CULT OF PERSONALITY: What do Johnny Cash, Jane Fonda, Grace Kelly and Tim McGraw have in common? They’re all on the Billboard charts this week — not as artists, but as song titles.
“Tim McGraw” (Big Machine) has already been a top 10 hit for new artist Taylor Swift on Hot Country Songs. This week, the track slides 3-5 on Country Songs Recurrents. The latest country song sporting a title that is the name of another country artist is “Johnny Cash” (Broken Bow) by Jason Aldean. The song named after the Man in Black is a new entry at No. 44.
“Jane Fonda” (myspace/Interscope) is a debutante on Modern Rock Tracks. The song by newcomer Mickey Avalon enters in the anchor spot, No. 40.
Finally, “Grace Kelly” graces The Billboard Hot 100 via the debut single from Beirut-born Mika. The U.K.’s No. 1 single is a new entry at No. 81.
These are not the first songs to sport names of well-known personalities. Kim Carnes had a No. 1 single with “Bette Davis Eyes” and an early Bananarama song was titled “Robert DeNiro’s Waiting.” But it is unusual to have a convergence of four songs, all simply titled with the first and last name of a celebrity.
If the trend continues, who will be the first to record “Kelly Clarkson”?
RHYTHM AND BOONE: When Pat Boone made his Billboard chart debut the week of April 2, 1955 with a cover of an R&B song, Otis Williams & the Charms’ “Two Hearts,” it set the tone for his first few hit singles. Boone charted with pop versions of songs like “Ain’t That a Shame” and “Tutti Fruitti,” and those were the recordings played top 40 radio stations that weren’t willing to play the originals by Fats Domino and Little Richard, respectively.
Eventually, those R&B artists received their due, but it is still a great irony that almost 52 years after his chart career began, Boone finally makes his first appearance on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. “The Gold Label Presents: Pat Boone R&B Classics: We Are Family” (Gold Label) is new at No. 86. The CD is filled with Boone’s duets with R&B stars like the late James Brown, Smokey Robinson and Sister Sledge.
This is Boone’s first time on any Billboard chart in exactly 10 years. His last CD to chart, “In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy” debuted on The Billboard 200 the week of Feb. 14, 1997 and remained on the survey for two weeks, peaking in its debut position of No. 125.
‘LATE’ ARRIVAL: Norah Jones goes three-for-three on The Billboard 200 as her third studio album enters in pole position. “Never Too Late” (Blue Note) begins its chart life at No. 1, as did its predecessor, “Feels Like Home.” That effort debuted at No. 1 the week of Feb. 28, 2004, and remained on top for six weeks.
Jones kicked off her chart career with “Come Away with Me.” That album entered the chart at No. 136 the week of March 16, 2002 and reached the summit 10 months later, the week of Jan. 25, 2003. “Come Away With Me” reigned for four weeks.
‘HIGH’ IS HIGH: Toby Keith has the highest-debuting track of 2007 on Hot Country Songs, thanks to the No. 37 opening of his “High Maintenance Woman” (Show Dog). It is the first song to debut inside the top 40 this year. There were a total of 11 debuts inside the top 40 in 2006, led by the No. 17 bow of Keith Urban’s “Once in a Lifetime” the week of Sept. 2.
Despite its lofty first week placement, “High Maintenance Woman” is not the highest new entry of Keith’s career. Five of his songs have had better openings. In 2005, “Honkytonk U” debuted at No. 30 and “Get Drunk and Be Somebody” started at No. 32. In 2004, “Stays in Mexico” entered at No. 27 to become Keith’s highest debut of all time and “Hey Good Lookin’,” recorded with Jimmy Buffett, Clint Black, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson and George Strait bowed at No. 30. In 2003, “I Love This Bar” opened at No. 30.
Before this week, the highest-debuting country song of 2007 was Sugarland’s “Settlin'” (Mercury), which entered at No. 49 the week of Jan. 13.
That means Jason Aldean’s “Johnny Cash,” which walks onto the tally at No. 44, is the second-highest debut of the year.
IT WAS A VERY GOOD ‘YEAR’: In 2003, the youthful U.K. band Busted had a No. 2 hit in Britain with “Year 3000,” but the song, and the group, never crossed the pond to become a U.S. hit. Four years later, the song finally arrives on the Hot 100, but not by the defunct Busted.
This version of “Year 3000” is by the Jonas Brothers and is from their Columbia Records debut, “It’s About Time,” released in 2006. The act has already left the label and has signed with Disney’s Hollywood Records. The brothers’ Hot 100 debut at No. 40 is fueled by repeated broadcasts of the song’s video on the Disney Channel. Only two songs have had higher debuts in 2007. Fall Out Boy holds the record, with a No. 2 bow for “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race.” In second place is Corbin Bleu’s “Push It to the Limit,” which jumped on at No. 14.
The lyrics to “Year 3000” have been updated for the Jonas Brothers’ version. A reference to Michael Jackson in the Busted original has been changed to Kelly Clarkson.
WHEN IT’S ‘OVER’: While the Jonas Brothers have the Hot Shot Debut on the Hot 100, the second highest debut of the week belongs to “American Idol” runner-up Katharine McPhee. Her “Over It” (RCA) enters at No. 48.
It is the first single from her self-titled debut album. “Katharine McPhee” is also the second highest debut of the week on The Billboard 200, where it opens at No. 2. That matches the debut positions of McPhee’s fellow season five contestants, Taylor Hicks and Chris Daughtry. Hicks peaked at No. 2 and Daughtry later climbed to No. 1.
SLOW PATROL: “Chasing Cars” (Polydor/A&M) by Snow Patrol took the slow lane to the top of the Adult Top 40 chart, arriving in pole position in its 35th week on the chart. That is the longest climb to No. 1 in the history of this tally.
Snow Patrol thus breaks the record held by Five For Fighting. “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” flew to the penthouse in its 28th chart week in December 2001.
On the Adult Contemporary list, Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” returns to No. 1 after an 11-week break, the longest it has taken any song to reclaim the top spot in this chart’s history. “Unwritten” is in its 49th week on the AC tally, the latest any song has been No. 1 in this chart’s history. The previous record was held by Rob Thomas’ “Lonely No More,” which in January 2006 was still No. 1 in its 47th week.