Taylor Swift this week becomes the first artist since the Beatles to log six or more weeks at #1 with three consecutive studio albums. She achieves the feat with Red, which tops The Billboard 200 for the sixth week. It follows Fearless (11 weeks) and Speak Now (six weeks). The Beatles achieved the feat with seven studio albums in a row from Beatles ’65 in January 1965 to Abbey Road November 1969.
Only two other acts have had such lengthy stays at #1 with three consecutive studio albums. The Kingston Trio spent six or more weeks on top with four straight studio albums in 1959 and 1960. Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass did it with three straight studio albums in 1965 and 1966.
Thus, Swift is the first female artist to achieve this feat.
This is the third time that Swift has had the #1 album in the last week before Christmas, which is traditionally the most competitive week of the year. She also achieved the feat with Fearless in 2008 and Speak Now in 2010. Since 1991, only one other artist has had the #1 album in the last week before Christmas three times. Garth Brooks scored with The Hits in 1994, Sevens in 1997 and Double Live in 1998. (Mariah Carey achieved the feat twice, in 1993 with Music Box in 1993 and Daydream in 1995.)
Here’s another sign of Swift’s dominance: She has had three of the last six albums to log six or more weeks at #1. (The other three albums to spend six or more weeks at #1 in the past 7-1/2 years are Susan Boyle’s I Dreamed A Dream, Eminem’s Recovery and Adele’s 21.)
T.I.’s Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head debuts at #2. This is his sixth top five album. Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man soundtrack reached #14 in 1973. Gaye released the mostly instrumental film score in between his two most classic albums, 1971’s masterwork What’s Going On and 1973’s Let’s Get It On.
One Direction’s Take Me Home holds at #4 for the third week. The album sold 177K copies this week, which enables it to jump to #6 on the year-to-date chart. The boy band’s earlier Up All Night is #3 on that chart. With one chart week to go in 2012, One Direction is a cinch to become the first act to place two albums in the year-end top 10 since Taylor Swift scored in 2008. (As it happens, she occupied those same exact spots: #3 for the year with Fearless; #6 with Taylor Swift.)
In addition, Up All Night—The Live Tour logs its 27thweek at #1 on Top Music Videos. It’s just the second music video to log 27 or more weeks at #1 since this chart originated (as Top Music Videocassettes) in March 1985. It follows Ray Stevens’ Comedy Video Classics (29 weeks in 1993-1994). Stevens had four top 10 hits on the Hot 100: the novelty hits “Ahab, The Arab,” “Gitarzan” and “The Streak” and the sing-along pop tune “Everything Is Beautiful.”
Michael Buble’s Christmas, which drops from #3 to #5, this week becomes the first Christmas album to top 3 million in U.S. sales since Josh Groban’s Noel five years ago. It’s just the 12th Christmas album in the Nielsen SoundScan era to sell 3 million copies.
Buble’s album is #1 on Top Catalog Albums for the eighth week. It’s the #1 holiday album for the second week in a row, humbling this year’s top holiday album, Rod Stewart’s Merry Christmas, Baby. Fifty holiday albums are listed on this week’s Billboard 200.
Phillip Phillips’ The World From The Side Of The Moon holds at #7 for the second week. It’s the first debut album by an American Idol winner to spend its first five weeks in the top 10 since Carrie Underwood’s Some Hearts spent its first 12 weeks in the top 10 in 2005-2006. David Cook’s David Cook and Scotty McCreery’s Clear As Day each spent their first four weeks in the top 10.
The first two Idol champs also got off to fast starts. Kelly Clarkson’s Thankful spent its first eight weeks in the top 10. Ruben Studdard’s Soulful spent its first nine weeks in the top 10.
Phillips’ album debuted the same week as Rihanna’s Unapologetic. But where Unapologetic has faded surprisingly fast (it drops from #15 to #19 this week), Phillips’ album has stayed strong. It has sold 462K copies to date, just 10K less than Rihanna’s. Are they the tortoise and the hare? It’s starting to look that way.
12-12-12: The Concert For Sandy Relief debuts at #9. It’s the fifth charity/benefit album to crack the top 10. It follows The Concert For Bangla Desh, which logged six weeks at #2 from January to March 1972; We Are The World, which spent three weeks at #1 in April and May 1985; God Bless America, which spent one week on top in November 2001 and Hope For Haiti Now, which spent one week on top in February 2010.
12-12-12 and Hope For Haiti Now were both created to bring relief following natural disasters (a super storm in New Jersey; an earthquake in Haiti). The Concert For Bangla Desh and We Are The World were both designed to alleviate starvation. God Bless America raised money for the Twin Towers Fund in the wake of 9/11.
