboard 200, although with sales-to-date of 314,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan, the set continues to provide vital aid to earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.
On the Hot 100, three tracks from the album debut, with two titles adding to their chart legacies.
Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock and Keith Urban claim Hot Shot Debut honors with "Lean on Me" at No. 47. After not appearing on the chart for more than 22 years, the R&B classic has now charted twice since December. Here is a look at the Hot 100 performances of the song's four charted versions:
Peak Pos., Year, Artist
No. 1, 1972, Bill Withers
No. 1, 1987, Club Nouveau
No. 50, 2009, Glee Cast featuring Kevin McHale & Amber Riley
No. 47, 2010, Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock & Keith Urban
At No. 98, Jennifer Hudson debuts with her cover of "Let It Be," featuring the Roots, aka the house band on NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." The song makes its first visit to the Hot 100 in 38 years, one month and one week:
Peak Pos., Year, Artist
No. 1, 1970, the Beatles
No. 49, 1971, Joan Baez
No. 98, 2010, Jennifer Hudson featuring the Roots
LET'S KEEP IT GOING: The Black Eyed Peas power 11-4 on the Hot 100 with "Imma Be." The song is the fourth top 10 from the act's album "The E.N.D.," following "Boom Boom Pow" and "I Gotta Feeling," which spent 12 and 14 weeks at No. 1, respectively, and "Meet Me Halfway" (No. 7).
How long had it been since a group had notched a quartet of Hot 100 top 10s from one album? Until this week, TLC last managed the achievement in 1994-95, when "CrazySexyCool" yielded four top fives: "Creep" (No. 1, four weeks), "Red Light Special," "Waterfalls" (No. 1, seven weeks) and "Diggin' On You" (No. 5).
HE SINGS THE 'LOVE SONGS': Barry Manilow posts his 12th top 10, and eighth top five, on the Billboard 200, as "The Greatest Love Songs of All Time" starts at No. 5.
The album expands upon the theme of Manilow's last four non-holiday releases. "The Greatest Songs of the Fifties" debuted at No. 1 in 2006, becoming his first topper since "Barry Manilow/Live" in 1977. He followed with editions paying tribute to the '60s (No. 2, 2006), '70s (No. 4, 2007) and '80s (No. 14, 2008). (No "The Greatest Songs of the Nineties" is currently in the works, although an RCA Music Group representative says "never say never" to the possibility, due to the franchise's success).
Manilow first reached the Billboard 200 top 10 with his initial chart entry, 1974's No. 9-peaking "Barry Manilow II."
CHART BEAT BITS: Recent Billboard cover girl Corinne Bailey Rae bows on the Billboard 200 at No. 7 and R&B/Hip-Hop Albums at No. 2 with her sophomore set "The Sea." Her eponymous debut peaked at Nos. 4 and 3 on the lists, respectively, in 2007. At No. 25, the new album's "Closer" leads a chart-record four top-30 debuts on the Adult R&B chart (viewable at billboard.biz). Joining Rae with lofty entrances are Monica ("Everything to Me," No. 26), Raheem DeVaughn ("I Don't Care," No. 27) and Mary J. Blige ("I Feel Good," No. 30) ...
With a different track, Blige extends her lead for most charted titles on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs among women since 1990, as "Good Love," featuring T.I., becomes her 62nd career entry. The female runner-up in that span, Mariah Carey, keeps pace with her 52nd debut, "Angels Cry," featuring Ne-Yo, at No. 90. At No. 49, K'Jon's "On the Ocean" logs a 72nd week, passing Usher's "You Make Me Wanna..." for longest chart run for a song by a male artist. In the 51-year history of R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, only one title has lasted longer: Blige's "Be Without You" (75 weeks, 2005-07) ...
Singer/songwriter Patty Griffin's first Christian album, "Downtown Church," arrives atop the Christian Albums and Folk Albums charts and at No. 38 on the Billboard 200. The set is Griffin's second to reach the top 40 on the latter list; "Children Running Through" peaked at No. 34 in 2007 ...
Alicia Keys debuts at No. 28 on Adult Contemporary with "Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down." The song charts solely from airplay at the chart's five New York City-area panelists: WALK (97.5), WHUD (100.7), WKJY (KJOY 98.3), WLTW (106.7 Lite FM) and WWFS (Fresh 102.7). "Although I'm a recent New Yorker," says WCBS-FM/WWFS program director Brian Thomas, "I get chills and a tear in my eye every time I hear the song. I'm sure many other New Yorkers feel the same way, along with a sense of pride in our great city." On R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, after climbing to a highpoint of No. 76 last week, Keys' solo, piano-driven version of her and Jay-Z's former No. 1 slips to No. 91, one notch above K. Michelle's "Fallin'." The latter title is not a remake of Keys' 2001 breakthrough signature song ...
The four-year-old Jazz Songs chart hosts its first No. 1 with vocals, as Sade's "Soldier of Love" steps 2-1. Jazz Songs chart manager Gordon Murray was, well, instrumental in noting the achievement, researching each of the tally's 45 previous leaders since the chart's Oct. 22, 2005, launch.