Chart Beat

Fred discusses Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood, Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds and more!

WORTH THE WAIT: She waited a long time to see her name at the top of The Billboard 200. Just over 20 years after making her first appearance on this survey, Reba McEntire collects her first No. 1 album with "Reba Duets" (MCA).
This is McEntire's 20th entry on the Billboard album chart, and her first top 10 set in nine years. Her "If You See Him" album peaked at No. 8 the week of June 20, 1998. Prior to "Duets," McEntire visited the top 10 five different times, with these albums:

"It's Your Call," No. 8 (1993)
"Greatest Hits Volume Two," No. 5 (1993)
"Read My Mind," No. 2 (1994)
"Starting Over," No. 5 (1995)
"If You See Him," No. 8 (1998)

The Oklahoma-born singer made her first appearance on The Billboard 200 the week of June 6, 1987, with "Reba McEntire's Greatest Hits," an album that peaked at No. 139. How could she make her first chart appearance with a greatest hits collection? Well, by the time she made her Billboard 200 debut, Reba had already been charting on the Top Country Albums tally for almost six years. She was signed to Mercury when she made her country album chart debut the week of Oct. 3, 1981, with "Heart to Heart," an album that went to No. 42.

Reba's first set to top the country chart was "Whoever's in New England" in 1986. "Reba Duets" is her 10th No. 1 album on this list, and her first since November 2001, when "Greatest Hits Volume III - I'm a Survivor" spent one week in the penthouse. Her longest-running No. 1 album on the country chart is "Sweet Sixteen," which remained in pole position for 13 weeks.

Reba's debut at No. 1 on the country album chart knocks Kenny Chesney's "Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates" (BNA) down to No. 2, but Chesney still has a piece of the action at No. 1 thanks to his duet with McEntire on "Every Other Weekend."

BOLDER FROM BIRMINGHAM: Reba McEntire isn't the only veteran female artist making news on Top Country Albums this week. Alabama native Emmylou Harris returns with her 30th chart entry, "Songbird: Rare Tracks & Forgotten Gems" (Rhino), opening at No. 49.

Harris was last on this list two years ago, with "The Very Best of Emmylou Harris: Heartaches & Highways," which peaked at No. 23.

Harris made her first appearance on Top Country Albums the week of March 29, 1975, with the debut of "Pieces of the Sky," an LP that worked its way up to No. 7. With the bow of her latest work, Harris' country albums chart span expands to 32 years, six months and one week.

SEASONED: An appearance on the Emmy telecast helps boost the "Jersey Boys" (Rhino) original Broadway cast album back to No. 1 on the Top Cast Albums chart. This is the sixth non-consecutive week at No. 1 for the album from the show that chronicles the history of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

"Jersey Boys" had a four-week run at the summit in July 2006, then spent its fifth week on top in February. "Jersey Boys" is the only cast album aside from "Wicked" (Decca Broadway) to spend more than one week at No. 1 on Top Cast Albums. "Wicked" has spent 81 weeks in the lead position so far.

Four other albums have had one-week reigns: "The Color Purple," "Harry on Broadway, Act I/The Pajama Game," "Spring Awakening" and "Legally Blonde: The Musical."

SHE'LL TAKE THE FIFTH: In the short chart span of exactly two years and four months on Hot Country Songs, Carrie Underwood has amassed five top 10 hits. The fifth one breaks into the top 10 this week, as "So Small" (Arista) advances 11-10.

"So Small" is Underwood's eighth chart entry, but only five of those have been actively promoted to country radio by her label. These are her five top 10 hits:

"Jesus, Take the Wheel," No. 1 (2006)
"Don't Forget to Remember Me," No. 2 (2006)
"Before He Cheats," No. 1 (2006)
"Wasted," No. 1 (2007)
"So Small," No. 10 (2007)

Carrie's other three chart entries are:

"Bless the Broken Road," No. 50 (2005) [with Rascal Flatts]
"Inside Your Heaven," No. 52 (2005)
"I'll Stand by You," No. 41 (2007)

BACK ON THE LIST: After an absence of two years, Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds is back, charting under his own name for the first time. "Playlist" marks Babyface's debut for the Mercury label, recently reactivated as a pop imprint.

"Playlist," which features covers of '70s tunes by artists like James Taylor, Dave Loggins and Dan Fogelberg, is a new entry at No. 48. It is the ninth chart entry for Babyface on The Billboard 200, over a period of 18 years and two months, just counting his work as a solo artist. Prior to charting on his own, Edmonds visited the album chart three times as a member of the Deele. The group's "Street Beat" entered the survey the week of Feb. 4, 1984, giving Edmonds a chart span of 23 years, eight months and one week.

You can trace Edmonds' chart career even further back, as before the Deele he was a member of Manchild. That Indiana-based outfit had one chart album, "Power and Love," which debuted the week of Oct. 15, 1977, giving Edmonds a chart span of one week shy of 30 years.

On Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, "Playlist" is new at No. 7. That gives Babyface three consecutive top 10 albums for the second time. Both runs took place over a period of six years or more. Here is a summary of Babyface's top 10 albums on the R&B chart:

"Tender Lover," No. 1 (1989)
"For the Cool in You," No. 2 (1993)
"The Day," No. 4 (1996)

"Face2Face," No. 8 (2001)
"Grown & Sexy," No. 3 (2005)
"Playlist," No. 7 (2007)