Chart Beat

Fred discusses Britney Spears, Tiffany, Chaka Khan and more!

A HIT, ONE MORE TIME: Maybe any publicity is good publicity, but in spite of all the tabloid space she has earned over the years, Britney Spears' return to the top three on this week's The Billboard Hot 100. The entry marks her first time in this elite region of the chart since Feb. 20, 1999, when "...Baby One More Time" was No. 2, on its way down from the summit.

Digital sales of Spears' "Gimme More" (Jive) single fuel a 68-3 leap on the Hot 100. In its fourth week on the chart, "Gimme More" is already the second highest ranked title of Spears' career, second only to her lone No. 1 hit, the above-mentioned "...Baby One More Time."

In the eight years, 10 months and three weeks that Spears has been charting on the Hot 100, she has only collected five top 10 hits (out of 15 chart entries). Aside from "...Baby One More Time" and "Gimme More," Spears had a pair of songs peak at No. 9: "Oops!...I Did It Again" in 2000 and "Toxic" in 2004. In 1999, "(You Drive Me Crazy)" rode to No. 10.

BIRTHDAY GIRL: Here's a pretty good 36th birthday present - a return to the Billboard charts after an absence of 18 years (which in this case is exactly half a lifetime). I don't know how you wrap that kind of a present up, other than to report that Tiffany (born Oct. 2, 1971) debuts at No. 45 on Hot Dance Club Play with "Higher" (Dauman). This is her first appearance on any Billboard chart since the week of June 24, 1989, when her album "Hold an Old Friend's Hand" marked its last week on The Billboard 200, while the title track spent its final week on the Adult Contemporary tally.

"Higher" saves Tiffany from one-hit-wonder status on the Club Play chart after 20 years. Until this week, her solitary entry on the Club Play survey was "I Think We're Alone Now," her No. 1 Hot 100 hit which peaked at No. 26 on the dance chart twenty years ago this month.

EVERYWOMAN: Chaka Khan charts on The Billboard 200 for the first time this millennium with "Funk This" (Burgundy), a new entry at No. 15. Khan was last on the album list in March 1997 with "Epiphany: The Best of Chaka Khan Volume One," which peaked at No. 84.

"Funk This" is the third highest-ranked album of Khan's solo career, which dates back to the Nov. 4, 1978 debut of "Chaka." In the 28 years, 11 months and one week that Khan has been charting, she performed best with her debut album. "Chaka" peaked at No. 12, and "I Feel for You" went to No. 14 in 1984.

"Funk This" is the 10th solo alum by Khan to chart. She also charted as a member of Rufus, the Chicago outfit that made its album survey debut in 1973. Three of Rufus' albums with Khan made the top 10. "Rags to Rufus" peaked at No. 4 in 1974. "Rufusized" reached No. 7 in 1975 and "Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan" also went to No. 7, in 1976.

On Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, "Funk This" enters at No. 5. That is Khan's highest debut on this chart and her highest-ranked album since "I Feel for You" made it to No. 4 in 1984.

"Funk This" is Khan's second R&B charted album this millennium. "Classikhan" checked in at No. 42 in October 2004.

TAKING A 'SHINE': Joni Mitchell has her highest-charting album in 30 years on The Billboard 200, where "Shine" (Hear) bows at No. 14. That's her best posting since "Hejira" landed at No. 13 in 1977.

Mitchell was last on this chart in October 2004 with "Dreamland," which stopped at No. 177. "Shine" is her 22nd album to chart, starting with an eponymous debut the week of May 18, 1968. That gives the Canadian singer/songwriter an album chart span of 39 years, four months and four weeks.

THE QUEEN: She may spend more time acting than recording, but her movie career may be one of the reasons Queen Latifah picks up the highest-charting album of her music career, some 17 years, nine months and four weeks after making her debut on The Billboard 200 with "All Hail the Queen."

"Trav'lin Light" (Flavor Unit/Verve) opens at No. 11, besting Latifah's previously highest-ranked set, "The Dana Owens Album," which peaked at No. 16 in October 2004.

THE NEXT 50 YEARS: Tony Bennett spends his first week inside the top 20 of The Billboard 200 in 2007 thanks to the debut at No. 16 of "Tony Bennett Sings The Ultimate American Songbook Vol. 1" (RPM/Legacy/Columbia). Bennett is still on the chart with "Duets: An American Classic" at No. 168, but this CD hasn't been in the top 20 since the week of Dec. 30, 2006.

"American Songbook" is the first Bennett album to debut during his second 50 years on The Billboard 200. He made his first appearance on the album chart the week of Feb. 23, 1957 with "Tony."

ANOTHER HIT IN THE 'WALLS': When was the last time you walked into your local record store and asked for a copy of the latest Chubby Checker single? For many people, it was this week. That's why "Knock Down The Walls" (TEEC) debuts at No. 6 on Hot Singles Sales.

That high debut gives Chubby his first top 10 on a Billboard chart in 45 years. The two-sided hit "Limbo Rock" / "Popeye the Hitchhiker" spent two weeks at No. 2 in 1962.