Fred Bronson reports on the chart accomplishments of Elton John, Rascal Flatts, and Madonna.

HIS SONGS: Elton John has his highest-debuting album in just over five years on The Billboard 200. "Greatest Hits 1970-2002" (Rocket/UTV) opens at No. 12, the best first-week position for Elton since "The Big Picture" entered at No. 9 the week of Oct. 11, 1997.

This new greatest hits collection is Elton's third highest-ranking album of the last 25 years. Aside from "The Big Picture," the only other album to fare better in the last quarter-century was "The One," which reached No. 8 in 1992.

The "1970-2002" CD is Elton's highest-charting hits collection since his very first volume of biggest singles topped the Billboard albums chart for 10 weeks in 1974. "Elton John's Greatest Hits, Volume II" stopped at No. 21 in 1977. A third volume went no higher than No. 84 in 1987. The four-CD box set "To Be Continued..." halted at No. 82 in 1990. And "One Night Only," a live album billed as a greatest hits collection, went to No. 65 in 2000.

"Greatest Hits 1970-2002" isn't Elton John's only debut on a Billboard chart this week. As a songwriter, he has a new entry on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart, thanks to Tim McGraw's cover of "Tiny Dancer" (Curb). Coincidentally, "Tiny Dancer" is one of the songs on Elton's new hits album. McGraw's remake is from his forthcoming album "Tim McGraw & the Dancehall Doctors," due in stores Nov. 26. The song enters the country chart at No. 59.

YOUNG RASCALS: Keith Urban loses his bid to have the longest-running No. 1 song of the year on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. "Somebody Like You" (Capitol) needed a seventh week at the top to tie Kenny Chesney's "The Good Stuff" for the longest-running chart-topper of 2002. Instead, Urban gives way to the very first No. 1 hit for Rascal Flatts.

"These Days" (Lyric Street) is the act's first title to reach No. 1. That makes Rascal Flatts the first duo or group to have its first No. 1 song since August 1998, when the Dixie Chicks achieved pole position with "There's Your Trouble."

BONDING: Madonna moves into pole position on Billboard's Hot Dance Music: Club Play chart with "Die Another Day" (Warner Bros.). It's Madonna's 28th No. 1 on this chart, as well as her 38th top-10 hit, out of 41 chart entries.