"Chart Beat" columnist Fred Bronson reports on U2, low debuts, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Bill & Gloria Gaither, Jimmy Fallon, the Dixie Chicks, and Las Ketchup.
U TURN: U2 extends its span of hits on Billboard's Hot 100 to 18 years and eight months, thanks to the debut of "Electrical Storm" (Interscope) at No. 77. The Irish band's first chart entry was "New Year's Day," which entered the chart the week of Jan. 28, 1984, at No. 90, ultimately peaking at No. 81. "Electrical Storm" is U2's 24th entry on the Hot 100.
"Electrical Storm" is tied with two other U2 songs as the group's lowest-debuting titles of the last 10 years. "Mysterious Ways" started at No. 77 in November 1991 and "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" began at No. 77 in November 1992. Of course, it's not where U start, it's where U finish. "Mysterious Ways" ended up peaking at No. 9.
On the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, "Electrical Storm" is the highest-debuting U2 song of the last five years. The new hit enters at No. 28. The last U2 song to debut higher on the Mainstream tally was "Staring at the Sun," which opened at No. 16.
U2 isn't the only veteran act with a new entry on the Mainstream chart. Bon Jovi debuts at No. 39 with "Everyday" (Island). It's the first song by the group to appear on the Mainstream survey since "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" went to No. 29 in July 1993.
DEBUTANTES: For the second week in a row, there are no debuts in the top-10 of The Billboard 200. That's because the major record labels decided not to release any potential big-sellers near the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. Last week, Aaron Carter had the highest-debuting album when his "Another Earthquake" opened at No. 18. This week, Hot Shot Debut honors go to Rebecca Lynn Howard, who enters at No. 29 with "Forgive" (MCA). Howard's first album, a self-titled effort, peaked at No. 54 on Billboard's Top Country Albums roundup, but didn't appear on The Billboard 200.
There won't be a third consecutive week of low debuts. Rock act Disturbed and hip-hop's Disturbing tha Peace should cause a double-disturbance at the top of the chart, with Lifehouse also in the running for a high-ranking new entry.
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM THEIR FRIENDS: Gospel stars Bill & Gloria Gaither & Their Homecoming Friends have the two highest-ranked albums of their career on The Billboard 200. "Let Freedom Ring: Live from Carnegie Hall" (Spring House) and "God Bless America: Live from Carnegie Hall" enter at No. 35 and No. 44, respectively. That bests the Gaithers previous high mark: "Freedom Band" went to No. 86 in February.
Sales of the Gaithers' two new albums were fueled by the airing of a one-hour TV special on various outlets, including the PAX network, TBN, and BET.
JIMMY EAT CHART: Although "The Bathroom Wall" (DreamWorks) slips to No. 89 in its third week on The Billboard 200, Jimmy Fallon's debut album is still the highest-charting comedy album of the 21st century. The "Saturday Night Live" star's CD peaked at No. 47. The last comedy album to rank higher was by a former cast member of the same series. In October 1999, Adam Sandler's "Stan and Judy's Kid" peaked at No. 16.
'HOME' AGAIN: The Dixie Chicks rule The Billboard 200 for the third week in a row with "Home" (Monument/Columbia). Of the nine albums by "girl groups" to reach No. 1 on this chart, five have been on top for three weeks or longer. The record-holder is "Beauty and the Beat" by the Go-Go's, which had a six-week reign. "Diana Ross & the Supremes' Greatest Hits," the debut album by the Spice Girls, and "FanMail" by TLC all held sway for five weeks.
WOULD YOU LIKE KETCHUP WITH THAT?: There's a single sweeping through Europe in the same manner that Los del Rio's "Macarena" did in the summer of 1996. The three sisters known as Las Ketchup are dominating the singles charts in almost every country with "Asereje/The Ketchup Song" (Columbia), and advance to No. 1 on the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles tally, published in Billboard's sister magazine, Music & Media.
In France, "Asereje" makes chart history by taking the biggest-ever leap to No. 1, according to French chart expert and author Elia Habib. "The Ketchup Song" made a 49-1 move in France this week. That bests the 26-1 move of Babylon Zoo's "Spaceman" in 1996. (For the curious, after Las Ketchup and Babylon Zoo, the third biggest leap to No. 1 in French chart history is the 22-1 move of Madonna's "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" in 1997).
Ironically, just one week from now, the record of biggest leap to No. 1 on the U.S. Hot 100 will change hands. It currently belongs to the Beatles, who zoomed 27-1 in 1964 with "Can't Buy Me Love." Next week, Kelly Clarkson should easily bound 52-1 with "A Moment Like This" as a commercial single of the track was released this week. Such a move will give her and the "American Idol" TV series an indelible entry in the record books.