Behind chart stats relating to Mary J. Blige, Bo Bice, Carrie Underwood, Kimberley Locke and Notorious B.I.G.'BE' ROLLS: Mary J. Blige has the first new No. 1 hit of 2006 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. "Be Without You" (Geffen) is her first R&B chart-topper since her "Family Affair" single was No. 1 in November 2001.
Blige is also No. 1 on The Billboard 200, where her album "The Breakthrough" (Geffen) opens at the head of the class. It is her third No. 1 album, following "Share My World" in 1997 and "Love and Life" in 1999.
It's a slightly different story on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums tally, where "The Breakthrough" is Blige's seventh No. 1 album. Here are her seven R&B chart-topping CDs:
"What's the 411," seven weeks (1992)
"My Life," eight weeks (1994)
"Share My World," four weeks (1997)
"Mary," three weeks (1999)
"No More Drama," two weeks (2001)
"Love and Life," one week (2003)
"The Breakthrough," one week to date (2006)
'HEAVEN' RISES: Almost six months after it last occupied pole position on Billboard's Hot Singles Sales chart, Bo Bice's version of "Inside Your Heaven" (RCA), backed with "Vehicle," returns to the No. 1 spot, while Carrie Underood's rendition of the same A-side returns to No. 2. The two finalists for the fourth year of "American Idol" both performed the song on the season finale
Bice's single has been on the tally for 28 weeks. After entering the chart at No. 6 the week of July 2, 2005, his "Heaven" ascended to No. 1 and remained there for two weeks. The return of "Heaven" to the sales throne gives Bice's single a cumulative three weeks at No. 1. The single has also spent five weeks at No. 2.
Underwood's version debuted at No. 5 the week of June 25, 2005, and claimed the lead spot the following week. In its third week, it was displaced by Bo's "Heaven." Underwood has spent a total of six weeks at No. 1 and 12 weeks at No. 2, for a total of 18 weeks in the top two, out of 29 weeks on the tally.
Neither song has dipped lower than No. 6 since debuting on the chart. The two singles are the top two best-selling releases of 2005, and are now top two for the first chart week of 2006.
'HOUSETOP' OF THE POPS: A fourth week at No. 1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart makes Kimberley Locke's "Up on the Housetop" (Curb) the second-longest running holiday-themed chart-topper in the history of this list.
The only holiday song to have a longer run at No. 1 was Josh Groban's "Believe," which held sway for five weeks last year. "Believe" gained additional traction by being included on the soundtrack to the film, "The Polar Express."
With the holiday season of 2005 fading into history, it will be difficult for "Housetop" to garner a fifth week at No. 1; a January post-Christmas plunge is more likely.
'B.I.G.' TIME: The fourth chart entry for the late rapper the Notorious B.I.G. debuts at No. 3 on The Billboard 200. "Duets: The Final Chapter" (Bad Boy) arrives six years and one week after B.I.G.'s most recent album to enter the chart, "Born Again."
"Born Again: spent one week at No. 1 at the end of 1999, and its predecessor, "Life After Death," was No. 1 for four weeks in 1997. Counting back to the debut of "Ready to Die" in October 1994, the Notorious B.I.G. now has a Billboard 200 chart span of 11 years, three months and one week.
The stats are identical on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop albums chart, where "Duets" debuts at No. 3 and is the first B.I.G. set to chart since "Born Again" was No. 1 at the end of 1999.