LOS ANGELES (Billboard) – There is an art to debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It requires the right balance of sales and airplay.
Garner enough airplay, and you debut in the lower regions of chart. A first week of massive sales combined with a small amount of airplay is the right combination, as “American Idol” third-season winner Fantasia proves by entering in pole position with her debut single, “I Believe” (J).
Since Billboard’s chart rules changed in December 1998, only one other single has managed to debut at No. 1: “This Is the Night” by “American Idol” second-season runner-up Clay Aiken. The two tracks are the 12th and 13th singles in the rock era to open at the summit.
Fantasia is the first artist in the history of the Hot 100 to debut at No. 1 with her first chart entry. Aiken would have claimed this honor but for a technicality: When “This Is the Night” debuted, he had already charted with “God Bless the U.S.A.” as one of the American Idol Finalists. There wasn’t a single by the third-season finalists, so Fantasia spends her first week on the Hot 100 at the head of the class.
Fantasia is the third “Idol” contestant to reach the top of this chart. The first was first-season winner Kelly Clarkson. Her debut single, “A Moment Like This,” moved 52-1 the week of Oct. 5, 2002, setting a record for the biggest leap to No. 1.
Fantasia is the first female to occupy the top spot in 2004 and the first solo female to hold down the No. 1 position on her own since Clarkson.
Fantasia is not the only “American Idol” finalist making her first chart appearance and collecting her first No. 1 with “I Believe.” The song’s co-writer, Tamyra Gray, who finished fourth in the first season of the show, can make the same claims.
The other two writers of “I Believe,” Sam Watters and Louis Biancaniello, are also enjoying their first No. 1 song. Their previous best was the No. 3 ranking of Jessica Simpson’s “I Wanna Love You Forever” in December 1999.
“I Believe” is the second No. 1 single on the Hot 100 for the J label. The imprint’s first chart-topper was “Fallin”‘ by Alicia Keys in August 2001.
Finally, it has been a while since a No. 1 title has started with the personal pronoun “I.” The last chart-topper to do so was Savage Garden’s “I Knew I Loved You” in January 2000. The only other No. 1 in the last six years to start with “I” was Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” in September 1998.