Fred Bronson reports on chart activity related to the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," Paul McCartney, Kelly Clarkson, R. Kelly, Jessica Simpson, Mary Mary and more.
HE TAUGHT THE BAND TO PLAY: When the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was released in 1967, it changed the way people thought about albums. It was a unique and cohesive work, and notably, there were no singles released from the LP.
In November 1968, Joe Cocker made his debut on the Hot 100 with a cover of a "Sgt. Pepper's" track, "With a Little Help from My Friends." That single peaked at No. 68 on the Billboard Hot 100. Six years later, Elton John's remake of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" entered the chart, ultimately peaking at No. 1.
In the '70s, Capitol Records issued three Beatles singles that charted long after the group had broken up. The third single was the album's opening medley of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With a Little Help from My Friends," and it only went as high as No. 71.
This week, the song "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" is back on the Hot 100 for the first time since that 1978 Beatles release. The Paul McCartney with U2 recording from the London Live 8 concert, sold as a digital download, debuts at No. 48, making this rendition the highest-charting version of the classic track.
The new "Sgt. Pepper's" is McCartney's highest-charting title under his own name since "My Brave Face" reached No. 25 in 1989 (as a member of the Beatles, Paul peaked at No. 6 in 1995 with "Free as a Bird" and No. 11 in 1996 with "Real Love"). As a solo act, McCartney now has a chart span of 34 years, four months and two weeks, counting back to the 1971 debut of "Another Day." His career chart span is extended to 41 years, six months and one week, dating back to the debut of the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in 1964.
McCartney's chart span as a songwriter is even longer. He and John Lennon now share a Hot 100 span of 42 years and four weeks, harking back to the debut of Del Shannon's cover of "From Me to You" in 1963.Since the multi-artist recording of the Beatles' "Across the Universe" from the Grammy telecast had a brief chart run earlier this year, 2005 is the first year that two songs penned by Lennon and McCartney have debuted on the chart since 1978. Three Lennon-McCartney songs bowed on the Hot 100 that year: "Come Together" by Aerosmith, "Oh! Darling" by Robin Gibb and "Got to Get You Into My Life" by Earth, Wind & Fire. All three were from the soundtrack to the movie "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."
Finally, the McCartney/U2 recording makes history by becoming the first Beatles song to chart by an individual Beatle. McCartney has re-recorded Beatles' songs on his solo albums, but he has never charted on the Hot 100 with one until this week, 35 years after the Beatles broke up.
MOVIE MADNESS: Reporting on Kelly Clarkson's adult contemporary success with "Breakaway" (Walt Disney/Hollywood) has become a weekly ritual. Clarkson's song makes news again this week by hitting the 20-week mark at No. 1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart. That means "Breakaway" is the longest-running chart-topper to come from a film in AC history.
"Breakaway," from "The Princess Diaries 2," surpasses the 19-week record held jointly by Phil Collins' "You'll Be in My Heart" from "Tarzan" and Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me" from "Up Close and Personal." That also means "Breakaway" is the longest-running AC No. 1 on the Walt Disney/Hollywood labels. Collins also held that record with his "Tarzan" song.
If "Breakaway" is No. 1 next week, it will tie Celine Dion's "A New Day Has Come" as the longest-running No. 1 by a female artist and the second-longest No. 1 in AC history, runner-up only to the 28-week record held by Uncle Kracker and Dobie Gray's "Drift Away."
KELLY IS KING: The No. 1 debut of "TP.3 Reloaded" (Jive) on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart makes R. Kelly the king of this chart. This is his ninth No. 1 album, the most by any artist since December 1992, when Billboard started using SoundScan sales information to compile the chart. Kelly was in a three-way tie with 2Pac and Jay-Z, with eight each.
Going back to the beginning of this chart, Kelly is now in third place on the list of artists with the most No. 1 albums. The Temptations are far in front with 17, and Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder are tied for second place with 10 each.
WALKING FASTER: In just two weeks, Jessica Simpson's remake of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" (Columbia) reaches No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. Simpson is setting a faster pace than the original "Boots" by Nancy Sinatra, whose single debuted at No. 74 the week of Jan. 22, 1966. In its second week, Sinatra's "Boots" moved to No. 50, then jumped 50-28-15-2-1, reaching the top in its sixth week on the chart.
We'll be keeping an eye on Simpson's "Boots" to see if it can match Sinatra's stride.
'HEAVEN' ASCENDANT: For the eighth week in a row, Mary Mary's "Heaven" (Integrity Gospel/Columbia) rules Billboard's Hot Gospel Songs tally. It is the longest-running No. 1 in this chart's short four-month history.
"Heaven" surpasses the non-consecutive seven-week reign of Donnie McClurkin's "I Call You Faithful."
SEASONAL STATS: With the No. 5 debut of "Red" (Maverick) on the Top Jazz Albums list, John Stevens becomes the 16th "American Idol" contestant to appear on a Billboard chart. He follows Kelly Clarkson, Justin Guarini, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, Kimberley Locke, Tamyra Gray, Josh Gracin, William Hung, Fantasia, Diana DeGarmo, R.J. Helton, George Huff, Jim Verraros, Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice.
With four seasons' worth of finalists, which year of "American Idol" has produced the most charted acts? Even with third-season competitor Stevens joining the list, the first season is ahead with five (Clarkson, Guarini, Gray, Helton and Verraros). The second and third seasons are tied with four each (Studdard, Aiken, Locke and Gracin from season two and Fantasia, DeGarmo, Huff and Stevens from season three).
The just-completed fourth season can't be faulted for only having produced two chart acts (Underwood and Bice). The other finalists aren't allowed to accept record deals until they complete the summer tour currently underway.
The season stats could be shaken up as early as next week, as the fourth-place finalist from season three is poised to chart. LaToya London's first single, "Appreciate," has been sent to radio, and an album is due soon.
Hung isn't included in the season stats for finalists because he was more of an anti-finalist, not even making the top 32 of season three. He is the only "Idol" non-finalist to chart, so far.