Fred discusses chart action from "At Last," T.I., Josiah Leming and more!
THIS COULD BE THE 'LAST' TIME: Mack Gordon and Harry Warren wrote "At Last" for the film "Orchestra Wives" in 1942. Glenn Miller had a No. 14 hit on the Billboard pop singles chart that year with the song and a remake by Ray Anthony soared to No. 2 in 1952. But the classic version of "At Last" is the Etta James recording. Although it only went to No. 47 on the Hot 100 in 1961, James' version is known by multiple generations (thanks in part to it being embraced by a number of "American Idol" contestants over the last seven years).
James' single fared better on the R&B singles chart, where it peaked at No. 2. The song returned to this survey in December 1971, thanks to a cover version by Jesse (no relation) James that went to No. 25. Now, "At Last" is back for a third run, as a recording by Beyonce enters Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs at No. 98. This update is from the soundtrack to "Cadillac Records," which tells the story of the legendary Chicago-based Chess Records. Beyonce portrays Etta James in the film, which also features Mos Def as Chuck Berry, Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters and Cedric the Entertainer as Willie Dixon – so we could be in for a raft of hit singles from this much-anticipated movie.
BACK TO 'LIFE': Once again, a former No. 1 song on the Hot 100 has reclaimed pole position. "Live Your Life" (Def Jam/Grand Hustle) by T.I. featuring Rihanna spent one week on top on the chart dated Oct. 18 and now returns for a second week in the penthouse, knocking out the last song to rebound to the summit – "Whatever You Like" by T.I, which first advanced to No. 1 the week of Sept. 6, returned the week of Oct. 4, and then made a third trip to the top the week of Nov. 1.
That makes T.I. only the third artist in the rock era to replace himself at No. 1 twice. The Beatles did it in 1964, first when "She Loves You" succeeded "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and then again when "Can't Buy Me Love" followed "She Loves You." Usher repeated this feat 40 years later, when "Yeah!" was replaced by "Burn" in 2004, and then "Burn" by "Confessions Part II."
"Whatever You Like" had a seven-week reign, so adding in the two weeks "Live Your Life" has been No. 1 so far, T.I. has spent nine weeks on top in 2008.
NOT FROM THE TOP 24: Until this week, the only "American Idol" contestant to not reach the top 24 on the show and appear on a Billboard chart was William Hung. The Hong Kong-born hopeful auditioned during the third season with an out-of-tune take on Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" and was so memorable he ended up with a No. 1 record on the Top Independent Albums chart.
Josiah Leming's story is somewhat different. He auditioned during the seventh season of Idol, and impressed the judges enough to win a trip to Hollywood. He made an impact on viewers with his vocal prowess and also for living in his car and breaking down in tears during an emotional moment. Many were surprised when he was sent home without making it into the top 24. More people were surprised when he signed a recording deal with Warner Bros. Records.
Leming has released an EP, "Angels Undercover," on Reprise and that set debuts on the Top Heatseekers chart at No. 26. That makes Leming the 39th "Idol" to appear on a Billboard chart. If you just consider singers who became finalists by making the top 12, the number of "Idols" who have charted remains at 37.
HANK AND HANK: Last week I reported that Hank Williams III scored the highest-charting album of his career on both Top Country Albums and The Billboard 200. "Damn Right Rebel Proud" debuted at No. 2 on the country tally. In writing about that achievement, I mentioned that Hank III was the grandson of Hank Williams, but I had no idea that the youngest Hank would be joined on the chart this week by his grandfather.
In fact, two albums by the eldest Hank enter the survey. A 3-CD set of "The Unreleased Recordings" (Time Life) is new at No. 42, while a single CD version of that album, sporting the same title, opens at No. 49. These two debuts mark the first appearance of Hank Williams on this chart in six years, since "The Ultimate Collection" peaked at No. 32 in August 2002.
The country albums chart was first published in January 1964, long after Hank Williams began his recording career. He first appeared on this list in July 1965 with "Father and Son," an album recorded with his son Hank Williams, Jr. That gives the first Hank Williams a country albums chart span of 43 years, four months and two weeks. But if you consider his entire career, his chart span is 61 years, three months and one week, counting back to the debut of Move It On Over" on the country singles chart in August 1947.
BACK TO BACHARACH: As a songwriter, Burt Bacharach has a long list of chart entries over many different Billboard tallies. As an artist, Bacharach has a much shorter list of credits. The debut of "Live at the Sydney Opera House" (Verve) at No. 73 on The Billboard 200 gives the veteran tunesmith his eighth charted album over a period of 41 years and his highest-charting set since 1971.
The "Live" album beats the peak position of Bacharach's most recent album to chart by just one rung. "Here I Am: Isley Meets Bacharach," featuring Ronald Isley singing Bacharach's greatest hits, peaked at No. 72 five years ago this month. Before that, "Painted from Memory" by Elvis Costello and Bacharach peaked at No. 78 in 1998. To find a Bacharach album that charted higher than "Live," you would have to go back to a self-titled album in 1971 that reached No. 18.
'BACK' TO FRONT: The latest Susan Tedeschi album debuts at No. 1 on Top Blues Albums – no surprise, given that it is her third chart-topping set on this list. "Back to the River" (Verve Forecast) follows "Wait for Me" (which spent 24 weeks in pole position in 2002-03) and "Hope and Desire" (which had a six-week reign in 2005).
There is a surprise for Tedeschi on The Billboard 200, where "Back to the River" bows at No. 71, the highest peak position of her career. Her previous best was the No. 91 posting of "Wait for Me" the week of Dec. 7, 2002.
IN THE PINK: By debuting at No. 2 on The Bllboard 200, "Funhouse" (LaFace) instantly becomes the highest-debuting and highest-charting album by Pink, eclipsing her four previous sets. In chronological order, they are:
"Can't Take Me Home," No. 26 (2000)
"Missundaztood," No. 6 (2002)
"Try This," No. 9 (2003)
"I'm Not Dead," No. 6 (2006)
Although AC/DC denied Pink her first No. 1 album by retaining the crown for a second week, a string of hit singles could still send "Funhouse" to first place.
THEY DID THE 'MASH': When it comes to songs associated with a holiday, Christmas gets all the good tunes, but Halloween can claim a few hits of its own, led by the 46-year-old "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers. The song was first released in 1962, when it topped the Hot 100 for two weeks. The song returned to the chart in 1970 and reached No. 91 in 1971 and then had a third chat run in 1973, when it peaked at No. 10.
Now available as a digital download, "Monster Mash" becomes a posthumous chart entry for Pickett, who passed away on April 25, 2007. His classic hit re-enters Hot Digital Songs at No. 35, thanks to the recent trick-or-treat festivities.
ONE AND TWO: Carrie Underwood rules Hot Country Songs for a second week with "Just a Dream" (19/Arista) while Taylor Swift rises 3-2 with "Love Story" (Big Machine).
This is the first week that solo female artists have occupied the top two rungs since May 2005, when Jo Dee Messina was in first place with "My Give a Damn's Busted" and Gretchen Wilson was runner-up with "Homewrecker" for two weeks running.