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TV On The Radio: Before There Was ‘Glee’ …

As the "Glee" cast preps for a grade-A performance on this week's Billboard 200, Chart Beat looks at other musically-inclined TV shows.

As far as we know, the only class taught at William McKinley High School is Spanish.

Between show choir, cheerleading and football practice (and the occasional slushie in the face), there’s not much time for other subjects.

A quick history lesson, then, as the success of the “Glee” cast pertains to Billboard charts. With the Fox series’ third soundtrack, “Glee: the Music, the Power of Madonna,” set to storm this week’s Billboard 200 album chart, here is a look at previous acts that have blurred TV with music and risen to the head of the class on Billboard surveys.

The Monkees
Chosen from among 400 applicants, the quartet instantly dominated the Billboard 200, reigning with its first four albums for a total of 37 weeks. The Monkees enjoyed six Billboard Hot 100 top 10s, including the No. 1s “Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m a Believer” and “Daydream Believer,” between 1966 and 1968. A 20th anniversary reunion in 1986 proved the series’ everlasting appeal and produced the No. 20 Hot 100 hit “That Was Then, This Is Now.”

The Archies
The cartoon garage band of Archie, Reggie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica (and Hot Dog) faired quite well in the real world, topping the Hot 100 with “Sugar, Sugar” for four weeks in 1969. Follow-up “Jingle Jangle” reached No. 10 in 1970, after “The Archie Show” had wrapped its memorable 17-episode run as a Saturday morning series on CBS.

Sesame Street

“The Sesame Street Book & Record” peaked at No. 23 on the Billboard 200 in 1970 and won a Grammy Award for best children’s album. Ernie enjoyed sud-cess with the No. 16 Hot 100 hit, “Rubber Duckie,” and, in 1979, multi-tasking “Sesame Street” spinoff favorite Kermit the Frog waded to No. 25 with “Rainbow Connection” from “The Muppet Movie.” Smart E’s’ inventive “Sesame’s Treet,” a remix of the show’s iconic theme song, reached No. 20 on Dance/Club Play Songs and No. 60 on the Hot 100 in 1992.

The Partridge Family
“I Think I Love You” topped the Hot 100 for three weeks in 1970, marking the first of seven hits for the ABC TV family. The group also placed seven albums on the Billboard 200 from 1970 to 1973. As a solo act, David Cassidy has inked four charted albums, most recently spending a week at No. 147 with “Then and Now” in 2002.

The Brady Bunch
Before Greg tried on, and promptly ditched, the Johnny Bravo suit, he and his five siblings reached No. 108 on the Billboard 200 with “Meet the Brady Bunch.” The album included a pair of classics from the series: “Time to Change” and “We Can Make the World a Whole Lot Brighter.” In 1995, the soundtrack to “The Brady Bunch Movie” (featuring a grunge-infused update of “Girl” by Davy Jones) peaked at No. 138.

Blues Brothers
Originally a “Saturday Night Live” skit for John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, the pair ruled the Billboard 200 in 1979 with “Briefcase Full of Blues,” and the TV/movie franchise produced four more charted titles through 1998. On the Hot 100, the duo reached the top 20 with “Soul Man” (No. 14) in 1979 and “Gimme Some Lovin’ ” (No. 18) in 1980.

The Dukes of Hazzard
The Duke boys could steer a song up the charts pretty fast, too. John Schneider placed 17 songs on Country Songs between 1981 and 1987, including four No. 1s and the No. 13-peaking ode to his biggest role, as Bo Duke, “Them Good Ol’ Boys Are Bad.” His TV cousin Luke, aka Tom Wopat, scored 10 Country Songs entries from 1986 to 1991. After Waylon Jennings‘ “Theme From the Dukes of Hazzard (Good Ol’ Boys)” topped Country Songs in 1980, the cast released a soundtrack to the series. The set featured a tribute to perhaps the show’s biggest star, Johnny Cash’s No. 26 Country Songs hit, “The General Lee.”

Miami Vice
The action adventure series’ soundtrack topped the Billboard 200, and Jan Hammer’s theme song led the Hot 100 in 1985. A year later, Don Johnson, like his character’s wardrobe, shone brightly on the Hot 100, peaking at No. 5 with “Heartbeat.”

DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
The pair pocketed four Hot 100 hits in 1988-89, led by the No. 12 pop/rap classic “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” It was Will Smith‘s segue to acting, however, that has defined his legacy. “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” aired on NBC from 1990 to 1996, after which Smith became a multi-media titan. In addition to receiving two Academy Award nominations, he’s ruled the Hot 100 with “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” in 1998 and “Wild Wild West” in 1999.

