Fred Bronson reports on the latest chart feats of Rick Springfield, George Michael, Usher, Jimmy Buffett, Restless Heart and Lenny Kravitz.
GOOD NEWS FOR RICK AND GEORGE: Two artists long absent from two different Billboard charts make their respective returns this week.
On the Adult Contemporary survey, Rick Springfield is back after a break of almost 20 years. "Beautiful You" (Gomer/Red Ink) debuts at No. 28 and marks the Australian's singer first AC appearance since "Taxi Dancing," a duet with Randy Crawford, peaked at No. 16 in January 1985. The song was from the movie "Hard to Hold," which starred Springfield.
"Beautiful You" is only the fourth Springfield song to chart at AC, not surprising given his reputation as a rocker with hits like "Jessie's Girl" and "I've Done Everything for You." Those early '80s songs didn't fit the AC format of their day.
Springfield did chart AC with his very first American hit, "Speak to the Sky," which went to No. 16 in 1972. Ten years later, Springfield had his second AC entry with "Don't Talk to Strangers," which stopped at No. 30. Springfield's AC chart span expands to 31 years, 10 months and three weeks.
On Billboard's Adult Top 40 chart, George Michael ends an eight-year absence by debuting with "Amazing" (Aegean/Epic) at No. 38. Michael was last on this chart in 1996, when "Fastlove" peaked at No. 14.
GOOD FOR THE SOUL (AND POP, TOO): There's a new No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100, but not a new artist sitting in pole position. Just two months after his "Burn" succeeded his "Yeah!" featuring Lil' Jon and Ludacris at the top, Usher's "Confessions Part II" (LaFace) replaces "Burn." That doesn't give Usher the three successive No. 1 titles that would have put him in the record books with the Beatles, because "American Idol" winner Fantasia interrupted the reign of "Burn" for one week with "I Believe" (J).
It does make Usher the first lead artist to have three songs advance to No. 1 in the same calendar year since Mariah Carey had a trio of chart-toppers in 1991. She led the list that year with "Someday," "I Don't Wanna Cry" and "Emotions."
In 1997, P. Diddy, then known as Puff Daddy, had three songs move into the top slot, but he was the featured act on one. He was lead or co-lead on "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down" and "I'll Be Missing You" and featured artist with Mase on the Notorious B.I.G.'s "Mo Money Mo Problems."
Going into 2004, Usher had three No. 1 hits to his credit: "Nice & Slow," "U Remind Me" and "U Got It Bad." Now, he has six chart-toppers. "Confessions Part II" also increases the total of No. 1 hits for writer/producer Jermaine Dupri, who now has seven both as a writer and a producer.
'GOOD' FOR THE COUNTRY: Even though his span of hits Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart stretches out to 31 years, two months and two weeks, Jimmy Buffett has never had a top 10 hit where he had top billing until this week. His remake of Hank Williams' classic "Hey Good Lookin'" (RCA) with guest artists Clint Black, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith and George Strait, moves 11-10.
Buffett did top the chart for eight weeks in the summer of 2003 as the second-billed duet partner with Alan Jackson on "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere."
GOOD-HEARTED: Restless Heart is back. The band debuts at No. 58 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart with its Koch label debut, "Feel My Way to You." It's the first Restless Heart song to chart since the group's version of "Little Drummer Boy" debuted in the same position, No. 58, in January 1999.
Restless Heart made its debut on the country chart in January 1985 with "Let the Heartache Ride," which peaked at No. 23. The group's most successful run of hits occurred between November 1986 and December 1988, when it had six consecutive No. 1 songs.
"Feel My Way to You" is Restless Heart's 27th chart entry.
GOOD GRIEF!: If you're starting to sense there is a theme to this week's charts, you're correct. There's yet another return after a long absence on another chart. It's been just over 10 years since Lenny Kravitz appeared on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.
In the spring of 1994, he went to No. 92 with "Heaven Help." On the current chart, "Storm" (Virgin), featuring Jay-Z, is a new entry at No. 63.