Fred Bronson reports on chart feats involving Reba McEntire, Josh Gracin, Nelly, Usher and Christina Milian.
TO LOVE 'SOMEBODY': Reba McEntire holds at No. 3 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks with "Somebody" (MCA). This latest hit is tied with the 2001 track "I'm a Survivor" as McEntire's biggest hit since 1998, when "If You See Him/If You See Her," recorded with Brooks & Dunn, spent two weeks at No. 1.
"Somebody" is a viable candidate for No. 1. If it goes all the way, it would become McEntire's 22nd chart-topper. She already is in second place among female artists with the most No. 1s, just ahead of Tammy Wynette's 20 and slightly behind Dolly Parton's 24.
GRAZING IN THE CHARTS: After climbing slowly from No. 20 to No. 12 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart over a span of nine weeks, Josh Gracin suddenly catapults into the top 10 to land at No. 6 with "I Want to Live' (Lyric Street).
That makes Gracin the eighth "American Idol" participant to reach the top 10 on any Billboard chart as an individual. He follows, in order, Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard (in the same week), Kimberley Locke, William Hung, Fantasia and Diana DeGarmo.
Justin Guarini, R.J. Helton and Tamyra Gray have also charted, but have not reached a top 10 yet.
FINDING HIS 'PLACE': The song with the most momentum on Billboard's Hot 100 is "My Place" (Derrty/Fo' Reel) by Nelly featuring Jaheim. A 69-27 move means this track is a serious contender for No. 1 and thanks to some liberal sampling, some well-known songwriters may soon garner their first chart-topper on the tally.
Randy Edelman, a pop songwriter who has turned to film scoring, with over 60 soundtracks to his credit, once wrote a song titled "Isn't It a Shame." Labelle's 1976 recording of the song is sampled on "My Place," so Edelman could have his first No. 1 pop hit.
El DeBarge, formerly of the group DeBarge, is also in line for his first No. 1. "My Place" samples DeBarge's 1982 recording "I Like It." It's the second time a Nelly chart hit has sampled this same track; "Ride Wit Me," a No. 3 hit in 2001, also sampled "I Like It."
The veteran team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff wrote "Come Go With Me" for Teddy Pendergrass in 1979. That song is also sampled on "My Place," so Huff would have his sixth No. 1 hit, and his first since Simply Red covered "If You Don't Know Me By Now" in 1989. "My Place" would be Gamble's seventh No. 1, and first since Nelly sampled Patti LaBelle's "Love, Need and Want You" in the 2002 hit "Dilemma."
'ALL' FOR ONE: In all the excitement over Usher having three No. 1 songs on Billboard's Hot 100 in 2004, one fact was overlooked. He's the first artist to have three consecutive releases reach No. 1 since Mariah Carey did it in between 1995-98. Carey had a run of five No. 1s in a row with "Fantasy," "One Sweet Day," "Always Be My Baby," "Honey" and "My All."
It was the second time in her career that Carey put together a string of five No. 1s in a row. Her first five chart entries ("Vision of Love," "Love Takes Time," "Someday," "I Don't Wanna Cry" and Emotions") all topped the chart.
HIGH 'LOW': Four years after making her Billboard Hot 100 debut, Christina Milian scores her first top 10 hit. "Dip It Low" doesn't dip at all; it advances 11-10.
Milian's first chart entry was "Between Me and You," a Ja Rule track that featured the New Jersey-born, Maryland-raised Milian. That single just missed the top 10, peaking at No. 11 in 2000. A year later, Milian's own "AM to PM" went to No. 27. "Dip It Low" is her third chart entry in the United States.
Milian has had more success in the United Kingdom, where "AM to PM" soared to No. 3 in 2002. That same year, she had top 10 hits with "When You Look at Me" (No. 3) and "It's All Gravy" (No. 9).
Milian has also appeared on the Hot 100 as a songwriter. She co-wrote and sang backing vocals on "Play," a No. 18 hit for Jennifer Lopez in 2001.