Chart Beat

Fred discusses matchbox twenty, Fergie, Pavarotti and more!

HOW 'FAR'? 'FAR' FINE: Just last week, I reported that Carrie Underwood had the second biggest Hot 100 leap of the year, thanks to the 93-17 jump of "So Small" (Arista). Turns out, Underwood only had seven days to enjoy that achievement, because she's been knocked down a peg by a song that makes an even bigger move -- although from the same lowly No. 93 slot.

In its second chart week, "How Far We've Come" (Melisma/Atlantic) by matchbox twenty makes an 81-point bound to No. 12. That is now the second biggest move of 2007, runner-up only to the 94-3 move of "Beautiful Liar" by Beyonce & Shakira.

"How Far" is the fastest rising song of matchbox twenty's career.
This latest single is already the fourth highest-charting title for the group. "Bent," which peaked at No. 1 in July 2000, reached No. 12 in its 10th chart week. "If You're Gone," which topped out at No. 5 in January 2001, also entered the top 12 in its 10th chart week. And "Unwell" reached its peak position of No. 5 in July 2003, after entering the top 12 in its 11th chart week.

"How Far We've Come" is the first matchbox twenty single to chart in almost four years, since "Bright Lights" went to No. 23 in November 2003. "How Far" is the ninth chart entry for the band. The first was "Real World," which debuted in December 1998, giving matchbox twenty a chart span of eight years, nine months and two weeks.

"How Far" owes its Hot 100 surge to a great first week of digital sales. The single enters the Hot Digital Songs chart at No. 3.

15, 12 AND 2007: Two solo male artists who made their first appearances on The Billboard 200 in the 1960s have new albums debuting on that chart this week.

Paul Anka's album career started with "Paul Anka Sings His Big 15," which debuted the week of July 4, 1960, ultimately peaking at No. 4. Anka's 21st album to chart, "Classic Songs, My Way" (Decca), is new at No. 139. That stretches Anka's album chart span top 47 years, two months and three weeks.

Stevie Wonder's first LP to chart also had a number in the title. "Little Stevie Wonder/The 12 Year Old Genius" debuted on the Billboard album chart the week of July 13, 1963 and went on to spend one week at No. 1. This week, Wonder's 28th chart entry, "Number 1s" (Universal Motown), is new at No. 171, giving him an album chart span of 44 years, two months and one week.

THERE GOES A TENOR: With album sales spurred by his death, operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti has two albums debut on The Billboard 200 this week, for the first time in his career.

The first posthumous entry is "The Best: Farewell Tour" (Decca) at No. 76. It is the highest rank achieved by a Pavarotti album since "The Three Tenors Christmas" peaked at No. 54 in December 2000. Just counting albums credited to Pavarotti as a solo performer, it is his highest-charting album of all time, beating by one rank the No. 77 peak of his first chart entry, "O Sole Mio – Favorite Neapolitan Songs" in 1980.

Also debuting on The Billboard 200 this week is "Luciano Pavarotti: The Greatest Tenor of All Time" (Madacy Special Products) at No. 150.

ABOUT A BOY: Soulja Boy is No. 1 for the second week on the Hot 100 with "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" (Collipark). As Chart Beat reader Jeff Lerner of Long Island, N.Y. points out, this is not the first song in the rock era to include an artist's name in the title.

The first was "The Chipmunk Song" by the Chipmunks with David Seville back in 1958. Then came "Hey Paula" by Paul and Paula in 1963. The medley of Beatles songs (plus "Venus" and "Sugar Sugar") by Stars on 45 in 1981 also included "Stars on 45" in the title.

Pablo Nelson of Berkeley, Calif., adds "Human" by Human League and "Ice Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice. He also mentions "Love's Theme" by the Love Unlimited Orchestra, but that one is on the cusp for me, and "That's What Friends Are For" by Dionne and Friends, although that is definitely a stretch.

FAST FLATTS: "Take Me There" (Lyric Street) is the eighth Rascal Flatts single to top the Hot Country Songs chart. It is also the quickest, reaching pole position in its 10th week on the tally.

Here are the eight Rascal Flatts songs that have topped the country survey and how many weeks each one took to land in the penthouse:

"These Days," 23 weeks (2002)
"Mayberry," 21 weeks (2004)
"Bless the Broken Road," 15 weeks (2005)
"Fast Cars and Freedom," 15 weeks (2005)
"What Hurts the Most," 14 weeks (2006)
"My Wish," 17 weeks (2006)
"Stand," 17 weeks (2007)
"Take Me There," 10 weeks (2007)

ROYAL REVIEW: One week shy of its first anniversary on The Billboard 200, Fergie's "The Dutchess" reaches its highest position to date. The album opened at No. 3 the week of Oct. 7, 2006, and spent two weeks in the top 10. Then "The Dutchess" had a 40-week run outside of the top 10, never going higher than No. 11 and never dipping lower than No. 28.

A string of four top-two singles on the Hot 100 has helped keep the record in the top 30, and the week of July 28, the CD bounced back into the top 10 at No. 8. "The Dutchess" never rose higher than No. 5 until this week. Now it is No. 2. As it wraps up one year on the chart next week, will it finally plant a flagpole at the summit? Watch this space.

SHE'S STRONGER AND SHE DID IT AGAIN: Oops, Britney Spears returns to the Hot 100 for the first time in almost two-and-a-half years. "Gimme More" (Jive), a new entry at No. 85, is the first Britney single to appear on the Hot 100 since "Do Somethin'" stalled at No. 100 in April 2005.

They say any publicity is good publicity, and Britney has had her share. We'll see if radio and the public genuinely like "Gimme More" in the coming weeks, as the single will either move up the Hot 100 or disappear from sight.