Fred discusses chart action from Joan Baez, Cliff Richard, Pink and more!GOT A JOANS FOR YOU: It's been 29 years and two weeks since Joan Baez appeared on the Billboard album chart, but her long hiatus is over, thanks to the debut of "Day After Tomorrow" (Razor & Tie) at No. 128. The legendary folksinger made her album tally debut the week of Nov. 27, 1961, with "Joan Baez, Vol. 2," giving her a chart span of 46 years and 11 months. And if you're wondering why she made her debut with an album that had "Vol. 2" in the title, her earlier "Joan Baez" album was released first, but charted after "Vol. 2."
Baez's highest-charting set to date is "Joan Baez in Concert, Part 2," which peaked at No. 7 in 1964. She first made the top 10 in 1962 with "Joan Baez in Concert," which peaked at No. 10. The only other Baez release to reach the top 10 was "Farewell, Angelina," No. 10 in 1965.
"Day After Tomorrow" is the 26th Baez album to chart, and is her first since "Honest Lullaby" went to No. 113 in the summer of 1979.
Baez is not the only Joan to have a new entry this week. Joan Osborne's "Little Wild One" (Womanly Hips/Plum/Saguaro Road) opens at No. 193. This is the fourth entry for Osborne on The Billboard 200. She made her album chart debut the week of Sept. 9, 1995, with "Relish," which peaked at No. 9. "Righteous Love" went to No. 90 in 2000 and "Breakfast in Bed" stopped at No. 160 last year.
With Baez and Osborne back on The Billboard 200, now might be a great time for the other two Joans, Armatrading and Jett, to release new albums.
GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY: Cliff Richard was 17 years old when he made his U.K. singles chart debut on Sept. 12, 1958, with "Move It," considered to be the first British rock and roll recording. Originally intended to be a B-side, "Move It" became the hit side and moved all the way to No. 2 on the U.K. singles chart. Cliff's first No. 1 was "Living Doll," his fifth single. Since that time, he has amassed a total of 14 No. 1s in Great Britain, a total surpassed only by Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Westlife.
Cliff has never been away from the charts, and as of this week, his span of singles extends to 50 years with the No. 3 debut of "Thank You for a Lifetime." Fans of the 67-year-old artist were hoping to give him his 15th No. 1 single and make him the first artist in the history of the U.K. singles chart to top the list in six different decades.
Still, Cliff is only the second artist after Elvis Presley to appear on the British singles survey in the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s and '00s. And he has another year to collect his next No. 1 and set the record for six decades of chart-topping titles.
'WHAT' UP: Seven years after she topped The Billboard Hot 100 with Christina Aguulera, Lil' Kim and Mya on a remake of Labelle's "Lady Marmalade," Pink earns her first solo No. 1. By achieving pole position, "So What" (LaFace) makes Pink the fifth solo female artist to advance to No. 1 this year. That's the highest number of solo women to move into the penthouse in a calendar year this millennium.
Here is a breakdown of solo females to climb to No. 1 on the Hot 100 without any support from co-billed or featured artists from 2000-2008:
Mariah Carey (2)
Mary J. Blige
Christina Aguilera (2)
That makes 2008 the year with highest number of solo female artists reaching the summit since 1999, when there were six:
ANOTHER RECORD FOR 2008: This calendar year also holds the record for the highest number of songs entering the Hot 100 in the top five in this millennium. The fourth single to do so is "Swagga Like Us" (Grand Hustle) by Jay-Z & T.I. featuring Kanye West and Lil Wayne, which opens at No. 5.
That ties the Jonas Brothers' "Burnin' Up" as the highest new entries this year for artists not connected to "American Idol." The top two debuts of 2008 are "Crush" by David Archuleta at No. 2 and "The Time of My Life" by David Cook at No. 3.