The Simpsons
The family’s stamp on pop culture over the last 20 years includes three trips up the Billboard 200, led by “The Simpsons Sing the Blues,” which reached No. 3 in 1991. In 2007, the soundtrack to “The Simpsons Movie” peaked at No. 108 on the Billboard 200 and No. 8 on the Soundtracks survey. (Despite Lisa’s musical leanings, the album did not appear on any Billboard jazz charts …)

Guys Next Door
After the overwhelming domination of New Kids on the Block, NBC created a Saturday morning comedy/music series focusing on a similarly-styled boy band quintet. Signed to SBK/EMI Records, Guys Next Door reached No. 42 on the Hot 100 with the melodic pop ballad “I’ve Been Waiting for You.”The Heights
Back when several members of the “Glee” cast were taking their musical cues from the likes of Raffi and Elmo instead of Will Schuester, Fox briefly aired another high school-based series with a musical bent. “The Heights” premiered Aug. 27, 1992. When the last episode aired on Nov. 26, 1992, the show’s theme, “How Do You Talk to an Angel,” was spending its second week atop the Hot 100. The cast’s Jamie Walters added the No. 16-peaking solo hit “Hold On” in 1995.

South Park
Comedy Central’s signature series has yielded a Cartman-sized number of musical moments meant to entertain and/or offend. “Chef Aid: the South Park Album,” featuring guest turns from DMX, Elton John and Ozzy Osbourne, rose to No. 16 on the Billboard 200 in 1998. A year later, the soundtrack “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut,” featuring the Oscar-nominated “Blame Canada,” peaked at No. 28.

Making the Band
Since the reality series’ launch in 2000, multiple acts have translated their TV exposure into chart success. O-Town earned two Hot 100 top 10s in 2001, including the No. 3 “All or Nothing”; Bad Boy’s Da Band reached No. 15 on R&B/Hip-Hop Songs with “Bad Boy This Bad Boy That” in 2003; and, Danity Kane collected Hot 100 top 10s with “Show Stopper” (No. 8) in 2006 and “Damaged” (No. 10) in 2008.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Series creator Joss Whedon combined his passions for screenwriting and show tunes, and a fan favorite 2001 episode saw Sunnydale residents spontaneously bursting into song under the spell of a music-loving demon. The soundtrack “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More, With Feeling,” featuring vocals from many of the show’s stars, including Sarah Michelle Gellar, reached No. 49 on the Billboard 200 in 2002. The 2007 “Scrubs” episode “My Musical” similarly sported cast numbers, including the bromantic “Guy Love” from Zach Braff and Donald Faison.

American Idol
Since 2002, 12 contestants have graduated into the top 10 on the Hot 100, accounting for 27 top 10s, including six No. 1s. 2005 queen Carrie Underwood stands as the best-selling former “American Idol” finalist, having sold 11.5 million albums in the U.S. to-date, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Original champion Kelly Clarkson ranks second with U.S. album sales of 10.6 million since winning the series’ first competition in 2002, ushering in TV’s top-rated program and a new way for fans to interactively discover and support new superstars.

Nashville Star
The country cousin of “American Idol” ran for six seasons from 2003 to 2008. Miranda Lambert, who placed third in the show’s initial season, is one of four acts since SoundScan data began powering Country Albums in 1991 to bow atop the chart with their first three entries. 2003 victor Buddy Jewell led Country Albums with his eponymous debut, and 2006 winner Chris Young reigned on Country Songs with “Gettin’ You Home” last October.

Family Guy
The series’ cast reached No. 105 on the Billboard 200 in 2005 with “Family Guy: Live in Vegas,” a mock-live recording featuring guest appearances from Jason Alexander, Haylie Duff and Patti LuPone. After Peter Griffin incessantly sang the Trashmen’s 1964 smash “Surfin’ Bird” in a 2008 episode, the original soared from 2,000 to 11,000 in weekly digital download sales, according to SoundScan.

Jonas Brothers, Hannah Montana
Disney’s chart domination this decade has also included such stars as “iCarly” lead Miranda Cosgrove and “Wizards of Waverly Place” actress Selena Gomez. The Jonas Brothers have led the Billboard 200 with “A Little Bit Longer” in 2008 and “Lines, Vines and Trying Times” last July, with the trio’s album haul at 4.3 million, according to SoundScan. Miley Cyrus, her TV rock star alter ego and related “Hannah Montana” soundtracks have accounted for four Billboard 200 No. 1s and album sales of 13.2 million.

Band From TV
The TV supergroup, led by Dr. Greg House/Hugh Laurie, peaked at No. 10 on Heatseekers Albums in November with “Hogging All the Covers.” Best of all, the band, also featuring James Denton, Teri Hatcher and fellow “House, M.D.” actor Jesse Spencer, has donated proceeds from the album, and from its live performances, to various charities.

The series’ cast, including the New Directions glee club, its leader Matthew Morrison and such guests as Kristin Chenoweth, has sent 29 entries onto the Hot 100 since June 6, 2009. Its 25 charted titles in 2009 were the most by an act in a year since the Beatles racked 31 entries in 1964. “Glee: Season One: the Music Volume 1” reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200, and the second edition peaked at No. 3. The franchise has sold 1.4 million albums and 5 million digital downloads through the week ending April 18, according to SoundScan.