Florence + the Machine's MTV Unplugged enters the current Billboard 200 at #51. It's the highest-charting Unplugged album in a little more than five years, since Korn's MTV Unplugged hit #9 in March 2007.
Thirty-two artists have charted with Unplugged albums in the past 21 years. They're a surprisingly diverse bunch. In addition to the pop and rock artists who are most often associated with the series, Latin, R&B, hip-hop, traditional pop and Contemporary Christian artists are also represented. (Two Various Artists albums have also charted.)
Three Unplugged albums have reached #1: Eric Clapton's Unplugged, Nirvana's MTV Unplugged In New York and Alicia Keys' Unplugged. Two have walked off with Grammys for Album of the Year: Clapton's Unplugged and Tony Bennett's MTV Unplugged.
The Clapton and Nirvana albums are also the best-sellers, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Clapton's Unplugged has sold 7,617,000 copies. Nirvana's MTV Unplugged In New York has sold 4,817,000 copies.
Three of the chart entries are EPs: Mariah Carey's MTV Unplugged EP, Maxwell's MTV Unplugged and Katy Perry's MTV Unplugged. At the other extreme is Lauryn Hill's MTV Unplugged No. 2.0, the only double-disk Unplugged album to make the chart.
Here are the 32 Unplugged albums or EPs that have reached The Billboard 200. They're ranked by the highest position they attained. I also show the number of weeks they remained on the chart and the month and year they entered the chart.
1. Eric Clapton, Unplugged, #1, 137 weeks. Clapton's album spent three weeks at #1. It was recorded on March 12, 1992, less than a year after the death of Clapton's four-year-old son, Conor. That tragedy led Clapton to co-write the haunting "Tears In Heaven." The studio version of that song became a #2 smash. Unplugged included live versions of that song and "Layla," Clapton's 1971 classic with Derek and the Dominos. Charted: September 1992.
2. Nirvana, MTV Unplugged In New York, #1, 81 weeks. This album, which was recorded on Nov. 18, 1993, won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance. It was the band's first release following Kurt Cobain's suicide in April 1994. "About A Girl" and "The Man Who Sold The World" cracked the Hot 100 Airplay chart. Charted: November 1994.
3. Alicia Keys, Unplugged, #1, 22 weeks. This is the highest-charting Unplugged album by an R&B artist. "Unbreakable" reached #34 on the Hot 100. Charted: October 2005.
4. Rod Stewart, Unplugged…And Seated, #2, 63 weeks. This album logged five weeks at #2 (it couldn't "unseat" Janet Jackson's janet..) The album spawned three chart hits (more than any other Unplugged album): "Have I Told You Lately," "Reason To Believe" and a remake of Sam Cooke's "Having A Party." Stewart had previously charted with studio versions of the first two songs. Ronnie Wood was featured on the Unplugged versions of the latter two songs. Charted: June 1993.
5. Mariah Carey, MTV Unplugged EP, #3, 57 weeks. This is the highest-charting Unplugged album by a (non-rock) pop artist. It's also the highest-charting Unplugged EP. And it's the only Unplugged album or EP to spawn a #1 single on the Hot 100. Carey's remake of the Jackson 5 classic "I'll Be There," with Trey Lorenz, became her sixth #1. Charted: June 1992.
6. Alice In Chains, MTV Unplugged, #3, 33 weeks. This is the highest-charting Unplugged album by a hard rock band. Charted: August 1996.
7. Lauryn Hill, MTV Unplugged No. 2.0, #3, 14 weeks. This is the highest-charting Unplugged album by a hip-hop artist. It's also the only two-disk Unplugged album to make the chart. Hill had released just one prior solo album, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill. Charted: May 2002.
8. Korn, MTV Unplugged, #9, 7 weeks. "Freak On A Leash (Unplugged)" (featuring Amy Lee), a remake of Korn's 1997 song, cracked the Hot 100. Charted: March 2007.
9. 10,000 Maniacs, MTV Unplugged, #13, 45 weeks. The band's version of Bruce Springsteen's "Because The Night" reached #11 on the Hot 100, higher than Patti Smith's classic version of the song had climbed in 1978. Charted: November 1993.
