Fred Bronson reports on the latest chart escapades of k.d. lang, Usher and Fantasia.

THE 49-ER: Every one, two or three years, k.d. lang charts a new album on The Billboard 200, as she has been doing since her debut on May 28, 1988 with "Shadowland." Her latest, "Hymns of the 49th Parallel" (Nonesuch), opens at No. 66 and is her first chart entry since "A Wonderful World," a duets album with Tony Bennett, bowed the week of Nov. 23, 2002.

"Hymns" is the ninth entry for lang on The Billboard 200. Her highest-charting set to date is "Ingénue," which reached No. 18 the week of March 13, 1993.


A 'LEAN' AGAIN, NATURALLY: A close battle ends with "Slow Motion" (Cash Money) by Juvenile featuring Soulja Slim on top of Billboard's Hot 100 for a second week, eking out a narrow victory over "Lean Back" (SRC/Universal) by Terror Squad.

"Lean Back" is tipped for the top next week, which would make the song only the second No. 1 title in Hot 100 history to begin with the word "Lean." The other would be "Lean on Me," a chart-topper for Bill Withers in July 1972 and again for Club Nouveau in March 1987.


USHERED OUT: For the first time in exactly six months, Usher does not have a song in the top two of Billboard's Hot 100. "Confessions Part II" (LaFace) slips 2-3, shutting the artist out of the top two for the first time since the chart dated Feb. 14. "Yeah!" featuring Ludacris was No. 4 that week, and moved up to No. 2 the week of Feb. 21. Since then, some combination of "Yeah!" "Burn" and "Confessions Part II" has been in the top two until this week.


TURNING ON THE AC: Fantasia's "I Believe" debuts at No. 27 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart with "I Believe" (J). It's the 13th song by an "American Idol" to appear on this chart in just under two years.

Kelly Clarkson, winner of the TV series' first season, was the first "Idol" to appear on the AC list when "A Moment Like This" debuted the week of Oct. 5, 2002. Clarkson has had three AC chart entries to date. Clay Aiken has had six, Ruben Studdard and Kimberley Locke have had two apiece and Tamyra Gray has one. The total adds up to more than 13 because duets by Aiken and Locke and Studdard and Gray have charted.

The most successful "Idol" AC hits, ranked by peak position, with date they achieved their peak, are:

• "A Moment Like This," Kelly Clarkson (No. 4; Nov. 16, 2002)
• "Invisible," Clay Aiken (No. 8, Jan. 3; 2004)
• "The First Noel," Clay Aiken (No. 9; Jan. 3, 2004)
• "This Is the Night," Clay Aiken (No. 13; Aug. 23, 2003)
• "8th World Wonder," Kimberley Locke (No. 14; Aug. 14, 2004)
• "Silver Bells," Clay Aiken & Kimberley Locke (No. 16; Jan. 3, 2004)
• "My Grown Up Christmas List," Kelly Clarkson (No. 17; Jan. 10, 2004)