The rewriting of chart history by "High School Musical" is tackled in this week's column, as is news on John Corbett, Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton, James Blunt and Natasha Bedingfield.
'FREE' THROW: Zac Efron and Vanessa Anne Hudgens are actors, so it's likely their goals include winning Oscars and Emmys and perhaps one day being honored with stars on Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame. Neither one probably ever dreamed of making chart history on The Billboard Hot 100, but they've done so anyway, as their duet "Breaking Free" (Walt Disney), from the soundtrack to "High School Musical," rockets 86-4. That is the Hot 100's biggest one-week jump of all time.
With no airplay, "Breaking Free" makes its 82-point rise based on digital downloads. Whatever the reason for the move, it beats the previous record, the 75-place leap that Shanice took with "When I Close My Eyes." Her 91-16 rise the week of April 3, 1999 broke the record set just one year earlier, when Montell Jordan bounded 94-20 with "I Can Do That." Jordan's move tied the 74-point record set in 1968, when Jeannie C. Riley leapt 81-7 the week of Aug. 31, 1968 with her first single, "Harper Valley P.T.A."
While Jordan tied the record for a one-week jump and Shanice broke it, there is one record that Riley has kept all this time: the biggest leap into the top 10. Now, after almost 38 years, Efron and Hudgens have bested the "Harper Valley P.T.A." jump by eight positions.
Last week, Efron also made some chart history when he debuted on the Hot 100 with his first two entries, "Breaking Free" at No. 86 and "Get'cha Head in the Game," another "High School Musical" track, at No. 100. That made him the first debut artist to begin a chart career with two simultaneous debuts.
Efron managed to become the first debut artist to have two simultaneous new entries by only one week. That feat has now been repeated by two other stars from "High School Musical." Lucas Gabreel and Ashley Tisdale debut at No. 35 with "What I've Been Looking For" and at No. 62 with "Bop to the Top."
The "High School Musical" soundtrack is turning out to be one of the most potent soundtracks of all time, with nine original songs on the Hot 100, and five in the top 40, another record. On Hot Digital Songs, the student bodies of "High School Musical" are occupying nine slots, with four songs in the top 10 and the other five all in the top 40.
The top four debuts on this week's Hot 100 are all from the TV soundtrack, including the highest-debuting single of 2006, "Start of Something New" by Efron and Hudgens. That same duo also bows at No. 67 with "What I've Been Looking for (Reprise)." Since Hudgens has another debut, "When There Was Me and You" at No. 72, and with Efron's "Get'cha Head in the Game" at No. 23, Efron and Hudgens have each earned their first four chart entries within their first two weeks on the Hot 100 (and if you include the two tracks credited to High School Musical Cast, they actually hae six songs on the chart). No one has done that before -- not even the Beatles. The Fab Four took four weeks to rack up their first four chart entries back in 1964.
Getting back to "Get'cha Head in the Game," its 100-23 climb appears to be the biggest move from the anchor position. The previous record-holder was Wings' "Hi Hi Hi," which flew 100-42 the week of Dec. 23, 1972.
And if all of this rewriting of chart history isn't enough, there's still one more accomplishment to report. By blasting its way to No. 4, "Breaking Free" is the Walt Disney label's highest-ranked Hot 100 song in history. The label had a No. 6 hit last year with Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway," which appeared on "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement" soundtrack.
HIS BIG FAT BILLBOARD HIT: The cast members of "High School Musical" aren't the only actors impacting the Billboard charts this week. Actor John Corbett is looking for some northern exposure with his first entry, "Good to Go." Released on his own Fun Bone imprint, the track is the highest new entry on the Hot Country Songs chart, opening at No. 48.
CARRIE CARRIES ON: The driver in pole position on Billboard's Hot Country Songs remains the same. Carrie Underwood scores a fourth week at No. 1 with "Jesus, Take the Wheel" (Arista). The song is one of only five in this century by a solo female artist to advance to No. 1 and remain there for four weeks or more.
The others are "The Way You Love Me" by Faith Hill (four weeks), "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack (five weeks), "That's the Way" by Jo Dee Messina (four weeks) and "Redneck Woman" by Gretchen Wilson (five weeks).
