Fred discusses the country charts, Soulja Boy, Paul Anka and more!

'MORE' IS THE MOST: It was a momentous event in the history of the Hot Country Songs chart last week when Kenny Chesney tied the record for the highest debut (since the chart expanded to 50 positions in January 1964) with the No. 16 opening of "Don't Blink." But just one week later, that entry has been eclipsed by the first song to ever debut on this chart at No. 1: Garth Brooks goes into the history books with his record-breaking "More Than a Memory" (Pearl).

It's almost impossible to enter an airplay-based chart in pole position because of the nature of radio. Airplay builds much more gradually than sales. The just-over-a-dozen songs that have managed to debut at No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100 have done so by garnering immediate massive sales. On Hot Country Songs, which is compiled solely from airplay data, even the most-anticipated songs (like Chesney's "Don't Blink" and Carrie Underwood's "So Small") debut in the top 20, not in the top 15. There hasn't even been a debut in the top 10 until now, let alone a song starting its chart life at the summit.

But Brooks defied the odds and received an enormous amount of spins for "Memory" in its first week at radio. It is his 19th No. 1 on this chart, and his first since "To Make You Feel My Love" spent a week on top in August 1998. 'Memory" is Brooks' 36th top 10 hit, and his first since "Good Ride Cowboy" went to No. 3 in December 2005.

"Memory" is the 79th chart entry for Brooks. His chart career began with "Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)," which entered the tally the week of March 25, 1989, giving him a chart span of 18 years, five months and three weeks.


THE UPS AND DOWNS OF UNDERWOOD: One effect of Garth Brooks' receiving so much airplay this week is that other artists received fewer spins than they would have if radio wasn't devoting so much time to "More Than a Memory."

That helps explain why Carrie Underwood's "So Small" (Arista) dips 11-13 in its fifth chart week on Hot Country Songs. The track should rebound, but meanwhile the availability of a digital single sends "So Small" soaring up the Hot 100, with a move of 93-17. That's the second biggest jump on this chart in 2007, topped only by the 94-3 rocket ride of Beyonce and Shakira's "Beautiful Liar" the week of April 7.


REBA'S LATEST RUNNER-UP: One chart move you can't blame on Garth Brooks is the 2-4 slip of Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You" (MCA). Even if "More Than a Memory" hadn't debuted at No. 1, this duet would have missed the top spot. So instead of becoming Reba's 23rd No. 1 hit, "Because of You" is her seventh song to peak at No. 2, and her first in over 10 years. The last McEntire song to stop at No. 2 was "I'd Rather Ride Around With You" in July 1997. The first five of Reba's singles to settle for second place are:

"Walk On" (1990)
"Fallin' Out of Love" (1991)
"Till You Love Me" (1995)
"And Still" (1995)
"The Fear of Being Alone" (1996)

If "Because of You" had won a first place ribbon, it would have been the first remake of a pop song to top the country chart since Mark Chesnutt's cover of Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" spent two weeks at No. 1 in February 1999.


LIVING LARGE: Almost 21 years after making his debut on Top Country Albums, Lyle Lovett has the highest-debuting and highest charting set of his career. "It's Not Big It's Large" (Curb/Lost Highway) enters at No. 2.

Lovett's previous best was "The Road to Ensenada," which opened and peaked at No. 4 in July 1996.

"It's Not Big" is Lovett's first album to chart since "My Baby Don't Tolerate" topped out at No. 7 in October 2003. His first entry on the country album chart was the self-titled "Lyle Lovett," No. 14 in March 1987. The album had debuted in October 1986, giving Lovett a country album chart span of 20 years and 11 months.

"It's Not Big" is also Lovett's highest-debuting and highest-peaking CD on The Billboard 200, where it enters at No. 18. Lovett's previous best mark on this chart was the No. 24 debut and peak of "The Road to Ensenada."


CRYSTAL'S 'BLUE' PERSUASION: Just two weeks ago, during a trip to Las Vegas, I heard Crystal Gayle's "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" in the hotel elevator, and couldn't stop singing it the rest of the trip. My power of persuasion must be greater than I thought, because somehow I sang that tune right onto Top Country Albums this week.

OK, maybe it wasn't me. But Gayle's "16 Greatest Hits" (Capitol) enters the chart at No. 74. It's her first appearance on this survey in almost two decades, since "Nobody's Angel" peaked at No. 63 in September 1988.

Gayle made her first appearance on Top Country Albums in March 1975 with a self-titled LP. That gives her a chart span of 32 ½ years.


PRE-'VOGUE': How young is Soulja Boy, the artist who has the new No. 1 song on the Hot 100? So young, that he wasn't even alive when Madonna's "Vogue" was No. 1.

Soulja Boy was born July 28, 1990, and is thus the second artist born in the '90s to occupy the penthouse of the Hot 100. The first was Sean Kingston, who achieved it just six weeks ago when he captured the top spot with "Beautiful Girls." Kingston was born Feb. 3, 1990 and was 17 1/2 when he advanced to No. 1. Soulja Boy is even younger, as he is not quite 17 years and two months old.

The song that did it for Chicago-born Soulja Boy is his own composition, "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" (Collipark).


HIS WAY: "Classic Songs, My Way" (Decca) by Paul Anka debuts on Top Jazz Albums at No. 3, exactly 50 years and two months after Anka made his Billboard chart debut with the single "Diana" on July 15, 1957.

"Classic Songs, My Way" is Anka's second CD to appear on Top Jazz Albums. "Rock Swings" debuted and peaked at No. 2 in June 2005.


SPARE CHANGE: If I had a nickel for every Nickelback song from the group's latest album to reach the top 10 of the Hot 100, I'd have 15 cents. That may not be a lot of money, but pulling three top 10 hits from one album is no cheap trick.

Nickelback is the first rock group to have three top 10 songs from one album on the Hot 100 this century. The last rock group to achieve this hat trick was Third Eye Blind in 1997-99. "Semi-Charmed Life" peaked at No. 4, "How's It Going to Be" made it to No. 9 and "Jumper" jumped to No. 5.

"Rockstar" (Roadrunner) is the Nickelback song that reaches the top 10 this week, moving 11-8. Previously, "Photograph" clicked in at No. 2 and "Far Away" peaked at No. 8.

"Photograph" debuted on the Hot 100 two years ago this week. The long run of hit singles helps explain why the album "All the Right Reasons" is still on The Billboard 200 in its 100th week.