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Chart Beat Thursday: Marvin Sapp, Lady Antebellum, J-Lo

Sapp's strength: Gospel superstar Marvin Sapp makes history on the Billboard 200 by landing the highest-ever rank for a gospel album.

PRAISE: Although Marvin Sapp is a newcomer to the Billboard 200’s upper reaches, loyal fans have long been aware of the gospel superstar.

The singer, who doubles as founder and senior pastor of Lighthouse Full Life Center Church in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, launches at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with “Here I Am,” marking the highest ranking for a gospel set in the chart’s 54-year history. Until this week, no gospel album had placed higher than No. 3, a rank last reached among gospel sets by God’s Property from Kirk Franklin¹s Nu Nation on June 14, 1997, with “God’s Property.”

On Gospel Albums, “Here I Am” arrives as Sapp’s second No. 1. His previous effort, “Thirsty,” spent 39 weeks in the top spot beginning in July 2007. “Thirsty” reached No. 28 on the Billboard 200, Sapp’s prior best rank on the list.

Sapp owns one of the most notable records in Billboard chart history. In 2007-08, his “Never Would Have Made It” led Gospel Songs for 46 weeks, the longest reign for a title on a Billboard airplay survey.

“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” Sapp says of following the success of his last album. “I have the same musicians, the same singers and even recorded at the same venue.

“The mind-blowing thing about ‘Thirsty’ is that I put it out without expectation. There was no way to predict that ‘Never Would Have Made It’ would have the impact that it had. I sequenced it as track number 11 out of 12, and part of a medley on top of that!

“With ‘Here I Am,’ I’m just trying to keep the message as clear and concise as possible. Honestly, I’m a little worried about how it will be received. But, I did my very best.”

GROUP EFFORT: “Need You Now” may be a traditional country heartbreak song, but it’s bringing nothing but joy to Lady Antebellum.

As the title cut charges 4-1 on Adult Contemporary and leads Adult Pop Songs for a second week, the trio’s album rebounds 3-1 for a fourth week atop the Billboard 200. With the jump, the set ties for longest-reigning album by a core country group in the Billboard 200’s history, matching the four-week command of Dixie Chicks‘ “Home” in 2002-03.

Here is a look at the albums by country groups to lead the chart for multiple weeks:

Weeks at No. 1, Artist, Title, Year(s)
4 weeks, Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now,” 2010
4 weeks, Dixie Chicks, “Home,” 2002-03
3 weeks, Rascal Flatts, “Me and My Gang,” 2006
2 weeks, Dixie Chicks, “Taking the Long Way,” 2006
2 weeks, Dixie Chicks, “Fly,” 1999

(Four Eagles albums topped the Billboard 200 for five weeks or more between 1975 and 1979, but the group, even though it’s set to tour with Dixie Chicks and Keith Urban in June, is not considered a core country act in format circles. Of the band’s 13 charted sets on the Billboard 200, only two have appeared on Country Albums: “Hotel California” (No. 10, 1977) and “Long Road Out of Eden” (No. 1, 2009)).

GOOD ‘STANDING’: Monica earns her sixth No. 1, and first in close to seven years, on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, as “Everything to Me” lifts 3-1.

The song marks Monica’s first view from the top since “So Gone” began a five-week reign in June 2003. She previously led with “Don’t Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)” (two weeks, 1995), “Before You Walk Out of My Life”/”Like This and Like That” (two weeks, 1996), “The Boy Is Mine,” with Brandy (eight weeks, 1998), and “The First Night” (six weeks, 1998).

Since Monica’s first week atop the chart (June 10, 1995) only two women can boast more No. 1s: Mariah Carey and Alicia Keys, each with seven.

Monica’s sixth studio album, “Still Standing,” enters R&B/Hip-Hop Albums at No. 78 due to street-date violations. Billboard R&B/hip-hop charts manager Raphael George notes that the set looks likely to vault to No. 1 on the survey next week.

