Fred Bronson reports on chart activity related to Bo Bice, Elton John, Mary Mary, Chris Hillman, A&M and more.
BO CLOCKS IN AT NO. 1: There's good news and bad news for fourth season "American Idol" runner-up Bo Bice, but it all adds up to a lot of chart news as his debut single "Inside Your Heaven" / "Vehicle" impacts on a number of Billboard charts.
On the bright side, the double-A RCA single jumps 6-1 on Hot Singles Sales. With just one week of sales (plus some street date violations last week), Bice's "Inside Your Heaven" is the second-best selling single of 2005, behind "American Idol" winner Carrie Underwood's version of the same song.
Most notable is the timing of the single by an artist identified as a rocker on "Idol." "Inside Your Heaven" / "Vehicle" opens at No. 1 on the singles sales chart dated July 9, exactly 50 years to the day after Bill Haley & His Comets' "(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock" became the first rock and roll single to reach No. 1. Haley's legendary single topped the July 9, 1955, Best Sellers in Stores chart, the mid-century equivalent to today's Hot Singles Sales tally. Looking back on the event, music historians cite "Rock Around the Clock" going to No. 1 as the "big bang" that started the "rock era."
With Bice's "Inside Your Heaven" moving 6-1 and Underwood's "Inside Your Heaven" dipping 1-2, it's the first time on this chart that the same song has occupied the top two slots. In the 1950s, it was common for cover versions to battle it out inside the top 10. Songs like "Butterfly" (with recordings by Charlie Gracie and Andy Williams) and "Party Doll" (by Buddy Knox and Steve Lawrence) took up two spots inside the top 10 at the same time. The week of Feb. 2, 1957, Sonny James held at No. 2 with "Young Love" while Tab Hunter rose 4-3 with the same song. Although Hunter's version peaked at No. 1 and James went to No. 2, they never occupied the top two positions in the same week.
The other positive news for Bice is that his "Heaven" debuts at No. 1 on the Pop 100, where he is the first solo male artist in this chart's short history to reach pole position.
The disappointing news for Bo is that "Heaven" doesn't enter the Hot 100 at No. 1, which looked like a strong possibility last week. Alas, it will have to remain in the realm of possibility, not reality. Bice's single enjoyed a very healthy sales week, but suffered for lack of airplay on radio, and the "Idol" song couldn't overcome the record-setting airplay level achieved by Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together." Bo's "Heaven" is a new entry at No. 2 on the Hot 100, while Carrie's "Heaven" slides 1-3. This is the first time that the same song has occupied two out of the top three places on the Hot 100.
Adding in Bo's No. 1s on Hot Singles Sales and the Pop 100 and Carrie's No. 1s on the Hot 100, Pop 100, Hot Singles Sales and Country Singles Sales, there have now been 64 No. 1s by "Idol" singers when counting all charts compiled by the Billboard Information Group, which includes charts appearing in Billboard and Billboard Radio Monitor.
The breakdown of "Idol" No. 1s is as follows:
Kelly Clarkson 18
Ruben Studdard 10
Clay Aiken 8
Josh Gracin 6
Carrie Underwood 4
Bo Bice 2
Kimberley Locke 2
Diana DeGarmo 1
Tamyra Gray 1
William Hung 1
American Idol Finalists 5
DON'T GO BREAKING HIS CHART RUN: You have to admit, it's been an unusual chart year in the United Kingdom. A 34-year-old song, "(Is This the Way to) Amarillo?" by Tony Christie, is reissued and becomes the best-selling single of 2005; a ringtone, "Axel F" by Crazy Frog," is the second best-selling single of the year; Elvis Presley has three posthumous No. 1s; songs written by Carole King and Bobby Vinton reach the top of the chart; and nine years after his death, 2Pac has his first (also posthumous, of course) No. 1 single.
The 2Pac track, "Ghetto Gospel," samples "Indian Sunset," an Elton John song from the 1971 album "Madman Across the Water." Contractually, the credit on "Ghetto Gospel" reads 2Pac featuring Elton John, which makes the 2Pac song the seventh No. 1 of Elton's U.K. career.
Elton made his U.K. chart debut the week of Jan. 23, 1971, with "Your Song," giving him a singles chart span of 34 years, five months and two weeks. He didn't collect his first British No. 1 single until July 24, 1976, when his duet with Kiki Dee, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," achieved pole position.
That gives Elton a span of No. 1 U.K. singles that stretches out over 28 years, 11 months and two weeks. If "Ghetto Gospel" can remain No. 1 for two more weeks, it will bring that span up to an even 29 years.
