Fred Bronson reports on the latest chart feats of Harry Connick Jr., Billy Ray Cyrus and the Strokes.
WILD ABOUT HARRY: He might have a lot of new fans, thanks to his running role as Grace's husband Leo in NBC-TV's "Will & Grace." That's one possible explanation why Harry Connick Jr. is No. 1 on Billboard's Top Jazz Albums chart for the first time in four years.
"Harry for the Holidays" (Columbia) debuts in pole position despite the fact that Connick's three most recent albums missed the top spot. In 2001, "30" peaked at No. 3 when it debuted the week of Nov. 10. That same week, his "Songs I Heard" opened at No. 2. In August of this year, "Other Hours: Connick on Piano 1" also reached No. 2. His last No. 1 album was "Come By Me" in 1999.
"Harry for the Holidays" is Connick's seventh chart-topping album on the jazz survey.
AN 'OTHER' ACHIEVEMENT: Billy Ray Cyrus started his career with a bang: his first two releases both went to No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart. "Some Gave All," containing his breakthrough hit "Achy Breaky Heart," began a 34-week reign in June 1992. The follow-up, "It Won't Be the Last," spent five weeks on top, starting in July 1993. Despite the title, "It Won't Be the Last" proved to be his final top-10 album -- at least, so far.
This week, his Christian album "The Other Side" (Word-Curb/Warner Bros.) enters the country album survey at No. 18, making it his highest-charting album since "Southern Rain" topped out at No. 13 in November 2000.
On The Billboard 200, "The Other Side" is new at No. 131. On the Top Christian Albums chart, Cyrus' new CD opens at No. 5, the second-highest debut for a country artist in the history of the survey. The only country artist to have an album open in a higher position is LeAnn Rimes, whose "You Light Up My Life - Inspirational Songs" debuted at No. 1 in September 1997.
'ROOM' FOR IMPROVEMENT: What a difference a year makes for the Strokes. In 2002, the group's first chart album, "Is This It," debuted at No. 74 on The Billboard 200 (and later peaked at No. 33). This week, "Room on Fire" (RCA) opens at a loftier No. 4.