REALLY BIG SHOE: Christian Louboutin’s high-heeled (and high-priced) red-soled shoes have conquered the fashion world. Now they rule Dance/Club Play Songs, as well.

J-Lo steps 2-1 on Dance/Club Play Songs with “Louboutins,” her eighth leader on the list and fifth in-a-row. She first ruled with “Waiting for Tonight” in 1999.

How does the song’s namesake feel about the chart-topping track? “(Jennifer Lopez) told me about the song back in January (2009), and I was extremely flattered,” Louboutins said in December.

“But, of course, in America the public pronounces my name in like a million different ways. So, Jennifer called me, and she was like, ‘Listen, I want to make sure that I get it right.’ And she did … from the very first time!

“I know the song by heart now, because the brilliant part of the single is that it’s not about me. It’s about a girl and her shoe. When something is so in mass culture and you have almost nothing to do with it, it’s kind of cool. It’s weird but not disagreeable.

“My name is mentioned 45 times. Trust me, I’ve counted!”

RUNAWAYS SUCCESS: Featuring songs by Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart, two of the stars of “The Runaways,” the movie’s soundtrack debuts on the Soundtracks chart at No. 23.

The film premieres in theaters April 9.

The legend of the band that inspired the film outweighs the act’s chart history. The girl-group, which introduced Joan Jett, Lita Ford and Micki Steele (later of the Bangles), placed two albums on the Billboard 200: “The Runaways” (No. 194, 1976) and “Queens of Noise” (No. 172, 1977).

CHART BEAT BITS: Ahead of his role as mentor on Tuesday’s (March 30) episode of “American Idol,” Usher adds another honor to help show this year’s finalists how it’s done. “Hey Daddy (Daddy’s Home)” climbs 4-3 on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, becoming his 14th top three title. Dating to his first week in the top three on Aug. 30, 1997, Usher takes the lead for most top three hits, passing Ludacris‘ 13 …

Paramore posts its fifth top 10 among six charted titles on Alternative Songs, as “Brick by Boring Brick” cements a top 10 ranking (11-9). The band previously reached the top tier with “Misery Business” (No. 3) in 2007, “Crushcrushcrush” (No. 4) in 2008 and “Decode” (No. 5) and “Ignorance” (No. 7) last year …

Jackiem Joyner collects his second No. 1 on Jazz Songs, as “Take Me There” jumps 5-1 with Greatest Gainer honors. The 28-year-old Norfolk, Virginia, native spent 12 weeks at the summit with his last chart entry, “I’m Waiting for You,” last year. Both tracks appear on his sophomore album, “Lil’ Man Soul” …

Atop Pop Songs for a second week, Lady Gaga‘s “Telephone,” featuring Beyonce, blasts onto the Hot Videoclips chart at No. 1. The nine-minute, 30-second Jonas Akerlund-directed clip, also starring Tyrese, marks Lady Gaga’s first No. 1 on the list. On the Billboard Hot 100, “Telephone” charges 9-3, becoming her fifth top five, following “Just Dance” (No. 1, three weeks), “Poker Face” (No. 1, one week), “LoveGame” (No. 5) and “Bad Romance” (No. 2) …

News of the death of Alex Chilton March 17 at age 59 sends his band Big Star onto a Billboard album chart for the first time. The group’s “#1 Record/Radio City” debuts at No. 48 on Top Pop Catalog Albums. While many musicians expressed their admiration for the former Box Tops singer/songwriter/guitarist (the band’s “The Letter” reached No. 1 on the Hot 100 in 1967), Billboard reported last week that Chilton’s fandom extended even to the U.S. House of Representatives. On March 18, Congressman Steve Cohen (D) of Tennessee said that Chilton’s work will “live on forever. He is an embodiment of Memphis music: hard, different, independent, brilliant, beautiful. We’re lucky he came our way.”