10. Paul McCartney, Unplugged (The Official Bootleg), #14, eight weeks. This was the first Unplugged album to make the chart. Charted: June 1991.
11. Kiss, MTV Unplugged, #15, 10 weeks. This was the group's fourth live album to make the chart, following three albums in the Alive! series. Charted: March 1996.
12. Neil Young, Unplugged, #23, 18 weeks. Charted: July 1993.
13. Bob Dylan, MTV Unplugged, #23, 10 weeks. Charted: May 1995.
14. Jay-Z, Unplugged, #31, 17 weeks. This is the only Unplugged album by a male hip-hop artist to make the chart. Charted: January 2002.
15. Ricky Martin, Ricky Martin: MTV Unplugged, #38, eight weeks. This is the highest-charting Unplugged album by a Latin artist. "Tu Recuerdo" (featuring La Mari) cracked the Hot 100. Charted: November 2006.
16. Tony Bennett, MTV Unplugged, #48, 27 weeks. This is the only Unplugged album by a traditional pop artist to make the chart. In addition to winning a Grammy as Album of the Year, it won for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance. Charted: July 1994.
17. Florence + the Machine, MTV Unplugged, #51. Charted: April 2012.
18. The Corrs, VH-1 Presents The Corrs: Live In Dublin, #52, 24 weeks. Charted: March 2002.
19. Maxwell, MTV Unplugged, #53, 15 weeks. This is the highest-charting Unplugged album by a male R&B artist. Maxwell had released just one prior album, Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite. Charted: August 1997.
20. Arrested Development, Unplugged, #60, 12 weeks. This is the only Unplugged album by a hip-hop group to make the chart. The group had released just one prior album: 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days In The Life Of… Charted: April 1993.
21. Alanis Morissette, MTV Unplugged, #63, 14 weeks. Charted: December 1999.
22. Various Artists, Uptown MTV Unplugged, #71, 16 weeks. Jodeci's "Lately" was the biggest hit from this collection, which also featured tracks by Mary J. Blige and Heavy D & the Boyz, among others. Charted: June 1993.
23. Mana, MTV Unplugged, #83, 15 weeks. This is the highest-charting Unplugged album by a Latin group. The group, which is from Mexico, had charted with just one prior album: Suenos Liquidos. Charted: July 1999.
25. All Time Low, MTV Unplugged, #92, one week. Charted: January 2010.
26. Various Artists, The Unplugged Collection Volume One, #97, 10 weeks. This collection featured tracks by 16 artists, including Don Henley, Elton John, Paul Simon, R.E.M. and John Mellencamp. Charted: December 1994.
27. Babyface, MTV Unplugged NYC 1997, #106, 13 weeks. Charted: December 1997.
28. Jeremy Camp, Live—Unplugged: Franklin, TN., #111, seven weeks. This is the only Unplugged album by a Contemporary Christian artist to make the chart. Charted: November 2005.
29. Dashboard Confessional, MTV Unplugged V 2.0, #111, six weeks. The rock band had released just one prior album, The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most. Charted: January 2003.
30. Shakira, MTV Unplugged, #124, eight weeks. This is the highest-charting Unplugged album by a female Latin artist. It won a Grammy as Best Latin Pop Album. Shakira, who is from Colombia, had charted with just one prior album, Donde Estan Los Ladrones? Charted: March 2000.
31. Los Tigres Del Norte, MTV Unplugged, #134, two weeks. Charted: June 2011.
32. Katy Perry, MTV Unplugged, #168, one week. Perry had charted with just one prior album, One Of The Boys. Charted: December 2009.
33. Julieta Venegas, MTV Unplugged, #169, one week. Venegas, who is from Mexico, had charted with just one prior album, Limon Y Sal. Charted: July 2008.
34. Bruce Springsteen, In Concert/MTV Plugged, #189, one week. This was recorded on Nov. 11, 1992, nearly five years before it was finally released. This was Springsteen's second live album to chart, following a 1986 box set. This is the only Unplugged album that was titled Plugged. Charted: September 1997.