Chart Beat

Fred discusses Johnny Cash, "Pirates of the Caribbean," Canadian/American pairing and more!

'HIGHWAYS' TAKES THE HIGH ROAD: It's not the longest gap between No. 1 albums in history, but it sure comes close. Johnny Cash first topped the Billboard album chart 36 years and 11 months ago, with "Johnny Cash at San Quentin." This week, he posthumously collects his second chart-topping set, as "American V: A Hundred Highways" (American/Lost Highway) becomes his first album to debut in pole position.

Last year, the late Ray Charles returned to the top of the album chart for the first time in 42 years and five months when "Genius Loves Company" advanced to No. 1 after sweeping the Grammys. Like Cash, Charles earned a posthumous No. 1, and had the second chart-topping album of his career. Charles first led the list in 1962 with "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music."

Since the "San Quentin" album ruled the chart, Cash has only had three albums reach the top 10. In 1970, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash" peaked at No. 6. Five months ago, "The Legend of Johnny Cash" went to No. 5.

In the "American" series of albums produced by American Recordings founder Rick Rubin, this fifth installment is the only album to reach the top 20.

Here's how the first four fared on The Billboard 200:

"American Recordings," No. 110 (1994)
"Unchained," No. 170 (1996)
"American III: Solitary Man," No. 88 (2000)
"American IV: The Man Comes Around," No. 22 (2003)

On The Billboard 200, "Highways" is the 45th album by Cash to chart. The album also debuts at No. 1 on Top Country Albums, where it is the 81st Cash album to appear on the list. This is the 10th No. 1 album for Cash on the country tally, and his first since another "Highway" set: "Highwayman," the 1985 recording by Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Cash.

The "American" series has performed well on the country survey.

Here's how the first four fared on Top Country Albums:

"American Recordings," No. 23 (1994)
"Unchained," No. 26 (1996)
"American III: Solitary Man," No. 11 (2000)
"American IV: The Man Comes Around," No. 2 (2003)

Since Cash was on the very first country albums chart, published the week of Jan. 11, 1964, he will always have the longest chart span whenever he is on the chart -- although he could tie with George Jones, who was also on that initial tally. Counting back to the debut of "Ring of Fire (The Best of Johnny Cash)," the Man in Black's album chart span is now stretched to 42 years, six months and two weeks.

"Highway" is the first solo album to top the country survey after 13 weeks of group rule. The Dixie Chicks were at the head of the class for six weeks with "Taking the Long Way Home" and Rascal Flatts garnered top ink for seven weeks with "Me and My Gang."

Cash is only the second deceased artist to have a No. 1 album on the country chart since Nielsen SoundScan sales data has been used to compile the list. The first was Elvis Presley, whose collection of No. 1 hits went to No. 1 in October 2002.

And finally, "A Hundred Highways" debuts at No. 2 on both Top Internet Albums and Top Digital Albums. In both cases, that is the highest position Cash has reached on those charts.

YO-HO: The No. 1 film at the box office has a handsome debut on The Billboard 200 with its score soundtrack. "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" (Walt Disney) lifts off at No. 24. That's a 60-point lead over the debut position of the soundtrack from the first movie based on the popular Disney theme park ride.

"Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" bowed at No. 84 the week of Aug. 9, 2003. Three weeks later that CD peaked at No. 75.

The No. 24 debut of the "Pirates" sequel soundtrack places the recording at No. 3 on Top Soundtrack Albums. The top two slots are also held by Disney soundtracks. "Cars" is No. 2 and "High School Musical," the best-selling album of 2006 to date, continues at No. 1. This is the first time since 2003 that the Walt Disney imprint has a lock on the top three slots on the Soundtracks chart.

CANADIAN COUPLING: Victoria, British Columbia, native Nelly Furtado and Norfolk, Virginia-born Timbaland notch their third week at No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100 with "Promiscuous" (Mosley/Geffen). Chart Beat reader Larry Cohen of Trumbull, Conn., notes that this is the third pairing of a Canadian and an American to top the Hot 100.

The first cross-border couple to reach No. 1 was Ottawa's Paul Anka and Vicksburg, Mississippi's Odia Coates. In 1974, they ruled for three weeks with "(You're) Having My Baby."

In 1998, Charlemagne, Quebec-born Celine Dion and Chicago's own R. Kelly advanced to No. 1 with "I'm Your Angel." TIMBERLAND: Speaking of Timbaland, he is not only co-producer and co-writer of the No. 1 song on the Hot 100, but the Hot Shot Debut as well. "Sexyback" (Jive) marks the return of Justin Timberlake to this chart. As a solo artist, Timberlake last appeared on the Hot 100 the week of Nov. 22, 2003, with "Senorita." Last year, Timberlake was featured along with Charlie Wilson on Snoop Dogg's "Signs."

SECOND PLACE: As mentioned above, "Promiscuous" by Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland is in its third week at No. 1 on the Hot 100. That may be a short stay, but it is already good enough to put the song into a tie as the second-longest running chart-topper of 2006.

Here's a summary of the songs that have moved to No. 1 this calendar year, in order of how many weeks they have remained on top:
"Check on It," Beyonce featuring Slim Thug (five weeks)
"Bad Day," Daniel Powter (five weeks)
"SOS," Rihanna (three weeks)
"Promiscuous," Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland (three weeks to date)
"Grillz," Nelly featuring Paul Wall, Ali & Gipp (two weeks)
"So Sick," Ne-Yo (two weeks)
"Ridin'," Chamillionaire featuring Krayzie Bone (two weeks)
"Hips Don't Lie," Shakira featuring Wyclef Jean (two weeks)
"Laffy Taffy," D4L (one week)
"You're Beautiful," James Blunt (one week)
"Temperature," Sean Paul (one week)
"Do I Make You Proud," Taylor Hicks (one week)

This is the first year with at least four songs that have spent only one week in pole position since 2000. Five songs had one-week reigns that year: "Thank God I Found You" by Mariah Carey featuring Joe and 98 Degrees, "Try Again" by Aaliyah, "Everything You Want" by Vertical Horizon, "Bent" by matchbox twenty and "With Arms Wide Open" by Creed.