Fred Bronson reports on the chart feats of Kelly Clarkson and "American Idol," Dobie Gray, Fleetwood Mac, Jimmy Buffett, and 50 Cent.

GOLDEN IDOL: The Midas touch of "American Idol" continues, as the winners of the first and second seasons of the popular TV series debut at No. 1 on Billboard charts this week.

Kelly Clarkson enters The Billboard 200 at No. 1 with her first album, "Thankful" (RCA). Winner of the series' freshman season, Clarkson topped the Hot 100 in October 2002 for two weeks with "A Moment Like This." Given the long gap between her hit single and the release of her debut album, there was no guarantee that Clarkson would emerge victorious on the chart dated May 6, but "Thankful" outsold new releases from 50 Cent, Fleetwood Mac, and Darryl Worley, which debuted in positions 2-4.

Clarkson is only the second solo female artist to have a No. 1 album on the RCA label in the rock era. The first was Christina Aguilera, whose self-titled debut album spent one week in pole position for the week ending Sept. 11, 1999. Aguilera and Clarkson share co-writing credits with Rhett Lawrence on Clarkson's new single, "Miss Independent."

"Thankful" is the first RCA album to reach the summit since Elvis Presley's "ELV1S: 30 #1 Hits" had a three-week reign in October 2002.

And, as noted above, Clarkson isn't the only winner of "American Idol" to debut at No. 1 this week. The winner of the series' second season also enters a Billboard chart at the top. The remaining five contestants - Clay Aiken, Joshua Gracin, Kimberley Locke, Ruben Studdard, and Trenyce - join eliminated singers Carmen Rasmusen, Kimberly Caldwell, Rickey Smith, Corey Clark, and Julia DeMato on "God Bless the U.S.A." (RCA), which debuts at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles Sales chart. The next American Idol will either be Aiken, Gracin, Locke, Studdard, or Trenyce, so it's certain that the second season's winner debuted at No. 1 on a Billboard chart this week.

On the main Hot 100, "God Bless the U.S.A." opens at No. 4. That's the highest new entry since the chart rules changed in December 1998 to allow airplay-only tracks to appear on the tally. The only other songs to debut inside the top-10 since Dec. 12, 1998, are "Lost in You" by Garth Brooks as Chris Gaines and "Get Over Yourself" by another TV show-inspired outfit, Eden's Crush, from the first season of "Popstars." "Lost in You" entered at No. 5 the week of Sept. 11, 1999, and "Get Over Yourself" opened at No. 8 the week of March 31, 2001.


GET HIS 'DRIFT': A 41-36 move on the Hot 100 gives Dobie Gray the third biggest hit of his career, and his first top-40 hit in 24 years. "Drift Away" by Uncle Kracker featuring Dobie Gray is a remake of the 30-year-old "Drift Away" by... Dobie Gray. In 1973, the song peaked at No. 5 and became Gray's biggest hit, besting the No. 13 peak of "The 'In' Crowd" in 1965. Before the Uncle Kracker remake, Gray was last on the Hot 100 in 1979 with "You Can Do It," which went to No. 37.

Gray made his first appearance on the Hot 100 the week of Jan. 12, 1963, with "Look at Me," which only reached No. 91 in a two-week chart run. But that's good enough to give Gray a pop singles chart span of 40 years, three months, and three weeks.


WHERE THERE'S A 'WILL': Fleetwood Mac has its highest-debuting album of the 21st century, thanks to the No. 3 debut of "Say You Will" (Reprise) on The Billboard 200. That beats the No. 12 debut of "The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac" in November 2002. This latest new entry is the group's highest since "The Dance" opened at No. 1 in September 1997.

In Fleetwood Mac's 34 year, eight-month chart span, only four of the band's releases have charted higher than "Say You Will" -- the group's four No. 1 albums ("Fleetwood Mac" in 1976, "Rumours" in 1977, "Mirage" in 1982, and "The Dance" in 1997).


SEVENTH HEAVEN: Jimmy Buffett collects his seventh top-10 album on The Billboard 200. "Meet Me in Margaritaville: Jimmy Buffett the Ultimate Collection" (Mailboat/MCA) debuts at No. 9.

The artist, long associated with Key West, Fla., first charted on the album survey the week of March 2, 1974, with "Living and Dying in 3/4 Time," which peaked at No. 176. Buffet's first top-10 album, "Son of a Son of a Sailor," reached No. 10 in 1978.

He had a run of three consecutive top-10 albums between 1994-1996, including "Fruitcakes" (No. 5), "Barometer Soup" (No. 6), and "Banana Wind" (No. 4). In 1999, "Beach House on the Moon" sailed to No. 8. Buffet's first top-10 album of the 21st century was "Far Side of the World," which went to No. 5 in 2002.


CLUBBIN': 50 Cent retains ownership of pole position on the Hot 100, with "In Da Club" (G-Unit/Shady/Aftermath) sitting on top of the chart for the ninth week in a row. If this is last call for "In Da Club," it will be one of only seven songs in the rock era to complete its reign after nine weeks, and the first since "Endless Love" by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie in 1981.

There are 19 songs that have been No. 1 for 10 weeks or longer in the rock era. The field of seven that were No. 1 for just nine weeks is comprised of:

"Singing the Blues," Guy Mitchell (1956)
"Mack the Knife," Bobby Darin (1959)
"Theme from 'A Summer Place'," Percy Faith (1960)
"Hey Jude," The Beatles (1968)
"Bette Davis Eyes," Kim Carnes (1981)
"Endless Love," Diana Ross & Lionel Richie (1981)
"In Da Club," 50 Cent (2003)

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