12-12-12 is a digital-only release at this point. The album, which sold 82K digital copies this week, enters Top Digital Albums at #1. It will be released on CD in January. Hope For Haiti Now was never released on CD, which seems a missed opportunity. Hope For Haiti Now has sold 372K digital copies.
The creators of 12-12-12 were able to get the album to market much faster than manufacturers were back in the day of physical releases. The Concert For Bangla Desh reached stores more than four months after the concert. (The concert was held on Aug. 1, 1971. The album entered the chart in the issue dated Jan. 8, 1972, reflecting a December 1971 release.) You have to wonder how many more copies Bangla Desh would have sold if technology had allowed it to get to market sooner.
Here’s the low-down on this week’s top 10 albums.
The Top Five: Taylor Swift’s Red holds at #1 for the sixth week in its ninth week (276K). It has ranked in the top two the entire time... T.I.’s Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head debuts at #2 (179K). This is his sixth top five album… Bruno Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox dips from #2 to #3 in its second week (178K)… One Direction’s Take Me Home holds at #4 for the third week in its sixth week (177K). This is its sixth week in the top five… Michael Buble’s Christmas drops from #3 to #5 in its 19th week (148K). This is its 13th week in the top 10.
The Second Five: Rod Stewart’s Merry Christmas, Baby dips from #5 to #6 in its eighth week (113K). This is its eighth week in the top 10… Phillip Phillips’ The World From The Side Of The Moon holds at #7 for the second week in its fifth week (98K). This is its fifth week in the top 10…Mumford & Sons’ Babel jumps from #11 to #8 in its 13th week (93K). This is its eighth week in the top 10… 12-12-12: The Concert For Sandy Relief debuts at #9 (82K)…Now 44 rebounds from #12 to #10 in its seventh week (80K). This is its third week in the top 10.
Four albums drop out of the top 10 this week. The Game’s Jesus Piece dives from #6 to #37…Blake Shelton’s Cheers, It’s Christmas drops from #8 to #16… Alicia Keys’ Girl On Fire drops from #9 to #12…Lady Antebellum’s On This Winter’s Night dips from #10 to #11.
Blink-182’s EP Dogs Eating Dogs debuts at #23. It’s the band’s second EP, following 1996’s They Came To Conquer…Uranus. That one didn’t chart. (As a dog lover, I think the album cover and album title, well, bite.)…Essential Now That’s What I Call Christmas vaults from #113 to #25, thanks to a 99 cent sale at Amazon.MP3. The album has sold 571K copies since its release in 2008. This is its highest ranking to date. Its previous peak was #31.
Chief Keef’s Finally Rich, the rapper’s first studio album following five mix-tapes, debuts at #29. I don’t know what he means by “finally.” The kid is only 17.
Les Miserables: Highlights From The Motion Picture Soundtrack debuts at #33. This is the highest that this work has climbed on the chart. The original London cast album peaked at #106. The original Broadway cast album peaked at #117. An album of highlights from worldwide productions of the musical reached #184. The most famous song from the show is “I Dreamed A Dream,” which was the title track of Susan Boyle’s debut album, which spent six weeks at #1 in 2009.
Les Miserables is #1 on Top Soundtracks. Anne Hathaway’s reading of “I Dreamed A Dream” enters Hot Digital Songs at #94.
Les Miz opened on Broadway in March 1987. It ran continuously for more than 16 years. It won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
The show has also been a big hit in the home video market. Les Miserables: 10th Anniversary Concert, filmed at the Royal Albert Hall, was #1 on the music video chart for 22 weeks in 1996 and 1997. Les Miserables: 25th Anniversary Concert was #1 for four weeks in 2011.
The soundtrack to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey drops from #30 to #47. The movie was #1 at the box-office for the second straight weekend.
The Black Keys’ El Camino tops the 500K mark in digital sales this week. It’s the duo’s second album to sell 500K digital copies. Brothers crossed the threshold in June. The Black Keys are the seventh act to top the 500K mark in digital sales with two or more albums. They follow Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Adele, Kanye West, Coldplay and Mumford & Sons.
Harry Connick Jr. this week tops the 15 million mark in U.S. sales in the Nielsen SoundScan era. Connick first charted in August 1989 (two years before Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard) with the When Harry Met Sally soundtrack.
To My Readers: Two weeks ago, we posted The Year’s Top Albums. Last week, we posted The Year’s Top Songs. One week from today, when Nielsen SoundScan publishes the final chart of 2012, I’ll update both blogs and re-post them.
Happy new year, everybody.