What does a hit song mean to an album these days? Just ask Kid Rock, whose latest album, Rock And Roll Jesus, has rebounded from a low of #82 in March to #7 this week on the strength of the multi-format hit "All Summer Long." This is the album's highest ranking since October, when it was in its third week on the chart.
I'll have more on Kid Rock in a minute, but I'd be remiss if I didn't first let you know that Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III jumps back to #1 after logging two weeks at #2. Tha Carter III is the first album to regain the top spot after losing it since Alicia Keys' As I Am in February. And it's the first rap album to achieve this trick since The Game's The Documentary in February 2005. Tha Carter III is the #1 album so far in 2008 and the best-selling album of Lil Wayne's career.
Late-blooming hits have become something of a tradition with Kid Rock. His 1999 breakthrough album, Devil Without A Cause, rode the chart for more than a year before "Only God Knows Why" took off as a single. His 2001 album, Cocky, was a chart fixture for nearly a year before "Picture" took off. Both of those songs became big hits. "Only God Knows Why" made the top 20 on the Hot 100. "Picture" reached the top five.
Billboard has "All Summer Long" in the top 20 on both the CHR/Top 40 and Hot AC/Adult Top 40 charts. It's even up to #44 on the Hot Country Songs chart. Yet neither the song nor the album is available for sale as a digital download. (I think they're trying to get you to buy the CD.)
The spirited track borrows heavily from Lynyrd Skynyrd's 1974 smash "Sweet Home Alabama," which has rung up more paid downloads than any other track from the 1970s. The song first appeared on the Southern rock group's sophomore album Second Helping in April 1974. It became a Top 10 single that September.
Nielsen/SoundScan's running list of the 200 tracks with the most paid downloads includes just three hits from the 1970s. (Time marches on.) "Sweet Home Alabama" is the highest-ranked of the three, with 1,140,000 downloads. Queen has both of the runners-up: "Bohemian Rhapsody" (1,117,000 paid downloads) and "We Will Rock You" (957,000). (All three of these tracks were top 10 hits "back in the day," but none reached #1. Yet these are the hits from that decade that have best stood the test of time in this very real sense: People are still paying to download them to this day.)
The success of "All Summer Long" has greatly boosted the sales tally for Rock N Roll Jesus. In March, when the album was at its low-point on the chart, it had sold 823,000 copies. The album's sales as of this week stand at 1,103,000. The success of "All Summer Long" has enabled the album to surge ahead of Bruce Springsteen's Magic, which has sold 1,012,000 copies. Why am I comparing the two albums? Kid Rock bumped Springsteen out of the #1 spot in October. But the following week, Springsteen reclaimed the top spot and sent Kid Rock packing. With this resurgence, Kid has gotten the last laugh--at least for now. In the chart game, as you're starting to see, it's never really over.
Finally, I hope nobody finds this week's headline sacrilegious, but when an artist has albums titles like Devil Without A Cause and Rock N Roll Jesus, how can you not play off them?
Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" holds at #1 on Hot Digital Songs for the third week, with 191,000 paid downloads. Jonas Brothers' "Burnin' Up" holds at #2 for the second week. Fellow tween pop phenom Miley Cyrus is coming on strong with her latest, "7 Things," which jumps from #6 to #3.
Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 albums.
1. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III, 156,000. This is the first rap album to spend its first four weeks in the top two positions since 50 Cent's The Massacre, which spent its first six weeks at #1 in 2005. This will almost certainly become the first album to top 2 million in sales in 2008. Its current total is 1,682,000. Six songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Lollipop" (featuring Static Major), which dips from #8 to #9.
2. Coldplay, Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends, 149,000. In three weeks, Coldplay's album has sold 1,121,000 copies, which makes it #3 for the year to date. More than one-third of that total has come in the form of paid downloads. The album has sold 394,000 downloads (more than any album in digital history). It sold 40,000 this week alone, making it #1 on Hot Digital Albums for the third week. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Viva La Vida," which holds at #4.
3. Various Artists, Camp Rock soundtrack, 116,000. The TV soundtrack has sold 474,000 copies in three weeks. The first High School Musical soundtrack (in March 2006) required eight weeks to sell that many copies. Of course, the success of the two HSM musicals provided the blueprint for Camp Rock's out-of-the-box success. Six songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "This Is Me," by Demi Lovato & Joe Jonas, which slips from #3 to #14.
4. G-Unit, T.O.S. (Terminate On Sight), 102,000. All three members of G-Unit have had solo success since the release of the trio's debut album, Beg For Mercy, in 2003. 50 Cent had the monster #1 album The Massacre and the #2 follow-up Curtis. Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo debuted as solo artists with albums that reached #1 and #2, respectively. So you might have expected this reunion project to debut at #1. Instead, it starts at #4 with first-week-sales that are less than one-third of Beg For Mercy's opening week tally. Go figure. "I Like The Way She Do It" enters Hot Digital Songs at #114.
