Chart Beat

Fred discusses songs with city-themed names, DMX, Buck Owens and Gnarls Barkley.

CITY TO CITY: It may be a major international city, but London had to wait its turn to be name-checked in a song title that reached pole position on The Billboard Hot 100. Five cities beyond the borders of the United States beat London to the punch, and the first of those five was sitting in the No. 1 spot more than 50 years ago.

The song that finally catapulted the U.K. capital to the top of the chart is Fergie's "London Bridge" (A&M), which reached the penthouse in three short weeks. That makes London the first non-American city to visit the U.S. summit in 26 years. Paul McCartney's "Coming Up (Live at Glasgow)" started a three-week reign in June 1980.

Neither London nor Glasgow was the first U.K. city to garner top ink. England's capital city in the 10th and 11th centuries was Winchester, memorialized in the New Vaudeville Band's "Winchester Cathedral," No. 1 for three weeks in December 1966.

The three other international cities to be name-checked in the titles of No. 1 songs are Lisbon, Paris and Calcutta, all in instrumental hits. Nelson Riddle's "Lisbon Antigua" ruled for four weeks in February-March 1956, succeeded by Les Baxter's "Poor People of Paris," which also held sway for four weeks. In February 1961, Lawrence Welk's "Calcutta" began a three-week run at the top.

Also spending time at No. 1 before "London Bridge" was "West End Girls" by the Pet Shop Boys. Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" almost made it to No. 1, but had to settle for peaking at No. 2.

While this is the first go-round for London, it is not the first "Bridge" song to go to No. 1. In February 1970, Simon and Garfunkel took the lead with "Bridge Over Troubled Water," which remained on top for six weeks.

As mentioned last week, "London Bridge" is the first No. 1 for Fergie who has also charted as a member of two different groups. Wild Orchid had three chart entries from 1996-1997. Since Fergie joined the Black-Eyed Peas, they have had seven songs register on the Hot 100.

"London Bridge" is the 27th No. 1 for the A&M imprint and the first since Bryan Adams' "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" in June 1995. The run of A&M chart-toppers began in June 1968 with a single by label co-founder Herb Alpert, "This Guy's in Love With You."

Fergie's ascension doesn't help much in improving the score of female artists reaching No. 1 in 2006. Counting the songs that have advanced to No. 1 this calendar year, she is the fifth woman to lead the list. The first four were Beyonce, Rihanna, Shakira and Nelly Furtado. Fergie is only the second woman to have a No. 1 song without support from a man in 2006. Rihanna had lone credit on "SOS."

So far, 15 male acts have moved to No. 1 this year. They are: D4L, Nelly, Paul Wall, Ali, Gipp, Slim Thug, James Blunt, Ne-Yo, Sean Paul, Daniel Powter, Chamillionaire, Krayzie Bone, Wyclef Jean, Taylor Hicks and Timbaland.
Counting weeks spent in pole position, the men are still ahead, 28 weeks to 17 weeks for the women.

"London Bridge" is the 13th song to move to the head of the class in 2006. That compares to eight No. 1s for all of 2005, 11 in 2004, 11 in 2003 and seven in 2002. There were 14 No. 1s in 2001.

A PERFECT RECORD -- UNTIL NOW: If DMX had retired at the end of 2003 and never recorded again, he would have had an enviable perfect record. His first five albums all debuted and, naturally, peaked at No. 1 on The Billboard 200.

This week, DMX upsets his 1.000 batting average by debuting at No. 2 with "Year of the Dog...Again" (Columbia).

The rapper still has a perfect record on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, where "Dog" is his sixth album (his entire output) to reach No. 1.

BUCK UP: After a gap of 17 years and five months, the name Buck Owens is back on the Top Country Albums chart. His "21 #1 Hits: The Ultimate Collection" (Rhino) debuts at No. 55, bringing the late superstar back to the chart for the first time since March 1989 when "Hot Dog!" spent its final week on the tally.

The "21 #1 Hits" CD is the 46th Owens album to chart, and it stretches his span to 42 years, seven months and one week, the longest span possible since Owens (like Johnny Cash) appeared on the very first country albums chart, published the week of Jan. 11, 1964.

WHAT'S SHAKIN': With Fergie's "London Bridge" leapfrogging 5-1, Gnarls Barkley remains stuck at No. 2 for the fifth week with "Crazy" (Downtown/Lava). That's the longest-running runner-up that didn't climb to No. 1 since Mariah Carey had a six-week run in second place in September-October 2005 with "Shake It Off."

If "Crazy" never goes any higher, it will be the first No. 2 hit of 2006, and the first song to peak in that position since Nickelback's "Photograph" in October 2005.