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Weekly Chart Notes: INXS, Britney Spears, Elton John

WIth a special guest on lead vocals, the Australian rockers return their first Dance/Club Play Songs entry from 1984 to the survey.

WE LOVE THE ’80s, PART 1: INXS returns to Billboard’s Dance/Club Play Songs chart, as “Original Sin,” featuring Rob Thomas, opens at No. 48.

The song bookends the band’s Dance/Club Play Songs discography, as the original “Original Sin” introduced the group to the chart the week of March 17, 1984, and peaked at No. 13. The venerable Australian band had last appeared on the survey with an update of another of its classics, “Need You Tonight (Remixes),” which reached No. 16 in 2006.

Singing the title cut, Thomas contributes to an impressive guest list on INXS’ 12th studio album, on which the band reinvents its songbook with outside vocalists. Ben Harper fronts the group on “Never Tear Us Apart” and “Devil Inside,” Nos. 7 and 2 Billboard Hot 100 hits, respectively, in 1988, and Train‘s Pat Monahan sings on “Beautiful Girl,” which reached No. 24 on Pop Songs in 1993.

J.D. Fortune, who assumed lead vocals for the band after winning the CBS reality series “Rock Star: INXS” in 2005, takes the mic on the new set’s two closing songs, “The Stairs” and “Love Is.”

“We’ve re-invented these songs. Some have been done by an orchestra, some (are) stripped down and some tracks may take you (awhile) to recognize” the band’s Jon Farriss said upon the album’s release last fall.

“We wanted to celebrate the songs,” added INXS drummer Jon Farriss, lauding the writing of Andrew Farriss and the vocals of the late Michael Hutchence. “I think initially there was a mixed bag of emotions and feelings, which was probably a good thing because we realized how much the songs meant to us.

“At the end, we started to realize that this is actually cathartic for us and it might be for everyone else, as well.”

A mainstay on Billboard’s Adult Pop Songs chart, where he has tallied the most visits to No. 1 (four fronting Matchbox Twenty’s and four as a solo artist), Thomas had reigned with his lone prior appearance on Dance/Club Songs, “Lonely No More,” which led the June 25, 2005, chart. Matchbox Twenty‘s one chart entry to-date, “How Far We’ve Come,” climbed to No. 8 in 2008.

INXS has charted 12 tracks on Dance/Club Play Songs. It rose highest with the original version of “Need You Tonight” (No. 7) in 1988.

WE LOVE THE ’80s, PART 2: In addition to INXS, a fellow late ’80s chart juggernaut returns to a Billboard ranking.

slithers onto the Billboard 200 at No. 49 with “Forevermore,” the band’s 11th studio album.

The rank represents the band’s highest on the Billboard 200 in exactly 21 years. This week in 1990, the group’s “Slip of the Tongue” descended 38-43 after reaching a peak of No. 10.

Whitesnake posted its highest placement (No. 2) on the Billboard 200 with its self-titled album in 1987. The set yielded the Hot 100 No. 1 “Here I Go Again” and the No. 2 power ballad “Is This Love.”

(Another veteran rock group is enjoying a chart rejuvenation. The Cars jump 17-15 on the Triple A adult alternative airplay tally with “Sad Song.” The track previews the reunited band’s May 10 album “Move Like This,” its first studio release since 1987).

SIX-CESS: Britney Spears collects her sixth No. 1 on the Billboard 200, as “Femme Fatale” storms the summit.

As previously reported, Spears ties Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson for third-most No. 1s among women. Only Barbra Streisand (nine) and Madonna (seven) have earned more leaders since the list launched as a weekly chart March 24, 1956.

Dating to her first stay in the penthouse the week of Jan. 30, 1999, when her debut album, “…Baby One More Time,” opened at No. 1, Spears is tied for second-most Billboard 200 toppers among all artists:

10, Jay-Z
6, Kenny Chesney
6, Eminem
6, Britney Spears
5, R. Kelly

As her “Femme Fatale” charges in atop the Billboard 200, the set’s second single, “Till the World Ends,” bounds 22-13 on the Hot 100, approaching its peak to-date of No. 9 three weeks ago. The song lifts 18-15 on Digital Songs and 26-19 on Radio Songs.

Prior single “Hold It Against Me,” which topped the Hot 100 in its debut week Jan. 29, dips 52-75 in its 12th week, marking a now-rare occurrence.

Since Taylor Hicks‘ former leader “Do I Make You Proud” wrapped an eight-week chart run at No. 98 the week of Aug. 19, 2006, just two Hot 100 No. 1s have fallen below No. 50 … and both belong to Spears.

(Songs are removed from the Hot 100 after 20 weeks once ranking below No. 50. Of the 72 No. 1s after “Proud,” 26, in fact, have logged at least 30 chart weeks before departing from the chart’s upper half).

Prior to “Hold It Against Me,” Spears’ “3” spent that many weeks below No. 50 to close out its Hot 100 run (at Nos. 53, 63 and 72) last year.

The Hot 100 histories of “Hold” and “3,” the latter of which also debuted at No. 1, suggest that their initial high levels of attention may have ultimately damaged their potential chart longevity.

While they may have burned too fast to last, both former leaders have totaled impressive digital sales. “3” has sold 2.1 million downloads and “Hold,” 1.2 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

FEELING THE LOVE: Following the spotlight of his songs infusing “American Idol” last Wednesday and Thursday (March 30, 31) and his turn as host and musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” (April 2), Elton John music rockets up multiple Billboard charts.

“Rocket Man: Number Ones” re-enters Catalog Albums at No. 1, the 2007 set’s first frame at the summit among its 34 weeks on the chart.

John had last boasted the top catalog collection when his “Greatest Hits” topped the Oct. 25, 1997, tally. That week, John’s Princess Diana tribute “Candle in the Wind,” backed with “Something About the Way You Look Tonight,” spent its second of 14 weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100.

After “Idol” contestants performed the classics Wednesday, John’s original versions of “Bennie and the Jets” (as interpreted by Haley Reinhart) and “Rocket Man” (Paul McDonald) debut on Rock Digital Songs at Nos. 16 and 19, respectively, and “Tiny Dancer” (Stefano Langone) re-enters at No. 19.

MEDICAL CHARTS: The cast of “Grey’s Anatomy” debuts on the Billboard 200 at No. 24 with the soundtrack to its March 31 special musical episode. Cast member Sara Ramirez concurrently bows on the Hot 100 at No. 69 with her cover of Brandi Carlisle‘s “The Story” (besting the No. 75 peak of the original version of the folk/pop song in 2007).

Ramirez’s own self-titled EP also starts in the Billboard 200 at No. 37.

The “Grey’s Anatomy” actors-turned-singers (more used to medical than musical instruments) aren’t the first primetime TV stars not known for regularly bursting into song to reach a Billboard chart courtesy of an episode showcasing their vocal talents.

In 2002, the cast of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” provided vocals for the series’ musical episode “Once More, With Feeling” (in which a demon causes its residents to spontaneously sing. And combust).

The episode’s melodic soundtrack, composed by “Buffy” creator Joss Whedon, staked out a No. 49 Billboard 200 peak.