5. John Mayer, Where The Light Is: John Mayer Live In Los Angeles, 75,000. This 2-CD set is Mayer's third live album to make the chart; his first to reach the top 10. Any Given Thursday hit #17 in 2003. Try! John Mayer Trio Live In Concert reached #34 in 2005. Mayer has also hit the top 10 with his last three studio albums, Room For Squares, Heavier Things and Continuum. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by a remake of Tom Petty's 1989 classic, "Free Fallin'," which debuts at #20.
7. Kid Rock, Rock N Roll Jesus, 45,000. Kid Rock is the #59 artist of the Nielsen/SoundScan era, with cumulative sales since 1991 of 19,688,000 albums. Of the artists in this week's top 10, only Usher (#55) ranks higher on that list.
8. Usher, Here I Stand, 41,000. Usher slips from #7 to #8 in his sixth week in the top 10. The album has sold 847,000 copies, which puts it #8 for the year. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Love In This Club" (featuring Young Jeezy), which dips from #38 to #39.
9. Rihanna, Good Girl Gone Bad, 40,000. A non-stop run of hits has enabled this album to outlast and outsell the album that kept it out of the top spot when it debuted at #2 in June 2007-T Pain's Epiphany. Sales to date for Epiphany: 828,000. Sales to date for Good Girl Gone Bad: 1,394,000. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Disturbia," which dips from #5 to #6.
Three albums fall out of the top 10 this week. Three 6 Mafia's Last 2 Walk slips from #5 to #11, Motley Crue's Saints Of Los Angeles drops from #4 to #16, and Shinedown's The Sound Of Madness drops from #8 to #24. Sales of the Motley Crue album fell by 69%, a steeper decline than any other album in the top 200.
Tech N9ne's Killer bows at #12, one point ahead of Alkaline Trio's Agony And Irony. These are the acts' highest-charting albums to date. My Chemical Romance's two-CD live album The Black Parade Is Dead starts at #22. The group's studio album The Black Parade debuted (and peaked) at #2 in October 2006.
Vanessa Hudgens' Identified opens at #23, one point ahead of the #24 debut (and peak) of Hudgens' first album, V, from 2006. That was released on the heels of the first High School Musical, but before the 2007 sequel. Hudgens of course plays the female lead in the lucrative franchise. You'd think with all the buzz over HSM in the past two years, Hudgens would be doing a lot better than she did last time out, but the charts are endlessly surprising. "Sneakernight" leaps from #94 to #48 on Hot Digital Songs.
Relient K's The Bird And The Bee Sides opens at #25. The rarities collection is the Christian rock group's third album to reach the top 40. The group made its best showing in 2004 when MMHMM reached #15.
Los Lonely Boys' Forgiven debuts at #26, a big drop-off from the group's last album, Sacred, which opened (and peaked) at #2 in July 2006. Incidentally, Los Lonely Boys is one of two brother trios in this week's top 40. The Garza Brothers of Texas are joined by Jonas Brothers of New Jersey, whose Jonas Brothers slips from #24 to #31.
Ups & Downs: Lifehouse's Who We Are vaults from #194 to #135 in its 54th week, a sales gain of 50% over last week. That's the biggest increase of any non-debuting title. Sales to date for the album: 443,000. The group's "Whatever It Takes" has been riding the Hot Digital Songs chart for six months. Sales to date for the song: 700,000.
Catalog Report: I Can Only Imagine: Ultimate Power Anthems Of The Christian Faith heads the Catalog Album chart for the eighth week. The three-CD collection sold 17,000 copies and would have ranked #32 if older, catalog albums could compete on the big chart.
America: Three America-themed classics returned to Hot Digital Songs over the July 4th holiday. Lee Greenwood's "God Bless The USA," first released in 1984, sold 17,000 downloads (bringing its total to 294,000). Don McLean's 1971 smash "American Pie" sold 10,000 (upping its total to 638,000). Neil Diamond's "America," first released in 1980, sold 8,000 (bringing its total to 167,000).
Let's All Scream: Two weeks ago, Judas Priest landed the highest charting album its 30-year career as Nostradamus debuted at #11. This week, the band members have the satisfaction of seeing the breadth of their cultural influence. Rapper C-Murder debuts at #130 with Screamin' 4 Vengeance, a title that's very close to Judas Priest's 1982 hit, Screaming For Vengeance, the band's first album to reach the top 20.
Turning 50: Three all-time pop icons are turning 50 this year. Prince reached the milestone on June 7. Madonna hits the Big 5-0 on Aug. 16. Michael Jackson follows suit on Aug. 29. All three of these superstars peaked in the mid-1980s-Jackson with Thriller, Prince with Purple Rain and Madonna with Like A Virgin. So which of these stars has sold the most albums in the Nielsen/SoundScan era? That would be Madonna, who has sold 25,995,000 albums since 1991 (placing her #31 among all artists). Jackson is next, with sales of 21,072,000 (good enough for a #49 ranking). Then comes Prince, with sales of 16,430,000 (he is ranked #90).
Heads Up: Beck's Modern Guilt and the ABBA-filled soundtrack to Mamma Mia! are among the top releases due on next week's chart. Also due: a deluxe edition of Maroon5's It Won't Be Soon Before Long and a 30th anniversary reissue of Billy Joel's 1977 classic The Stranger (a little late, but what the heck). Also: a Country Sings Disney collection.