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Chart Beat Thursday: Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Billie Holiday

Female superstars steal the headlines, including Whitney Houston and the legendary Billie Holiday, each of whom bow on the Billboard 200.

SHE’S GOT THE ‘LOOK’: How long had it been since Whitney Houston presided over the Billboard 200? Until this week, the superstar last led when the soundtrack to the “The Bodyguard,” credited as a Houston album in Billboard’s archives, spent its 20th and final week at No. 1 on the chart dated May 29, 1993. That week, a band called Radiohead made its first career appearance on the Billboard 200 with “Pablo Honey,” Tag Team’s “Whoomp! (There It Is)” was the Hot 100’s Hot Shot Debut and Toby Keith notched his first of 33 career top fives on Country Songs.

This week, Houston returns to the Billboard 200 throne, as “I Look to You” roars in at No. 1. ( Click here for’s analysis of Houston’s hefty sales haul that produced the bow).

“I Look to You” becomes Houston’s fourth No. 1 album. Her fab four are:

“Whitney Houston,” 1986 (14 weeks at No. 1)
“Whitney,” 1987 (11 weeks at No. 1)
“The Bodyguard” 1992-93 (20 weeks at No. 1)
“I Look to You” 2009 (1 week to date at No. 1)

“I Look to You” is Houston’s first No. 1-debuting album since “Whitney” 22 years ago. The latter title was also the first album by a woman to begin at No. 1, arriving atop the Billboard 200 dated June 27, 1987.

Despite her lengthy hiatus from the penthouse, Houston’s standing on the chart stretching to her juggernaut of a debut album remains sterling. Since her first week atop the tally on March 8, 1986, here is a look at the artists to spend the most weeks at No. 1:

51, Garth Brooks
46, Whitney Houston
30, Mariah Carey
22, Eminem
21, M.C. Hammer
21, U2
17, Billy Ray Cyrus
17, Jay-Z
16, Bruce Springsteen
16, Vanilla Ice

On R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, “I Look to You” becomes Houston’s fifth No. 1. She previously reigned with “Whitney Houston” (1985), “I’m Your Baby Tonight” (1990-91), “The Bodyguard” (1992-93) and her soundtrack to “The Preacher’s Wife” (1997).

While Houston starts atop the Billboard 200, she posts a new entry on the Billboard Hot 100 at the anchor spot, as “Million Dollar Bill” cashes in at No. 100. The song is her 39th career Hot 100 entry. The new album’s title cut concurrently jumps from No. 98 to No. 70, granting Houston her highest Hot 100 ranking since “Could I Have This Kiss Forever,” with Enrique Iglesias, peaked at No. 52 in 2000.

Whitney Houston isn’t the only female superstar ascending to notable Hot 100 heights.

After spending four of its prior eight chart weeks, including the last three, at No. 11, Mariah Carey‘s “Obsessed” breaks through the top 10 barrier, rising 11-7.

The track is the Carey’s 27th top 10, lifting her into a three-way tie for fifth-most top 10s since the Hot 100 launched in 1958. She also ties for second-place among women:

37, Madonna
34, The Beatles
28, Michael Jackson
28, Stevie Wonder
27, Mariah Carey
27, Elton John
27, Janet Jackson

“Obsessed” reaches the top 10 thanks to its No. 7 ranking with a bullet on Radio Songs/Hot 100 Airplay and a 12-10 rebound on Digital Songs. With the title’s rise, Carey has now logged time in the top 10 on the Hot 100 in 17 of 20 years since her arrival. Stretching to the bow of “Vision of Love” on the Hot 100 dated June 2, 1990, she’s been absent from the top tier only in 2002, 2004 and 2007.

‘SWEET’ SPOT: Whitney Houston’s chart career began in the ’80s, Mariah Carey’s in the ’90s. Now, how about a diva who soared to solo success this decade?

Beyonce bounces 46-39 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Sweet Dreams.” The song is the sixth top 40 hit from her album “I Am…Sasha Fierce.” The six are, with their peak positions noted:

No. 3, “If I Were a Boy”
No. 1 (four weeks), “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”
No. 19, “Diva”
No. 5, “Halo”
No. 39, “Ego”
No. 39 (to date), “Sweet Dreams”

Beyonce becomes just the fifth female artist in the chart’s history to score at least a six-pack of top 40 titles from one album.

Janet Jackson was the first woman to achieve the honor, with all six singles from “Control” reaching the top 20 in 1986-87. The next two albums Jackson released repeated the impressive six-cess. She garnered seven top 10s from “Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814” in 1989-91 (plus the No. 5-peaking Hot 100 Airplay cut “State of the World,” which did not appear on the Hot 100, as commercially unavailable singles were not then allowed on the latter chart). Jackson added six more top 10s (counting the double-sided “You Want This/70’s Love Groove” as one entry, per Hot 100 rules at the time) from “janet.” in 1993-95.

