CHART BEAT BONUS

Fred Bronson reports on chart activity relating to Ray Charles, Nelly, Tim McGraw and John Mellencamp.

TWO FOR THE SHOW: When "Genius Loves Company" (Hear/Concord) debuted on The Billboard 200 in September, it was the first Ray Charles album to appear on the chart in 11 years. A mere two months later, another album by the late artist has made its debut. The soundtrack to "Ray" (WMG Soundtracks/Atlantic/Rhino) is a new entry at No. 23.

That makes 2004 the first year since 1972 that two albums by Charles have entered The Billboard 200 since 1972, when "A Message From the People" and "Through the Eyes of Love" both made their debuts.

"Ray" also bows at No. 1 on the Top Soundtracks chart. It's the first soundtrack from a biopic feature to reach the summit since this chart was introduced in June 2001 A year ago this month, the soundtrack to "Tupac: Resurrection" began a nine-week reign, but that film was a documentary.

'OVER' THE TOP: The surprise 7-1 leap of "Over and Over" (Curb/Derrty) on Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 chart gives Nelly and Tim McGraw the biggest jump to No. 1 in the history of this survey.

"Over" is Nelly's fourth chart-topper on the Mainstream list, and the first for McGraw, as well as the first for any country artist.

JOHN'S BEST: John Mellencamp has his highest-ranking album on The Billboard 200 in eight years. "Words & Music: John Mellencamp's Greatest Hits" (Island/UTV) opens at No. 13, Mellencamp's best since the No. 9 peak of Mr. Happy Go Lucky" in September 1996.

"Words & Music" is the 17th Mellencamp album to chart. His span is now 25 years, two months and three weeks, counting back to the Aug. 18, 1979 debut of "John Cougar," the name he was given by then-manager Tony DeFries.