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Chart Beat: Kelly Clarkson, ‘At Last,’ Coldplay

Fred discusses chart action from Kelly Clarkson, 'At Last,' Coldplay and more!

THIS IS YOUR ‘LIFE’: For the second time in her career, Kelly Clarkson sets the record for the biggest leap to No. 1 on the Hot 100. This week she does it with a 97-1 bound for “My Life Would Suck Without You” (RCA), narrowly surpassing the 96-1 jump Britney Spears’ took with “Womanizer” the week of Oct. 25, 2008.

Clarkson’s debut single, “A Moment Like This,” made history the week of Oct. 5, 2002, when it rocketed 52-1, breaking the 38-year-old record set by the Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love,” which flew 27-1 the week of April 5, 1964.

Here is a list of the 13 titles that have leapt to No. 1 from outside the top 30 in the 50-year history of the Hot 100:

97-1: “My Life Would Suck Without You,” Kelly Clarkson (Feb. 7, 2009)
96-1: “Womanizer,” Britney Spears (Oct. 25, 2008)
80-1: “Live Your Life,” T.I. featuring Rihanna (Oct. 18, 2008)
71-1: “Whatever You Like,” T.I. (Sept. 6, 2008)
64-1: “Makes Me Wonder,” Maroon 5 (Sept. 12, 2007)
53-1: “Take a Bow,” Rihanna (May 24, 2008)
52-1: “A Moment Like This,” Kelly Clarkson (Oct. 5, 2002)
51-1: “Love in This Club,” Usher featuring Young Jeezy (March 15, 2008)
42-1: “Give It to Me,” Timbaland featuring Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado (April 21, 2007)
41-1: “Umbrella,” Rihanna featuring Jay-Z (June 9, 2007)
34-1: “SOS,” Rihanna (May 13, 2006)
32-1: “This Is Why I’m Hot,” Mims (March 10, 2007)
31-1: “SexyBack,” Justin Timberlake (Sept. 9, 2006)

“Life” is Clarkson’s second No. 1, following “Moment.” She had four top 10 hits from her “Breakaway” album; the highest-ranked single from that set was “Since U Been Gone,” which peaked at No. 2 the week of April 9, 2005. Her next release, the ill-fated “My December,” yielded only one top 10 hit, “Never Again,” which reached No. 8 the week of May 12, 2007.

Clarkson’s second record-setting leap to No. 1 extends her lead as the “American Idol” competitor with the most No. 1s on all Billboard charts. “My Life Would Suck Without You” also tops Hot Digital Songs and Hot Digital Tracks, bringing Clarkson’s total to 48. Carrie Underwood is in second place with 36.

Clarkson’s latest hat trick of chart-toppers gives the franchise a new total of 221 No. 1s. “My Life” is the first Hot 100 No. 1 by an “Idol” singer that is not a song connected to a season finale. Those previous No. 1s, after Clarkson’s “Moment,” were by Clay Aiken, Fantasia, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Hicks.

Here is an updated list of the Idols who have topped any Billboard chart, and how many No. 1s they have accumulated to date:

Kelly Clarkson 48
Carrie Underwood 36
Chris Daughtry (Daughtry) 25
Fantasia 21
Ruben Studdard 15
Clay Aiken 11
Kimberley Locke 8
Mandisa 8
Josh Gracin 7
Jennifer Hudson 6
Jordin Sparks 6
David Cook 5
Elliott Yamin 4
David Archuleta 3
Taylor Hicks 3
Kellie Pickler 3
American Idol Finalists 2
Bo Bice 2
Bucky Covington 2
Chris Sligh 2
Paris Bennett 1
Diana DeGarmo 1
Tamyra Gray 1
William Hung 1

Clarkson’s “Life” is the 62nd No. 1 for the RCA label in the rock era. It’s the first since Avril Lavigne led the list with “Girlfriend” the week of May 5, 2007.

The only imprint with more No. 1s than RCA is Columbia, with 97.

BUILT TWO ‘LAST’: Two versions of “At Last” debut on Hot Digital Songs: Beyonce’s version from the “Cadillac Records” soundtrack and Etta James’ hit from 1961. This is James’ first appearance on a singles chart since her cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Miss You” peaked at No. 15 on Hot Dance Club Play in May 2001.

Beyonce’s “At Last” also enters the Hot 100, at No. 67. This is only the second version of the evergreen to appear on the Hot 100; James’ recording peaked at No. 47 in 1961. As noted in Chart Beat a few weeks ago, “At Last” was written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren in 1941 for the film “Orchestra Wives.” A single by Glenn Miller peaked at No. 14.

“At Last” could be the theme song for Coldplay. The group finally hits No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart with “Viva La Vida” (Capitol), in its 28th week on the survey, and eight-and-a-half months after debuting on the Hot 100.

Coldplay breaks a long monopoly on AC pole position, which has been held by solo artists for 14-and-a-half months. The last time the penthouse was occupied by more than one person was the week of Nov. 24, 2007, when Daughtry was in first place with “Home.”

