CARRIE’S NATION: There are only a handful of artists who can release albums titled “Number Ones” or “1s” or some variation thereof, including Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, George Strait and Diana Ross & the Supremes. She’s not quite ready to follow suit, but she’s working on it: Carrie Underwood collects her seventh No. 1 as “Just a Dream” (19/Arista) advances 3-1 on Hot Country Songs.
“Just a Dream” is the fourth single from Underwood’s sophomore album, “Carnival Ride.” All four singles, including “So Small,” “All-American Girl” and “Last Name,” have achieved pole position. That makes Underwood the first solo female artist to pull four No. 1s from one album since Shania Twain did it in 1995-1996 with a quartet of tracks from “The Woman In Me.”
It has been three years and five months since Underwood made her country chart debut with a cover of Rascal Flatts’ “Bless the Broken Road.” That’s the second fastest accumulation of seven No. 1s for a solo female artist in the 64-year history of this tally. The only woman to earn seven No. 1s at a faster pace is Tammy Wynette, who took two years, 10 months and two weeks from the debut of “Apartment #9” in December 1966 to her seventh chart-topper, “The Ways to Love a Man,” in October 1969.
Here is a list of the solo female artists who have topped the country songs chart seven or more times, and how long it took them to go from chart debut to that seventh No. 1:
Tammy Wynette (two years, 10 months, two weeks)
Carrie Underwod (three years, five months)
Shania Twain (five years, one month, one week)
Faith Hill (six years, two months, one week)
Janie Fricke (seven years, two months, three weeks)
Rosanne Cash (eight years, five months, one week)
Reba McEntire (nine years, six months, one week)
Crystal Gayle (nine years, seven months)
Dolly Parton (10 years, 10 months, two weeks)
Loretta Lynn (11 years, seven months, three weeks)
Anne Murray (13 years, four months, one week)
Emmylou Harris (13 years, five months, two weeks)
Tanya Tucker (14 years, five months, one week)
Counting from first No. 1 to seventh, Wynette wins for speed again. From the time her duet with David Houston on “My Elusive Dreams” topped the chart in September 1967, it took two years, one month and one week to get to her seventh No. 1. Using this criterion, Underwood would be in third place among solo female artists with Shania Twain scoring a narrow victory for the runner-up spot. It’s so close between them, it’s worth counting in days from first No. 1 to seventh. It took Twain two years, nine months, one week and three days, while Underwood took two years, nine months, two weeks and four days.
When it comes to number of No. 1 hits this decade, there is no contest. Underwood was already the leader and simply extends her total with seven. There is a three-way tie for second place between Sara Evans, Faith Hill and Jo Dee Messina, who all have three.
“Just a Dream” brings the total of No. 1s for the “American Idol” franchise to 209, counting all national, domestic charts compiled by Billboard.
‘MISS’ IS A HIT: After reaching No. 2 three times, Ne-Yo collects his first No. 1 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. His 19th chart entry (he’s had two since), “Miss Independent” (Def Jam), takes a 2-1 ride to the penthouse.
Ne-Yo has already taken a victory lap on The Billboard Hot 100, where “So Sick” spent two weeks at No. 1 in March 2006. He made his first appearance on the R&B/Hip Hop survey the week of Aug. 20, 2005 with “Stay,” which went to No. 36. The follow-up was “So Sick,” which had to settle for peaking at No. 3.
Ne-Yo’s three No. 2 hits on this chart are “Sexy Love” (2006), “Make Me Better” (2007) by Fabolous featuring Ne-Yo and “Bust It Baby Part 2” (2008) by Plies featuring Ne-Yo.
HAPPY TO HAVE THEM ‘BACK’: It took a long time, but Patti LaBelle, Sara Dash and Nona Hendryx have finally reunited as Labelle. It was worth the wait, as “Back to Now” (Verve) blasts onto Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums at No. 9. That makes it the second highest-charting Labelle album, topped only by the No. 4 peak of “Nightbirds” in 1975 (that album contained “Lady Marmalade”).
“Back to Now” extends the group’s chart span to 42 years, five months and two weeks, counting back to the debut of “Over the Rainbow” in May 1966, when Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx and Sara Dash (and about-to-be Supreme Cindy Birdsong) were known as Patti LaBelle and the Blue Belles. “Back to Now” is the first Labelle album to chart since “Chameleon” went to No. 21 in 1976.
