Chart-based stories on Ja Rule, Nickelback, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," and "Unchained Melody."
THE RULE OF JA: "Ain't It Funny" (Epic) by Jennifer Lopez featuring Ja Rule remains No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100 for the fourth week in a row. As the previous No. 1 song was "Always on Time" by Ja Rule featuring Ashanti, Ja Rule has now been on top of the chart for six consecutive weeks. If "Funny" is still doing its business next week, Ja Rule will have been in pole position for seven consecutive weeks, the longest continuous run since Janet Jackson's "All for You" reigned for seven weeks in April-May 2001. If "Funny" remains in place for two more weeks, Ja Rule will have the longest non-stop visit to the summit since Destiny's Child's "Independent Women Part I" led the list for 11 weeks, beginning in November 2000.
Meanwhile, Ja Rule continues to have multiple chart entries. As the featured artist on Mary J. Blige's "Rainy Dayz" (MCA), he earns Hot Shot Debut honors by entering the Hot 100 at No. 62.
NORTH OF THE BORDER: Nickelback continues to be the highest-ranked Canadian act on The Billboard Hot 100, as "How You Remind Me" (Roadrunner) rebounds 4-3. But two other acts from the United States' neighbor to the north enter the top 40 this week. Vancouver's Default has its first top-40 hit with "Wasting My Time" (TVT), which jumps 42-34. A few rungs lower, Celine Dion moves 45-38 with the song that ends her temporary retirement, "A New Day Has Come" (Epic).
'BROTHER' GOES LONG: "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (Lost Highway/Mercury) keeps its grip on pole position on The Billboard 200 for the second week. On Billboard's Top Country Albums chart, the soundtrack to the Coen Brothers' movie is No. 1 for the 29th non-consecutive week. That's more than three times longer than the reign of the "Hope Floats" soundtrack, the second-longest running No. 1 soundtrack in the history of the country albums chart.
Here's a summary of all of the soundtracks to top the country list:
"O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (29 weeks to date)
"Hope Floats" (nine weeks)
"Urban Cowboy" (eight weeks)
"Coyote Ugly" (seven weeks)
"Honeysuckle Rose" (six weeks)
"Pure Country" (one week)
THE 'MELODY' LINGERS ON: One Pop Idol will succeed another Pop Idol on the U.K. singles chart to be published on March 24. Will Young has been on top for three weeks with the double-sided hit "Evergreen" / "Anything Is Possible" (S/RCA). Young won the "Pop Idols" competition on the popular TV series, but the runner-up, 17-year-old Gareth Gates, isn't taking a back seat. His version of "Unchained Melody" is certain to debut at No. 1, and may even eclipse Young's record of the largest first-week sale of a single in U.K. chart history.
Gates' debut will make "Unchained Melody" the only song to be No. 1 in the U.K. by four different artists. In June 1955, former British DJ Jimmy Young spent three weeks at the top with his cover version, while Al Hibbler's U.S. recording could only manage a second place. In November 1990, the re-released Righteous Brothers version had a four-week reign, thanks to its inclusion in the "Ghost" soundtrack. In May 1995, actors Robson Green and Jerome Flynn had the most successful version of "Unchained Melody" in the U.K., as the double-A single (the other side was "The White Cliffs of Dover") remained No. 1 for seven weeks.
In the U.S., no song has been No. 1 by four different artists, or even three. Here are the nine songs have been No. 1 by two different artists:
"Go Away Little Girl" (Steve Lawrence, Donny Osmond)
"The Loco-Motion" (Little Eva, Grand Funk)
"Please Mr. Postman" (The Marvelettes, Carpenters)
"Venus" (Shocking Blue, Bananarama)*
"Lean on Me" (Bill Withers, Club Nouveau)
"You Keep Me Hangin' On" (The Supremes, Kim Wilde)
"When a Man Loves a Woman" (Percy Sledge, Michael Bolton)
"I'll Be There" (Jackson 5, Mariah Carey)
"Lady Marmalade" (Labelle; Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya & Pink)
* The opening notes of "Venus" were heard in the No. 1 medley recorded by Dutch act Stars on 45 in 1981.
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