Sade's Soldier Of Love enters the Billboard 200 at #1, becoming the group's eighth consecutive top 10 album. The group, named after lead singer Sade Adu, has never missed the top 10, in a chart career that began 25 years ago this month. Sade's consistency is remarkable because the group breaks most of the key rules of the music business. Like these, for instance:
Maintain a regular flow of product. Soldier Of Love is Sade's first studio album since 2000's Lovers Rock. And that was their first studio album since 1992's Love Deluxe. Most acts would be reluctant to stay away that long between albums. They'd worry that a similar act would swoop in and fill their niche. Sade has the confidence, and the uniquely strong bond with its fans, to go at its own pace.
This is a singles-driven business. Though Sade has sold millions of albums, it has had just five top 40 hits on the Hot 100, the most recent being "No Ordinary Love" in early 1993. Lovers Rock reached #3 and won a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album without spawning even one top 40 hit.
Constant exposure is the key to success. Sade doesn't play the celebrity game. You've probably seen Sade less on TV in the past 25 years than you've seen Beyonce or Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga in just the past few months.
Soldier Of Love is Sade's second #1 album. Its sophomore album, Promise, spent two weeks at #1 in February 1986. But Soldier is Sade's first album to debut at #1. Promise took nine weeks to hit the top. Soldier is all but assured of having a second week at #1, which will match Promise.
Soldier Of Love sold 502,000 copies in its first week, which is the greatest tally so far this year. It's 21,000 copies more than Lady Antebellum's Need You Now sold when it debuted at #1 two weeks ago. It's remarkable that two albums have had 400,000-plus sales weeks already in 2010, since this is only the sixth chart week of the year. This the first time in Nielsen/SoundScan history that two albums have posted one-week sales tallies of 400K or more this early in the year. Last year, it took until May 24 for the industry to deliver two albums that posted one-week sales of 400K. In 2008, it took until June 1.
This is obviously good news, but what does it mean? It suggests that if there's an album that people want, they'll buy it, even in an uncertain economy. It also suggests the album isn't fading away as fast as some of the pundits have predicted.
The Fine Print: The Titanic soundtrack topped 400K in weekly sales during four of the first six weeks of 1998, but that's just one album.
Artists for Haiti's "We Are The World: 25 For Haiti" enters Hot Digital Songs at #1. The remake of the iconic 1985 smash features everyone from Justin Bieber, 15, to Tony Bennett, 83. The song sold 267,000 downloads this week. It has already (slightly) outsold the best-selling song from Hope For Haiti Now, "Hallelujah" by Justin Timberlake & Matt Morris (featuring Charlie Sexton). The video of the new "We Are The World" had its premiere during NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics' opening ceremony on Feb. 12.
The 1985 original version by USA for Africa sold 18,000 copies this week, bringing its total to 301,000. Sadly, two of the featured soloists on the original have died: Ray Charles and Michael Jackson (who is nonetheless also featured on the new version).
The major change in the new recording is the rap segment. Rap was already five years old in January 1985 when the first "We Are The World" was recorded. But while rap was then the sound of the streets, it wasn't yet an integral part of mainstream pop culture. This time around, having thoroughly penetrated the culture and having proved its staying power, it could no longer be ignored.
A Haiti relief song is also #1 in the U.K. this week. Helping Haiti's cover of R.E.M.'s 1993 song "Everybody Hurts" jumps to the top of the British chart. In the U.S., it enters Hot Digital Songs at #107.
Two songs by the Black Eyed Peas top the 5 million mark in paid downloads this week. "I Gotta Feeling" jumps to 5,057,000. "Boom Boom Pow" advances to 5,035,000. Only two other songs in digital history ("Low" by Flo Rida featuring T-Pain and "Just Dance" by Lady Gaga featuring Colby O'Donis) have reached the 5 million sales marker. It's remarkable that the Peas were able to follow a blockbuster hit like "Boom Boom Pow" with a song that has, as of this week, become an even bigger hit.
Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" tops the 3 million mark in paid downloads. It's her third song to hit this level, following "Just Dance" and "Poker Face." Gaga is the first artist in digital history to amass three 3 million-sellers as a lead artist. Rihanna also has three, but she was a featured artist on one of those (T.I.'s "Live Your Life"). Lil Wayne, likewise, has three, but he was a featured artist on two of those (Kevin Rudolf's "Let It Rock" and Jay Sean's "Down"). Kudos, Gaga.
Kings Of Leon's "Use Somebody" and Jason Derulo's "Whatcha Say" also top the 3 million mark in paid downloads. "Use Somebody" has sold more digital copies than any previous Grammy-winner for Record of the Year.
Lady Antebellum's Need You Now dips to #2 on The Billboard 200 after two weeks at #1. It's the first country album to spend its first three weeks in the top two since Tim McGraw's Let It Go in April 2007. Need You Now sold 208,000 copies this week, bringing its three week total to 897,000 copies. Lady A is set to appear on Oprah on Friday, which should give the album another hefty total on next week's chart, when it will become the first album to sell 1 million copies in 2010.
The title track, "Need You Now," tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads this week. The poignant ballad, which the group performed on the Grammys, is likely to be a finalist for Record and Song of the Year at next year's Grammys.
Taylor Swift's Fearless logs its 56th week in the top 10. The album, which won a Grammy for Album of the Year, is now in 11th place on the list of albums with the most weeks in the top 10 since 1963, when separate mono and stereo charts were combined into one comprehensive listing.
Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 albums.
1. Sade, Soldier Of Love, 502,000. This new entry is Sade's second album to reach #1. The album sold 91,000 digital copies, which makes it the week's #1 Digital Album. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Soldier Of Love," which vaults from #168 to #54.
2. Lady Antebellum, Need You Now, 208,000. The album slips to #2 after two weeks on top. It's the first country album to top 200,000 in sales three weeks running since Taylor Swift's Fearless in November 2008. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Need You Now," which dips from #2 to #5.
3. Jaheim, Another Round, 112,000. This is the R&B star's fourth top 10 album and his second-highest-charting release, topped only by the #1 Ghetto Classics from February 2006. Jaheim's last studio release, Makings Of A Man, peaked at #11 in December 2007. (Valentine's Day seems to work better for him than Christmas.)
4. Lil Wayne, Rebirth, 89,000. The album slips from #2 to #4 in its second week. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Knockout" (featuring Nicki Minaj), which drops from #20 to #32.
5. Josh Turner, Haywire, 85,000. This new entry is the country star's third album in a row to reach the top five. It follows Your Man (#2 in 2006) and Everything Is Fine (#5 in 2007). (So why doesn't Turner have a higher profile outside of the country market?) "Why Don't We Just Dance" jumps from #76 to #46 on Hot Digital Songs.
6. tobyMac, Tonight, 79,000. This new entry is the second top 10 solo album in a row by the Christian music artist, whose real name is Toby McKeehan. Portable Sounds reached #10 in February 2007. (He also reached the top 10 in 1998 as part of DC Talk.) "Tonight" enters Hot Digital Songs at #184.
7. Lady Gaga, The Fame, 76,000. The album slips from #4 to #7 in its 68th week. This is its 34th week in the top 10. Six songs from the expanded version of the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Bad Romance," which dips from #6 to #7.
8. The Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D., 67,000. The former #1 album slips from #6 to #8 in its 36th week. This is its 23rd week in the top 10. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Imma Be," which dips from #1 to #2.
9. Susan Boyle, I Dreamed A Dream, 51,000. The former #1 album holds at #9 in its 12th week in the top 10. It's the first album by a female artist to spend its first 12 weeks in the top 10 since Beyonce's I Am...Sasha Fierce.
10. Taylor Swift, Fearless, 50,000. The former #1 album dips from #7 to #10 in its 66th week. This is its 56th week in the top 10. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "You Belong With Me," which drops from #49 to #58.
Four albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Nick Jonas & the Administration's Who I Am plummets from #3 to #28 (back to JoBros), 2010 Grammy Nominees drops from #5 to #21, Rob Zombie's Hellbilly Deluxe 2 nosedives from #8 to #37, and Zac Brown Band's The Foundation dips from #10 to #13.
Michael Buble has two titles in the top 30 (thanks in part to Valentine's Day). The Canadian crooner's former #1 album Crazy Love rebounds from #22 to #11 while his six-song, digital-only EP Special Delivery debuts at #26. Special Delivery, which includes one new track, is Buble's second EP. It follows the holiday release Let It Snow!, which has sold 857,000 copies since its release in 2003. That tally includes 169,000 digital copies, which makes Let It Snow! the best-selling EP in digital history.
Alicia Keys' The Element Of Freedom inches up from #13 to #12 in its ninth week. It's #1 in the U.K. for the second week in a row.
Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds' Live In Las Vegas debuts at #17. This is the third live collaboration by these two artists, following Live At Luther College, which hit #2 in 1999, and Live At Radio City Music Hall, which reached #3 in 2007. This musical bromance is one of the longest-running on record. Bob Dylan and The Band recorded three albums together, all of which made the top 10: Planet Waves, Before The Flood and The Basement Tapes. The key difference: Dylan and The Band are both superstar acts. Reynolds has yet to make the chart independent of Matthews.
The Valentine's Day soundtrack debuts at #20. The rom-com was #1 at the box-office this past weekend, dethroning Dear John. This is the week's #2 movie soundtrack album. It trails Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, which is the #1 movie soundtrack for the fifth week. The lead single from Valentine's Day, Taylor Swift's "Today Was A Fairytale," rebounds from #26 to #16 on Hot Digital Songs.
Michael Jackson's Number Ones drops from #36 to #47. It's the #1 Catalog Album for the 25th week...The Who's Greatest Hits jumps from #82 to #56 in the wake of the band's half-time performance at the Super Bowl on Feb. 8.
Song Scorecard: Four versions of Leonard Cohen's classic song "Hallelujah" are listed on Hot Digital Songs this week. k.d. lang's version from the Winter Olympics debuts at #75. lang's 2004 studio version debuts at #122. A version by the Canadian Tenors debuts at #90. The Hope For Haiti Now version by Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris (featuring Charlie Sexton) drops from #52 to #100.
R.I.P.: The Knack's "My Sharona" is a true '70s classic. The smash, the longest-running #1 hit of 1979, triggered a resurgence of pop/rock after years of disco dominance. The sound of the record echoed mid-1960s "power pop" hits by the Beatles and the Kinks. (Even the title of the group's #1 album, Get The Knack, was a nod to Meet The Beatles!) Doug Fieger, who co-wrote "My Sharona" and sang lead on the song, died Sunday.