Chart Beat

Fred discusses Kanye West, Pink, Dolly Parton, Alicia Keys And More!

KANYE, 50 CENT AND KENNY: The big news this week is the number of albums sold by the top three debuts on The Billboard 200. But since those sales figures are covered in other Billboard columns, let's focus here on the Chart Beat angle of these top three new entries: their chart positions and how those rankings compare to the artists' previous achievements.

We'll start at the top with Kanye West, whose third charted title, "Graduation" (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam), is his second album in a row to debut and peak at No. 1. First, there was "The College Dropout," which opened and peaked at No. 2 the week of Feb. 28, 2004. Then came "Late Registration," which bowed and peaked at No. 1 the week of Sept. 17, 2005. While Kanye had one chart-topping set under his belt, 50 Cent had a couple of No. 1 albums in 2003 ("Get Rich Or Die Tryin'") and 2005 ("The Massacre"), with a No. 2 CD in between ("The New Breed"). Now, 50 Cent's "Curtis" (Shady/Aftermath) is his second album to peak at No. 2 and both West and 50 Cent have two No. 1 albums apiece.

On the other hand, Kenny Chesney went into this battle with four No. 1 albums to his credit. But the country star must have known he would end up in third place behind the two rappers, and that's where "Just Who I Am: Poets and Pirates" (BNA) is sitting, as it debuts at No. 3. Still, "Poets" is Chesney's highest-charting album on The Billboard 200 after those four No. 1 CDs.

On Top Country Albums, "Poets" is Chesney's seventh No. 1 album, and his fifth in a row. His most successful set to date is "When the Sun Goes Down," which led the list for 14 weeks in 2004.

'STRONGER' THAN 'THAT': Kanye West not only has the No. 1 album on The Billboard 200, but his single "Stronger" (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam) replaces "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" (Collipark) by Soulja Boy at No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100. This is West's third time in pole position on this chart. He first visited the penthouse in February 2004 when he and Jamie Foxx were featured on Twista's "Slow Jamz." Then, Foxx was the featured artist and West was the lead on "Gold Digger," the single that claimed the summit two years and one week ago. With a 10-week reign, "Gold Digger" is the most successful Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam single to date.

While holding down the top spot with "Stronger," West also has the highest new entry of the week, as the T-Pain-assisted "Good Life," another track from the "Graduation" CD, bows at No. 14. West is not only No. 1 and No. 14, he is also No. 41 with "Can't Tell Me Nothing," which has been on the Hot 100 since June.

THINK 'BLINK': Kanye West isn't the only artist debuting in the top three of The Billboard 200 to make a major move on the Hot 100. Kenny Chesney's "Don't Blink" (BNA) enjoys a rapid 79-30 ride, giving him the ninth top 30 song of his career.

During the nine years, four months and three weeks that Chesney has been charting on the Hot 100, this is only the second time he has put together a string of at least two top 30 hits. "Don't Blink" is the follow-up to "Never Wanted Nothing More," which peaked at No. 22 in July (and rebounds 55-50 this week).

In April 2003, Chesney's "Big Star" went to No. 28, and was followed by "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems," which also peaked at No. 28. Then, "There Goes My Life" checked in at No. 29 and "When the Sun Goes Down," recorded with Uncle Kracker, went to No. 26, giving Chesney four top 30 hits in a row.

WHAT'S 'KNEW': For the third time in her career, Pink has extracted a pair of consecutive top 10 hits from an album. A move of 14-9 on the Hot 100 puts "Who Knew" (LaFace) in the top 10 for the first time, a particularly sweet victory for a single that failed to become a hit when it was first released in May.

"Who Knew" is Pink's second top 10 hit in a row from her "I'm Not Dead" set, following "U + Ur Hand," which peaked at No. 9 in May. Pink also had back-to-back top 10 hits from her first chart album, "Can't Take Me Home," in 2000. "There You Go" went to No. 7 and "Most Girls" reached No. 4. The following year, the "Missundaztood" album yielded "Get the Party Started," which peaked at No. 4. Then "Don't Let Me Get Me" and "Just Like a Pill" both went to No. 8, giving Pink three consecutive top 10 hits from one CD.

