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Elton John adds country feather to cap

July 29, 2005

By Fred Bronson

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) – It was just a couple of weeks ago
that Elton John generated chart news by scoring two
simultaneous top five singles in the U.K.

This week Elton adds another first-time accomplishment to
his long list of chart achievements by making his initial
appearance on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. It’s a case
of a Brit helping a Britt.

On one of his tours of Australia, Elton heard a recording
by a teenaged singer from Newcastle, Catherine Britt, and
invited her to one of his shows in Sydney. Backstage after the
show, he asked if she was interested in signing with an
American record label. Britt told Elton she didn’t have any
contacts in the United States and didn’t know where to start.
The next day, thanks to Elton, she had three label offers and
within a week she was in Nashville, signing with RCA.

Britt made her debut on the Hot Country Songs list with
“The Upside of Being Down,” which opened at No. 57 the week of
Aug. 14, 2004, and peaked at No. 36 the week of Nov. 13. Now
20, she sees her second chart entry, a duet with Elton on
“Where We Both Say Goodbye,” opening at No. 49.

While this marks Elton’s first appearance on the country
chart as an artist, he has previously been listed on the survey
as a songwriter. Coincidentally, Tim McGraw’s version of “Tiny
Dancer” peaked at No. 49, the week of Feb. 15, 2003.

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Tim McGraw generates chart news of his own, with the 12-8
move of “Do You Want Fries With That” (Curb) on Billboard’s Hot
Country Songs chart. “Fries’ is McGraw’s 35th top 10 on this
tally, good enough for fourth place among artists with the most
top 10 country songs in the last 15 years, the time the chart
has been compiled from airplay data collected by Nielsen
Broadcast Data Systems.

The top four are: George Strait (46), Alan Jackson (45),
Brooks and Dunn (36) and McGraw. Just counting top 10 hits in
this decade, “Fries” moves McGraw out in front with 17,
surpassing Toby Keith (16).

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It turns out that “We Belong Together” (Island) isn’t just
a “comeback” for Mariah Carey, it’s the second longest-running
No. 1 of her career on the Billboard Hot 100. The title is
runner-up only to “One Sweet Day,” the single she recorded with
Boyz II Men that set a rock-era record by remaining in pole
position for 16 weeks.

Hitting the nine-week mark, “We Belong Together” surpasses
the eight-week reigns of “Dreamlover” in 1993 and “Fantasy” in
1995. Thanks to “Together,” Carey has now accumulated 70 weeks
at No. 1, the second-highest total in the rock era.

Once comfortably ahead, Elvis Presley’s total of 79 weeks
seems vulnerable to a challenge from Carey next time she earns
a No. 1 hit.

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Carly Simon rewrites her own chart history with the debut
of her new album on The Billboard 200. “Moonlight Serenade”
(Columbia) bows at No. 7 and is instantly the highest-debuting
album of Simon’s career, as well as her third highest-charting
title behind “No Secrets” (No. 1 in 1973) and “Hotcakes” (No. 3
in 1974). “Moonlight Serenade” is Simon’s first top 10 album
since “Boys in the Trees” peaked at No. 10 in 1978.

A collection of standards, “Moonlight Serenade” marks
Simon’s debut on the Columbia imprint. Most of her albums were
recorded for the Elektra, Warner Bros. and Arista labels, but
Simon did have one release on Columbia’s sister label, Epic.
“Spoiled Girl” peaked at No. 88 exactly 20 years ago.

Simon made her debut on the album chart the week of April
24, 1971, with a self-titled LP. With the entrance of
“Moonlight Serenade,” Simon’s chart span is extended to 34
years, three months and two weeks.

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Kelly Clarkson reasserts her dominance on Billboard’s Adult
Contemporary chart. After a one-week gap in which Michael
Buble’s “Home” (143/Reprise) moved to the head of the class,
“Breakaway” (Walt Disney/Hollywood) is back on top, for a 21st
week at No. 1.

That ties Clarkson’s “Breakaway” with Celine Dion’s “A New
Day Has Come” as the longest-running AC chart-topper by a
female artist. “Breakaway” and “A New Day Has Come” are also
tied as the second-longest AC No. 1s of all time, behind the
28-week run of “Drift Away” by Uncle Kracker featuring Dobie
Gray.

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British composer John Barry, most famous for scoring many
James Bond movies and writing the secret agent’s main theme, is
enjoying one of his biggest hits in years, thanks to Kanye
West. The Chicago rapper’s “Diamonds from Sierra Leone”
(Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam), which races 69-43, samples Shirley
Bassey’s “Diamonds Are Forever,” one of Barry’s Bond title
songs. Bassey’s single peaked at No. 57 in 1972, which means
West’s “Sierra Leone” is already a higher-charting hit.

The lyricist on “Diamonds Are Forever” is also credited on
the West single. If “Sierra Leone” can reach the top, it would
be the third No. 1 hit for songwriter Don Black, following
Lulu’s “To Sir With Love” in 1967 and Michael Jackson’s “Ben”
in 1972.

Reuters/Billboard




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