News on Alicia Keys, J-Records, and Usher.

'MINOR' ACHIEVEMENT: While Destiny's Child and Janet Jackson have managed to collect No. 1 albums this year, 2001's top albums have mostly been by male groups, including the likes of Tool, Staind, the Dave Matthews Band, and Blink-182. That makes the surprise achievement of newcomer Alicia Keys even more impressive, as her debut album, "Songs in A Minor" (J Records) opens in pole position.

Keys is the first female artist to have her debut album reach No. 1 since 1999, when Eve topped the chart with "Ruff Ryders' First Lady." Earlier in '99, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears also reached the summit with their first chart albums.

CLIVE AND JULY: Alicia Keys will always be remembered as the first artist on Clive Davis' J Records to collect a No. 1 album on The Billboard 200. J tops the chart just five months and one week after the debut of O-Town's self-titled first set, the initial chart entry for J. It's a much shorter wait than Davis had for the for the first No. 1 album on his previous label, Arista. That label's first chart-topping LP was "Barry Manilow/Live," which hit the pinnacle two years and eight months after Arista debuted with "Barry Manilow II."

In a chart coincidence that "Chart Beat" columnists live for, "Barry Manilow/Live" went to No. 1 on the chart of July 16, 1977, exactly 24 years ago this week.

U-TURN: By remaining on top of The Billboard Hot 100 for a second week, "U Remind Me" (Arista) is tied with "Nice & Slow" as Usher's longest-running No. 1 hits. They are also Usher's only No. 1 hits.

Meanwhile, leave it to frequent "Chart Beat" contributor William Simpson of Los Angeles to come up with the fact that "U Remind Me" is the third Hot 100 chart-topper to substitute "U" for "You." The first was the Prince-penned "Nothing Compares 2 U," No. 1 for four weeks for Sinead O'Connor in 1990. Then came "How Do U Want It," No. 1 for two weeks for 2Pac (featuring K-Ci and JoJo) in 1996.

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