Following Jackson, Shania Twain posted six top 40 hits from “Come On Over” in 1997-99.

This decade, two women prior to Beyonce accomplished the feat. Rihanna collected seven top 20 hits from “Good Girl Gone Bad” (Billboard counts both the original and “Reloaded” edition of the set as one chart entry). Since last November, Taylor Swift has sent six songs from “Fearless” into the top 20.

TOP HOLIDAY ALBUMS: A discount at Amazon’s MP3 store sends a pioneer woman in American music to her highest-charting album on the Billboard 200 in 36 years.

“The Complete Billie Holiday” bows at No. 122, granting the late jazz legend her highest-ranking set since 1973’s “Strange Fruit” reached No. 108.

The new entry is Holiday’s fifth charted album. She first appeared with “The Billie Holiday Story,” her top-peaking set (No. 85), in 1972. Until this week, she had last charted with “Ken Burns Jazz – The Definitive Billie Holiday” in 2001.

(A singer who enjoyed success alongside Holiday moves into the runner-up spot on U.K. Albums. Dame Vera Lynn races 20-2 on the chart with a compilation released to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II. Lynn is 92 years young).

REVIVAL: As with Holiday, 1973 also figures into the album that starts on the Billboard 200 at No. 24.

A month after Creedence Clearwater Revival notched its highest-charting set on the Billboard 200 since 1973, its frontman bests the peak of his solo debut from the same year with a sequel set. John Fogerty‘s “The Blue Ridge Rangers” reached No. 47 in 36 years ago. This week, the album’s conceptual bookend, “The Blue Ridge Rangers / Rides Again,” arrives 23 spots higher than the peak of its predecessor.

The new release is Fogerty’s eighth straight top 40 album. His current batting streak began with the No. 1 “Centerfield” in 1985.

ALONG COMES MARY MARY: Sister duo Mary Mary earns its second top 10 on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, after waiting out the lengthiest climb to the top tier in the survey’s 67-year history.

“God in Me,” featuring Kierra “Kiki” Sheard, lifts 11-10 in its 42nd week. Its trek passes that of R. Kelly‘s “Step In the Name of Love,” which reached the top 10 in its 36th week in 2003.

“God in Me” is Mary Mary’s second R&B/Hip-Hop Songs top 10, following its No. 9-peaking chart debut “Shackles (Praise You)” in 2000. The twosome is the only gospel act with multiple top 10s on the chart this decade.

On Gospel Songs, “God in Me” leads for a seventh week. The pair had previously ruled with “Heaven” for 15 weeks in 2005.

CHART BEAT BITS: Shannon’s classic “Let the Music Play” finds new life on Dance/Club Play Songs, as Jordin Sparks‘ “S.O.S. (Let the Music Play),” which borrows the original version’s chorus, enters at No. 48. Shannon’s take spent six weeks atop the Dance/Club Play tally in 1983. Sparks’ new single follows the No. 10-peaking Hot 100 hit “Battlefield,” the title cut from her sophomore album …

Breaking Benjamin‘s fifth Hot 100 entry instantly becomes its highest-charting, as “I Will Not Bow” does bow at No. 40. The track, No. 15 on Alternative Songs, debuts at No. 18 on Digital Songs. The quartet releases its fourth studio album, “Dear Agony,” Sept. 29 …

Michael Buble’s new album, “Crazy Love,” doesn’t arrive until Oct. 9, but anticipation for the collection looks strong. The set’s lead single, “Haven’t Met You Yet,” ties Seal’s “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” for the year’s best start (No. 22) on Adult Contemporary. The track also starts at No. 33 on Digital Songs and No. 65 on the Hot 100. Buble tells Billboard that fans should not be surprised by the new song’s uptempo sound, even if many of his previous hits have been traditional ballads. “I grew up in the ’80s,” he says. “I didn’t grow up in the ’30s. I love great melodies – great pop songs” …

History continues to be re-written on the Hot 100. Updates: the Black Eyed Peas extend their record streak to 23 straight weeks at No. 1, while the act’s label, Interscope, pushes its record run among labels to 24 consecutive frames in charge (Lady Gaga‘s Poker Face” began the No. 1 lockdown in April). Concurrently, Jason Mraz‘s “I’m Yours” registers a record-extending 73rd chart week, even bulleting as it rebounds 35-30 …

You’ve known her as Audrey Griswold, Danielle Bowden and Carla Tate, but, this week, actress Juliette Lewis adds a new role: Billboard-charted musician. The film and TV star makes her first appearance on a Billboard music chart, as “Terra Incognita” opens at No. 15 on Heatseekers Albums. Lewis released three albums with her former band the Licks between 2004 and 2006, the last of which featured Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl on drums.