Fred Bronson reports on chart activity related to Carrie Underwood, Mariah Carey, Weezer, Green Day, Backstreet Boys and Kelly Clarkson.
IT'S CARRIE'S NATION: Following in the footsteps of three other "American Idol" finalists, 22-year-old Oklahoma native Carrie Underwood has the No. 1 song in the country, as "Inside Your Heaven" (Arista) debuts in pole position on The Billboard Hot 100.
Carrie's success keeps the popular TV series' streak intact, as every season of the show has produced a No. 1 hit on the Hot 100. Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken and Fantasia were the first, second and third season "Idols" who scored No. 1 hits after competing on the show.
Carrie's female predecessors are all on the Hot 100 this week. Kelly Clarkson holds at No. 6 with "Behind These Hazel Eyes" (RCA), falls 9-12 with "Since U Been Gone" and dips 36-42 with "Breakaway." Fantasia marches 56-48 with "Free Yourself" (J).
Like Clay and Fantasia, Carrie debuts at No. 1, a near-impossible feat these days. Between September 1995 and November 1998, chart rules that existed at the time facilitated 10 debuts at No. 1. Since the chart policy changed in December 1998 to allow airplay-only tracks on the Hot 100, only three singles have entered at the top. All three were by "Idol" singers and all three made their spectacular bows based on sales. Aiken debuted at No. 1 the week of June 28, 2003 with "This Is the Night" and Fantasia did the same the week of July 10, 2004 with "I Believe." Carrie is the third artist to debut at No,. 1 since the chart rules changed.
Underwood follows Mariah Carey at the summit, and Carey replaced Gwen Stefani. This is the first time three successive solo female artists have occupied the top spot without any featured acts since 2000. The three consecutive No. 1 songs by solo female artists in 2000 were "Doesn't Really Matter" by Janet Jackson, "Music" by Madonna and "(Come On Over Baby) All I Want Is You" by Christina Aguilera.
"Inside Your Heaven" is the first No. 1 by a female artist on the Arista label in just over six years. The last time the label ruled with a song by a woman was in February-March 1999, when Monica was on top for four weeks with "Angel of Mine." Underwood is the sixth solo female artist on Arista to lead the Hot 100, following Whitney Houston, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Taylor Dayne and Monica.
Carrie's reign isn't confined to the Hot 100. She also debuts at No. 1 on the Pop 100, continues at No. 1 on Country Singles Sales and moves 5-1 on Hot Singles Sales.
While Carrie's place in chart history is now written in stone, she is likely to spend just one week on top of the Hot 100. The next No. 1 song will carve out its own unique niche in history, as it will likely again be "Inside Your Heaven," but the version recorded by Bo Bice, runner-up to Underwood on this most recent season of "Idol." If that happens, it will be the first time since the Hot 100 was introduced in August 1958 that one version of a song has replaced another version of the same song at No. 1.
IT'S CAREY'S NATION, TOO: The No. 1 debut of "Inside Your Heaven" by Carrie Underwood sends Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together" (Island) into second place on the Hot 100 after a four-week stay in pole position.
That makes "We Belong Together" Carey's longest-running No. 1 since "One Sweet Day," recorded with Boyz II Men, reigned for 16 weeks in 1995-96. But don't count Carey out yet. Based on airplay strength, "We Belong Together" could certainly return to No. 1.
90210: "Beverly Hills" (Geffen) is the 11th Weezer song to chart on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart, but the first to claim the No. 1 position. The cut from the "Make Believe" album moves 2-1 this week, besting the No. 2 peak of Weezer's previously highest-charting titles, "Buddy Holly" in 1994 and "Hash Pipe" in 2001.
Weezer made its Modern Rock debut the week of July 23, 1994, with "Undone -The Sweater Song," which reached No. 6. "Beverly Hills" is the sixth Weezer song to make the Modern top 10.
IT MIGHT AS WELL CHART UNTIL SEPTEMBER: Weezer isn't the only act making news on the Modern tally. Further down the list, Green Day debuts at No. 21 with "Wake Me Up When September Ends" (Reprise), the fourth track to chart from the "American Idiot" CD. That is the second-highest debut for an album's fourth track since the Modern survey expanded to 40 positions in September 1994. The highest debut for an album's fourth track was the No. 19 bow of Green Day's "When I Come Around" in November 1994.
BACKSTREET'S BACK: There was no guarantee that the new Backstreet Boys album would do as well as the group's first four chart entries on The Billboard 200, especially after taking a four-year break. But the debut of "Never Gone" (Jive) keeps the quintet's record intact, with all five of their chart albums reaching the top five.
"Never Gone" is a new entry at No. 3, besting the No. 4 debut and peak of their previous album, "The Hits - Chapter One" in November 2001.
After their self-titled debut peaked at No. 4 in January 1998, the next two Backstreet Boys both went to No 1. "Millennium" ruled for 10 weeks in 1999 and "Black & Blue" had a two-week stay at the top in 2000.
RE-CHOIRED READING: Last week, the Mississippi Mass Choir made a 10-6 leap on Billboard's Hot Gospel Tracks chart with "I'm Not Tired Yet," and this week the song's momentum continues as it advances to No. 5. This is the highest-charting position for a large choral ensemble since this chart was introduced on April 16.
Prior to "I'm Not Tired Yet," the highest position achieved by a top-billed mass choir was the No. 8 peak of "Only a Test" by the GMWA Mass Choir (featuring VaShawn Mitchell).
The Mississippi Mass Choir is signed to the Malaco label, based in Jackson, Miss. While Malaco has a long history of releasing gospel and religious-oriented material, this is the first top 10 hit for the label on the young Hot Gospel Tracks chart.
STILL BREAKING AWAY: This column started with an "American Idol" at No. 1 and ends with another "American Idol" at No. 1. Kelly Clarkson is still at the head of the class on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart, as "Breakaway" (Walt Disney/Hollywood), from "The Princess Diaries 2" soundtrack, is on top for the 17th week.
The only female singer to have a longer-running AC No. 1 is Celine Dion (with "A New Day Has Come" at 21 weeks and "Because You Loved Me" at 19 weeks). Clarkson is tied for second place with Faith Hill, whose "Breathe" ruled for 17 weeks in 2000.