Chart Beat

Mariah ties an Elvis record, 'Georgia' and 'Postman' return to the charts, and American Idols and Madonna are among those making chart news.

WHY YOU'LL REMEMBER 'FORGET': It was already Mariah Carey's most successful year on the charts, but she manages to pull off one final stunning achievement in the very last week of 2005 by moving into pole position on the Billboard Hot 100 with her 17th No. 1 song.

"Don't Forget About Us" becomes the No. 1 song that ties Presley's 17 chart-toppers, putting Carey and Presley into a tie for second place among artists with the most No. 1 hits in the rock era, behind the Beatles' 20.

Presley secured his 17th No. 1 the week of Nov. 1, 1969, when "Suspicious Minds" marched into first place. The Beatles collected their 20th No. 1 the week of June 13, 1970, when "The Long and Winding Road" / "For You Blue" reached the summit. The standings of the top two artists with the most No. 1 songs has not changed since then, so by tying Presley, Carey has altered a record that has stood for 35 years, six months and three weeks.

Presley first topped the Billboard pop singles tally the week of April 21, 1956, with his debut chart entry, "Heartbreak Hotel." It took him 13 years, six months and two weeks to rack up his 17 No. 1s. Carey first led the Hot 100 the week of Aug. 4, 1990, with her initial chart entry, "Vision of Love." It has taken her 15 years, four months and four weeks to amass her 17 No. 1 songs.

"Don't Forget About Us" is Carey's 16th No. 1 as a songwriter. She already held the title of the female songwriter with the most No. 1 hits in the rock era. With her 16th song to achieve pole position, she ties Barry Gibb for third place on the list of the songwriters with the most No. 1 hits. Only Paul McCartney with 32 and John Lennon with 26 have more.

"Don't Forget About Us" is the eighth No. 1 of 2005 on the Hot 100. That's the fewest amount of chart-topping titles in a calendar year since 2002, when seven songs moved to the head of the class. There were 11 No. 1 songs in 2003, and the same number in 2004.

"Don't Forget About Us" is the fourth No. 1 song this year by a solo female artist, following Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl," Carey's "We Belong Together" and Carrie Underwood's "Inside Your Heaven." Three of this year's chart-toppers were by male artists: "Let Me Love You" by Mario, "Gold Digger" by Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx and "Run It!" by Chris Brown. There was one co-ed No. 1, "Candy Shop," by 50 Cent featuring Olivia. Carey is the only artist to have two No. 1 songs on the Hot 100 in 2005.

Last year, only one artist had more than one No. 1 on the Hot 100: Usher, with four.

HOW THEY GOT TO 17: Two weeks ago, when Madonna tied Elvis Presley's record of 36 top 10 hits, I received a flood of mail from readers protesting that Presley actually has 38 top 10 hits to his credit. I ran some of the letters in Chart Beat Chat, along with an explanation of why Presley's total is really 36, and received another wave of protests.

Anticipating the reaction to the news that Carey has tied Presley's total of No. 1 hits, it seems like a good idea to explain how Billboard adds up the hits.

I know where the "38" figure comes from. That's the number listed in Joel Whitburn's "Top Pop Singles" book, the same book that credits Presley with 18 No. 1 hits.

Before embracing or condemning a statistic, one should understand how the statistician arrived at that particular number.

Before the Hot 100 was introduced on Aug. 4, 1958, Billboard published up to four different weekly pop charts. The pre-eminent chart of the day was Best Sellers in Stores, which only measured sales. There was also a Most Played by Jockeys, which was essentially an airplay chart, as well as a chart that measured juke box play. For a time there was also a top 100, but it never had the credibility that the Hot 100 would later have, and even ran with a disclaimer warning dealers and juke box operators that the chart, "is NOT designed to provide tested information for buying purposes."

I find Whitburn's "Top Pop Singles" book to be an indispensable tome, but it's important to note that Whitburn differs from Billboard in how he reports chart positions before Aug. 4, 1958. He includes data from all four pop singles charts. The peak position listed is the highest position from any one of the four charts. There can be anywhere from one to four No. 1 songs each week, depending on which songs were No. 1 on the four different charts.

When I started writing for Billboard (first my books and eventually "Chart Beat") I continued to use the same count maintained by Billboard before I was employed. For pop singles statistics prior to the Hot 100, the Best Sellers in Stores chart was the only one considered.

