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'American Idol' on the Charts: Carrie Underwood Notches Impressive 65th No. 1

"Blown Away" leads two country airplay lists, but the season four winner still trails Kelly Clarkson in total career chart-toppers. Also: Phillip Phillips' "Home" is officially a Modern Rock hit.

Carrie Underwood Live by Matthew Sperling P 2012
Matthew Sperling

BLOWING UP: Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” has an exceptional week, thundering to pole position on the Country Airplay and Country Airplay Detections charts. This brings her total of Billboard No. 1s to 65, second among all Idols only to Kelly Clarkson, who has amassed 79 chart-toppers in 10 years.

These two new No. 1s mark the first time the single “Blown Away” has topped a Billboard chart. The parent album has been No. 1 on four Billboard lists: The Billboard 200, Top Country Albums, Top Digital Albums and Top Current Albums.

Last week, Billboard changed methodology on a few charts, including Hot Country Songs. That tally now includes digital sales and streaming data. Formerly, it was purely based on airplay, which means “Blown Away” would now be No. 1 on Hot Country Songs if the rules hadn’t changed. With sales and streaming included, Taylor Swift is leading the Hot Country Songs list and Underwood is up 3-2 with a bullet with “Blown Away.”

Country Airplay and Country Airplay Detections may sound like the same chart, but they are separate surveys. There are different ways to measure airplay. One is to simply count the number of spins each song receives during a one-week period. In this case, playing a song at 3 a.m. in Poughkeepsie counts the same as playing a song one time at 5 p.m. in Los Angeles. That is how the Country Airplay Detections chart is compiled. Another way to measure airplay is to multiply the number of detections by the rating a radio station has in a particular hour, which gives you a figure for how many people actually heard a song on the radio. That is how Country Airplay is assembled.

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Underwood’s chart journey began seven years and four months ago, when her coronation song “Inside Your Heaven” debuted at No. 1 on Hot Country Singles Sales the week of June 25, 2005. One week later, “Inside Your Heaven” was No. 1 on three additional charts: The Billboard Hot 100, the Pop 100 and Hot Singles Sales. Five and a half months later, Underwood had her first No. 1 album, when Some Hearts began a 27-week reign on Top Country Albums.

“Blown Away” is Underwood’s 13th No. 1 on Country Airplay Detections. Her run of chart-toppers on this survey began the week of Jan. 28, 2006, with “Jesus, Take the Wheel.”  The No. 1 string continued with “Before He Cheats,” “Wasted,” “So Small,” “All-American Girl,” “Last Name,” “Just a Girl,” “Cowboy Casanova,” “Temporary Home,” “Undo It,” “Remind Me” (with Brad Paisley) and “Good Girl.”

Only two other Idols have topped the Country Songs Detections chart. Josh Gracin was the first, with “Nothin’ to Lose” in March 2005 and Kelly Clarkson had a No. 1 in March 2011 when she teamed up with Jason Aldean on “Don’t You Wanna Stay.”

TAKING HER 'BREATH' AWAY: It’s early days for the new Kelly Clarkson single “Catch My Breath,” but the song has already debuted on one Billboard chart, entering the Adult Top 40 Audience list at No. 36. With “Catch My Breath” registering in the top 10 on the iTunes singles chart, the song is certain to debut on a number of Billboard tallies next week.

This new track from Clarkson’s forthcoming greatest hits album is likely to give the singer her 80th No. 1 on the Billboard charts, extending her lead as the Idol with the most chart-toppers. 

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What are the odds that “Catch My Breath” will lead at least one Billboard chart? It's almost a sure thing, considering the number of Clarkson singles that have achieved the top spot on one or more Billboard charts: “A Moment Like This,” “Miss Independent,” “The Trouble With Love,” “Breakaway,” “Since U Been Gone,” “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” “Because of You,” “Walk Away,” “Never Again,” “My Life Would Suck Without You,” “Already Gone,” “Don’t You Wanna Stay” (with Jason Aldean), “Mr. Know It All,” “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” and “Dark Side.”

So yes, “Catch My Breath” should join the list soon, although there is a possibility that another Clarkson-featured song will beat it to No. 1. “There’s a New Kid in Town,” a duet with Blake Shelton which appears on his Christmas album, debuted at No. 20 on the Holiday Digital Songs chart dated Oct. 20.

'HOME' SWEET HOME: Phillip Phillips’ “Home” breaks into the top five on two charts. On the Adult Top 40 survey, “Home” moves 6-5 with a bullet and on the Triple A (Adult Album Alternative) tally, “Home” builds 8-5 with a bullet. On Rock Digital Songs, “Home” continues at No. 3, the same position it holds on Hot Rock Songs. Meanwhile, “Home” moves into new territory, with a No. 38 debut on the Modern Rock Audience chart. Phillips’ coronation song is also moving up on The Billboard Hot 100 (25-19 with a bullet) and standing pat on Adult Contemporary (at No. 12 with a bullet).

BITS AND PIECES: After debuting at No. 49 last week on the Hot Dance Club Play chart, Kimberley Locke’s “Finally Free” jumps to No. 40…The Broadway edition of Rock of Ages, with vocals by Constantine Maroulis, re-enters the Top Cast Albums chart at No. 9…Thia Megia could be making her Billboard chart debut soon. Megia, who performed “Colors of the Wind” from Disney’s Pocahontas as her birth year song during season ten, sings “We’ll Be There” on the soundtrack to a new Disney film about Tinkerbell, Secret of the Wings. Katharine McPhee also has a song on the soundtrack, “Let Your Heart Sing.”

Twitter: @Idol_Worship