Chart Beat Bonus

Fred Bronson reports on the latest chart feats of "Chicago," chart, and of Cher, Christina Aguilera, Jay-Z, Robbie Williams, and Daniel Beddingfield.

A TALE OF THREE CITIES: The score is Nashville 34, Detroit 11, and Chicago 10, but closing in fast. That's one way of summarizing the three most successful soundtrack albums in the history of Billboard's Top Soundtracks chart. Since the tally was introduced the week of June 30, 2001, the longest-running soundtrack by far is "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (Lost Highway/Mercury), which held on to pole position for 34 weeks. In its 95th chart week, the album is still No. 9.

In second place is "8 Mile" (Shady/Interscope), representing the Motor City. The soundtrack to the Eminem film was on top for 11 weeks, and this week still ranks No. 2.

Just behind by a smidge is the current No. 1 album. "Chicago" (Epic) leads the list for the 10th week, and should tie "8 Mile" as the second-longest running No. 1 soundtrack next week.

AND CHER ALIKE: Although Cher made her first solo appearance on the Billboard album chart with "All I Wanna Do" in 1965, she didn't have a top-10 album until 1989, when "Heart of Stone" peaked at No. 10. Ten years later, she had the highest-ranking solo album of her career, when "Believe," titled after the international hit single, went to No. 4.

This week, Cher earns her second highest-ranking solo album of her career, as "The Very Best of Cher" (Geffen/MCA/Warner Bros.) opens at No. 7 on The Billboard 200. What's impressive about this entry position is that it was achieved based on sales counted before Cher's farewell tour special aired on NBC. That broadcast could help keep the album in the top-10 for a second week.

If you include Cher's chart history with her late ex-husband Sonny, her highest position on the album chart is the No. 2 ranking of the duo's first LP, "Look at Us" in 1965. That was the only Sonny & Cher album to reach the top-10.

UPON DEEPER REFLECTION: Four years and nine months after making her first appearance on the Adult Contemporary chart, Christina Aguilera tops that survey for the first time. "Beautiful" (RCA) moves 2-1 this week, displacing "The Game of Love" by Santana featuring Michelle Branch.

Aguilera's first AC hit was "Reflection." That song from the "Mulan" soundtrack peaked at No. 19 the week of Sept. 12, 1998. Two years later, "I Turn to You" went to No. 5, and in April 2001 "Nobody Wants To Be Lonely," a duet with Ricky Martin, reached No. 3.

IS IT A HIT OR A 'MISS': It's been almost two years since Jay-Z has been in pole position on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. "Excuse Me Miss" (Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam) moves 2-1, knocking out 50 Cent's "In Da Club" (G-Unit/Shady/Aftermath/Interscope) after a nine-week reign.

Jay-Z was most recently No. 1 as the featured artist on R. Kelly's "Fiesta" in June 2001. Jay-Z now has four R&B chart-toppers to his credit. His first No. 1 was "Heartbreaker," on which he was featured with Mariah Carey. That single spent two weeks on top in October 1999. In December 2000, Jay-Z was No. 1 for three weeks with "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)."

"Excuse Me Miss" is the third song to advance to No. 1 on the R&B chart in 2003. "Miss You" by Aaliyah had a three-week run, followed by "In Da Club."

BIGGER THAN HIS 'EGO': Robbie Williams' third solo album to be released in the U.S. gives him his highest chart position to date. "Escapology" (Chrysalis/Virgin) enters The Billboard 200 at No. 43. Williams' first solo album to chart in America, "The Ego Has Landed," went to No. 63 in June 1999. "Sing When You're Winning" topped out at No. 110 in October 2000.

As a member of British boy band Take That, Williams made his first appearance on The Billboard 200 in September 1995 with "Nobody Else," which went as high as No. 69.

THE POWER OF 'ONE': If you were concerned that British singer Daniel Bedingfield was going to be a one-hit wonder on Billboard's Hot 100, your worries are over. Last September, Bedingfield peaked at No. 10 with his former U.K. chart-topper, "Gotta Get Thru This." His second No. 1 single in the U.K., "If You're Not the One," is shaping up to be an ever bigger hit. In its third chart week, it rockets 43-28 on the Hot 100. In its third week on the chart, "Gotta Get Thru This" moved 46-43.