During the long chart life of “Viva La Vida,” the song has been No. 1 on the Hot 100, Hot Digital Songs, Adult Top 40 Airplay, Triple A Airplay, Modern Rock Airplay and now Adult Contemporary – the first song to reach No. 1 on these six lists.

For the third time since she left the Columbia label, the imprint has released a collection of Mariah Carey songs. What’s different this time is that “The Ballads” (Columbia/Legacy) has landed in the top 10 of The Billboard 200.

“The Ballads,” which bows at No. 10, is the 14th of Carey’s 16 chart albums to reach the top 10. The only two albums that missed this elite tier are those above-mentioned Columbia releases. “Greatest Hits” stopped at No. 52 in December 2001 and “The Remixes” went to No. 26 in November 2003.

Carey made her debut on The Billboard 200 the week of June 30, 1990, with an eponymous set. That means we are just 16 months away from the 20-year anniversary of her first appearance on the album chart.

“The Ballads” also enters Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, at No. 7. It is the 13th top 10 title for Carey on this survey. “Greatest Hits” (No. 36) and “The Remixes” (No. 25) also missed the upper region on this chart, as did her “MTV Unplugged EP” (No. 16 in July 1992).

Also debuting on The Billboard 200 this week is the latest collection of Frank Sinatra songs. “Seduction: Sinatra Sings of Love” (Frank Sinatra Enterprises/Reprise) is new at No. 23. Along with the most recent Sinatra album to chart (“Nothing But the Best,” No. 2 in May 2008), “Seduction” represents Sinatra’s best showing on the album tally since “Duets II” sailed to No. 9 in December 1994.

And that’s just what the new U2 single did. “Get On Your Boots” (Island) returns the group to the Hot 100 for the first time since “The Saints Are Coming” (by U2 & Green Day) peaked at No. 51 in December 2006.

“Boots” walks onto the chart at No. 37, the highest rank for a U2 song since “Vertigo” tipsied to No. 31 in November 2004.

“Boots” is the fourth-highest debuting U2 single in history. The three titles that had higher new entry positions are:

No. 10: “Discotheque” (Feb. 22, 1997)
No. 23: “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” (June 24, 1995)
No. 30: “Staring at the Sun” (April 26, 1997)

“Boots” also enters the Modern Rock Tracks chart, where it spends week one at No. 8. That’s U2’s best placing on this list since “All Because of You” peaked at No. 6 in January 2005.

While a No. 8 debut is impressive, six of U2’s 36 chart entries have opened in loftier positions:

No. 3: “Mysterious Ways” (Nov. 23, 1991)
No. 3: “Numb” (July 10, 1993)
No. 3: “Discotheque” (Jan. 25, 1997)
No. 4: “Desire” (Oct. 8, 1988)
No. 5: “The Fly” (Oct. 26, 1991)
No. 7: “Until the End of the World” (Feb. 1, 1992)

“Boots” is off to an even better start on the Triple A chart, where it is U2’s first single to debut at No. 1. The lads were last on this chart with “Window in the Skies,” which began a seven-week reign the week of Dec. 9, 2006.

Of U2’s 19 charted songs on the Triple A list, only one other title has debuted inside the top 10. “The Ground Beneath Her Feet” opened at No. 9 the week of Feb. 26, 2000.

HELLO ‘GOODBYE’: The new Rascal Flatts single, “Here Comes Goodbye” (Lyric Street), blasts onto Hot Country Songs at No. 29, good enough to be the highest new entry of the young calendar year and the second-highest debut of the group’s career.

Until this week, the highest new entry of 2009 was “I Told You So,” the Carrie Underwood ballad that opened last week at No. 37. Slipping to third place on the list of highest debuts is another Underwood song, her rendition of “O Holy Night,” which entered at No. 39 the week of Jan. 10.

Of the 35 Rascal Flatts tracks to appear on Hot Country Songs, the only tune to debut higher than “Here Comes Goodbye” is “Take Me There,” which began its chart life at No. 24 the week of July 21, 2007.

For the first time since he began charting in April 2001, Blake Shelton has two consecutive No. 1 titles on Hot Country Songs. “She Wouldn’t Be Gone” (Warner Bros.) is Shelton’s fifth chart-topper and follows his cover of Michael Buble’s “Home,” which ruled for two weeks in July 2008.

Shelton’s other three No. 1 hits are:

“Austin,” five weeks (2001)
“The Baby,” three weeks (2003)
“Some Beach,” four weeks (2004)

“She Wouldn’t Be Gone” is the sixth song to advance to No. 1 in 2009. Only “Here” by Rascal Flatts occupied the summit for more than one week (it was on top for two frames). Spending one week each in first place: “Already Gone” by Sugarland, “Start a Band” by Brad Paisley (duetting with Keith Urban) and “Country Boy” by Alan Jackson.

What would you do if you had a workable time machine? You might consider going back to February 2006 and convincing some club DJs to give a few extra spins to “I’ll Be Your Light” by Kristine W. It’s the only one of her 13 chart entries on Hot Dance Club Play to miss the top spot (it had to settle for No. 2).

Kristine W collects her 12th No. 1 hit this week, as “Never” hits the zenith. Her first nine chart entries all went to No. 1, and now she has another three chart-toppers in a row.