On the Best Sellers chart, two-sided singles were considered one entry, or one hit. Just as in later years on the Hot 100 "It's Too Late" / "I Feel the Earth Move" by Carole King would be considered one No. 1 single and not two; or just as "Candle in the Wind 1997" / "Something About the Way You Look Tonight" by Elton John was one No. 1 single and not two, Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel" / "Hound Dog" counts as one No. 1 hit and not two.

Because "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog," two sides of the same single, charted separately on the airplay and juke box charts, Whitburn counts them as two No. 1 hits. That's why Billboard reports 17 No. 1 hits for Elvis and Whitburn comes up with 18.

AN OLD SWEET SONG: After Ralph S. Peer heard the song "Rockin' Chair," he signed songwriter Hoagy Carmichael to his Southern Music publishing company in 1930, just in time to publish "Georgia on My Mind." Now, 75 years later, that song, written by Carmichael and his college roommate Stuart Gorrell, is one of the most valuable copyrights in the peermusic catalog, and it's back on the Billboard Hot 100 for the sixth occasion.

This time around, it's sampled in a song simply called "Georgia." The rap track by Ludacris and Field Mob featuring Jamie Foxx is the chart's highest new entry this week at No. 48.

"Georgia on My Mind" was a No. 1 hit for Ray Charles in November 1960. Charles' driver, Tommy Brown, suggested he record the song because he was always singing it on the road. Charles liked the idea and asked Ralph Burns, Woody Herman's pianist, to handle the arrangement. The song was recorded in a New York studio in four takes, less than the usual 10-12 takes for a Ray Charles recording. Charles' version of "Georgia on My Mind" spent its last week on the Hot 100 45 years and one week ago, at No. 49, just one rung lower than the slot occupied by Ludacris this week.

"Georgia on My Mind" charted again for the Righteous Brothers (No. 62 in 1966), Wes Montgomery (No. 91 in 1968), Willie Nelson (No. 84 in 1978) and Michael Bolton (No. 36 in 1990). Bolton's recording marked the most recent appearance of Carmichael on the Hot 100 as a songwriter until this week.

If Ludacris' version of "Georgia" makes it to No. 1, it will be the fourth time the state has been featured in the title of a chart-topping song. Georgia already holds the record as being the state with the most No. 1 hits on the Hot 100. After Charles' "Georgia on My Mind," the state was name-checked in two No. 1 hits in 1973: Vicki Lawrence's "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" and Gladys Knight & the Pips' "Midnight Train to Georgia."

Brook Benton had a No. 4 hit in 1970 with "Rainy Night in Georgia" and the Charlie Daniels Band peaked at No. 3 in 1979 with "The Devil Went Down to Georgia.

"Ludacris' "Georgia" is from the album "Disturbing tha Peace" (DTP/Def Jam). By debuting at No. 1, it becomes the fourth consecutive Ludacris CD to enter the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart in the pole position.

D-LIVER D-LETTER: The new Juelz Santana single debuts on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs at No. 64, returning a veteran coterie of songwriters to the chart. "Oh Yes (aka 'Postman')" is based on Motown's second song to reach No. 1 on the R&B tally, "Please Mr. Postman," composed by Brian Holland, Robert Bateman, William Garrett, Freddie Gorman and Georgia Dobbins.

"Please Mr. Postman" by the Marvelettes spent its seventh and final week at No. 1 on the R&B chart dated Dec. 31, 1961, exactly 44 years ago this week. The song charted for a second time on the R&B list in 1981, when the Originals, the Motown group that included Freddie Gorman, recorded a medley titled "Waitin' on a Letter/Mr. Postman." That single peaked at No. 74.

The Santana version is the third time the song has charted R&B. On the Hot 100, the Marvelettes spent one week at No. 1 and the Carpenters took the song back to No. 1 in 1975. The female R&B group Gentle Persuasion charted with "Please Mr. Postman" in 1983, taking the song to No. 82.

This is the third Brian Holland song to debut on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart in 2005. Holland was credited on Usher's "Throwback," No. 36 in March, as well as B5's "All I Do," No. 71 in May. The Usher song included a sample of "You're Gonna Need Me," a song written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland for Dionne Warwick in 1973. The B5 song was a remake of a No. 1 R&B hit by Troop. Brian Holland also charted this year with "Spoiled," a Joss Stone recording that debuted in November 2004 and peaked at No. 54 in February.

