The last week of the year holds a few traditions-heading to the mall for after-Christmas sales, taking down holiday decorations and downloading vast numbers of songs. The latter practice reflects the fact that millions of fans received download gift cards and/or MP3 players as gifts.
This year, 47.7 million digital tracks were sold in the last week of the year, a new record. All but two of the 200 titles on the Hot Digital Songs chart sold more downloads than they did the week before, and those two were holiday recordings which are now receding. "Just Dance" by Lady GaGa featuring Colby O'Donis sold 419,000 downloads in the last week of 2008. Only one other song has ever sold that many downloads in a one-week period. "Low" by Flo Rida featuring T-Pain sold 467,000 copies one year ago this week.
Ten songs sold 250,000 or more downloads each last week. In the process, several other records were broken. Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" sold 382,000 downloads, a new one-week record for a song by a female artist. Taylor Swift's "Love Story" sold 360,000 downloads, a new record for a song by a country artist. Kanye West's "Heartless" sold 352,000 downloads, a new record for a song by a male solo artist (without collaborators).
"Just Dance" has sold 1,743,000 downloads to date. The song is featured on Lady GaGa's album Fame, which has sold 150,000 copies to date. "Just Dance" jumps to #1 in its 26th week on Hot Digital Songs. Only two other songs have ever taken so long to reach #1 on this chart. The Fray's "How To Save A Life" hit #1 in its 28th week in October 2006. The All-American Rejects' "Dirty Little Secret" hit #1 in its 26th week in January 2006.
"Just Dance" is running far ahead of Lady GaGa's other hit, "Poker Face," which slips to #87 on Hot Digital Songs. The collaboration has already far surpassed Colby O'Donis' previous hit, "What You Got" (featuring Akon), which has sold 901,000 downloads.
Turning to The Billboard 200 album chart, female solo artists hold down the top three spots for the third time in the past four weeks. Taylor Swift's Fearless holds at #1 for a fourth week, Beyonce's I Am...Sasha Fierce rebounds to #2 and Britney Spears' Circus inches back up to #3. This is the fifth week in 2008 in which female solo artists have had a lock on the top three spots. (Mariah Carey, Leona Lewis and Miley Cyrus achieved the feat in April. Two weeks later, Madonna, Carey and Lewis duplicated it.)
This is the first year in chart history in which female solo artists have monopolized the top three spots in five different weeks. The old record was set in 1986 when albums by Whitney Houston, Patti LaBelle and Janet Jackson held the top three spots for four weeks.
Fearless has now held the #1 spot on the Nielsen/SoundScan chart longer than any other album in calendar year 2008. (Alicia Keys' As I Am also held the top spot for four weeks, but one of those weeks was in 2007.)
The Twilight soundtrack appears in the top 10 for the eighth straight week. This is the 37th week of 2008 in which at least one soundtrack has appeared in the top 10. That's the strongest showing for soundtracks since 1998, when at least one soundtrack appeared in the top 10 in 44 weeks.
Beyonce, Kanye West and Britney Spears each have two songs in the top 10 on Hot Digital Songs again this week. It's the fifth week (in recent times) that Beyonce has had two songs in the top 10, the fourth week for West and the third for Spears.
Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 albums.
1. Taylor Swift, Fearless, 262,000. The album logs its fourth week at #1. It's the first country album to log four weeks at #1 since Shania Twain's Up! had five weeks on top in late 2002. (Two other 2002 albums, Alan Jackson's Drive and Dixie Chicks' Home, had four weeks on top.) Swift topped the country album chart 24 times this year (with three different releases), far more than any other artist. Five songs from Fearless are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Love Story" at #3.
2. Beyonce, I Am...Sasha Fierce, 211,000. The album rebounds from #5 to #2 in its sixth week. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) at #2.
3. Britney Spears, Circus, 203,000. The album inches up from #4 to #3 in its fourth week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Womanizer" at #7.
4. Nickelback, Dark Horse, 177,000. The album rebounds from #6 to #4 in its sixth week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Gotta Be Somebody" which holds at #17.
5. Kanye West, 808s & Heartbreak, 165,000. The album returns to the top 10 after dipping to #11 last week. This is the album's fourth week in the top 10. Sales jumped 19% compared to last week. This is the only album in the top 10 that registered a double-digit percentage increase over last week. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Heartless" at #4.
6. Various Artists, Twilight soundtrack, 148,000. The soundtrack inches up from #7 to #6 in its eighth week. Nearly 33,000 copies of the album were sold digitally, making it the week's #1 Digital Album. Paramore's "Decode" jumps to #27 on Hot Digital Songs.
7. Keyshia Cole, A Different Me, 127,000. The album drops from #2 to #7 in its second week. No songs from the album are listed on the top 200 Hot Digital Songs chart.
9. Jamie Foxx, Intuition, 105,000. The album drops from #3 to #9 in its second week. "Just Like Me" (featuring T.I.) drops from #53 to #88 in its third week on Hot Digital Songs.
10. David Cook, David Cook, 101,000. The album returns to the top 10 after slipping to #13 last week. This is the album's fifth week in the top 10. It's also the fifth time in six weeks that the album's weekly sales have exceeded 100,000 copies. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Light On" at #42.
Two albums fall out of the top 10 this week to make room for the rebounding West and Cook collections. AC/DC's Black Ice dips from #9 to #11. Fall Out Boy's Folie A Deux drops from #8 to #18. Fall Out Boy's name, alas, is apt this week.
Download This: "Apologize" by Timbaland featuring OneRepublic this week becomes the second song in digital history to sell 4 million downloads. It follows "Low" by Flo Rida featuring T-Pain. "Apologize" now stands at 4,009,000 paid downloads. "Low" is at 4,530,000. A third song is about to top the 4 million mark. "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" by Soulja Boy Tell 'Em stands at 3,968,000 paid downloads.
Sexy Can I: The Lonely Island's "Jizz In My Pants" is the top new entry on Hot Digital Songs at #73. The risqué tune sold 51,000 downloads this past week. We've come a long way from "I Want To Hold Your Hand."
A Low Top: Brutha's Brutha is the top new entry on The Billboard 200 at #81. The next highest new entry or re-entry is Avenged Sevenfold's Avenged Sevenfold, which returns to the chart at #146. The album first charted in November 2007 at #4.
Catalog Report: Josh Groban's Noel tops the Catalog Albums chart for the eighth straight week. The album sold 86,000 copies last week and would have ranked #12 on the big chart if older, catalog albums were eligible to compete there.
Ups & Downs: 3OH!3's Want re-enters the Billboard 200 at #167. The album originally debuted at #89 in July. Sales jumped 74% compared to last week, more than any other non-debuting album in the top 200. "Don't Trust Me" is gaining ground as a single. It jumps to #56 on Hot Digital Songs. On the down side, Anthony Hamilton's The Point Of It All drops from #12 to #39 in its second week. Sales dropped by 66% compared to last week, the steepest drop on the chart.