Touch Their Bodies, Eat Their Dust: Two Queens Dethrone The King

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Ed. note: Chris “dennisobell” Molanphy, our resident chart guru, looks at the upward, downward, and lack of movement on this week’s Billboard charts:

So momentous was the news of Mariah Carey’s triumph on the Hot 100 with “Touch My Body” that Billboard leaked it on Wednesday, a day early. Chart freaks talk about acts beating small records all the time. But it’s not every day that someone beats a mark on the all-time list that involves something as iconic as career No. 1 hits. And it’s even rarer when that record is four decades old and involves the King of Rock & Roll.

And hey, Elvis was only ranked second on the list for total No. 1 hits. (He was, until this week, first place among solo acts.) Even sadder for Presley fans, this same week, another lady bests a record he had all to himself–this time, for most Top 10 hits. As “4 Minutes” makes a 65-point leap to No. 3, Madonna pulls out of a tie with the King, leaving him all shook up with 17 No. 1’s and 36 Top 10s, to Carey’s 18 chart-toppers and Madge’s 37 smashes.

There’s no joy in Graceland today. And if you’re near Abbey Road right now, don’t be surprised if folks there look a bit twitchy, too.

As Carey’s “Touch My Body” rises to No. 1, Billboard is already speculating that she will at least tie the Beatles’ all-time record of 20 No. 1 hits before Island Def Jam is even done with her new album.

Two more chart-toppers off E=MC2? It’s fair to discuss, but as mighty as she looks this week, Carey’s not the unwavering hit machine she was a decade ago. Whether she beats the Fabs before 2008 is over will depend on a lot of variables.

As recently as two albums ago, Beatle geeks like me had all but written off this possibility, so deep was Carey’s early-millennium slump. As of 2000, she had stalled at 15 No. 1’s. Then Glitter, um, happened in 2001; and even after IDJ picked up her mangled career a year later, they couldn’t seem to rid her of the stink of failure. 2002’s Charmbracelet produced no Top 40 hits, let alone No. 1’s.

But 2005’s massive, summer-dominating “We Belong Together” changed all that. And by early ’06 she’d tied Presley with a 17th No. 1, “Don’t Forget About Us.” (Carey could have beaten the King right then and there, if the song that came between those two hits, fall 2005’s “Shake It Off,” hadn’t been bested by Kanye West’s “Gold Digger,” which shot to No. 1 the week she was supposed to and held her back at No. 2.)

You can review the complete list of Carey’s No. 1 hits, broken down by album, thanks to this very helpful Idolator commenter. As you see, on each album, when Mariah’s on a roll, her chart-toppers seem to multiply. Not counting the forthcoming album, only two of Carey’s discs have produced a lone No. 1 hit; she usually gets two or more, or none at all. (It could even be argued that the two CDs with a sole chart-topper were aberrations. Her 1991 sophomore album Emotions was clearly released too soon after the first one, a tactical mistake; and 1992’s MTV Unplugged was a live EP, impressive for producing any hits at all.)

Still, the other pattern that emerges is that Carey is long, long past the days when three No. 1s per album were de rigeur. Butterfly (1997), Rainbow (1999), and The Emancipation of Mimi (2005) each produced only two. And that last one is a cheat: IDJ reissued Emancipation in late 2005 with “Don’t Forget About Us” added to it. If they’re going to pull three No 1’s from the new album, they’re going to have to get even luckier than they did in 2005, which was very lucky indeed.

If it seems like the Pop-Industrial Complex is impatient for Carey to take the all-time record this year, it’s probably a bit of longing for the days when the industry spun hits–even forgettable hits, like “Thank God I Found You”–and broke records regularly. Also, and it’s rude of me to bring this up, this will likely be the last studio album Carey releases before she turns 40 in March 2010, and not even L.A. Reid knows how marketable she’ll be in early middle age.

Then again, her fellow Elvis-beater on the charts this week is months away from the half-century mark. So if, like me, you’re futilely hoping Carey doesn’t ever beat the Beatles, let’s at least not be spiteful enough to wish the curse of ageism on her.

Here’s a rundown of the rest of this week’s charts:

• About that 49-year-old Elvis-beater: “4 Minutes” is not just Madonna’s first Top 10 since “Hung Up” in 2005, it’s her biggest hit since “Music” went to No. 1 in the fall of 2000. Apparently, 2000 wasn’t just a start-of-slump year for Carey, because Madge has been stalled at 12 career No. 1’s ever since, tying her in fifth place on the all-time list with the Supremes. If she and new bump-n-grind pal Justin Timberlake can claw their way to No. 1, she’ll move up to fourth, tying Michael Jackson with 13 chart-toppers. But I wouldn’t count on that happening anytime soon: airplay for “4 Minutes” is growing strongly but is a fraction of what “Touch My Body” or Usher’s “Love in This Club” are receiving.

• Last week’s No. 1, Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love,” takes a pretty sizable hit, falling to No. 4. Clearly her Oprah-fueled sales are starting to tail off–digital downloads are down 17% this week–and her airplay still has to catch up. She’ll probably have a bit of a comeback in a couple of weeks, after the album drops and gives the single a pop on iTunes. It’s notable that the song she ousted from No. 1 last week, Usher’s, holds at No. 2 thanks to his strong airplay, while she drops past him. As we say here all the time: sales give you a big hit, but you need airplay to hold onto it.

