Fred discusses "In the Heights," Carrie Underwood, Regina Belle and more!

'HEIGHTS' HITS THE HEIGHTS: Whenever I'm in New York, I do my best to see as many Broadway shows as possible. Last week I was there for a very short time, on assignment for Sirius Satellite Radio to interview Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus from ABBA for the upcoming "Mamma Mia!" movie. In two days I managed to see three musicals, kicking off my weekend marathon with "In the Heights," playing at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

I loved the show and am now rooting for it to take home as many Tony Awards as possible on Sunday (June 15). But little did I realize while seeing this energetic contemporary musical that the original cast album would be the subject of Chart Beat just a few days later.

The album debuts at No. 1 on Top Cast Albums and arrives on The Billboard 200 at No. 82. On the latter tally, it's the third-highest ranked Broadway cast album of this millennium, right behind "Monty Python's Spamalot" (No. 69 in May 2005) and "Disney's the Little Mermaid" (No. 26 three months ago). Of these three cast albums, "In the Heights" (Ghostlight/Sh-K Boom) is the only one not connected to a previously existing franchise.

Since the Top Cast Albums chart was introduced in 2006, only nine albums have achieved pole position. Just two of those CDs have been No. 1 longer than one week: "Wicked" (95 weeks to date) and "Jersey Boys" (25 weeks so far). "In the Heights" only has to remain in the penthouse for one more week to become the third most successful Broadway cast album since the Cast chart was initiated.

Here are the seven Broadway albums that have each spent one week at the head of the class:

"The Color Purple" (2006)
"Harry on Broadway, Act I: The Pajama Game" (2006)
"Spring Awakening" (2007)
"Legally Blonde: The Musical" (2007)
"Disney's the Little Mermaid" (2008)
"Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific" (2008)
"In the Heights" (2008)


'LAST' SHALL BE FIRST: If you thought Carrie Underwood's "Last Name" (Arista) was moving too slowly up the Hot Country Songs chart to reach No. 1, guess again.

The third single from the sophomore effort "Carnival Ride" surges 5-1, giving Underwood her sixth chart-topper in less than three years and her fourth No. 1 in a row, not counting holiday and charity releases (or to put it another way, just counting songs released on her own label and promoted to country radio).

Underwood is the first solo female artist to have four consecutive No. 1s on the country survey in almost 20 years, since Rosanne Cash had a string of six No. 1 titles between 1987-89. The six Cash No. 1s all spent one week each on top.

Here's a recap of those hits:

"The Way We Make a Broken Heart" (1987)
"Tennessee Flat Top Box" (1988)
"It's Such a Small World" (1988)
"If You Change Your Mind" (1988)
"Runaway Train" (1988)
"I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" (1989)

Underwood's first three No. 1s were from her debut album, "Some Hearts." Her trio of chart-toppers from "Carnival Ride" give her three more No. 1s from one album. Before Carrie did it twice, the last solo female performer to have three No. 1s from one album was Jo Dee Messina.

Her hat trick of No. 1s was:

"Bye Bye," two weeks (1998)
"I'm Alright," three weeks (1998)
"Stand Beside Me," three weeks (1999)

"Last Name" gives Underwood a 20th week at No. 1. Just counting the 18-year period that Hot Country Songs has been based on airplay information from Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems, Underwood has the second-highest total of weeks at No. 1 for a solo female artist. The only woman with more weeks at No. 1 in this time frame is Faith Hill, with 30. In third place is Messina with 15.

No other solo female artist has had as many No. 1 hits as Underwood on the country chart in this century. There is a three-way tie for second place, with three No. 1s each for Hill, Messina and Sara Evans.

"Last Name" is the 180th No. 1 for the "American Idol" franchise, counting all national, domestic charts compiled by Billboard. Underwood is still in second place on the list of Idols with the most No. 1s but if she continues her momentum, she could give leader Kelly Clarkson a run for her money. Here is a summary of how many chart-toppers the Idols have racked up:

Kelly Clarkson 45
Carrie Underwood 31
Chris Daughtry (Daughtry) 20
Fantasia 20
Ruben Studdard 15
Clay Aiken 11
Kimberley Locke 7
Josh Gracin 6
Mandisa 6
Taylor Hicks 3
Elliott Yamin 3
American Idol Finalists 2
Bo Bice 2
David Cook 2
Paris Bennett 1
Bucky Covington 1
Diana DeGarmo 1
Tamyra Gray 1
William Hung 1
Jennifer Hudson 1
Kellie Pickler 1


BRING MY BELLE: Regina Belle returns to Hit R&B/Hip-Hop Songs after an absence of more than six years. Her single "God Is Good" (Pendulum) debuts in the anchor slot, bringing Belle back to the chart for the first time since "Oooh Boy" peaked at No. 63 in January 2002.

Belle made her first appearance on the R&B tally in November 1986 when she was featured on the Manhattans' No. 42 hit "Where Did We Go Wrong?" under the spelling Regina Bell. Her first chart entry on her own was "Show Me the Way," which arrived the week of May 9, 1987, ultimately peaking at No. 2.
While her biggest pop hit remains "A Whole New World," her Hot 100 No. 1 duet with Peabo Bryson from the "Aladdin" soundtrack, that Disney song only flew to No. 21 on the R&B list. But Belle has two chart-toppers to her credit on this chart: "Baby Come to Me" in 1989 and "Make It Like It Was" in 1990.
With the debut of "God Is Good," Belle's chart span expands to 21 years, seven months and two weeks.


