Chart Beat: Britney Spears, Elvis Presley, T.I.

CIRCUSES: Britney Spears has the highest-debuting song of her career, thanks to the No. 3 bow of “Circus” (Jive) on The Billboard Hot 100. This latest single wrests the title from Spears’ first chart entry, “…Baby One More Time,” which opened at No. 17 the week of Nov. 21, 1998. Those doing the math have already figured out that with “Circus” in town, Spears’ chart span expands to 10 years and one month.

In its first week on the tally, “Circus” is tied with the 2007 hit “Gimme More” as the second-highest charting title of Spears’ career. The only singles to peak higher are the above-mentioned “…Baby One More Time” and the current “Womanizer,” which both spent time at the summit.

“Womanizer” dips 9-10 this week, giving Spears two simultaneous top 10 singles for the first time.

On The Billboard 200, the parent album “Circus” debuts at No. 1, the fifth Spears album to do so. The quintet of chart-topping Spears’ albums are:

“…Baby One More Time,” six weeks (1999)
“Ooops!...I Did It Again,” one week (2000)
“Britney,” one week (2001)
“In the Zone,” one week (2003)
“Circus,” one week to date (2008)

“In the Zone” debuted and peaked at No. 1 the week of Dec. 6, 2003, so “Circus” is Spears’ first set to go all the way in five years.

“…Baby One More Time” made its debut the week of Jan. 30, 1999, expanding Spears’ album chart span to one month shy of 10 years.

On the U.K. album chart, “Circus” enters at No. 4, but there’s still a “Circus” on top. The resurgent boy band Take That debuts at No. 1 with “The Circus” (Polydor).


‘HOME’ AND ‘BLUE’: After not charting on Hot Country Songs for 10 years, Elvis Presley has his second new entry in two weeks. “Blue Christmas” (RCA), a duet with Martina McBride, debuts at No. 43, following last week’s No. 60 bow of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” with Carrie Underwood.

“Blue Christmas” is Presley’s 68th entry and marks the first time in his 53-year chart career that he’s had songs debut in two consecutive weeks.

This is the second time that a Presley recording of “Blue Christmas” has appeared on Hot Country Songs. Although Elvis cut the song in 1957, it didn’t chart country until January 1998, when it peaked at No. 55.

The original version of “Blue Christmas” by Ernest Tubb debuted on the survey in December 1949 and peaked at No. 2. Vince Gill took the tune to No. 74 in January 1999 and Clay Walker brought it to No. 51 in January 2001. That means the Presley/McBride duet is the highest-charting version of the composition since Tubb’s original, 59 years ago.


ONE ‘LIFE’ TO ‘LIVE’
: T.I.’s “Live Your Life” (Def Jam/Grand Hustle) returns to No. 1 on the Hot 100 for a third run, making it only the fourth song in the history of this chart to have three separate turns at the top. The first was the song that led the list 30 years ago this week -- “Le Freak” by Chic. The second was Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" earlier this year and the third was T.I.’s previous chart-topper, “Whatever You Like,” which headed the tally in September, October and November.

Moving back into the penthouse gives “Live Your Life” a sixth week at No. 1, almost matching the seven-week reign of “Whatever You Like.” That gives T.I. 13 weeks in pole position in 2008, the most weeks an artist has been on top in a calendar year since Mariah Carey ruled for 15 weeks in 2005.


CHESS PLAYER: In 1947, brothers Leonard and Phil Chess started a record label in Chicago. They called their imprint Aristocrat, and they specialized in blues, jazz and pop. In 1950 they rechristened the label, taking their own last name. The artists’ roster included Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James and Willie Dixon. In 1955, Chess Records signed Chuck Berry, who had a top five hit on the Billboard pop singles chart with “Maybellene.”

The story of Chess Records has been fictionalized for a new film. The soundtrack to “Cadillac Records” (Music World/Columbia) debuts at No. 1 on Top Blues Albums, the first soundtrack to rule this chart since “Black Snake Moan” spent nine weeks on top in the first half of 2007.

“Cadillac Records” is only the third motion picture soundtrack to reach the blues pinnacle. Before “Black Snake Moan,” the soundtrack to “Blues Brothers 2000” held sway for seven weeks in 1998.

The soundtrack with the longest run at No. 1 on the blues tally was from a TV series. “Martin Scorsese Presents the Best of the Blues” started a 23-week reign in September 2003.


HELLO, KIMBERLEY!: Best known for his Broadway musicals, composer Jerry Herman has also earned songwriter credits on various Billboard single charts when artists have made pop versions of songs from his vast catalog.

Some of his chart hits include Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass’ take on “Mame,” Gloria Gaynor’s version of “I Am What I Am” and Louis Armstrong’s cover of “Hello, Dolly!”
Now Kimberley Locke brings a Herman song to the Adult Contemporary chart, where “We Need a Little Christmas” (Curb/Reprise) enters at No. 20. The song was written for the stage musical “Mame,” starring Angela Lansbury.

This is the fifth year in a row that Locke has had a holiday song debut on the AC survey. The last three all reached the top spot:

“Up on the Housetop,” four weeks (2005)
“Jingle Bells,” one week (2006)
“Frosty the Snowman,” one week (2007)

“We Need a Little Christmas” is the second highest-debuting title of Locke’s career, topped only by the No. 17 bow of “Jingle Bells.”

Locke now has 10 AC chart entries over a span of five years and one week, counting back to the debut of “Silver Bells,” a duet with fellow second-season “American Idol” finalist Clay Aiken, on Dec. 13, 2003.

Considering her chart success with holiday songs, it’s no surprise Locke is touring the country with a Christmas show that also stars three other Idol finalists: Diana DeGarmo, Chikezie and David Hernandez.


FAITH FOR THE HOLIDAYS
: While Kimberley Locke is hoping her latest song will go to No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, Faith Hill is already there with her Christmas offering, “A Baby Changes Everything” (Warner Bros.).

This is Hill’s first AC No. 1 in six years, since “Cry” began an 11-week run in November 2002.

Since the holiday season is finite and Christmas songs aren’t played in January, it’s unlikely “A Baby Changes Everything” will challenge her previous chart-toppers for longevity at No. 1. In 2000 “Breathe” spent 17 weeks in first place and in 2001 “There You’ll Be” was there for 12 weeks.


HOT STUFF: Kings of Leon grabs its first No. 1 on Modern Rock Tracks with “Sex on Fire” (RCA). It’s only the second entry for the group on this chart; “The Bucket” checked in at No. 23 the week of April 16, 2005.