Ne-Yo, James Blunt, Mary J. Blige, Madonna, Sheryl Crow, Sting and Jessi Colter are among those making noteworthy moves and news.
RAPID TRANSIT: The turnover rate of No. 1 songs on The Billboard Hot 100 continues at an accelerated pace, the fastest in eight years. After just one week at the summit, James Blunt's "You're Beautiful" (Custard/Atlantic) yields to Ne-Yo's "So Sick" (Def Jam). "So Sick" is the fifth song to achieve pole position in 2006. By comparison, last year's fifth chart-topper was "Inside Your Heaven" by Carrie Underwood. The date on the chart? July 2, 2005.
In 2004, the fifth No. 1 of the year was by another "American Idol" winner, Fantasia. Her "I Believe" debuted on top the week of July 10.
The fifth No. 1 of 2003 showed up a little sooner; 50 Cent's "21 Questions" led the list the week of May 31.
The fifth No. 1 of 2002 arrived very late: Nelly and Kelly Rowland's "Dilemma" garnered top ink the week of Aug. 17.
The fifth No. 1 of 2001 arrived only a little later than Ne-Yo's single. "Angel" by Shaggy featuring Rayvon was on top by March 31.
Back in 2000, the fifth No. 1 of the year arrived on the same date as "So Sick." Destiny's Child reached the zenith the week of March 18 with "Say My Name."
To find a year where the fifth No. 1 arrived earlier than "So Sick" and "Say My Name," you'd have to go back to 1998, when Will Smith's "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" became the chart champ the week of March 14.
Fueled by digital sales, "So Sick" moves into the penthouse after an apparent peak at No. 6 and a decline to No. 7, No. 8 and last week, No. 9. The 9-1 move is the biggest jump to No. 1 since Sept. 17, 2005, when "Gold Digger" (Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam) by Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx surged 19-1.
"So Sick" is the seventh single of the rock era to make a 9-1 move, and the first in 33 years. The first six songs to rocket 9-1 are:
"All Shook Up," Elvis Presley (April 13, 1957)
"It's My Party," Lesley Gore (June 1, 1963)
"My Love," Petula Clark (Feb. 5, 1966)
"Hello, I Love You," the Doors (Aug. 3, 1968)
"Black and White," Three Dog Night (Sept. 16, 1972)
"The Morning After," Maureen McGovern (Aug. 4, 1973)
While this is Ne-Yo's first No. 1 as an artist, he does have a prior credit in that position. The Arkansas native, born Shaffer C. Smith, wrote the lyrics for Mario's "Let Me Love You," which was on top during January and February of 2005.
Ne-Yo is also No. 1 this week on The Billboard 200, where his CD "In My Own Words" enters at the top.
STILL 'BEAUTIFUL': Even though James Blunt has relinquished his grip on No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, his debut single "You're Beautiful" still leads two other charts.
On the Adult Contemporary tally, the song moves 2-1 in its 30th chart week. It is the first debut single by a solo male artist to claim pole position since the week of Aug. 24, 2002, when Josh Groban went to No. 1 with his debut effort, "To Where You Are."
Blunt also remains No. 1 on the Adult Top 40 survey for a third week. He is the first artist to head up both the Adult Contemporary and Adult Top 40 charts since Enya did the double-deed with "Only Time" in 2001.
SOMETHING ABOUT MARY: There's no change at the top on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, which means Mary J. Blige rules for the 11th week with "Be Without You" (Geffen).
Since the R&B chart was re-introduced in 1965 after a brief hiatus, only six songs have been No. 1 for 11 weeks or more. This elite list includes:
14 weeks: "Nobody's Supposed to Be Here," Deborah Cox (1998)
14 weeks: "We Belong Together," Mariah Carey (2005)
12 weeks: "Bump N' Grind," R. Kelly (1994)
11 weeks: "I Will Always Love You," Whitney Houston (1992)
11 weeks: "You Make Me Wanna...," Usher (1997)
11 weeks: "Be Without You," Mary J. Blige (2006)
WHO'S 'SORRY' NOW: For only the second time in history, one artist is No. 1 on all four of Billboard's dance charts. Madonna's "Sorry" (Warner Bros.) is the leader on the Club Play, Dance Singles Sales and Dance Radio Airplay surveys while the parent CD "Confessions on a Dance Floor" rules the Top Electronic Albums list.
