Fred Bronson reports on the latest chart feats of Elvis Presley, Britney Spears, Madonna, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Alabama, Sean Paul and Rickie Lee Jones.
'2ND,' THE MOTION: For the first time in 40 years, Elvis Presley has two consecutive top-3 albums on The Billboard 200. This week, "Elvis: 2nd to None" (BMG Strategic Marketing/RCA) enters at No. 3. It's the follow-up to "Elv1s: 30 #1 Hits," which spent three weeks at No. 1 in October 2002.
The last time two Presley albums in a row reached the top-3 of the Billboard album chart was in 1963-64, when "Elvis' Golden Records, Volume 3" and "Fun in Acapulco" both peaked at No. 3.
Before the 1963-64 run, Presley had two consecutive top-3 albums in 1961, when "Something for Everybody" and "Blue Hawaii" both spent time at No. 1.
'ME' AND SHE: Britney Spears has her highest new entry on Billboard's Hot 100 since she made her debut with "...Baby One More Time" in November 1998. That single started its chart life at No. 17 and reached the top in January 1999.
"Me Against the Music" (Jive) opens at No. 50. Credited to "Britney Spears Featuring Madonna," it's the first time Madonna's name has appeared on either side of the word "featuring" on this chart. The song is Madonna's 50th chart entry in a career that began 20 years ago this week with the debut of "Holiday." It's Spears' 10th chart entry, and the first where she appears in the writing credits.
If "Me Against the Music" makes the top-10, it will be Spears' fourth hit to do so. Aside from "...Baby One More Time," her only other top-10 songs were "(You Drive Me) Crazy" (No. 10 in 1999) and "Ooops!...I Did It Again" (No. 9 in 2000).
THE RISE OF 'FALLEN': Sarah McLachlan has her first Hot 100 entry of the millennium, as "Fallen" (Arista) debuts at No. 73. It's the first song by the Halifax-born artist to appear on the chart since "I Will Remember You (Live)" had its final week on the chart, four years ago this month.
McLachlan made her initial appearance on the Hot 100 with "Possession," a song that debuted the week of May 7, 1994, and peaked at No. 73 the week of June 18. Her biggest hits to date are "Adia" (No. 3 in 1998) and "Angel" (No. 4 in 1999).
THIRD 'FIRST': Another female singer who made her Hot 100 debut in the spring of 1994 has a new song debuting this week. Sheryl Crow enters at No. 75 with "The First Cut Is the Deepest." The song was written and originally recorded by Cat Stevens for his second album, "New Masters," in 1967.
This is the third go-round on the Hot 100 for "First." Canadian singer Keith Hampshire took the song to No. 70 in 1973. Rod Stewart has the biggest U.S. hit of "First" to date; his version went to No. 21 in 1977.
In the U.K., "The First Cut Is the Deepest" was first a hit for American female vocalist P.P. Arnold, whose version peaked at No. 18 in 1967. Ten years later, Rod Stewart scored his fourth U.K. No. 1 with the double-sided hit "I Don't Want To Talk About It" / "The First Cut Is the Deepest."
Crow will be looking for her fifth top-10 hit with her updating of the Stevens song. She last appeared on the Hot 100 as a duet partner with Kid Rock on "Picture," which became her second biggest chart hit when it peaked at No. 4 in April. Crow made her Hot 100 debut with "Leaving Las Vegas" in April 1994. That song peaked at No. 60 the following month.
'FAREWELL' FARES WELL: Alabama, the long-standing country band that announced its farewell tour last year, has its longest top-10 streak on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart in 12 years. The 30th Alabama album to reach the list, "The American Farewell Tour" (RCA), debuts at No. 6. It's the fifth consecutive top-10 album for the group, following three releases that failed to crack the top-50 of the chart.
The quartet kicked off its career in 1980 with "My Home's in Alabama," which peaked at No. 3. The band's next five albums all achieved pole position, and after a Christmas album, the next five releases also reached No. 1. Between 1980 and 1991, Alabama had 14 consecutive top-10 albums.
JAMAICAN FARES WELL: "Chart Beat" reader Larry Cohen of Trumbull, Conn., notes that as "Baby Boy" (Columbia) by Beyoncé featuring Sean Paul is No. 1 for the fourth week on Billboard's Hot 100, Paul has accumulated seven weeks in pole position (counting his three weeks on top with "Get Busy"). That makes Paul the most successful Jamaican-born artist in terms of performance on that chart.
Three other Jamaicans have been No. 1 on the Hot 100. Shaggy has a total of three weeks on top, thanks to "It Wasn't Me" and "Angel." Ini Kamoze has a two-week run with "Here Comes the Hotstepper" and Carl Douglas had a two-week reign with "Kung Fu Fighting."
THREE YEARS ON: Rickie Lee Jones continues her pace of releasing a new album every three years. "The Evening of My Best Day" (V2) enters The Billboard 200 at No. 189. Three years ago this month, her CD "It's Like This" spent its second and final week on the chart, after peaking at No. 148. Three years earlier, "Ghostyhead" spent one week on the tally, at No. 159.
"Evening" is the 11th Jones album to chart over 24 years. An eponymously titled LP that marked her debut entered the Billboard album chart the week of April 7, 1979, ultimately peaking at No. 3. It remains Jones' highest-ranking title to date.