Manchester Explosion

Chart Beat

Fred discusses Fergie's big solo bow, Gnarls Barkley, Tom Petty and more.

'LONDON BRIDGE' IS FALLING UP: Going solo might give Stacy Ferguson the biggest hit of her career, which could come just in time to celebrate the 10th anniversary of her Hot 100 debut.

In its second week on the chart, Fergie's "London Bridge" (A&M) vaults 84-5. That 79-point leap is the second biggest jump in Hot 100 history, runner-up only to this year's 86-4 move of the "High School Musical" track "Breaking Free" by Zac Efron, Andrew Seeley and Vanessa Anne Hudgens.

"London Bridge" has already placed higher than five of the seven Black Eyed Peas singles to chart. Only "Don't Phunk With My Heart" and "My Humps," both of which peaked at No. 3, have reached higher chart positions.

Ferguson made her first appearance on the Hot 100 the week of Sept. 28, 1996, with "At Night I Pray," the first of three songs by Wild Orchid to chart. The highest-ranked was "Talk to Me," No. 48 in April 1997.

"London Bridge" is the highest-charting song to feature the United Kingdom's capital in the title but not the first. The city has been featured in Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" (No. 21 in 1978), Paul McCartney and Wings' "London Town" (No. 39 in 1978) and Electric Light Orchestra's "Last Train to London" (No. 39 in 1980).

If "London Bridge" can go all the way, it will be the first A&M single to reach No. 1 in 11 years. The imprint's last chart-topper was Bryan Adams" "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" in June 1995. A&M had a No. 2 hit in August 2005 with "Don't Cha" by the Pussycat Dolls featuring Busta Rhymes.

STILL 'CRAZY' AFTER ALL THESE WEEKS: In the 1960s TV series "The Prisoner," Patrick McGoohan played a secret agent who retires and wakes up in a strange village on a remote island. He no longer has a name; he is Number Six and every week he is challenged by a different Number Two.

Having a different Number Two every week helped make "The Prisoner" a fascinating series, but having a different No. 2 hit on the Hot 100 every week appears to be a thing of the past.

Gnarls Barkley has been No. 2 for four weeks with "Crazy" (Downtown/Lava), but the song is extremely close to knocking "Promiscuous" out of pole position next week. If "Crazy" doesn't move up one slot, it will be the first song of 2006 to peak at No. 2.

The last song to stop at No. 2 was Nickelback's "Photograph" in October 2005. It was the third consecutive No. 2 hit on the Hot 100, following "Don't Cha" by the Pussycat Dolls featuring Busta Rhymes and "Pon De Replay" by Rihanna.

UPSIDE OF PROMISCUITY: Nelly Furtado and Timbaland have the longest-running No. 1 of 2006 on the Hot 100, as "Promiscuous" (Mosley/Geffen) leads the pack for the sixth week in a row.

Previously, "Check on It" by Beyonce featuring Slim Thug and "Bad Day" by Daniel Powter were tied with "Promiscuos" for being the longest-running chart-topper of the year, with five weeks each.

"Promiscuous" is now the longest-running No. 1 since "Gold Digger" by Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx had a 10-week reign from September-November 2005.

'TIME' FOR FREDDIE: R&B stalwart Freddie Jackson returns to Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs this week, with his highest-charting solo effort in 11 years. "Until the End of Time" (Orpheus) enters at No. 51 and is Jackson's best result since "Rub Up Against You" topped out at No. 25 in April 1995.

"Until the End of Time" is Jackson's highest debut since his remake of Billy Paul's "Me and Mrs. Jones" opened at No. 47 in January 1993.

While this new single is Jones' first solo recording to chart this millennium, he did peak at No. 46 in October 2005 with the duet "Back Together Again," recorded with Meli'sa Morgan.

HE'LL TAKE THE 'HIGHWAY': Tom Petty's 19th album to chart on The Billboard 200 is the highest-debuting set of his career. "Highway Companion," his first for Rick Rubin's American Recordings imprint, hits the road at No. 4.

This is the fourth time that Petty has debuted inside the top 10. "Greatest Hits" and "Wildflowers" both entered at No. 8, in 1993 and 1994, respectively. "The Last DJ" debuted at No. 9 in 2002.

Only three of Petty's albums have charted higher than "Highway Companion." "Damn the Torpedoes" spent seven weeks at No. 2 in 1980. "Full Moon Fever" peaked at No. 3 in 1989. That same year, Petty's supergroup side project with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison, collectively known as Traveling Wilburys, also peaked at No. 3 with "Volume One."

The debut of "Highway Companion" expands Petty's album chart span to 28 years, 10 months and three weeks, dating back to the September 1977 bow of the self-titled debut LP, "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers."

THE TRUTH ABOUT 'FALSE': Before their collaborative "Adieu False Heart" (Vanguard) debuted on The Billboard 200 at No. 146 this week, Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy had 34 charted albums between them. Of course, the score was Ronstadt 34, Savoy 0.

Their duets project gives Ronstadt her highest-debuting and highest-charting album since "Western Wall -- The Tucson Sessions," a duets project with Emmylou Harris, entered and peaked at No. 73 on Sept. 11, 1999.

With "Adieu," Ronstadt's chart span is stretched to 38 years, eight months and two weeks, counting back to the debut of the Stone Poneys' "Evergreen, Vol. 2" in December 1967. Savoy's chart span is now at one week.

HIGHWATER FOR 'HELL': Nine years after making his first appearance on Hot Country Songs, Rodney Atkins collects his first No. 1 single. "If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)" (Curb) is only the second Atkins song to reach the top 10. In January 2004, "Honesty (Write Me a List)" went to No. 4.

Atkins made his chart debut with "In a Heartbeat," which entered the tally and peaked at No. 74 the week of Aug. 30, 1997, and then fell off the chart. Atkins didn't return until May 2002, when "Sing Along" hummed its way to No. 37.

Last week, Atkins found himself leading the Top Country Albums chart with "If You're Going Through Hell." It was only his second album to make the list; "Honesty" stalled at No. 50 in November 2003.