Chart-based tories on Mary J. Blige, the Bee Gees, George Harrison, and Whitney Houston.
AN 'AFFAIR' TO REMEMBER: Is Mary J. Blige's "Family Affair" going to end up as the longest-running No. 1 of 2001? The possibility grows stronger, as the MCA single is on top of The Billboard Hot 100 for a sixth week. That's good enough for second place on the list of the year's longest-running No. 1 songs, tied with Alicia Keys' "Fallin'" (J). The longevity champ is Janet Jackson, with a seven-week reign with "All for You."
If Blige is still No. 1 on next week's chart, she will tie Jackson for the title, and in two weeks will have the field all to herself.
BEE HERE NOW: Some 34 years on, the Bee Gees are still popular enough to land an album in the upper quarter of The Billboard 200. The two-CD set "Their Greatest Hits - The Record" (UTV) enters the chart this week at No. 49.
The first collection of the group's greatest hits was "Best of the Bee Gees," which peaked at No. 9 in 1969 while the group was still signed to Atlantic's Atco imprint. A second volume, which included hits from 1969 to 1972, went to No. 98 in 1973. "Bee Gees Gold, Volume One," which covered the years 1967-1972, reached No. 50 in 1977. In the wake of the trio's "Saturday Night Fever" success, a double-LP, "Bee Gees Greatest," spent a week at No. 1 in 1980.
This latest collection, which goes back to the beginning of the Gibbs' career, also includes their own renditions of songs they gave away to others, including Samantha Sang's "Emotion," Dionne Warwick's "Heartbreaker," and Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton's "Islands in the Stream." It is the Bee Gees' second album to chart in 2001; "This Is Where I Came In" peaked at No. 16 the week of May 12. It's the first time since 1979 that the trio has had two albums debut on the chart in the same calendar year.
The first Bee Gees' album to chart in America was "Bee Gees' 1st," which debuted the week of Aug. 26, 1967. That accounts for the group's album chart span of 34 years, three months, and two weeks.
ALL THOSE YEARS AGO: The sad news of George Harrison's death has caused an outpouring of tributes to the former Beatle from all over the world. For my part, I offer a list of the top-10 songs written by Harrison according to chart performance on The Billboard Hot 100. This list is excerpted from the third edition of "Billboard's Hottest Hot 100 Hits," due out in the fall of 2002.
1. "My Sweet Lord" / "Isn't It a Pity," George Harrison (1970)
2. "Something," the Beatles (1969)
3. "For You Blue," the Beatles (1970)
4. "Photograph," Ringo Starr (1973)
5. "All Those Years Ago," George Harrison (1981)
6. "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)," George Harrison (1973)
7. "What Is Life," George Harrison
8. "Here Comes the Sun," Richie Havens (1971)
9. "Blow Away," George Harrison (1979)
10. "Crackerbox Palace," George Harrison (1977)
Harrison had a No. 1 hit on the Hot 100 with "Got My Mind Set on You," but that was a cover of a song written by Rudy Clark and recorded by James Ray. My personal favorite song written by Harrison is "Awaiting on You All," a track from his 1970 masterpiece "All Things Must Pass." I also love "Try Some Buy Some," which he recorded for the "Living in the Material World" album -- but my favorite version is the one recorded by Ronnie Spector for Apple Records.
Rest in Peace, George.
'BANNER' HEADLINES: Michael Ming of Penn Valley, Pa., sent an E-mail about Whitney Houston's version of "The Star Spangled Banner" (Arista). He points out that Houston's single has achieved many chart distinctions in the past few weeks.
It is the first record to peak as high as No. 6 on The Billboard Hot 100 with only a single week in the top-10 since Vanilla Fudge's remake of "You Keep Me Hangin' On" in 1968. It's also the first record to peak more than 10 years after its Hot 100 debut since Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" went to No. 2 after being included in the soundtrack of "Wayne's World" in 1992, more than 16 years after its first appearance on the chart.
Finally, with Whitney on the R&B charts and with Faith Hill's version on the country charts, the U.S. national anthem is the first song to be a simultaneous hit on the country and R&B charts since "Back at One" by Brian McKnight and Mark Wills did the trick back in 1999.