The only other time this happened was the week of Dec. 3, 2005, when "Hung Up" by Madonna was in charge on the three dance singles charts and "Confessions" was No. 1 on the Electronic tally.
SIDE BY SIDE: The A&M label has been doing very well on the Billboard Hot 100 lately, mostly because of the chart success of the Black Eyed Peas and the Pussycat Dolls. But this week, two of the imprint's more veteran artists team up and earn Hot Shot Debut honors.
Sheryl Crow and Sting enter at No. 35 with "Always on Your Side," a composition so good it should be a contender for next year's Grammy race for song of the year. The original version of "Always on Your Side," a solo recording by Crow, appears on her "Wildflower" CD.
The collaboration gives Crow the third highest debut of her career, after the No. 13 bow of "Everyday Is a Winding Road" in March 1997 and the No. 23 opening of "My Favorite Mistake" in December 1998.
"Always on Your Side" is the highest-debuting Hot 100 entry of Sting's career, including his hits with the Police. His previous high post-Police debut was his first solo effort, "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free," which entered at No. 44 the week of June 8, 1985.
By the narrowest margin possible, "Always on Your Side" beats the two highest-debuting singles by the Police. "Every Breath You Take," the trio's biggest hit, opened just one rung lower at No. 36 the week of June 4, 1983. Its follow-up, "King of Pain," entered at No. 37 the week of Aug. 27, 1983.
"Always on Your Side" is Sting's 20th post-Police chart entry, and his first in almost six years, since "Desert Rose" peaked at No. 17 in August 2000.
STILL NOT LISA: Two other veteran artists make news on Billboard's Top
Country Albums chart, though they haven't collaborated. They do debut in adjacent positions.
New at No. 61 is "Out of the Ashes" (Shout! Factory) by Jessi Colter. She first impacted the charts in 1975 with the crossover hit "I'm Not Lisa." This is her first solo appearance on the country album chart since "That's the Way a Cowboy Rocks and Rolls" completed its chart run in January 1979. In 1981 she charted with her husband Waylon Jennings on the album "Leather and Lace."
Entering one notch lower than Colter is Ray Stevens with "Box Set" (Curb), at No. 62. The three-disc set includes many of Stevens' hits, and brings his span on the country album chart up to 34 years and one month, counting back to the February 1972 debut of "Turn Your Radio On."
DYNASTY: Jessi Colter and Ray Stevens aren't the only artists generating chart news on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart this week. Debuting at No. 17 is "Straight to Hell" (Curb) by Hank Williams III, son of Hank Williams Jr. and grandson of Hank Williams.
Since granddad Hank Williams first appeared on a Billboard country chart the week of Aug. 9, 1947, the Williams family has an impressive three-generation chart span stretching over 58 years, seven months and one week.
'MEMORIES' ARE MADE OF THIS: There's one more newsworthy item to report from Billboard's Top Country Albums chart, and it comes right from the top.
Debuting at No. 1 is Alan Jackson's "Precious Memories" (ACR/Arista). It's only the third non-seasonal album of religious songs to reach the No. 1 spot in this chart's history, and the first in 34 years, eight months and three weeks.
The other two non-seasonal albums of religious songs to spend time at No. 1 on this chart were "Dust on Mother's Bible" by Buck Owens & His Buckaroos in 1966 and "Did You Think to Pray" by Charley Pride in 1971.
'STARS' TREKS ONTO CHART: There's one more country item to report, but it comes from Billboard's Hot Country Songs survey, where Tim McGraw debuts at No. 35 with the 49th chart entry of his career. "When the Stars Go Blue" (Curb) enters at No. 35, and is tied with "It's Your Love" (a duet he recorded with his wife, Faith Hill) as the third-highest debut of McGraw's career.
The highest new entry that McGraw has ever had is "Grown Men Don't Cry," which debuted at No. 30 in March 2001. In second place is the No. 34 debut of "Red Rag Top" in September 2002.