Pop pundits have been declaring "the year of the woman" since roughly 1972, when Helen Reddy hit #1 with the instant anthem "I Am Woman." But this might really be the year. Female solo artists have held the top spot on The Billboard 200 18 times so far this year, to just four weeks for male solo artists. (Male groups and duos held the top spot for an additional four weeks.)
Female artists or female-led groups hold down the top three spots on this week's chart for the first time since December. Beyonce's 4 and Adele's 21 repeat in the top two spots. Selena Gomez & the Scene's When The Sun Goes Down jumps from #4 to #3. In addition, females account for six of the top 10. 4 is the third album by a female artist to spend multiple weeks at #1 this year. It follows 21 (10 weeks) and Lady Gaga's Born This Way (two weeks). No male solo artist has stayed on top for multiple weeks since Eminem's Recovery a year ago.
Given the dominance of women this year, it's ironic that Beyonce's "Run The World (Girls)" faltered as a single. Maybe the once-provocative idea that women run the world is almost stating the obvious at this point.
4 is Beyonce's first solo album to hold the top spot for a second week. This is largely a function of timing: Two of her three previous solo albums faced, in their second weeks, debuting albums by megastar acts. Her 2006 album B'Day had to contend with Justin Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds. Her 2008 album I Am...Sasha Fierce faced Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak. The top new entry this week is of decidedly lower-wattage: Lloyd's King Of Hearts, which debuts at #10.
4 also holds at #1 in the U.K. for the second week. It's Beyonce's best showing in the U.K. since Dangerously In Love logged five weeks on top there.
Adele's 21 is the first album to spend its first 20 weeks inside the top three since Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love, which spent its first 22 weeks inside the top three from December 1997 to May 1998. Both albums have strong adult contemporary appeal. Both housed smash #1 singles. Dion's album featured "My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme From 'Titanic')," which won Grammys for Record and Song of the Year. Adele's album features "Rolling In The Deep," which is the front-runner to win both awards this year.
21 sold 25K digital copies this week, which puts it back at #1 on Top Digital Albums. This brings the album's total digital sales to 1,017,000, which makes it the best-selling album in digital history. It surpasses Eminem's Recovery, which has sold 1,005,000 digital copies. 21 took just 20 weeks to sell 1 million digital copies. Recovery, which topped 1M in digital sales just last week, took 54.
Three weeks ago, Bad Meets Evil's Hell: The Sequel edged out Jackie Evancho's Dream With Me for the #1 spot by fewer than 10K copies. The two albums are still neck-and-neck. In its first four weeks, Hell: The Sequel has sold 311K copies, while Dream With Me has sold 308K.
Last week, Lady Gaga's Born This Way slipped out of the top 10 after just five weeks. This week, it returns to the top 10 for a sixth week.
Britney Spears' "I Wanna Go" vaults from #21 to #11 on Hot Digital Songs. How high will it climb on the Hot 100? And how did all the "U.S.A." songs do over the Fourth of July? You'll find out when we post Chart Watch: Songs later today.
Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 albums.
1. Beyonce, 4, 115,000. The album holds at #1 for the second straight week. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Best Thing I Never Had," which jumps from #26 to #21.
2. Adele, 21, 79,000. The former #1 album holds at #2 for the second straight week. This is its 20th consecutive week in the top three. Five songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Rolling In The Deep," which holds at #5 for the fourth straight week.
3. Selena Gomez & the Scene, When The Sun Goes Down, 44,000. The album jumps from #4 to #3 in its second week, becoming the act's highest-charting album to date. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Love You Like A Love Song" jumps from #39 to #16. "Who Says" drops from #19 to #27.
4. Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party, 42,000. The album rebounds from #6 to #4 in its 36thweek. This is its 14th week in the top 10. It's #1 on Top Country Albums for the 12th week. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Dirt Road Anthem," which jumps from #10 to #9.
5. Bad Meets Evil, Hell: The Sequel, 35,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #9 to #5 in its fourth week. It has been in the top 10 the entire time. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Lighters" (featuring Bruno Mars) rebounds from #44 to #25. "Fastlane" rebounds from #178 to #126.
6. Jackie Evancho, Dream With Me, 34,000. The album rebounds from #8 to #6 in its fourth week. It has been in the top 10 the entire time.
7. Jill Scott, The Light Of The Sun, 32,000. The former #1 album drops from #5 to #7 in its third week. The album has sold 223K copies in three weeks.
8. Lady Gaga, Born This Way, 30,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #12 to #8 in its seventh week. This is its sixth week in the top 10. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "The Edge Of Glory," which jumps from #11 to #10.
9. Big Sean, Finally Famous: The Album, 27,000. The album drops from #3 to #9 in its second week. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "My Last" (featuring Chris Brown), which jumps from #72 to #56.
10. Lloyd, King Of Hearts, 26,000. This new entry is the R&B star's third top 10 album, following Street Love (#2 in 2007) and Lessons In Love (#7 in 2008). "Be The One" (featuring Trey Songz and Young Jeezy) enters Hot Digital Songs at #171.
Two albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Both are by American Idol winners. David Cook's This Loud Morning drops from #7 to #26; Scotty McCreery's American Idol Season 10 Highlights EP drops from #10 to #19.
Adele's 2008 album 19 jumps from #34 to #22. It's #1 on Top Catalog Albums for the 18th week. This is the longest that an album by a female solo artist has held the top spot on the catalog chart since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991. The old record was held by Enya's Watermark, which was #1 for 17 weeks in 1992. Note: This doesn't count the Grease soundtrack, which topped the catalog chart for 52 weeks. Olivia Newton-John has a front-cover credit on the soundtrack, as you can see, though it's not strictly her album. Let's give her half credit.
Lemonade Mouth leaps from #47 to #28 in its 13th week. It's the #1 soundtrack for the eighth week.... Transformers: Dark Of The Moon jumps from #60 to #55 in its fourth week. It's the top-ranking soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie for the fourth week. The movie was #1 at the box-office for the second straight weekend.
Pop Evil's War Of Angels opens at #43. It's the group's first chart album. Its 2008 album Lipstick On The Mirror has sold 83K, but never charted.
Pop Evil is the fifth act whose name incorporates the word "pop" to make The Billboard 200. The group follows Iggy Pop, the legendary lead singer of the Stooges; the Poppy Family, a Canadian group which scored with the featherweight 1970 smash "Which Way You Goin' Billy?;" The Pop, a new-wave band from Los Angeles which scored in 1979, and Pop Will Eat Itself, an English band which scored in 1989. (I'm not counting Blues Traveler's John Popper, because that was his real last name.)
AC/DC's Live At River Platt holds at #1 on Top Music Videos for the sixth week. The video has sold 54K copies, which makes it #1 for the year-to-date, ahead of Beyonce's 2010 hit I Am...World Tour, which has sold 49K copies since the first of the year.
Coming Attractions: Blake Shelton's Red River Blue is expected to debut at #1 next week, with first-week sales in the 115K range. Five other albums have a good shot at a top 10 debut: Incubus' If Not Now, When?, Chris Young's Neon, Colbie Caillat's All Of You,Theory Of A Deadman's The Truth Is... and Sublime With Rome's Yours Truly. Also due: Brian McKnight's Just Me, Tesla's Twisted, Pimp C's Still Pimping and Ashton Shepherd's Where Country Grows.