Fred Bronson reports on the chart feats of Steve Winwood, Beyonce, John Mellencamp, Clay Aiken and Buddy Jewell.
BACK IN THE CHART LIFE: After a six-year absence, Steve Winwood returns to The Billboard 200, as "About Time" (on his own Wincraft imprint) enters at No. 126. It's the first Winwood album to chart since "Junction Seven" went to No. 123 in June 1997.
"About Time" is the 11th solo effort by Winwood to appear on The Billboard 200. The first was "Winwood," which peaked at No. 93 in 1971.
Before stepping out on his own, Winwood was a member of three groups: Traffic, Blind Faith and the Spencer Davis Group. Counting back to the debut of that last outfit's "Gimme Some Lovin'" LP the week of March 25, 1967, the 55-year-old Winwood has an album chart span of 36 years, three months and one week.
HER DESTINY: Beyonce Knowles earns the biggest hit of her career away from Destiny's Child this week, as "Crazy in Love" (Music World/Columbia) jumps 6-3 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Crazy" eclipses the song that peaked at No. 4 the week of Dec. 28, 2002 - "'03 Bonnie & Clyde," which was credited to Jay-Z featuring Beyonce Knowles. "Crazy" is credited to Beyonce featuring Jay-Z.
"Crazy in Love" is in a tight battle with "Magic Stick" by Lil' Kim featuring 50 Cent for supremacy on the Hot 100 next week, should Clay Aiken be ready to release his grip on pole position with "This Is the Night" (RCA). If "Crazy in Love" does reach the top, it will be the 93rd No. 1 hit for the Columbia label in the rock era, and the first since "Bootylicious" by Destiny's Child led the list for two weeks in August 2001.
Columbia is far out in front among labels with the most chart-topping titles. In second place is RCA, which collected its 60th No. 1 song when Aiken debuted at the summit last week.
'TROUBLE' MAN: Though his album career stretches back 23 years, 10 months and three weeks, John Mellencamp has never appeared on Billboard's Top Blues Albums chart until now. There's a good reason -- he never recorded a blues album before. "Trouble No More" (Columbia) debuted at No. 1 and is still picking up top ink, for the third consecutive week.
BRINGING HOME THE AIKEN: "This Is the Night," Clay Aiken's chart-topping Hot 100 song, picks up enough new airplay at Adult Contemporary radio to debut on the AC chart at No. 27. Last week, Aiken's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" entered the same chart at No. 30. Even though "Bridge" also earned more airplay this week, it was forced down, and thus off, the chart, but could return.
Meanwhile, "American Idol" runner-up Aiken and winner Ruben Studdard are experiencing their first international success. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" debuts at No. 1 in New Zealand and Studdard's "Flying Without Wings" is a new entry at No. 2. New Zealand is one of the countries that aired "American Idol," and even though New Zealanders couldn't vote to decide the outcome of the series, they've managed to vote belatedly with their wallets.
PHOTO FINISH: Clay Aiken isn't the only contestant from a TV series to have a best-selling single on a Billboard chart this week. While Aiken's two-sided "This Is the Night" / "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is No. 1 on Hot 100 Singles Sales, "Nashville Star" winner Buddy Jewell rules Top Country Singles Sales with "Help Pour Out the Rain (Lacey's Song)" (Columbia). Jewell's single replaces Kid Rock and Allison Moorer's "Picture" after that track's 31 consecutive weeks at No. 1. That is the third longest in this chart's history behind a pair of LeAnn Rimes' singles: "Can't Fight the Moonlight" (37 weeks) and "How Do I Live" (32 weeks).