Fred discusses the Chipmunks, The Bee Gees, Taylor Swift and more!
NOTABLE RETURN: Al Bennett was at Dot Records before he was named president of the Liberty label. From there, he went on to found the Cream imprint. But he's probably best known for lending his (full) name, along with Liberty chairman Simon Waronker and chief engineer Theodore Keep, to the label's animated act, the Chipmunks.
Alvin, Simon and Theodore made their Billboard album chart debut the week of Nov. 30, 1959 with "Let's All Sing With the Chipmunks." Now, 48 years and three weeks later, the Chipmunks score their 11th entry on The Billboard 200 with the soundtrack to the "Alvin and the Chipmunks" movie.
Technically, this is a soundtrack album not credited to a single artist, but since the movie is titled “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” it’s fair to call this a return for the animated threesome.
The Razor and Tie album opens at No. 133. It's the first Chipmunks album to appear on this tally in 13 years, since "A Very Merry Chipmunk" peaked at No. 147 in December 1994. The soundtrack is the highest-ranked Chipmunks album since "Chipmunks in Low Places" went to No. 21 in 1993.
Another Chipmunks album debuts on a Billboard chart this week. The EMI Special Markets edition of "Christmas With the Chipmunks" bows on Top Pop Catalog Albums at No. 47, while the Capitol version advances 19-11. On Top Holiday Albums, the Capitol CD reaches a new peak position of No. 17.
The Chipmunks made chart history 49 years ago this week when "The Chipmunk Song" moved into pole position on the Hot 100. To this date, it is the only Christmas song to ever top this survey.
ANOTHER NOTABLE RETURN: Another famous trio returns to the Billboard charts this week, The Bee Gees are back on Hot Dance Club Play for the first time in 28 years. A remix of "If I Can't Have You" (Rhino) opens at No. 50.
This is only the fourth entry on this chart for the Bee Gees. "You Should Be Dancing" was a No. 1 hit in 1976. "Stayin' Alive," "Night Fever" and "More Than a Woman" from the soundtrack to "Saturday Night Fever" shared the No. 3 spot in 1978 and "Tragedy" stopped at No. 22 in 1979.
RUFUS' TURN: On the Billboard album chart dated July 31, 1961, the album "Judy at Carnegie Hall" debuted at No. 148. This week, Rufus Wainwright's "Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall" (Geffen) is a new entry at No. 171.
The legendary double-LP by Judy Garland went on to spend 13 weeks at No. 1 and was on the chart for 95 weeks. The Wainwright CD is a recreation of Garland’s original 1961 Carnegie Hall concert.
BIG RISE, BIG FALL: Taylor Swift's first two entries on Hot Country Songs were both top 10 hits, but the third time must be the charm, as entry number three becomes the young star's first No. 1 hit. "Our Song" (Big Machine) makes a bold 6-1 move, surpassing the No. 6 peak of "Tim McGraw" in January and the No. 2 posting of "Teardrops on My Guitar" in August.
The five-point leap to the summit is the biggest jump to No. 1 this century. The last song to equal Swift's feat was Tim McGraw's "Just to See You Smile," which catapulted 6-1 the week of Jan. 17, 1998. Swift's 6-1 bound is the biggest move to No. 1 for a solo female since Faith Hill's "Wild One" took a 6-1 jump the week of Jan. 1, 1994.
Swift replaces Carrie Underwood at the top, the first time one solo female has succeeded another at No. 1 since the week of Jan. 30, 1999, when Martina McBride's "Wrong Again" was replaced by Jo Dee Messina's "Stand Beside Me."
Underwood's "So Small" (Arista) plunges 1-10, the biggest fall from the penthouse this century and the steepest drop from the top since Shania Twain's "You Win My Love" collapsed 1-11 the week of May 18, 1996.
THE GREAT 'PRETENDER': Last week, I noted that if Foo Fighters were still No. 1 this week with "The Pretender" (Roswell/RCA) on Modern Rock Tracks, they would have the longest-running chart-topper in the history of this tally.
Since "The Pretender" is still on the throne, the Foo Fighters have first place all to themselves, breaking a four-way tie. The three songs now in second place, all with 16-week reigns, are "Scar Tissue," Red Hot Chili Peppers (1999); "It's Been Awhile," Staind (2001) and "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," Green Day (2004).
THE GIRL CAN’T HELP IT: There’s no stopping Fergie. Her latest single, “Clumsy” (will.i.am/A&M), climbs 6-5 on the Hot 100, making it the fifth top five hit from her album “The Dutchess,” following “London Bridge,” “Fergalicious,” “Glamorous” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry.”
It’s been 17 years since any artist has pulled five top five hits from one album. Janet Jackson’s fifth top five hit from “Rhythm Nation 1814” was “Come Back to Me,” No. 2 in 1990. Jackson had two more top five hits from that album for a total of seven.
Since “The Dutchess” is Fergie’s debut album, it’s worth noting that the last act to pull five top five hits from a debut album was Milli Vanilli. Before facing disgrace, the duo scored in 1989-90 with “Girl You Know It’s True,” “Baby Don’t Forget My Number,” “Girl I’m Gonna Miss You,” “Blame It on the Rain” and “All or Nothing,” all from the CD titled “Girl You Know It’s True.”
THE ONE THAT WE WANT: After a six-year hiatus from The Billboard 200, Olivia Newton-John returns with “Christmas Wish” (ONJ Productions), a new entry at No. 187. It’s Newton-John’s first album to chart since “Magic: The Very Best of Olivia Newton-John” went to No. 150 in September 2001.
“Christmas Wish” is the 20th charted album of Newton-John’s career. Her chart span on The Billboard 200 expands to 36 years and four weeks, dating back to the debut of “If Not for You” the week of Nov. 27, 1971.
‘HOME’ IS WHERE THE CHART IS: Josh Groban is No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart for the first time in three years. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (143/Reprise) glides 3-1, giving Groban his fifth No. 1.
Groban was last on top with “Believe,” from the holiday-themed film “The Polar Express.” That soundtrack single led the list for five weeks, beginning in December 2004. Groban’s was also No. 1 with another Christmas srtandard, “O Holy Night,” which ruled for two weeks, starting at the end of December 2002. His other chart-toppers were “To Where You Are” in August 2002 and “You Raise Me Up” in March-April 2004.
The version of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” that reigns over AC can be found on Groban’s “Noel” album, No. 1 on The Billboard 200 for the third week. The song was written in 1943 by Kim Gannon, Walter Kent and Buck Ram and was a No. 3 hit for Bing Crosby, a year after he first had a hit with “White Christmas” in 1942.
CHART INK: The winner of the sixth season of “American Idol” follows in the footsteps of the first five champions, scoring a top 10 hit on the Hot 100, although Jordin Sparks accomplishes this feat with her second single instead of her first.
“This Is My Now,” Sparks’ initial Hot 100 entry, debuted and peaked at No. 15. The song’s chances for greater success were hampered by the failure to release a commercial single.
But Sparks has prevailed, with “Tattoo” (19 /Jive) rising 11-10. She thus joins previous American Idols Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Hicks as winners who have landed in the top 10 of the Hot 100.
Meanwhile, sixth season runner-up Blake Lewis enters The Billboard 200 at No. 10 with his debut album, “Audio Day Dream” (19/Arista). That equals the debut and peak of Sparks’ first CD.