Chart Beat

Fred discusses George Strait, Kellie Pickler, JoJo and more!

THE STRAIT LIFE: All chart records, even the ones that go unchallenged for years, are bound to be broken one day. For the last 20 years and three weeks, Conway Twitty has held the record for having the most No. 1s on the Hot Country Songs chart, with 40 chart-toppers to his credit. Eight months ago, George Strait tied Twitty's mark when "She Let Herself Go" advanced to No. 1.

This week, Strait marches into the record books with his 41st country song to achieve pole position. "Give It Away" (MCA) is the song that drops Twitty into second place and makes Strait the lone record-holder.

Strait first topped the country chart the week of Aug. 28, 1982 with "Fool Hearted Memory" –- thus, it's taken him 24 years and one month to rack up 41 No. 1 hits.

Twitty's first No. 1 hit was "Next in Line," which claimed first place the week of Nov. 2, 1968. His final No. 1 was "Desperado Love," which moved into the penthouse the week of Sept 6, 1986. That means it took Twitty 17 years and 10 months to amass 40 No. 1 hits.

Strait seems likely to keep the record for years to come, perhaps as long as Twitty, since he is likely to continue his string of No. 1s and no other artist currently having No. 1 hits on a regular basis is close. The artist in third place with the most chart-toppers behind Strait and Twitty is Merle Haggard with 38. Haggard's most recent No. 1 hit was "Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star" in February 1988. Ronnie Milsap, who is in fourth place with 35 No. 1s, last reigned with "A Woman in Love" in December 1989. Alabama, in fifth place with 32 No. 1s, was last on top with "Reckless" in November 1993.

A 'LITTLE' GOES A LONG, LONG WAY: George Strait isn't the only one breaking records this week. JoJo, who first charted in April 2004 with "Leave (Get Out)," has the biggest hit of her career with "Too Little Too Late" (Da Family/Blackground). The single makes a 63-point leap to No. 3, the biggest move into the top 3 in Hot 100 history. The record was previously held by Mariah Carey, thanks to her 60-2 jump with "Loverboy" the week of Aug. 4, 2001.

If JoJo goes all the way to No. 1, she'll write some new chapters in chart history. Born Dec. 20, 1990, JoJo would become the first artist born in the '90s to reach No. 1 on the Hot 100.

If she had achieved pole position with her first single, JoJo would have broken the record to become the youngest female to rule the Hot 100. She was 13 years and seven months old when "Leave (Get Out)" peaked at No. 12. If "Too Little Too Late" captures the summit next week, JoJo will become the third youngest female to have a No. 1 song on the Hot 100. The record has been held for 43 years by Peggy March, billed as Little Peggy March when "I Will Follow Him" went to No. 1 in April 1963; she was 15 years and one month old. In second place is Brenda Lee, who was 15 years and seven months old when she had her first No. 1 hit with "I'm Sorry," in July 1960.

PICKING PICKLER: Kellie Pickler becomes the 24th "American Idol" competitor to find a spot on a Billboard chart. Her debut single, "Red High Heels" (BNA), debuts at No. 48 on Hot Country Songs.

That makes Pickler the fourth "Idol" finalist to appear on the country chart, following Kelly Clarkson, Josh Gracin and Carrie Underwood. Gracin and Underwood have both had No. 1 songs on this tally.

Pickler is the fifth contestant from season five to appear on a Billboard chart, making this most recent year one of the most successful in the series' history. Only the third season has produced more chart-worthy contestants, and season five is likely to keep producing hitmakers.

Here is a breakdown of charted Idols by season:

Season one: (five)
Kelly Clarkson
Justin Guarini
Tamyra Gray
R.J. Helton
Jim Verraros

Season two: (four)
Ruben Studdard
Clay Aiken
Kimberley Locke
Josh Gracin

Season three: (six)
Diana DeGarmo
Jasmine Trias
LaToya London
George Huff
John Stevens

Season four: (three)
Carrie Underwood
Bo Bice
Mario Vazquez

Season five: (five)
Taylor Hicks
Katharine McPhee
Elliot Yamin
Chris Daughtry
Kellie Pickler

That adds up to 23. The figure increases to 24 when you count William Hung, who has turned being rejected on "American Idol" into a lucrative career.

SHADES OF GREY'S: The first soundtrack to the "Grey's Anatomy" TV series peaked at No. 154 on The Billboard 200, back in June 2003. The show has grown in popularity (and ratings), so it's not surprising that a second volume blasts onto the Billboard album chart at No. 14.

The top three soundtracks on The Billboard 200 are all from TV projects. "The Cheetah Girls 2" (Walt Disney) leads the pack at No. 11 and "High School Musical" (Walt Disney) slides to No. 25.

BOB AND PETER ARE BACK: Two veterans of the album chart return with their highest-charted sets in 20 years. Bob Seger's "Face the Promise" (Hideout/Capitol) bows at No. 4. It's his highest mark since "Like a Rock" peaked at No. 3 in May 1986. Of Seger's 17 charted albums, "Face the Promise" is his fourth highest-charting title. "Against the Wind" spent six weeks at No. 1 in 1980 and "Nine Tonight" and "Like a Rock" both reached No. 3. "Promise" is Seger's first album to chart since "Greatest Hits 2" went to No. 23 in November 2003.

"Fingerprints" (A&M/New Door) is the 12th Peter Frampton album to chart. Opening at No. 129, it is Frampton's highest-ranked release since "Premonition" sailed to No. 80 in March 1986. It is also Frampton's first album to chart since "When All the Pieces Fit" stopped at No. 152 in November 1989.

CHEMISTRY: "Chemical" isn't a word that appears very often on the Hot 100, but there it is -- twice, in adjacent spots on this week's chart.

Sisters Ally & AJ debut at No. 70 with "Chemicals React" (Hollywood), just one notch above My Chemical Romance, which enters at No. 71 with "Welcome to the Black Parade" (Reprise).

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