Chart Beat

Fred discusses hot chart action from Sinatra, Jason Mraz, the Cure and more!

GIVING US HIS 'BEST': The Billboard album chart as we know it today was born on March 24, 1956. Although it wasn't called The Billboard 200 then, that first survey marked the beginning of an ongoing weekly chart that continues to this day.

One week after the first album chart was published, an LP titled "Songs for Swingin' Lovers!" debuted. It wasn't Frank Sinatra's first album; in fact, the Hoboken, N.J., native had been recording since 1939. But it did begin Sinatra's chart run on the album tally and the album was the first of seven Sinatra releases to peak at No. 2.

The seventh arrives this week, as the greatest hits collection, "Nothing But the Best" (Reprise), debuts in the runner-up spot, finishing right behind the first No. 1 album by Death Cab for Cutie. Sinatra, who passed away 10 years ago this month at the age of 82, now has an album chart span of 52 years and two months, almost the longest span possible on this particular list.

While a debut at No. 2 is very impressive, the chart anorak in me can't help but wish that "Nothing But the Best" would have debuted just one slot higher. That would have given Sinatra his first No. 1 album since "Strangers in the Night" in July 1966 and given the Chairman of the Board the undisputed record for being the oldest artist to ever have a No. 1 album, following by just one week the apparent record-holder, 67-year-old Neil Diamond.

For the record, Sinatra has had four No. 1 albums. Here is a recap of those four chart-toppers, followed by his seven No. 2 albums:

"Come Fly With Me," five weeks (1958)
"Frank Sinatra Sings Only for the Lonely," five weeks (1958)
"Nice 'n' Easy," nine weeks (1960)
"Strangers in the Night," one week (1966)
"Songs for Swingin' Lovers!" one week (1956)
"A Swingin' Affair!" one week (1957)
"Pal Joey," one week (1957)
"Come Dance With Me," five weeks (1959)
"No One Cares," two weeks (1959)
"Duets," three weeks (1993)
"Nothing But the Best," one week to date (2008)

SENTENCE STRUCTURE: Debuting just one rung lower than Frank Sinatra on The Billboard 200 is Jason Mraz with "We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things." (Atlantic). The No. 3 peak for this new release is Mraz's highest-charting album to date, besting the No. 5 posting of "Mr. A-Z" in August 2005.

"We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things." is the first top three album I can find with a title made up of three sentences.

BACK WITH 'ONE': The Cure began its chart run on Modern Rock Tracks in April 1989 with "Fascination Street" and charted consistently until 1997, amassing 13 chart entries during those years. The group didn't chart again until 2000, with the No. 10 hit "Maybe Someday."

Then there was a four-year gap, as the band returned to the Modern tally with "The End of the World," which peaked at No. 19 in 2004.

Now, almost another four years has gone by, and the Cure is back. "The Only One" (Suretone/Geffen) is a new entry at No. 35.

NO BLOOD, NO TEARS, 'JUST' SWEAT: Also making a return after a gap of four years is Keith Sweat, who enters The Billboard 200 at No. 10 with "Just Me" (Keia/Atco). Sweat was last on this chart in 2004 with "The Best of Keith Sweat: Make You Sweat," which peaked at No. 31. He was last in the top 10 under his own name in October 1998, when "Still in the Game" reached No. 6.

Sweat also had a top 10 album in 2003 when "LSG2" went to No. 6. LSG was a trio made up of Sweat with Gerald Levert and Johnny Gill.

On Top R&B/Hip-Hop albums, Sweat makes a triumphant return by debuting at No. 1. It is his sixth chart-topping set and his first since an eponymous release opened in pole position in July 1996.

Here is a summary of Sweat's six No. 1 albums on the R&B survey, starting with his first five albums to chart:

"Make It Last Forever," three weeks (1987)
"I'll Give All My Love to You," one week (1990)
"Keep It Comin'," three weeks (1992)
"Get Up On It," two weeks (1994)
"Keith Sweat," one week (1996)
"Just Me," one week to date (2008)

Sweat was most recently on the R&B album chart in December 2007 with "A Christmas of Love," which peaked at No. 79 in its short holiday tenure.

V IS FOR VEE: A teenage heartthrob when he made his Hot 100 debut, Bobby Vee scored 38 chart entries between 1959 and 1970. The Fargo, N.D., native, whose career began the day Buddy Holly died (Holly was on his way to Fargo when his plane crashed on Feb. 3, 1959; 15-year-old Vee answered his local radio station's plea for a band to fill in at Holly's scheduled gig that night), is back on the U.K. album chart this week with "The Very Best of Bobby Vee" (EMI), a new entry at No. 19.
This is Vee's first appearance on the U.K. album chart since 1980, when another greatest hits collection peaked at No. 5. Before that, his most recent U.K. album appearance was in 1963, when "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" checked in at No. 15.

On The Billboard 200, Vee's last appearance was with "Just Today" in 1968.

NEW IN TOWN: As foreshadowed in last week's Chart Beat, New Kids on the Block return to The Billboard Hot 100 for the first time in 14 years. The reunited group has the Hot Shot Debut with "Summertime," which bows at No. 57.

The Kids were last on the chart in 1994 with "Dirty Dawg," which stalled at No. 66, making "Summertime" the outfit's highest-charting song since "Let's Try It Again" peaked at No. 53 in November 1990.

If "Summertime" is hot enough to reach the top 10, it will be the first Kids single to do so since "Tonight" topped out at No. 7 in September 1990.