Fred Bronson reports on the chart feats of "American Idol" Ruben Studdard & runner-up Clay Aiken, Monica, Luther Vandross, Annie Lennox and the Beach Boys.

CLAYMOTION: During the run of the second season of "American Idol," one sign seen often in the audience was "All the Way With Clay." That sign was held, no doubt, by a fan of Clay Aiken who wanted him to win the competition. Ultimately he was the runner-up, but on Billboard's Hot 100 Clay has, indeed, gone all the way. His single "This Is the Night" (RCA) debuts at No. 1, a feat considered almost impossible in an era when songs usually debut in the lower rungs of the chart as soon as they receive enough airplay. Aiken's single bursts onto the chart with massive, record-breaking sales, defying the odds of opening in pole position.

It's an historic week on the Hot 100, as "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard debuts at No. 2 with his remake of Westlife's "Flying Without Wings." It's the first time in the 45-year history of the chart that the top two songs are new entries.

"This Is the Night" is the 12th song in the rock era to debut at No. 1, though the first since 1998, when chart policies were changed. Aiken's name is thus added to the list of artists with songs that entered the chart on top:

"You Are Not Alone," Michael Jackson (1995)
"Fantasy," Mariah Carey (1995)
"Exhale (Shoop Shoop)," Whitney Houston (1995)
"One Sweet Day," Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men (1995)
"I'll Be Missing You," Puff Daddy & Faith Evans (featuring 112) (1997)
"Honey," Mariah Carey (1997)
"Candle in the Wind 1997" / "Something About the Way You Look Tonight," Elton John (1997)
"My Heart Will Go On," Celine Dion (1998)
"I Don't Want To Miss a Thing," Aerosmith (1998)
"Doo Wop (That Thing)," Lauryn Hill (1998)
"I'm Your Angel," R. Kelly & Celine Dion (1998) *
"This Is the Night," Clay Aiken (2003)

* "I'm Your Angel" appeared to move 46-1 on the Hot 100, but that was illusory. The song did not appear on the Hot 100 dated November 28, 1998, but was No. 1 the following week. However, chart rules were changed the week of December 5, 1998 to allow songs that were not released as singles to chart. The numbers in the "last week" column were from a test chart that incorporated the new policy.

Those wondering how Aiken reacted to the news of his single debuting on the Hot 100 can hear him on "The Billboard Radio Countdown" for the week ending June 28. Aiken is a special guest on the show that will be posted on billboardradio.com on Monday, June 23.

The original version of "Flying Without Wings" was No. 1 in the U.K., but was never released as a single in the U.S. Irish boy band Westlife remain one-hit wonders on the Hot 100, where "Swear It Again" peaked at No. 20 the week of July 1, 2000. Their eponymous debut album, which included "Flying Without Wings,' went to No. 129 on The Billboard 200.

This is not the first time that Westlife material has been plundered by an "Idol" contestant. Their song "Evergreen" was performed by the top two finalists of the U.K.'s original "Pop Idol" TV series. Will Young and Gareth Gates both recorded the song, and Young's version was his first No. 1 single in Britain. Gates' version appeared as an extra track on his debut single, "Unchained Melody," which also went to No. 1.


'GONE' GOOD TO GO: Monica scores the fifth No. 1 of her career on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart with "So Gone" (J Records). It's her first chart-topping hit in almost five years. "The Last Night" spent six weeks at the summit, starting the week of Sept. 5, 1998. Monica began her career with a No. 1 song, "Don't Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)" in June 1995. Her other No. 1 hits are "Before You Walk Out of My Life" / "Like This and Like That" in 1996 and "The Boy Is Mine," her duet with Brandy that reigned for eight weeks, starting the week of June 6, 1998.

This is Monica's first No. 1 on the J label. She was originally signed to Dallas Austin's Rowdy imprint, then moved over to parent label Arista. "The Boy Is Mine" was released by Brandy's label, Atlantic.

While the No. 1 status of "So Gone" is good news for J, it's disappointing for another J artist. Newly signed "American Idol" Ruben Studdard moves 61-2 with "Superstar," his cover of the song written by Leon Russell and Bonnie Bramlett, a No. 2 hit for the Carpenters in 1971. Studdard sang "Superstar" on "American Idol" in February, but was not familiar with the Carpenters version, as revealed in an interview with Billboard.com. Studdard only knew the version recorded by Luther Vandross in 1984.


'DANCE' TO THE TOP: It's a great week all around for J artists. Monica tops the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart, Ruben Studdard rules the Hot R&B/Hip-Hip Singles Sales tally with "Superstar" and Luther Vandross scores the No. 1 album he has always wanted, a bittersweet triumph for the man who suffered a stroke on April 16 and was recently moved out of the intensive care unit at Weill Cornell Medical College.

"Dance With My Father" debuts at No. 1 on The Billboard 200, and is the highest-charting album of Vandross' career. His previous best was "Songs," which peaked at No. 5 the week of Oct. 8, 1994. Vandross' album chart span stretches back almost 20 years; he first appeared on the Billboard album chart the week of Dec. 24, 1983, with "Busy Body," an album that peaked at No. 32 in February 1984.


'BARE' FACTS: If "Chart Beat Bonus" is starting to sound like all J-news all the time, it's because the label had a phenomenal chart week. Luther Vandross is not the only artist on the roster scoring a personal best on The Billboard 200. Annie Lennox debuts at No. 4 with her first album in eight years, "Bare." It's the first of her three solo albums to find a berth in the top-10. In 1992, "Diva" stopped at No. 23. Three years later, her covers album, "Medusa," peaked at No. 11.


STILL SURFIN' AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: Who could ever get tired of "Surfin' U.S.A."? Not fans of the Beach Boys, who have scooped up enough copies of "The Beach Boys: The Very Best of the Beach Boys" (Capitol) to send the CD hurtling onto The Billboard 200 at No. 16. That makes this new collection the highest-charting Beach Boys album in 27 years.

In 1976 the Beach Boys starred in an NBC-TV special produced by Lorne Michaels that also featured John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd. Released in conjunction with that special, "15 Big Ones" cruised to No. 8. Since then, no other Beach Boys album has made its way into the top-50 portion of the album chart until this week.

The Beach Boys have an album chart span of 40 years and seven months, dating back to the Nov. 24, 1962, debut of "Surfin' Safari," an LP that eventually peaked at No. 32.


'WEST' WINGS ITS WAY INTO HISTORY: "Chart Beat" reader Larry Cohen of Trumbull, Conn., notes that the recent turn at No. 1 for Led Zeppelin with "How the West Was Won" (Atlantic) sends the group into the top-5 among acts with the longest periods of time between first and last No. 1 album.

Cohen points out that Elvis Presley is in first place with 46 years and five months. The Beatles are second with 36 years and nine and a half months. Led Zeppelin is now third with 33 years and five and a half months. In fourth place is Barbra Streisand with 33 years and one and a half months and Santana is fifth with 32 years and one and a half months.

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