Chart Beat

Fred discusses Michael Jackson, Brad Paisley, Mariah Carey and more!

KING OF POP (CATALOG): In its original run, Michael Jackson's "Thriller" was on The Billboard 200 for 122 weeks, 37 of which were spent at No. 1.

With the re-entry of a silver anniversary edition, the rechristened "Thriller 25" (Legacy/Epic) is in its 112th week on the Top Pop Catalog Albums chart and is No. 1 on that tally for the first time.

"Thriller" debuted on The Billboard 200 the week of Dec. 25, 1982. The album made its first appearance on the catalog chart the week of Nov. 14, 1992, entering at No. 42. It didn't reach the top 10 until the week of Feb. 27, 1993, when it leapt 26-2. It remained No. 2 the following week but never equaled or surpassed that ranking until this week.

The re-entry of "Thriller" puts the classic album back on the catalog chart for the first time since the week of May 12, 2007.

There aren't many 49-year-old performers who can say they have been on the Billboard charts for almost 40 years, but Michael can. As a member of the Jackson 5, he made his chart debut the week of Nov. 15, 1969, when "I Want You Back" bowed on The Billboard Hot 100. That gives Michael a career chart span of 38 years, three months and two weeks.

A final note: on the Top Comprehensive Albums chart, where catalog titles mix with current best-sellers, "Thriller 25" debuts at No. 2, runner-up to Jack Johnson's "Sleep Through the Static" (Brushfire), which is also No. 1 on The Billboard 200. "Thriller 25" is the highest-charting catalog album in the history of the comprehensive survey.

WILL '=' EQUALS?: It's been almost two years since a Mariah Carey song debuted on the Hot 100, but the hiatus is over as "Touch My Body" (Island) opens at No. 57. It's the highest-debuting Carey single since "It's Like That" entered at No. 53 the week of Jan. 29, 2005 and it is the first Carey song to chart since "Say Somethin'" peaked at No. 79 in May 2006.

"Touch My Body" could turn into an historic recording for Carey. If the song reaches the No. 1 spot, it will be Carey's 18th chart-topper on the Hot 100 and it will push her past Elvis Presley's 17 No. 1s in the rock era -- which would make her second only to the Beatles, who have 20 No. 1s to their credit.

Extending that "what-if?" scenario a bit further... if "Touch My Body" achieves pole position and there are two other No. 1 songs on Carey's forthcoming "E=MC²" release, Carey will tie the Beatles for the most No. 1s in the rock era. It should be noted that Carey's most recent album, "The Emancipation of Mimi," contained two chart-topping tracks: "We Belong Together" and "Don't Forget About Us." If "E=MC²" equals "Mimi," Mariah will be one tantalizing No. 1 hit shy of the Beatles' record.

'RIVER' RUNS: There's nothing like winning a Grammy for album of the year to boost your chart fortunes. Jazz keyboardist Herbie Hancock made his Billboard album chart debut 40 years, nine months and two weeks ago with the soundtrack to Michelangelo Antonioni's "Blow-Up." That LP peaked at No. 192 and while Hancock did have two titles reach the top 20 ("Head Hunters" and "Thrust" both went to No. 13 in 1974), he has never had a top 10 album until this week.

"River: The Joni Letters" (Verve) rockets 159-5 on The Billboard 200 in its fourth chart week. The album debuted at No. 118 on the survey dated Oct. 13, 2007, slipped to No. 120 the following week and then fell off.
Following the album's Grammy win, "River" returned to the tally last week at No. 159 with just one day of post-Grammy sales, so the full impact didn't hit until this week.

On Top Contemporary Jazz Albums, "River" recaptures the lead to spend its 16th week at No. 1. The album began its chart life at No. 1, and has been in the top two every week since, save the week of Dec. 15, 2007, when it dipped to No. 4 for a mere seven days.

RAISING HIM UP: Four years after making his first appearance on the Hot 100, Josh Groban has his highest-charting title to date. A live version of "The Prayer," sung as a duet with Celine Dion on her CBS-TV special last week, is a new entry at No. 70.

While Groban has multiple No. 1 hits on the Adult Contemporary chart and has previously led The Billboard 200, his highest ranking on the Hot 100 before this week was the No. 73 peak of his first chart entry, "You Raise Me Up," in April 2004. A live recording of "I'll Be Home for Christmas" checked in at No. 95 in December 2006 and a digital download of Groban singing "You Raise Me Up" with the African Children's Choir, performed on the "American Idol" charity special "Idol Gives Back," peaked at No. 76 in May 2007.

