Fred Bronson reports on the latest chart feats of Iron Maiden, Patsy Cline, Seal, John Mayer, CeCe Winans, Beyoncé and Sean Paul.
BRUCE ALL MIGHTY: The third Iron Maiden album to chart since singer Bruce Dickinson returned to the group in 1999 is the hard rock outfit's highest-charting set in 11 years. "Dance of Death," the 17th Maiden album to appear on The Billboard 200, enters at No. 18. The last time the group reached a higher position was in May 1992, when "Fear of the Dark" peaked at No. 12. Dickinson began a hiatus from the group in 1993.
If "Dance of Death" can climb any higher, it has the potential to become Iron Maiden's first top-10 album in the U.S. The British act's highest-charting release to date is "Somewhere in Time," which went to No. 11 in 1986.
RE: CLINE: The year 2003 marks the 40th anniversary of Patsy Cline's death in a plane crash. Four decades after her passing, she remains a country music icon, and this week a repackaged version of her "12 Greatest Hits" (Decca) rebounds 15-4 on Billboard's Top Country Catalog Albums chart. It's the highest ranking for this album since March 1999. "12 Greatest Hits" is in its 798th chart week and has spent 251 weeks at No. 1.
Meanwhile, a tribute album featuring remakes of Cline hits by a dozen divas (including Natalie Cole, Amy Grant and Diana Krall) is new on the Top Country Albums tally. "Remembering Patsy Cline" (MCA) debuts at No. 8.
FOURTH TIME'S THE CHARM: Seal's fourth album to reach The Billboard 200 is by far the highest-ranking release of his career. "Seal IV" (Warner Bros.) debuts at No. 3 and is thus Seal's first top-10 album.
He first appeared on the Billboard album chart with an eponymous set that peaked at No. 24 the week of Sept. 7, 1991. Four years later to the week, a second self-titled Seal album peaked at No. 15. Next came "Human Being," which went to No. 22 the week of Dec. 5, 1998.
'HEAVIER' MAKES HIM HAPPY: John Mayer should be enjoying his week. Like Seal (above), his fourth appearance on The Billboard 200 gives him his highest-ranking album to date. "Heavier Things" (Aware/Columbia) enters at No. 1.
Mayer made his mark with "Room for Squares," which debuted at No. 194 in October 2001, ultimately peaking at No. 8 in March of this year. His EP "Inside Wants Out" went to No. 22 in October 2002 and a live album, "Any Given Thursday," reached No. 17, also in March of this year.
SWEET INSPIRATION: CeCe Winans is accustomed to having No. 1s on Billboard's Top Gospel Albums chart. Her latest, "Throne Room" (PureSprings Gospel/INO), enters in pole position. It's the third chart-topping CD for Winans on this list, following "Everlasting Love" in 1998 and "Alabaster Box" in 1999. Winans also had two No. 1 albums with her brother BeBe: "Heaven" in 1989 and "Different Lifestyles" in 1991.
But the success story of "Throne Room" doesn't end there. On the Top Christian Albums tally, the CD also enters in pole position and is CeCe's first set to top this chart. She has peaked at No. 2 three times, with "Alone in His Presence" in 1995, "Everlasting Love" in 1998 and a self-titled release in 2001.
On The Billboard 200, "Throne Room" enters at No. 32, a new personal best for the artist. As a solo artist, her highest-ranked album was "Everlasting Love," No. 107 in 1998. Paired with BeBe, she peaked at No. 74 in 1991 with "Different Lifestyles."
'BABY' LOVE: There's a new No. 1 song on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart, and as a result, two artists collect their second chart-toppers of 2003. "Baby Boy" (Columbia) by Beyoncé featuring Sean Paul advances 2-1, displacing "Frontin'" by Pharrell featuring Jay-Z.
"Baby Boy" is Beyoncé's second song to go all the way this year, following "Crazy in Love." That collaboration with Jay-Z spent three weeks at No. 1 in July and August. "Baby Boy" is the sixth No. 1 of Beyoncé's career, including four chart-toppers with Destiny's Child.
"Baby Boy" is also Paul's second No. 1 of 2003. In April, he spent one week on top with "Get Busy."