Alicia Keys' As I Am registered the second worst weekly sales tally for a #1 album since SoundScan began monitoring album sales in 1991. Keys' album sold 60,519 copies last week, just 455 more copies than the all-time bottom-dweller, the Dreamgirls soundtrack, which sold 60,064 copies in its second week on top one year ago.
Keys' album has sold 2,786,000 copies in just 10 weeks, a tremendous total by any measure. So it's a little unfair that her name will be dragged through the mud as this news is disseminated. But that's show biz.
It's also noteworthy that five of this week's top 10 CDs this week are R&B-oriented. Keys is joined by Mary J. Blige at #3, Raheem DeVaughn at #5, John Legend at #7 and Chris Brown at #9. (How they coordinated it so they'd occupy only the odd positions is beyond me!)
There's also news on the Hot Digital Tracks chart. "Low" by Flo Rida featuring T-Pain logs its eighth week at #1, which puts it in a three-way tie for the most weeks at #1 on that chart since mid 2004, when the configuration really started to take off. The other tracks with eight weeks at #1 are Green Day's "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" and Beyonce's "Irreplaceable."
"Low" registered 180,000 download purchases last week, which puts it far ahead of the #2 title, Chris Brown's "With You" (104,000 download purchases). So "Low" is likely to hold at #1 for at least another week or two. This is the fourth week in a row that the #1 digital track has registered more download sales than the #1 CD saw in total sales. (I've got a feeling I'm going to be saying that a lot this year.)
Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 CDs.
1. Alicia Keys, As I Am, 61,000. Keys is the first woman to log three weeks at #1 since Norah Jones scored a year ago with Not Too Late. Keys is the first African American woman to remain at #1 this long since Ashanti scored with her eponymous debut album in 2002.
2. Juno soundtrack, 58,000. This is the first movie soundtrack to reach #2 since Hairspray last August. If it climbs one more notch, it will be the first movie soundtrack to go all the way since Dreamgirls. But those were both big, lavish musicals, while Juno is a quirky little movie with an alternative-leaning soundtrack. The movie, which was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, has grossed $85.4 million in its first seven weeks.
3. Mary J. Blige, Growing Pains, 52,000. This week's sales pushes Blige's album over the 1 million mark. Growing Pains has ranked in the top five all five weeks it has appeared on the chart.
4. Radiohead, In Rainbows, 46,000. The band's album has sold 246,000 copies in four weeks, less than the 300,000 that the band's previous album, Hail To The Thief, moved in its debut week in 2003. But then, what do you expect when you let fans download it for any price they choose.
6. Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift, 34,000. Swift's new single, "Umbrella," debuts at #68 on Hot Digital Tracks. It's possible that she'll soon have three tracks in the top 30. "Our Song" is #20 this week; "Teardrops On My Guitar" is #22.
7. John Legend, Live From Philadelphia, 33,000. This 19-track set, available only at Target, is the Grammy-winner's third album in a row to debut in the top 10. His 2005 debut, Get Lifted, opened at #7 and peaked at #4 the following week. His sophomore album, Once Again, opened (and peaked) at #3 in 2006.
8. Various Artists, Now 26, 30,000. The compilation has been a fixture in the top 10 for 10 straight weeks. It has scanned 1,370,000 copies to date.
10. Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus, 27,000. The TV soundtrack is returns to the top 10, boosted by Cyrus' hit single, "Start All Over." It's the only album in the top 30 (except the debuting collections by DeVaughn and Legend) to show a sales increase over last week. The two Hannah Montana albums are closing in on 6 million in combined sales. (Current total: 5,965,000).
Three albums fall out of the top 10 to make way for the newcomers. Garth Brooks' The Ultimate Hits drops from #9 to #14, Eagles' Long Road Out Of Eden falls from #8 to #15, and Fergie's The Dutchess falls from #10 to #17.
Anne Murray has the week's third highest new entry with Duets: Friends & Legends, which debuts at #42. Murray first hit the pop album chart in 1970 with Snowbird, which featured her top 10 single of the same name. She posted her highest-charting album in 1978 with Let's Keep It That Way, which reached #12 and spawned her #1 smash "You Needed Me." (When Murray first hit the album chart, Shania Twain was five years old, Faith Hill was three, and Mary J. Blige was still in the womb. Which is not to make Murray feel old, but to show how long she has been in the game.)
The Magnetic Fields' Distortion opens at #77. This is the veteran alternative band's highest chart ranking to date. The band's previous album, i, was its first to hit the pop chart. It peaked at #152.
Spice Girls' Greatest Hits opens at #93. The group's debut, Spice, was the #1 album of 1997. The Girls followed it that same year with the soundtrack to Spiceworld and in 2000 with a studio album, optimistically titled Forever. (In their case, "forever" lasted seven weeks, the amount of time the album spent the top 200.)
Ringo Starr's Liverpool 8 opens at #94. It's the pop veteran's first solo album for Capitol Records since 1975. Ringo wrote and produced the songs on the album with Dave Stewart, co-founder of Eurythmics. Ringo isn't the first former member of the Fab Four to tip his hat to the Beatles' hometown in an album title. Paul McCartney released Liverpool Oratorio in 1991.