The final No. 1 song of 1999 was Faith Hill's "Breathe," which was on top for six weeks. Five of those weeks were in the year 2000.
Underwood's debut effort is the most successful single by a solo female artist in the history of the Arista label on the Hot Country Songs tally. The only other solo female performance on Arista to top the chart was Pam Tillis in 1995. "Jesus, Take the Wheel" is the highest-ranked Arista single by a solo female since Carolyn Dawn Johnson was No. 5 in 2001 with "Complicated." Dolly Parton is No. 3 this week with a duet on Arista, as noted below.
Only three Arista singles have spent more time at No. 1 than "Jesus, Take the Wheel." The label's longest-running chart-topper is "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" by Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett, with an eight-week reign. In second place is Brooks and Dunn's "There Ain't Nothin' 'Bout You," with six weeks at the summit. Alan Jackson's "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" is in third place with five weeks on top.
"Jesus, Take the Wheel" is tied for fourth place with Brooks and Dunn's "Boot Scootin' Boogie" and Jackson's "Chattahoochee" and "Drive (For Daddy Gene)."
33 AND A THIRD: Dolly Parton scores her 33rd top three hit on Hot Country Songs, as "When I Get Where I'm Going" (Arista), the Brad Paisley song that lists Parton as a featured artist, moves 4-3.
Breaking down those 33 top three hits, 24 of them went all the way to No. 1, a mere two peaked at No. 2 and the remaining seven went to No. 3.
"When I Get Where I'm Going" is Parton's first top three hit in almost 15 years. She was last in the top three with "Rockin' Years," a duet with Ricky Shelton. That duet achieved pole position the week of May 4, 1991.
TWIN BRITS: For the first time in almost five years, there are two U.K. acts in the top 10 of the Hot 100. James Blunt ascends 8-5 with "You're Beautiful" (Custard/Atlantic), while Natasha Bedingfield takes a 14-10 hike with "Unwritten" (Epic).
The last time there were two U.K. acts in the top 10 was the week of May 19, 2001, when Dido was No. 6 with "Thank You" and S Club 7 was No. 10 with "Never Had a Dream Come True."
Natasha is the second Bedingfield to have a top 10 hit on the Hot 100. Her brother Daniel peaked at No. 10 with his first single, "Gotta Get Thru This," the week of Sept. 28, 2002. That means the Bedingfield siblings join Donny and Marie Osmond and Neneh and Eagle-Eye Cherry as brothers and sisters who have had separate entries in the top 10 of the Hot 100.
THIS 'JUST' IN: There's a rare juxtaposition of three songs with titles all beginning with the same word occupying the bottom three positions on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart this week.
Debuting at No. 38 is "Just Feel Better" (Arista) by Santana featuring Steven Tyler. Slipping one notch to No. 39 is "Just the Girl" (Lava) by the Click Five. Also falling one rung is the No. 40 song, "Just Want You to Know" (Jive) by Backstreet Boys. These three songs are the only ones on this week's AC tally with titles that start with the word "Just." They join the 45 other "Just" songs that have charted in the history of the AC survey.
There have been four "Just" No. 1 hits. They lead the list of the most successful "Just" songs. Here is the top 10:
1. "Just the Way You Are," Billy Joel (No. 1 for four weeks) 1977
2. "Just When I Needed You Most," Randy Vanwarmer (No. 1 for two weeks) 1979
3. "Just Remember I Love You," Firefall (No. 1 for two weeks) 1977
4. "Just to See Her," Smokey Robinson (No. 1 for one week) 1987
5. "Just Another Day," Jon Secada (No. 2 for two weeks) 1992
6. "Just the Two of Us," Grover Washington, Jr. (No. 2 for two weeks) 1981
7. "Just for Tonight," Vanessa Williams (No. 2 for one week) 1992
8. "Just Too Many People," Melissa Manchester (No. 2 for one week) 1976
9. "Just as I Am," Air Supply (No. 3 for one week) 1985
10. "Just You and I," Melissa Manchester (No. 3 for one week) 1976