• Actually, Usher has a pretty good week in general–not only does “Love in This Club” hold at No. 2 on the pop chart amidst the Mariah/Madonna onslaught, it also ascends to No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart, ousting seven-week ruler Keyshia Cole’s “I Remember.”

• This week’s song-booster from the world of TV isn’t Oprah, it’s the Donald. After taking second prize on Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, Trace Adkins has a big week in both sales and airplay. “You’re Gonna Miss This” blasts to No. 12 from No. 40 on the Hot 100, fueled by more than 72,000 downloads; and on the all-airplay Hot Country list, which is unaffected by iTunes sales, Adkins ousts Alan Jackson from No. 1.

• Songs boosted on iTunes thanks to performances on American Idol‘s “Year You Were Born” week: “Billie Jean,” both the original by Michael Jackson (up 24% to 12,800 copies) and the David Cook-bitten cover by Chris Cornell (14,900 copies, its first time on the list); “Alone” by Heart; and “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler (each up nearly 250%, to about 8,000 copies each). We’re pretty sure that the obscure, cruise-ship-quality David Foster tune sung by David Archuleta is out of print; otherwise, God only knows how many doting grandmas would’ve downloaded it…

• The top debut on the Hot 100, based entirely on iTunes downloads, is Fall Out Boy’s cover of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” which features everyone’s favorite we-like-you-but-not-your-schlocky-music guest star, John Mayer, on guitar. Debuting on iTunes just ahead of the band’s wittily-titled live album ****: Live in Phoenix, the track sold 88,000 downloads in its first week. Expect it to drop back next week, now that the initial wave of FOB fans have purchased it–but the forthcoming release of a music video might fuel a comeback in a few weeks, once the TRL set starts voting for it in droves. Then we’ll have to see if it can eventually outdistance the No. 12 peak of the all-time greatest version of “Beat It.”

Top 10s Last week’s position and total weeks charted in parentheses:

Hot 100 1. Mariah Carey, “Touch My Body” (LW No. 15, 7 weeks) 2. Usher feat. Young Jeezy, “Love in This Club” (LW No. 2, 7 weeks) 3. Madonna feat. Justin Timberlake, “4 Minutes” (LW No. 68, 2 weeks) 4. Leona Lewis, “Bleeding Love” (LW No. 1, 7 weeks) 5. Jordin Sparks with Chris Brown, “No Air” (LW No. 6, 13 weeks) 6. Ray J & Yung Berg, “Sexy Can I” (LW No. 3, 9 weeks) 7. Lil Wayne feat. Static Major, “Lollipop” (LW No. 9, 3 weeks) 8. Chris Brown, “With You” (LW No. 4, 18 weeks) 9. Sara Bareilles, “Love Song” (LW No. 5, 22 weeks) 10. Flo Rida feat. T-Pain, “Low” (LW No. 7, 23 weeks)

Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 1. Usher feat. Young Jeezy, “Love in This Club” (LW No. 2, 8 weeks) 2. Keyshia Cole, “I Remember” (LW No. 1, 22 weeks) 3. Mariah Carey, “Touch My Body” (LW No. 8, 8 weeks) 4. Ray J & Yung Berg, “Sexy Can I” (LW No. 5, 12 weeks) 5. The-Dream, “Falsetto” (LW No. 3, 17 weeks) 6. Alicia Keys, “Like You’ll Never See Me Again” (LW No. 4, 23 weeks) 7. Mario, “Crying Out for Me” (LW No. 6, 31 weeks) 8. J. Holiday, “Suffocate” (LW No. 7, 26 weeks) 9. Mary J. Blige, “Just Fine” (LW No. 9, 27 weeks) 10. Chris Brown, “With You” (LW No. 10, 18 weeks)

Hot Country Songs 1. Trace Adkins, “You’re Gonna Miss This” (LW No. 2, 17 weeks) 2. George Strait, “I Saw God Today” (LW No. 4, 8 weeks) 3. Chris Cagle, “What Kinda Gone” (LW No. 3, 37 weeks) 4. Alan Jackson, “Small Town Southern Man” (LW No. 1, 21 weeks) 5. James Otto, “Just Got Started Lovin’ You” (LW No. 6, 24 weeks) 6. Jason Aldean, “Laughed Until We Cried” (LW No. 8, 34 weeks) 7. Taylor Swift, “Picture to Burn” (LW No. 9, 12 weeks) 8. Rodney Atkins, “Cleaning This Gun (Come on in Boy)” (LW No. 7, 28 weeks) 9. Carrie Underwood, “All-American Girl” (LW No. 5, 18 weeks) 10. Phil Vassar, “Love Is A Beautiful Thing” (LW No. 10, 22 weeks)

Hot Modern Rock Tracks 1. Foo Fighters, “Long Road to Ruin” (LW No. 1, 23 weeks) 2. Puddle of Mudd, “Psycho” (LW No. 2, 22 weeks) 3. Atreyu, “Falling Down” (LW No. 5, 10 weeks) 4. Seether, “Rise Above This” (LW No. 6, 6 weeks) 5. The Bravery, “Believe” (LW No. 4, 26 weeks) 6. Linkin Park, “Shadow of the Day” (LW No. 3, 26 weeks) 7. 3 Doors Down, “It’s Not My Time” (LW No. 10, 6 weeks) 8. Foo Fighters, “The Pretender” (LW No. 8, 35 weeks) 9. Seether, “Fake It” (LW No. 7, 31 weeks) 10. Panic at the Disco, “Nine in the Afternoon” (LW No. 12, 9 weeks)