Here is a list of Elton John's seven No. 1 singles in his home country:
"Don't Go Breaking My Heart," 1976 (six weeks) [Elton John and Kiki Dee]
"Sacrifice" / "Healing Hands," 1990 (five weeks)
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," 1991 (two weeks) [George Michael and Elton John]
"Candle in the Wind 1997" / "Something About the Way You Look Tonight," 1997 (five weeks)
"Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word," 2002 (one week) [Blue featuring Elton John]
"Are You Ready for Love," 2003 (one week)
"Ghetto Gospel," 2005 (one week to date) [2Pac featuring Elton John]
Elton now has almost as many No. 1 singles in the United Kingdom as he does in the United States, where he has eight chart-toppers to his credit. On Billboard's Hot 100, non-U.K. No. 1 titles "Crocodile Rock," "Bennie and the Jets," "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "Philadelphia Freedom" and "Island Girl" all reached the summit.
INSIDE THEIR 'HEAVEN': Billboard's Hot Gospel Songs survey is still a young 'un, having been introduced in April, but it's not too early for chart records to be set. The duo known as Mary Mary sets one this week, as "Heaven" (Columbia) is No. 1 for the sixth consecutive week. That's the longest uninterrupted run at the top in this chart's, um, history.
Donne McClurkin's "I Call You Faithful" did rule this list for six weeks, but non-consecutively. "Faithful" was this chart's first No. 1 song, and its run was broken for one week by Smokie Norful's "I Understand."
This might be a good time to mention that debuting on The Billboard 200 at No. 190 is "Ironia" (Wepa) by solo Latin artist Andy Andy. No word yet on whether Mary Mary and Andy Andy will be getting together for a collaboration, but they'd make a great presenting team at an awards telecast.
LIKE A BYRD ON A WIRE: It was 40 years and two weeks ago that Chris Hillman made his debut on The Billboard 200. As a founding member of the Byrds, he first saw album chart ink the week of June 26, 1965, with the debut of the Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man."
Hillman continued to chart as a member of the Flying Burrito Brothers; the Souther, Hillman, Furay Band; McGuinn, Clark & Hillman; the Desert Rose Band and as a solo artist. Two of Hillman's solo efforts appeared on The Billboard 200 in 1976 and 1977. Hillman was last seen on a Billboard album chart in 1991 when "A Dozen Roses - Greatest Hits" by Chris Hillman & the Desert Rose Band peaked at No. 44 on the Top Country Albums list.
Now, 14 years later, Hillman returns to an album chart, as "The Other Side" (Sovereign Artists) debuts at No. 9 on the Top Bluegrass Albums chart. This marks Hillman's first appearance on this tally.
A FOR AMAZING, M FOR MAGNIFICENT: The A&M record label will celebrate its 43rd anniversary on the Hot 100 in October (the label's first chart entry was "The Lonely Bull" by the Tijuana Brass featuring Herb Alpert, which debuted the week of Oct. 27, 1962). The party can start early, though, as this week marks the first time in 19 years that the imprint founded by Alpert and Jerry Moss has two titles in the top 10 of both The Billboard 200 and the Hot 100.
On the Hot 100, the Black Eyed Peas are No. 5 with "Don't Phunk With My Heart" and the Pussycat Dolls collect their first top 10 hit as "Don't Cha," recorded with Busta Rhymes, makes an 11-8 move. On The Billboard 200, the Peas' "Monkey Business" is No. 4 and R&B vocalist Keyshia Cole makes her chart debut with "The Way It Is" at No. 6.
The last time the label had comparable chart listings was the week of May 31, 1986. On the Hot 100, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (OMD) was No. 4 with "If You Leave" and Janet Jackson ranked No. 10 with "What Have You Done for Me Lately." That week on The Billboard 200, Jackson was No. 6 with "Control" and the soundtrack to "Pretty in Pink" held an adjacent spot, at No. 7.
A&M had two albums in the top 10 of The Billboard 200 as recently as the week of May 18, 2002, when Vanessa Carlton was No. 5 with "Be Not Nobody" and Sheryl Crow was No. 8 with "C'mon, C'mon." The last time A&M had two songs in the top 10 of the Hot 100 was the week of Nov. 4, 1995, when Janet Jackson was No. 3 with "Runaway" and Del Amitri was No. 10 with "Roll to Me."
Alpert and Moss sold A&M to PolyGram in 1989 (PolyGram was later purchased by Seagram, then owner of the Universal Music Group). A&M is now under the guidance of Ron Fair, who has been president since 1999.