"Swagga Like Us" is by far the highest Hot 100 debut to date for a Jay-Z single. It bests the No. 43 bow of "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" in November 1998. It is also the highest debut on this chart for all of the featured artists.
In its first week, "Swagga Like Us" is already in a tie as Jay-Z's biggest hit where he is a lead artist. In 2004, "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" peaked at No. 5. As a featured artist, Jay-Z has three No. 1s to his credit: "Heartbreaker" with Mariah Carey in 1999, "Crazy in Love" with BeyoncŽ in 2003 and "Umbrella" with Rihanna in 2007. Jay-Z was also featured on two songs that peaked at No. 4: "'03 Bonnie & Clyde" in 2002 and "DŽjˆ Vu" in 2006, both with BeyoncŽ. And in 2003 he had a No. 5 hit, "Frontin'," with Pharrell.
A FIFTH FOR METALLICA: Heavy metal band Metallica earned its first No. 1 album in 1991 and the group hasn't stopped. "Death Magnetic" (Warner Bros.) enters The Billboard 200 in pole position, and is the fifth chart-topper for the Los Angeles-based outfit.
Metallica made its Billboard album chart debut exactly 24 years ago this week with "Ride the Lightning," which had to settle for peaking at No. 100 in March 1985. The follow-up, "Master of Puppets," strung its way to No. 29 in May 1986. Metallica first crashed into the top 10 in October 1988, when "...And Justice for All" peaked at No. 6.
The group's next album to chart, an eponymous release, spent four weeks at No. 1, starting in August 1991. Subsequent No. 1 albums were "Load," on top for four weeks in June-July 1996, "Reload," with one week in first place in December 1997 and "St. Anger," also with one week on top, in June 2003.
THE SIMPSON: Jessica Simpson has never had a No. 1 album on The Billboard 200, but she does lead the Top Country Albums chart this week, as her "Do You Know" (Epic/Columbia) opens at the zenith.
"Do You Know" enters The Billboard 200 at No. 4, making it the second highest-charting album of Simpson's career on this survey. The only release that fared better was "In This Skin," which peaked at No. 2 in March 2004.
"Do You Know" is the first album by Simpson to appear on The Billboard 200 since "A Public Affair" went to No. 5 in 2006.
SEQUEL: Natalie Cole's "Still Unforgettable" (DMI/Atco) bows on The Billboard 200 at No. 19, making it her highest charting title since "Unforgettable" spent five weeks at No. 1 in July-August 1991.
NORMAN WHITFIELD, R.I.P.: When New York City-born Norman Whitfield was signed to Motown as a writer/producer, his first assignment was Marvin Gaye. That collaboration gave Gaye his first top 10 hit, "Pride and Joy," in 1963. Whitfield went on to work with the Temptations on their very first album (partnered with the group's primary writer/producer, Smokey Robinson) and was eventually paired with songwriter Barrett Strong, best known for his own Motown hit as an artist, "Money."
The Whitfield-Strong team wrote some of Motown's biggest hits, including "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" and "War."
Whitfield eventually left Berry Gordy's label and wrote the music for the soundtrack to "Car Wash." He formed his own label, Whitfield, and signed the group that recorded the hit songs from "Car Wash," Rose Royce.
As a lifelong Motown fan, I was sad to hear of Whitfield's passing this week at age 67. In tribute, here is the Norman Whitfield top 10, excerpted from the fourth edition of "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits," and featuring his biggest singles as a songwriter:
1. "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," Marvin Gaye (1968)
2. "War," Edwin Starr (1970)
3. "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)," The Temptations (1971)
4. "Car Wash," Rose Royce (1977)
5. "I Can't Get Next to You," The Temptations (1969)
6. "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," Gladys Knight & the Pips (1967)
7. "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)," The Temptations (1970)
8. "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone," The Temptations (1972)
9. "Oh Boy," Cam'ron featuring Juelz Santana (2002)
10. "Smiling Faces Sometimes," The Undisputed Truth (1971)