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'American Idol' on the Charts: Kelly Clarkson Turns on the 'Dark'

Plus: David Archuleta proves it's not impossible to chart while on a Mormon mission.

DOWN: Kelly Clarkson

The third single from Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger album has a lot to live up to.

The first track to be singled out was “Mr. Know It All,” which topped three Billboard charts, peaked at No. 10 on the Hot 100 and crossed over to Hot Country Songs, where it sailed to No. 21. The follow-up was "Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” which went to No. 1 on 13 different Billboard charts and became the best-selling download of any American Idol single.

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RCA is now working "Dark Side" as the third single from Stronger, and this week the song achieves pole position for the first time, moving to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart. This is only Clarkson’s second No. 1 on this survey. In March, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” spent one week in first place and was Clarkson’s first turn at the top on Club Play.

Clarkson is one of five Idols to reach No. 1 on this tally, and only the second to collect more than one chart-topper. Jennifer Hudson was the first Idol to go to No. 1 on Hot Dance Club Play. Her remake of Jennifer Holliday's "And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going" (from the soundtrack of Dreamgirls) topped the chart for one week in March 2007.

Three months later, Kimberley Locke’s "Change" succeeded Fergie and Ludacris’ "Glamorous" at No. 1 on the Club Play list. In January 2008, Locke collected her second No. 1 on this chart with her remake of Freda Payne's 1970 classic, "Band of Gold.” Six months later, Locke picked up her third Club Play No. 1 with her take on Clay Waker’s country song, "Fall."

Almost a year and a half went by before another Idol reached the summit on this chart. In December 2009, Jordin Sparks’ “S.O.S. (Let the Music Play)" occupied the penthouse for one week. Four months later, the Idol who was runner-up to Sparks picked up his own No. 1: Blake Lewis secured a Club Play chart-topper with his "Heartbreak on Vinyl,” an undiscovered pop gem. It would be another two years before Clarkson would hold down the No. 1 spot.

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Will “Dark Side” repeat the No. 1 feat on any other Billboard charts? Maybe – but maybe not. The song is moving up slowly on the Hot 100, where it inches up 44-42 in its eighth chart week. Sitting one rung above it is its predecessor, "Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)," which slides 38-41 in its 34th week on the list.

"Dark Side" is also up on two Billboard airplay charts: Adult Top 40 chart with a 9-8 move and Mainstream Top 40 with a 24-23 advance. On the Adult Contemporary chart, "Dark Side" is forced down 25-26 but earns a bullet, indicating an increase in airplay over the previous week. "Stronger" is still a contender on the AC chart, rebounding 3-2 in its 28th chart week.

When season seven runner-up David Archuleta announced last December that he was devoting the next two years of his life to a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, it was presumed there would be no music from the Idol finalist until he returned home in 2014. So it may be a surprise that Archuleta’s latest album debuts on The Billboard 200 this week at No. 28.

Begin. is a 10-song collection of covers and one original, "Broken,” co-written by Archuleta. The remakes include R.E.M.’s "Everybody Hurts," Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush’s "Don’t Give Up” and Cyndi Lauper’s "True Colors." Archuleta recorded the album before starting his mission in South America.

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Signed to RCA after his success on Idol, Archuleta is now on the independent Highway Records imprint, owned by Deseret Book, the publishing arm of the LDS church. That qualifies Begin. to appear on Billboard’s Top Independent Chart, where it debuts at No. 5. The album makes an even higher bow on the Top Internet Albums chart, entering at No. 3. That equals Archuleta’s previous highest peak on this survey, when his self-titled debut album entered at No. 3 in 2008.

Begin. is the fifth album by Archuleta to appear on The Billboard 200. He has had one album debut on the album chart every year since 2008. Here is a summary of how he’s fared on this survey: David Archuleta, peaked at No. 2 (2008); Christmas from the Heart, No. 30 (2009); The Other Side of Down, No. 13 (2010); Glad Christmas Tidings, No. 179 (2011) [Mormon Tabernacle Choir/Orchestra At Temple Square Feat. David Archuleta With Michael York]; Begin., No 28 (2012).

STORY: Phillip Phillips' 'Home' Is Top Digital Seller, Carrie Underwood's 'Blown Away' Builds

Archuleta isn’t the only season seven contestant with a Billboard chart debut this week. It’s been one year and four months since a single by Jason Castro has appeared on one of the magazine’s surveys. "You Are” was a Christian hit in the spring of 2011. Castro is back with a new song for the same market: "Only a Mountain" makes a lofty entrance on the Christian Digital Songs chart at No. 12. The single is the title track from Castro’s sophomore album, which has a release date of Jan. 15, 2013. First, there will be a five-track EP, Starting Line, available Aug. 28 through Walmart and online retailers.

Mandisa’s What If We Were Real has legs. The album debuted and peaked at No. 2 on Top Christian Albums in April 2011. Now, in its 71st chart week, the CD storms back up the survey, racing from 18-6. Mandisa is still in the top 10 of the Christian Digital Songs chart with "Good Morning," her collaboration with tobyMac. The song falls 8-10 but earns a bullet for increased sales over last week.

Since Carrie Underwood’s "Blown Away" inched up 3-2 on the Country Digital Songs chart this week, it’s tempting to predict it will jump into pole position seven days from now. But that’s not going to happen. Taylor Swift’s new single, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” is poised to sell over 500,000 downloads in its first week of release and is as certain as any song in history to debut at No. 1 next week. Daughtry’s "Rescue Me" enters the Rock Digital Songs chart at No. 35. The band recorded a new acoustic version of the song and teamed with DC Comics for its "We Can Be Heroes" campaign, and is donating proceeds to end hunger in the horn of Africa.

BITS AND PIECES: Adam Lambert’s "Never Close Our Eyes" reaches a new peak position on Hot Dance Club Play with a jump of 10-7…Phillip Phillips’ "Home" secures a third week at No. 1 on Rock Digital Songs and holds at No. 9 on the Hot 100…Casey Abrams’ "Get Out" returns to its previous peak position on the Adult Contemporary chart, rebounding 27-25…Joshua Ledet’s EP of season 11 highlights is still in the top 30 of the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, descending 20-24.