The live version of "The Prayer" is Dion's 21st title to appear on the Hot 100. Her studio recording of the song with Andrea Bocelli never made it to the Hot 100, but peaked at No. 22 on the Adult Contemporary list in April 1999.

X MARKS THE AMERICAN SPOT: While "Pop Idol" faded away in the United Kingdom after two seasons, there have been four seasons to date of Simon Cowell's "The X Factor" series and, thus, four winners. Until this week, Steve Brookstein, Shayne Ward, Leona Lewis and Leon Jackson have all had No. 1 singles in the United Kingdom but none of them have charted on the Hot 100.

That's not surprising, given that the series has not been broadcast in the United States. The surprise may be that Leona Lewis has made it to the American chart without the benefit of having millions of TV viewers know who she is.

Her well-reviewed "Bleeding Love" (Syco/J) is a new entry at No. 85.

'CLEANING' UP: There's plenty of respect for Rodney Atkins on the Hot Country Songs chart, where the Knoxville-born artist scores his fourth consecutive No. 1 song. "Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy)" (Curb) rises 3-1 to become the fourth chart-topper from Atkins' album, "If You're Going Through Hell." The first three No. 1 hits from the album were "If You're Going Through Hell (Before the Devil Even Knows)," "Watching You" and "These Are My People."

While a number of artists have pulled three No. 1s from an album, Atkins is the first to have four No. 1s on one album since label mate Tim McGraw did it in 2001-2002 with "Grown Men Don't Cry," "Angry All the Time," "The Cowboy in Me" and "Unbroken," all from his "Set This Circus Down" CD.

Chart Beat reader John Maverick of Burt County, Nebraska, points out that Atkins is the second artist this year to score four No. 1 hits in a row, following Brad Paisley. Maverick notes that, ironically, Paisley may soon score four No. 1s from an album as the song that "Cleaning" deposed, "Letter to Me," was his third No. 1 in a row from his "5th Gear" set.

A YEAR OF 'WHEN': When we last checked on Fantasia's "When I See U" (J), the former No. 1 song was in its 48th week on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and was, by virtue of a tie, one of the 20 longest-running songs in the history of this chart.

Just three weeks later, the song is one week away from completing a year on the survey, but a drop to No. 48 threatens removal next week.

Whatever happens seven days from now, "When I See U" already ranks among the 16 longest-running songs in the life of the R&B chart. Just counting hits by solo female vocalists, Fantasia is in fourth place, behind Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys and Mariah Carey. Here is a list of songs that have remained on the R&B tally for 51 weeks or more:

75 weeks: "Be Without You," Mary J. Blige
71 weeks: "You Make Me Wanna...," Usher
70 weeks: "Step in the Name of Love," R. Kelly
68 weeks: "Can't Let Go," Anthony Hamilton
63 weeks: "In My Bed," Dru Hill
60 weeks: "Looking for You," Kirk Franklin 60 weeks: "Too Close," Next
57 weeks: "I Wanna Know," Joe
56 weeks: "If I Ain't Got You," Alicia Keys
56 weeks: "Get Low," Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz featuring Ying Yang Twins
56 weeks: "Lost Without U," Robin Thicke
55 weeks: "Please Don't Go," Tank
54 weeks: "Find Myself in You," Brian McKnight
52 weeks: "Must Be Nice," Lyfe Jennings
52 weeks: "We Belong Together," Mariah Carey
51 weeks: "When I See U," Fantasia

'RHAPSODY' RETURNS: Even before we know who the winner of the seventh season of "American Idol" is, one performance from this latest season has already influenced a re-entry of a classic song.

Australian-born Michael Johns' rendition of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" helps bring back the original recording. The Queen track re-enters Hot Digital Songs at No. 68.

This is not the first time an "Idol" performance of "Bohemian Rhapsody" has engendered chart action for the Queen recording. During season four, Constantine Maroulis sang the tune on the episode that aired April 12, 2005. On the Hot Digital Songs chart dated April 30, the Queen track re-entered at No. 45 and had a three-week run.

Season five finalist Kellie Pickler performed "Bohemian Rhapsody" on the April 11, 2006 telecast, helping the Queen song re-enter Hot Digital Songs at No. 28 on April 29 and again, the song had a three-week run.