FIVE WILL GET YOU 10: There's no movement at the top of the Hot 100, which means "Lollipop" (Cash Money) by Lil Wayne featuring Static Major reigns for a fifth week. That pushes "Lollipop" past Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" to make it the lone song in second place among the longest-running chart-toppers of 2008.

Leading the pack is "Low" by Flo Rida featuring T-Pain, at 10 weeks. Here are all of this calendar year's No. 1 singles, ranked in order by length of stay at the apex:

10 weeks: "Low," Flo Rida featuring T-Pain
5 weeks: "Lollipop," Lil Wayne featuring Static Major
4 weeks: "Bleeding Love," Leona Lewis
3 weeks: "Love in This Club," Usher featuring Young Jeezy
2 weeks: "Touch My Body," Mariah Carey
1 week: "Take a Bow," Rihanna

Joining the five Lil Wayne songs that were already on the Hot 100 are two more tracks from his new album, "Tha Carter II," which is sure to debut at No. 1 next week on The Billboard 200. Lil Wayne now has seven songs on the Hot 100, tying the record set by T-Pain for the most chart entries by any rap artist. Counting all artists, Lil Wayne needs four more to match David Cook's 11 simultaneous songs, and he needs to double his current total to equal the all-time record of 14, set by the Beatles in 1964.

Here are the seven Lil Wayne titles on the current chart:

No. 1: "Lollipop" [Lil Wayne featuring Static Major]
No. 21: "Got Money" [Lil Wayne featuring T-Pain]
No. 27: "Love in This Club Part II" [Usher featuring Beyonce and Lil Wayne]
No. 29: "A Milli"
No. 79: "Girls Around the World" [Lloyd featuring Lil Wayne]
No. 81: "You Ain't Got Nuthin" [Lil Wayne featuring Juelz Santana and Fabolous]
No. 92: "Mr. Carter" [Lil Wayne featuring Jay-Z]

Since making his Hot 100 debut the week of July 10, 1999, with "Back That Thang Up" (credited to Juvenile featuring Mannie Fresh and Lil Wayne), the New Orleans-born rapper has amassed a total of 26 chart entries, including his current seven.


RIGHT BEHIND 'REAL': Paula Abdul's history on the Hot Dance Club Play chart looks a little different from her fortunes on the Hot 100, where she amassed six No. 1 singles between 1989-91.

On Club Play, "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow" (Dream Merchant 21) falls 2-11 this week, but not before waltzing its way up the list to become the second-biggest hit by Abdul in her 20 years on this tally.

Paula's highest-ranked song on Club Play is "My Love Is for Real," which spent one week at No. 1 in August 1995. In third place is "Straight Up," which climbed to No. 3 in March 1989.

Abdul first appeared on the Club Play survey in June 1988 with "Knocked Out," which eventually peaked at No. 14.


REVEALED: Lao Tzu, a sixth century Chinese philospher, once said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Perhaps he was thinking of the rock group from San Francisco named Journey. Perhaps that's too big a stretch. Either way, Journey is back on The Billboard 200 with its highest-charting set in almost 12 years.

"Revelation" (Nomota) is a new entry at No. 5, making it the highest-ranked Journey album since "Trial by Fire" was hot enough to land at No. 3 in November 1996.

"Revelation" is the 19th Journey album to chart. It's the fifth top five record for the band and the eighth top 10. Here are those eight top 10 titles, in order of peak position:

No. 1: "Escape" (1981)
No. 2: "Frontiers" (1983)
No. 3: "Trial by Fire" (1996)
No. 4: "Raised on Radio" (1986)
No. 5: "Revelation" (2008)
No. 8: "Departure" (1980)
No. 9: "Captured" (1981)
No. 10: "Greatest Hits" (1989)

Journey made its album tally debut with an eponymous LP in May 1975, giving the group a newly enlarged chart span of 23 years, one month and three weeks.


COLE'S ROLL: Keyshia Cole is on a roll. The Oakland, Calif.Ðborn singer/songwriter collects her third No. 1 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. "Heaven Sent" (Imani/Geffen) is Cole's second chart-topper of 2008, following "I Remember," which ruled for seven weeks, starting in February.

Cole spent three weeks on top in September 2007 with "Let It Go." She made her R&B chart debut in February 2004 with "Never," which stopped at No. 71. That gives Cole a chart span of exactly four years and four months.


DISTURBING NEWS: Also on a roll with three consecutive No. 1s is Disturbed. The hard rock act from Chicago debuts in pole position on The Billboard 200 for the third consecutive time, following "Believe" in 2002 and "Ten Thousand Fists" in 2005. The only Disturbed album to miss the top spot was the debut release, "The Sickness," which was illin' enough to peak at No. 29 in October 2000.


I CAN SEE 'CLEAR' NOW: Jewel's seventh chart entry shows up on The Billboard 200 and gives the artist her first ink on Top Country Albums.

"Perfectly Clear" (Valory) enters The Billboard 200 at No. 8, matching the peak position of the last Jewel album to chart, "Goodbye Alice in Wonderland," in May 2006. With the exception of a holiday album in 1999, all of Jewel's releases have cracked the top 10. Her biggest hit to date is "0304," No. 2 in June 2003.
On Top Country Albums, you have all the proof you need that the country community has accepted Jewel. "Perfectly Clear" makes its entrance at No. 1.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print