Since the 1970s break-up of Labelle, Patti LaBelle has charted 24 solo albums. The most successful was “Winner in You,” which spent eight weeks on top in 1986. That album included LaBelle’s No. 1 duet with Michael McDonald, “On My Own.”
During those same post-Labelle years, Hendryx charted three albums, with “Nona” faring best by peaking at No. 25 in 1983. Dash did appear on the R&B chart with any solo projects.
On The Billboard 200, “Back to Now” debuts at No. 45. That makes it the third highest-ranked set of the trio’s four charted titles. “Nightbirds” fared best, reaching No. 7 in 1975. “Phoenix” flew to No. 44 that same year and “Chameleon” stopped at No. 94 in 1976.
THE POWER OF AC/DC: Labelle isn’t the only group with a long history to have an album debut on The Billboard 200 this week. Entering in pole position is a band that first charted in 1977. AC/DC scores its second No. 1 album with “Black Ice” (Columbia), 26 years and 10 months after its first chart-topping LP, “For Those About to Rock We Salute You.”
While that’s a long time between No. 1 albums, it’s not the longest gap between chart-topping titles. Here are some longer spans between No. 1 albums:
42 years, four months, three weeks between Ray Charles’ “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music” (1962) and “Genius Loves Company” (2005)
36 years, 10 months, one week between Johnny Cash’s “Johnny Cash at San Quentin” (1969) and “American V: A Hundred Highways” (2006)
30 years, six months, one week between Bob Dylan’s “Desire” (1976) and “Modern Times” (2006)
28 years, seven months between Barry Manilow’s “Barry Manilow/Live” (1977) and “The Greatest Songs of the Fifties” (2006)
LET’S GO ‘CRAZY’: Not counting a Christmas album, Lee Ann Womack scores her fifth consecutive top four debut on Top Country Albums, thanks to the No. 4 bow of “Call Me Crazy” (MCA).
Womack made her country album chart debut the week of May 31, 1997, with an eponymous release that peaked at No. 9. The follow-up, “Some Things I Know,” only managed to reach No. 20 in 1998. Her third chart album was “I Hope You Dance,” which entered at No. 1 in June 2000. Since then, “Something Worth Leaving Behind” debuted and peaked at No. 2 in 2002, “Greatest Hits” did the same in 2004 and “There’s More Where That Came From” opened and peaked at No. 3 in 2005.
On The Billboard 200, “Call Me Crazy” is new at No. 23. Three of Womack’s eight entries on this survey have peaked higher: “There’s More Were That Came From” went to No. 12 and “I Hope You Dance” and “Something Worth Leaving Behind” both peaked at No. 16.
HE’S A ‘REBEL’: Hank Williams III scores the highest-charting album of his career on both Top Country Albums and The Billboard 200. “Damn Right Rebel Proud” (Curb) makes a powerful debut at No. 2 on the country albums list.
“Damn Right” is the fifth release by Williams to chart, over the last 12 years. It is the first album by the grandson of Hank Williams and the son of Hank Williams, Jr., to reach the top 10. Here is a summary of Williams III’s history on Top Country Albums:
“Men With Broken Hearts,” No. 29 (1996) [Hank Williams, Hank Williams, Jr. and Hank Williams III]
“Risin’ Outlaw,” No. 52 (2000)
“Lovesick, Broke & Driftin’,” No. 17 (2002)
“Straight to Hell,” No. 17 (2006)
“Damn Right Rebel Proud,” No. 2 (2008)
On The Billboard 200, “Rebel” starts at No. 18, besting the No. 73 peak of “Straight to Hell,” the most successful Williams III title until this week.
HE’S THE GREATEST DANCER: The musical “Billy Elliot” opened in London’s West End in 2005. The songs, composed by Elton John, appeared on a British album that debuted on Billboard’s Top Cast Albums chart in 2006. “Billy Elliot: The Musical” (Decca Broadway) spent four weeks on the tally, peaking at No. 13.
The musical has crossed the pond and is in previews on Broadway, where I saw it Monday night. It is as great as I remember it when I saw it in London and should be the leading Tony contender this season.
The pending Broadway opening brings the British recording back to the cast chart at No. 15, after a hiatus of two years and seven months.