Chart Beat Thursday: Johnny Cash, Zac Brown Band, Black Eyed Peas

Singer Johnny Cash poses for a portrait in 2002 in Los Angeles, California.

BACK IN BLACK: Two days after Johnny Cash's "American VI: Ain't No Grave" was released Feb. 23, Apple announced that the iTunes store had sold its 10 billionth song: Cash's "Guess Things Happen That Way." Billboard 200 chart manager Keith Caulfield muses that only a publicist could have dreamed of such a scenario, and with such an apt song title. (For the lucky purchase, Louie Sulcer of Woodstock, Georgia, was rewarded with a $10,000 iTunes gift card).

Starting at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, the new set is the final installment in Cash's American Recordings series with producer Rick Rubin. Here is a look at the peak positions of each edition:

Peak Pos., Title (Year)
No. 110, "American Recordings" (1994)
No. 170, "Unchained" (1996)
No. 88, "American III: Solitary Man" (2000)
No. 22, "American IV: The Man Comes Around" (2003)
No. 1 (one week), "American V: A Hundred Highways" (2006)
No. 3, "American VI: Ain't No Grave"(2010)

Cash's new entry marks his 49th on the Billboard 200, extending the late icon's span on the list to 51 years, three months and one week.

In addition to providing some of Cash's best-received work with its stripped-down approach, including his acclaimed cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" in 2003, the American Recordings series has nearly doubled his top 10 output on the Billboard 200. Prior to "American V: A Hundred Highways," Cash had banked three top 10 albums: "Johnny Cash at San Quentin" (No. 1, 1969), "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash" (No. 6, 1970) and "The Legend of Johnny Cash" (No. 5, 2006).

"Hurt" remains Cash's last charted title on Country Songs, where it spent a frame at No. 56 on the March 8, 2003, survey. Cash's total of 135 charted titles on Country Songs is bested only by George Jones' 165 and Eddy Arnold's 143. ("Johnny Cash" last appeared on the chart as the title of Jason Aldean's No. 6 ode in 2007).

'HIGHWAY' MEN: On this week's Country Songs chart, Zac Brown Band becomes the first group to send four songs from a debut album into the top 10 in eight years, as "Highway 20 Ride" rolls 11-9.

The group introduced its maiden set "The Foundation" with "Chicken Fried," which sizzled atop the list for two weeks in December 2008. "Whatever It Is" peaked at No. 2 in July, and "Toes" stepped up to a two-week reign in November.

Crowned Best New Artist at the 52nd Grammy Awards Jan. 31, the act is the first group to collect four top 10s from a debut release since Rascal Flatts netted its fourth top 10 ("I'm Movin' On") from its eponymous debut effort this week in 2002.

Since Country Songs adopted Nielsen BDS monitored data in 1990, just four other duos or groups had begun with at least four top 10s from a debut album: Dixie Chicks (five top 10s, 1998-99), Blackhawk (1994-95) and Brooks & Dunn and Diamond Rio (five top 10s each, 1991-92).

A PEAS, GEES RATING: The Black Eyed Peas maintain their hold over the Billboard Hot 100 for a second week with "Imma Be."

The song grants the act its 28th total week atop the chart, with "Boom Boom Pow" and "I Gotta Feeling" having spent 12 and 14 weeks at No. 1, respectively. With their latest week in charge, the Black Eyed Peas pass the Bee Gees for 12th-most weeks totaled at the survey's summit.

Here is a look at the 13 acts to spend at least six cumulative months in the Hot 100's penthouse:

Total Weeks at No. 1, Artist (Total No. 1s)
79, Mariah Carey (18)
59, the Beatles (20)
50, Boyz II Men (5)
43, Usher (8)
37, Michael Jackson (13)
36, Beyonce (5)
34, Elton John (9)
33, Janet Jackson (10)
32, Madonna (12)
31, Whitney Houston (11)
30, Paul McCartney (9)
28, the Black Eyed Peas (3)
27, Bee Gees (9)

On R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, "Imma Be" arrives as the Hot Shot Debut at No. 92. "Boom Boom Pow" was the only prior single from the "The E.N.D." to reach the chart, peaking at No. 51 in June.

'IDOL' IMPACT: Until this year, the Beatles' original (No. 1, 1970) and Joan Baez's cover (No. 49, 1971) represented the only versions of "Let It Be" to make the Hot 100. In the past five weeks, the classic has appeared twice, courtesy of a pair of "American Idol" favorites.

On the chart dated Feb. 13, Jennifer Hudson's rendition, featuring the Roots, spent a week at No. 98. Hudson had performed the song on the "Hope for Haiti" telethon Jan. 22, and her remake was subsequently released on the like-titled Billboard 200-topping compilation.

This week, Kris Allen returns the composition at No. 63. Last year's "American Idol" champion performed the song on last week's first elimination episode of the season, with proceeds from its digital sales benefiting Haiti earthquake relief efforts through the Idol Gives Back Foundation.

With a 57th week on the Hot 100, Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody" (No. 44) becomes one of 10 songs to log such a run in the chart's 51-year history.

Here is a recap of the 10 titles to total the most weeks on the Hot 100, seven of which have graced the list since 2000:

76 weeks, "I'm Yours," Jason Mraz, 2008-09
69 weeks, "How Do I Live," LeAnn Rimes, 1997-98
65 weeks, "You Were Meant for Me/Foolish Games," Jewel, 1996-98
64 weeks, "Before He Cheats," Carrie Underwood, 2006-07
62 weeks, "You and Me," Lifehouse, 2005-06
60 weeks, "Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)," Los Del Rio, 1995-96
58 weeks, "Smooth," Santana featuring Rob Thomas, 1999-2000
58 weeks, "How to Save a Life," the Fray, 2006-07
57 weeks, "Higher," Creed, 1999-2000
57 weeks, "Use Somebody," Kings of Leon, 2008-10

CHART BEAT BITS: Robin Thicke lands his second No. 1 on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, as "Sex Therapy" rises 3-1. In February 2007, Thicke began an 11-week rule with "Lost Without U" ...

Monica notches her 11th top 10 on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, as "Everything to Me" charges 13-9. The singer collected her first seven top 10s with her first seven chart entries between 1995 and 1999, including four No. 1s. She's since added "So Gone" (No. 1, five weeks, 2003), "U Should've Known Better" (No. 6, 2004), "Trust" (duet with Keyshia Cole, No. 5, 2009) and her latest top 10, the lead single from "Still Standing," due March 23 ...

Marvin Sapp holds one of the most acclaimed honors in Billboard chart history: in 2007-08, his "Never Would Have Made It" commanded Gospel Songs for 46 weeks, the longest reign for a title on a Billboard airplay list. We won't know if he can top that stranglehold until almost a year from now, but the singer/worship leader makes his first trip to the apex since wrapping his record run. "The Best in Me" pushes 3-1 to become Sapp's second Gospel Songs No. 1 ...

Newcomer, sort of. Recording on Rounder Records since 1991, Carrie Newcomer's 12th album for the label marks her first appearance on a Billboard chart. The acclaimed singer-songwriter's "Before & After," featuring guest Mary Chapin Carpenter, bows at No. 14 on Folk Albums ...

Since arriving with the Hot 100's No. 1 song of 2001, "Hanging By a Moment," Lifehouse has become a staple of the Adult Pop Songs chart with its rock/pop anthems. As its latest single, "Halfway Gone," bullets at No. 2 on the chart for a second week, the track serves as the band's unlikely introduction to Dance/Club Play Songs, where a remix starts at No. 43. The band will return to more familiar territory next week, when its fifth album, "Smoke & Mirrors," will debut on the Billboard 200.


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