Fred Bronson reports on the chart feats of Hilary Duff, Blu Cantrell, Shania Twain and Warner Bros.

DISNEY GIRL: Actress Hilary Duff has topped the airplay list at Radio Disney a couple of times, but has never appeared on Billboard's Hot 100 -- until this week.

While songs like "I Can't Wait" (from "Lizzie McGuire," the soundtrack to the TV series) and "Why Not" (from "The Lizzie McGuire Movie" soundtrack) have been No. 1 on Radio Disney, the song that could be Duff's breakthrough at top-40 radio is "So Yesterday" (Buena Vista). The track from Duff's forthcoming "Metamorphosis" album is a new entry at No. 53, earning "Hot Shot Debut" honors on the chart.

The strength of "So Yesterday" lies in its sales figures. The single debuts at No. 2 on the Hot 100 Singles Sales chart, coming within a hairbreadth of unseating Clay Aiken's "This Is the Night" / "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (RCA) from pole position.

If "So Yesterday" has enough power to top the Hot 100, 15-year-old Duff will become one of the youngest solo female singers to ever rule the chart. She has already missed her chance to break the 40-year-old record set by Little Peggy March in April 1963. March was 15 years and one month old when "I Will Follow Him" was No. 1 and thus became the youngest female singer to reach the summit of the Hot 100. Although 40 years have passed, no one has broken her record. Duff was born Sept. 28, 1987; to take the crown away from March, she would have had to have collected her first No. 1 song by the beginning of October 2002.

One more Duff note: she is not the first actress associated with Disney to chart on the Hot 100 with a single released on the Buena Vista label. Starting in 1959, Annette had a run of chart entries on the Buena Vista label, including "O Dio Mio" (No. 10 in 1960) and "Pineapple Princess" (No. 11 in 1960). A year later, Hayley Mills went to No. 8 with her Buena Vista single, "Let's Get Together."


BLU MOVES: The single "Breathe" (Redzone/Arista) by Blu Cantrell featuring Sean Paul has been struggling in the U.S., where it continues its slow upward movement on the Hot 100, reaching a new peak position of No. 78 in its 16th week on the chart. It's a completely different story in the U.K., where "Breathe" debuts at No. 1.

The track is the biggest U.K. hit to date for both Cantrell and Paul. Her "Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!)" peaked at No. 12 in Great Britain in November 2001, and his U.S. No. 1 "Get Busy" was a No. 4 hit in the U.K. earlier this year.

That means Paul is the second artist born in Jamaica to score different No. 1s in the U.S. and U.K. Shaggy topped the British singles chart with "Oh Carolina" in March 1993 and with "Boombastic" in September 1995. In the U.S., "It Wasn't Me" was his first chart-topper, reaching No. 1 in February 2001. The follow-up, "Angel," went to No. 1 a month later.

Paul has had five chart entries on the Hot 100, and four of them are on the chart this week. "Get Busy" holds at No. 20 in its 26th chart week. The follow-up, "Like Glue," rises 17-15. The second-highest debut of the week, after Hilary Duff's "So Yesterday," is "Baby Boy" by Beyoncé featuring Sean Paul, new at No. 57.


'FOR' IS FIVE: By moving 7-5 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart, "Forever and For Always" (Mercury) by Shania Twain becomes the highest-ranked song from her "Up!" album. "I'm Gonna Getcha Good!" peaked at No. 7 the week of Dec. 7, 2002, and the title track stopped at No. 12 the week of March 8.

In a year where songs by solo female artists have been struggling on the country chart, "Forever and For Always" is the first top-5 hit for a solo female since "Concrete Angel" by Martina McBride peaked at No. 5 the week of April 26.

As for reaching the top of this chart, it's seems like "forever and for always" since a solo female has led the list. McBride was the last to do so, with "Blessed" in April 2002. If "Forever and For Always" can climb four more rungs, Twain will be the first solo artist to garner top country ink in one year and four months.


THE WB: For the second time in the history of Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart, the Warner Bros. label has more No. 1 hits in a calendar year than any other label. "Faint" by Linkin Park is the Burbank, Calif., company's fourth track to top the chart in 2003. In 1989, Warner Bros. had five No. 1s, the record for this chart. That means the label only needs one more No. 1 hit in 2003 to tie its own record, and two to surpass it. Warner's sister label, Reprise, is the last label to achieve four Modern No. 1s in a calendar year, back in 1995.

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