The first single from "I'm Not Dead" was "Stupid Girls," which only went as high as No. 13 in March 2006.

'BETTER' IS BEST: Dolly Parton has her biggest solo hit on Hot Country Songs in just over 15 1/2 years. "Better Get to Livin'" (Dolly) is a new entry at No. 57. That's Dolly's highest posting billed on her own since "Country Road" ambled to No. 46 the week of March 7, 1992.

"Better Get to Livin'" is Dolly's first chart single on her own label, and her first entry since she was featured on Martina McBride's "I Still Miss Someone," which peaked at No. 50 in March 2006.

Thanks to her new single, Dolly's chart span on Hot Country Songs expands to 40 years, eight months and one week, counting back to the debut of "Dumb Blonde" on the Monument label the week of Jan. 21, 1967. Parton had released a couple of singles on Mercury prior to signing with Monument, but those earlier 45s did not chart.

With 40+ years of chart hits, it's not surprising that "Better" is Dolly's 105th entry, making her the female artist with the highest number of titles on the country tally.

'WILD' BOYS: Just one notch above Dolly Parton on Hot Country Songs, Joe Walsh makes his first appearance on the chart under his own name. "Wild Ride" (BNA) is a new entry at No. 56, billed to Kenny Chesney featuring Joe Walsh.

As a member of the Eagles, guitarist Walsh is also No. 26 this week with "How Long" (ERC/Lost Highway). Since Walsh joined the Eagles in December 1975 as a replacement for Bernie Leadon, the group has had four songs appear on the country chart. "How Long" is the highest-ranked of the four. Prior to Walsh joining the Eagles, the group charted with "Lyin' Eyes," which went to No. 8 in 1975.

YES FOR 'NO': The new Alicia Keys single, "No One" (J), is the artist's biggest solo Hot 100 hit in exactly three years. A major jump from 71-15 makes "No One" the highest-ranked Keys single since "Diary" peaked at No. 8 the week of Oct. 2, 2004. Four weeks after "Diary" hit its peak position, Keys was No. 1 with "My Boo," a duet with Usher.

If "No One" moves up five places or more, it will be the eighth top 10 hit of Keys' career; her chart span now stands at six years, three months and two weeks, harking back to the June 2001 debut of "Fallin'."

WILL 'BEFORE' BE FIVE: Four short weeks ago, Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" (Arista) was sitting just outside the top 20 longest-charting songs in the history of the Hot 100. Now, "Cheats" is in the top 10, and closing in on a berth in the top five.

The top 10 is actually a top 12, thanks to four songs being tied for ninth place. One of those songs is "Cheats," which dips 32-39 in its 55th week. Next week, "Cheats" will break away from that four-way tie and be level with singles by Paula Cole and Faith Hill. If "Cheats" can last another four weeks after that, it will be one of only five songs to remain on the Hot 100 for 60 weeks or longer.

"Cheats" remains strong in radio spins, slipping 19-21 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart, an indication that it still has the power to remain in the upper half of the Hot 100, where it is safe from elimination.

The 12 songs that have lasted 55 weeks or longer on the Hot 100 are:

69 weeks: "How Do I Live," LeAnn Rimes (1997)
65 weeks: "You Were Meant for Me" / "Foolish Games," Jewel (1997)
62 weeks: "You and Me," Lifehouse (2005)
60 weeks: "Macarena" (Bayside Boys Mix), Los Del Rio (1996)
58 weeks: "Smooth," Santana featuring Rob Thomas (1999)
58 weeks: "How to Save a Life," The Fray (2006)
56 weeks: "I Don't Want to Wait," Paula Cole (1998)
56 weeks: "The Way You Love Me," Faith Hill (2001)
55 weeks; "Missing," Everything But the Girl (1996)
55 weeks: "Barely Breathing," Duncan Sheik (1997)
55 weeks: "Amazed," Lonestar (2000)
55 weeks: "Before He Cheats," Carrie Underwood (2007)