HIGH 'HOPE': If an album is going to set a sales record, best that its proceeds go to charity. "Hope for Haiti Now" debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, becoming the first digital-exclusive set to reign in the chart's history. All proceeds from the MTV Networks release benefit Haiti earthquake relief efforts.
Billboard 200 chart manager Keith Caulfield notes that "Hope for Haiti Now" is one of an elite group of charity albums to top the Billboard 200.
How elite? There have only been three such commanding sets.
Before this week, the last was "God Bless America," which debuted at No. 1 on the chart dated Nov. 3, 2001. The album was compiled after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and benefited the Twin Towers Fund.
Prior to that collection, USA for Africa's "We Are the World" began a three-week stay on top on April 27, 1985.
One artist has appeared on all three chart-topping charity albums: Bruce Springsteen. The Boss contributed memorable vocals to the Billboard Hot 100 four-week No. 1 title track to "We Are the World," as well as the live cut "Trapped." "God Bless America" included another live Springsteen recording, "Land of Hope and Dreams." "Hope for Haiti Now" features his performance of "We Shall Overcome."
Says Billboard director of charts Silvio Pietroluongo, "The success of the 'Hope for Haiti Now' project is a momentous accomplishment, and it's wonderful that the first all-digital No. 1 is attached to such a worthwhile cause.
"The album validates what most people already know, that digital is a formidable means of music consumption, and its immediacy is unmatched.
"Of course, with Susan Boyle's recent success on the physical side, there is certainly still something to be said for the tangible album."
'HOPE' HITS: Three songs from the "Hope for Haiti Now" album arrive on the Hot 100, led by a No. 16 start for "Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour)" by Jay-Z, Bono, the Edge (the song's three co-writers) and Rihanna.
At No. 48, Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris bow with "Hallelujah." The classic 1984 Leonard Cohen ballad makes just its second appearance on the chart. Kate Voegele spent one week at No. 68 on the May 31, 2008, Hot 100. (Jeff Buckley's notable 1994 cover topped Digital Songs on March 22, 2008, following Jason Castro's performance of the song on "American Idol").
The new version of "Hallelujah" features Charlie Sexton, who notches his second Hot 100 entry. His "Beat's So Lonely" entered the chart dated Dec. 14, 1985, and peaked at No. 17 the following March. His gap of 25 years, one month and three weeks between his first two Hot 100 debuts is the second-longest for an artist in the chart's history. The Wailers waited more than 32 years between the starts of Bob Marley's "Roots, Rock, Reggae" (1976) and Kenny Chesney's "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven" (2008), both of which featured the famed reggae band. (Alvin & the Chipmunks own the longest overall gap between Hot 100 hits: 45 years and two weeks between "Alvin's Harmonica" and "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late) (2007)").
Coincidentally, at No. 81, Rihanna brings Marley's seminal 1980 composition "Redemption Song" to the Hot 100 for the first time.
On Digital Songs, "Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour)" and the "Hope for Haiti Now" versions of "Hallelujah" and "Redemption Song" debut at Nos. 8, 24 and 47, respectively.
SWIFT STARTS: Beyond generous consumers spurring Hot 100 debuts for "Hope for Haiti Now" tracks, the chart sports a pair of top five arrivals by Taylor Swift (whose cover of Better Than Ezra's "Breathless" appears on the charity compilation) and Justin Bieber.
Swift storms the Hot 100 at No. 2 with "Today Was a Fairytale," from the Feb. 12 film "Valentine's Day," in which she co-stars along such Hollywood favorites as Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Patrick Dempsey, Shirley MacLaine and Julia Roberts. The song instantly ties "You Belong With Me" for Swift's highest-charting Hot 100 hit. The new track is her first No. 1, achieved with her 30th entry, on Digital Songs.
At No. 5, Bieber blasts in with "Baby," featuring Ludacris. The song previews his sophomore set, "My World Part 2," due March 23.
With Swift and Bieber's entrances, the chart houses a pair of top five debuts for just the third time. On Feb. 28, 1998, Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" and Will Smith's "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" began at Nos. 1 and 3, respectively. On June 28, 2003, Clay Aiken's "This Is the Night" and Ruben Studdard's "Flying Without Wings" opened at Nos. 1 and 2.
'FACE' FACTS: Mariah Carey debuts on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs at No. 97 with "Up Out My Face," featuring Nicki Minaj. The song is the fourth charted entry from "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel," following "Obsessed" (No. 12), "I Want to Know What Love Is" (No. 40) and "H.A.T.E.U." (No. 72). Her "Angels Advocate" remix album streets March 30.
With the new song's launch, Carey extends her R&B/Hip-Hop Songs record among female artists for consecutive years with a debut. She has sent a song onto the chart in each of the 21 years she has appeared on the list, dating to the debut of "Vision of Love" on June 2, 1990.
Among fellow female format luminaries, Gladys Knight debuted on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs each year from 1967 through 1989. The first 22 years of her streak, however, are archived under a group billing - Gladys Knight & the Pips - while her 1989 entry was as a solo act.
Aretha Franklin also maintained a prominent presence on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs in all but one year between 1965 and 1989. Her streak of debuts was interrupted by a lack of new entries only in 1984.
NOW THAT'S A SPOON: Austin, Texas, rock band Spoon scoops its highest rank on the Billboard 200, as "Transference" opens at No. 4.
The group's fifth studio set, "Gimme Fiction," first sent the band onto the list, debuting and peaking at No. 44 in 2005. "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga" peaked at No. 10 on the July 28, 2007, chart.
"Transference" additionally becomes Spoon's first No. 1 on both Rock Albums and Alternative Albums.
CHART BEAT BITS: Pearl Jam plates its first No. 1 on the Triple A adult alternative airplay survey, viewable at billboard.biz, as "Just Breathe" climbs 2-1. Having appeared on the list since 1996, the band had previously peaked as high as No. 3 with "I Am Mine" in 2002 ...
Two venerable modern rock acts return to Billboard airplay charts. The virtual band Gorillaz invades Alternative Songs after four years with "Stylo" at No. 39. R&B veterans Mos Def and Bobby Womack guest on the track, which introduces the Gorillaz' third album "Plastic Beach," due March 9. Other artists making cameos on the set include Snoop Dogg, Lou Reed and De La Soul. On Adult Pop Songs, Barenaked Ladies bow at No. 40 with "You Run Away," their first chart entry since 2004. Now a quartet following the defection of singer Steven Page, the act releases "All in Good Time" March 30 ...
Jason Aldean caps Country Songs for a fourth time, as "The Truth" treads 3-1. With the coronation, each single from Aldean's album "Wide Open" has topped the chart. Lead track "She's Country" spent a week at No. 1 last May, while follow-up "Big Green Tractor" motored to a four-week command. The Macon, Georgia-born, Nashville-based singer first reigned with "Why" in 2006 ...
Alejandro Fernandez scores his eighth No. 1 on Latin Songs, as "Se Me Va La Voz" jumps 4-1. The singer, a staple of the chart since 1992, had last led with "Me Dedique A Perderte" in October 2004. On Tropical Songs, the new track vaults 5-1 to become his first No. 1 after eight previous appearances on the chart, all of which reached the top 10 ...
Aziz Ansari's "Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening" debuts at No. 1 on Comedy Albums. The set from the cast member of the Amy Poehler NBC sitcom "Parks and Recreation" features such stories as the following: "Occasionally I get recognized from TV. Once, a guy said something, but I had my headphones on, so I just went, "Cool, glad you like the show." Right after, I realized he hadn't said anything about the show. He went, "Hey, your fly is down." And I'd said, "Cool, glad you like the show."