AIN'T NOTHING LIKE 'THE REAL THING': It's only a few weeks until the premiere of season five of "American Idol," and based on the series' first four seasons, there are one or two contestants somewhere in America right this very moment who are destined to break into the top 10 of The Billboard 200 sometime in the next 12 months.

This week, three different "American Idol" finalists are in the top 10. In its 55th chart week, Kelly Clarkson's sophomore album "Breakaway" (RCA) rebounds 11-8, while Carrie Underwood makes a 5-2 move with "Some Hearts" (Arista), returning that CD to its peak position to date. New on the survey this week is fourth season runner-up Bo Bice, who bows at No. 4 with "The Real Thing" (RCA).

'CHECK' MATE: An 18-8 leap on the Billboard Hot 100 for "Check On It" (Columbia) by Beyoncé featuring Slim Thug gives Beyoncé her sixth top 10 hit under her own name. That represents all of her chart entries away from Destiny's Child save one.

Beyoncé first appeared in the top 10 under her own name when "'03 Bonnie & Clyde," credited to Jay-Z featuring Beyoncé Knowles, peaked at No. 4 in December 2002. Next, "Crazy in Love" by Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z spent eight weeks at No. 1, starting in July 2003. The follow-up, "Baby Boy" by Beyoncé featuring Sean Paul, began a nine-week reign in October 2003. "Me, Myself and I" reached No. 4 in February 2004, and then "Naughty Girl" worked its way to No. 3 in June 2004.

Only "Dangerously in Love," which stopped at No. 57 in October 2004, has missed the top 10.

TO 'BE' ONE OR TWO: By climbing 4-2 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart with "Be Without You" (Geffen/Interscope), Mary J. Blige is thisclose to collecting her sixth No. 1 hit on this chart. "Be Without You" is already her biggest hit since "Family Affair" led the list for two weeks in November 2001.

The four other Mary J. Blige songs to reach the summit are:

"You Remind Me," one week (1992)
"Real Love," two weeks (1992)
"I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By," three weeks (1995) [Method Man featuring Mary J. Blige]
"Not Gon' Cry," five weeks (1996)

While it seems unlikely, if "Be Without You" loses momentum and gets stuck in second place, it will be the second No. 2 hit of Blige's career, following "I Can Love You" in 1997.

'HUNG' HANGS IN: Madonna's "Hung Up" (Warner Bros.) is on top of Billboard's Hot Dance Singles Sales chart for the fifth week, matching the five-week run of her most recent No. 1 hit, "Love Profusion," in 2004.

"Hung Up" is Madonna's 10th consecutive No. 1 song on this chart, her longest string of No. 1 hits in this tally's history. Twice before she has put together strings of five No. 1 hits, first from 1987-1990 ("Causing a Commotion," "Like a Prayer," "Express Yourself," "Keep It Together" and "Vogue") and then from 1991-1993 ("Justify My Love," "Rescue Me," "Erotica," "Deeper and Deeper" and "Fever" / "Bad Girl"). The two strings of five No. 1 hits were only separated by one song, "Hanky Panky," which peaked at No. 9 in 1990.

Madonna's current run of 10 No. 1 hits includes "Music" (11 weeks), "Don't Tell Me" (five weeks), "What It Feels Like for a Girl" (one week), "Die Another Day" (16 weeks), "American Life" (one week), "Hollywood" (seven weeks), "Me Against the Music" (13 weeks), "Nothing Fails" (one week) and then "Love Profusion" and "Hung Up."

ONE GUY NAMED LOUIS: As detailed in last week's Chart Beat Chat, by appearing on the current Hot Digital Songs chart with "White Christmas," Bing Crosby has the longest possible Billboard chart span, dating back to when the charts were first introduced in July 1940.

Coming in a close second with the debut of a new greatest hits collection on the Top Blues Albums chart is the man considered the father of R&B, the great Louis Jordan. His "#1s" CD (Geffen/Interscope) debuts on the blues survey at No. 14.

Jordan first charted in Billboard the week of Oct. 24, 1942, with the R&B single "I'm Gonna Leave You on the Outskirts of Town." That gives him a career chart span of 63 years, two months and one week.