Thursday, May 03, 2007

Billboard Hot 100, May 12, 2007

What an exciting week for Hot 100 chart watchers. This week's top 10 includes not one but two major chart rarities, including a new record. Four singles move into the top 10 this week--two of which make their Hot 100 debut within the top 10. While top 10 debuts have occurred periodically since 1995, This is only the second time in which there were two. Also, the record held by Kelly Clarkson until today for the biggest leap to #1 is broken by...

1. Makes Me Wonder - Maroon 5

Maroon 5 climbs a record 63 spots this week to claim their first #1 Hot 100 single. "Makes Me Wonder" is the band's first single from their forthcoming second album It Won't Be Soon Before Long, a fantastic funk/rock pop song--something Jamiroquai in his heyday would have killed to come up with. The single is the band's 5th top 40 hit and 3rd top 10. In 2004, they hit #5 with two major hit singles, "This Love" and "She Will Be Loved," both of which topped the airplay top 40 chart.

The 63 spot jump to #1 breaks a record held for the last 5 years by Kelly Clarkson, who lept from #52 to #1 with "A Moment Like This," her debut single released soon after her victory as the first American Idol winner. The previous record holder was The Beatles, who lept from #27 to #1 with "Can't Buy Me Love" in 1964.

5. Because of You - Ne-Yo

Ne-Yo makes a 34-spot jump with "Because fo You," the first signle from his second album of the same name, released last Monday. The song has been drawing comparisons to Thriller-era Michael Jackson. Ne-Yo scored three top 40 hits from his first album, including his #1 debut single "So Sick."

6. I'll Stand By You - Carrie Underwood
8. Never Again - Kelly Clarkson

Here's the other big chart news of the week, and it doesn't get any more perfect than this. Top 10 debuts have been a fairly common event since 1995, when record companies realized they could delay the sales release of singles from big-name acts a few weeks while their airplay built up and then push the single into the market during peak airplay to score headling-grabbing debuts. Michael Jackson's "Scream" was the first of such top 10 debuts, landing at its peak position of #5 in its first week. His next single, "You Are Not Alone," became the first in a string of #1 debuts, followed closely by Mariah Carey's "Fantasy" and "One Sweet Day" and Whitney Houston's "Exhale."

The phenomenon has been fueled again by two forces--perhaps the two most powerful forces in pop music today. First there's iTunes, which provides such an easy venue for the promotion and purchase of new singles by big artists in a single's first week of release that it's easy to see a chart connection between the two. Second there's American Idol. In four out of the show's five year's the winner or runner-up has debuted at #1 with their first single. Kelly Clarkson missed out on this with "A Moment Like This" only because the song was getting a good dose of airplay the week before it was released, but of course, this gave it the above-mentioned record chart leap from #52 to #1. All the other singles had poor airplay, but fantastic sales, making instant #1 hits for Clay Aiken ("This Is The Night"), Fantasia ("I Believe"), Carrie Underwood ("Inside Your Heaven"), and Taylor Hicks ("Do I Make You Proud").

This week then we have a double confluence of these two forces, creating yet another chart rarity. This is only the second instance I know of where two singles have debuted in the top 10 in the same week, the first being the week in 2003 where Clay Aiken debuted at #1 and Ruben Studdard at #2. American Idol's two hottest alumni are easily Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. Both are multiple Grammy winners with crossover appeal. Clarkson's had numerous top 10 and #1 pop hits, Underwood has topped the country chart and has a big crossover pop single ("Before He Cheats") at the moment. Clarkson is an international star. Both move albums like no other current pop act.

"I'll Stand By You" by Underwood debuts this week at #6, her second top 10 hit. The remake of the Pretenders '90s hit is a tie-in to last week's American Idol "Idol Gives Back" special, and proceeds from the sale of the single (available with prominent promotion from iTunes) go to charity. It's a worthy remake, superior to the 2004 effort from Girls Aloud, a charity single in Britain. "Never Again" by Kelly Clarkson debuts at #8. It is the first single from her forthcoming third album, My December, set for release next month. This is Clarkson's 7th top 10 hit.

22. Summer Love - Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake's fourth FutureSex/LoveSounds Single, "Summer Love" makes a 12-spot jump to #22. His previous single, former #1 "What Goes Around...Comes Around" does nearly the reverse, falling from #24 to #33. Timberlake is also in the top 10 at #3 (down 1) with Timbaland and Nelly Furtado and their former #1 hit "Give It To Me."

28. Icky Thump - The White Stripes

Another iTunes benefactor, The White Stripes, debuts on the Hot 100 at #28, fueled by strong first-week sales. This is, shockingly, the first top 40 from the band, who have been a critics favorite and an indie darling, particularly for their fourth album Elephant from 2003. "Icky Thump" is the title track from the band's forthcoming sixth album, due in June.

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