August 28, 2009

History Making All Over Billboard This Week

IF YOU SEE HER (SHE'S PROBABLY AT NO. 1): Billboard's Country Albums chart first appeared in the magazine issue dated Jan. 11, 1964, and this week, the 45-year-old survey coronates a new queen.

Reba McEntire claims her 11th No. 1 on Country Albums, "Keep On Loving You" (her first collection credited to her shortened Reba moniker), breaking a tie with Loretta Lynn for most No. 1s by a solo female in the chart's history. Dolly Parton ranks third among women with six No. 1s. Lynn accumulated 10 leaders between 1966 and 1976. McEntire began her journey to the all-time mark when "Whoever's in New England" became her first No. 1 on May 24, 1986.

Here is a recap of McEntire's toppers on Country Albums:

1986, "Whoever's In New England" (one week)
1987, "What Am I Gonna Do About You" (three weeks)
1988, "Reba" (eight weeks)
1989, "Sweet Sixteen" (13 weeks)
1993, "It's Your Call" (one week)
1994, "Greatest Hits Volume Two" (one week)
1995, "Starting Over" (two weeks)
1996, "What If It's You" (one week)
2001, "Greatest Hits Volume III - I'm a Survivor" (one week)
2007, "Reba Duets" (one week)
2009, "Keep On Loving You" (one week to date)

Reba's new release, her first on Valory Music after more than two decades recording for MCA Nashville, tops the tally a week after George Strait solidified his perch as the chart's leader among all artists with 23 No. 1s, as noted in last Thursday's Chart Beat.

Reba's new album also tops the Billboard 200, marking her second champ following "Reba Duets," as did Strait's "Twang" last week and Sugarland's "LIVE on the Inside" two weeks ago. That trio of albums combines to make chart history: never before in the 53-year history of the Billboard 200 had three country acts reigned consecutively over three weeks. (Earlier this year, three albums featuring country music did lead in a span of three weeks, although they were not credited to three individual artists. On April 18, Keith Urban's "Defying Gravity" ruled, followed by Rascal Flatts' "Unstoppable" the next week. On the May 2 chart, the multi-artist soundtrack "Hannah Montana: the Movie" entered at No. 1. The set features country acts including Rascal Flatts and Taylor Swift).

For more on McEntire, click here to view Billboard's recent exclusive video interview with the iconic star.

'FEELING' LIKE THE 21ST TIME: How do you follow a frame in which you set the record for most consecutive weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100? If you're the Black Eyed Peas, you head back to the record books.

The Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" leads the Hot 100 for a ninth week, a reign that directly follows its 12-week stay on top with "Boom Boom Pow." Last week, a 20th straight week at No. 1 lifted the group past Usher for most weeks in-a-row atop the chart.

One feat not bested last week, however, was the record for most consecutive stanzas spent in charge of the Hot 100 for a record label. This week, the Peas parent label, Interscope, ties that milestone mark.

Only once before had a label led on 21 straight Hot 100 charts, and to find out when, we have to go back to when each of the four Peas had barely sprouted ( was born in 1974; Fergie, Taboo and were each born in 1975). From Dec. 24, 1977 through May 13, 1978, Australian music mogul Robert Stigwood's RSO label topped the Hot 100 with six songs in-a-row for a total of 21 consecutive weeks:

"How Deep Is Your Love," Bee Gees (three weeks)
"Baby Come Back," Player (three weeks)
"Stayin' Alive," Bee Gees (four weeks)
"(Love Is) Thicker Than Water," Andy Gibb (two weeks)
"Night Fever," Bee Gees (eight weeks)
"If I Can't Have You," Yvonne Elliman (one week)

RSO's lock on the lead was broken on May 20, 1978, when Wings' "With a Little Luck," on Capitol, dethroned Elliman's hit. (Despite finally ceding the summit, RSO was not gone from the chart's top spot for long. After two weeks at No. 1 for Wings and a week at No. 1 for Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams' "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late," on Columbia, RSO led again from June 10 through July 29, 1978, with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John's "You're the One That I Want" (one week) and Andy Gibb's "Shadow Dancing" (seven weeks)).

Since RSO's 21-week run, two other labels could have overtaken the record had they not been interrupted for a single week each amidst lengthy reigns.

In 1995-96, Columbia led the Hot 100 for 24 of 25 weeks. Between the rules of Mariah Carey's "Fantasy" (eight weeks) and Carey and Boyz II Men's "One Sweet Day" (16 weeks, the most any title has led the chart), Arista led on Nov. 25, 1995, when Whitney Houston's "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" debuted at No. 1.

In 2003-04, Zomba held the No. 1 spot for 29 of 30 weeks with four singles by two acts on its LaFace imprint: OutKast's "Hey Ya!" (nine weeks) and "The Way You Move" (one week) and Usher's "Yeah!" (12 weeks) and "Burn" (seven weeks). The command was temporarily halted on the Feb. 21, 2004, chart, when Twista's "Slow Jamz," on Atlantic, led for one week.

(Special thanks to Chart Beat reader Andy Leon of Ruskin, Florida, who first pointed out Interscope's impending record in an e-mail last week).

MORE 'YOURS': In addition to the Black Eyed Peas making Billboard Hot 100 history last week, Jason Mraz did, as well, when "I'm Yours" logged a chart-best 70th week, passing the 69-week stay of LeAnn Rimes' "How Do I Live."

Going forward, the record for longest Hot 100 chart life will continue to be re-written as long as "I'm Yours" remains on the list, and that could be for awhile. This week, the song, a lofty No. 2 on Adult Contemporary, ranks at No. 32 on the Hot 100 in its record-extending 71st chart week.

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