Lady Gaga's Born This Way set another record this week, but not one that Gaga's team will be happy about. Sales of the album dropped off by 84% from its sizzling (but discount-inflated) opening week. That's the the steepest drop-off in sales, expressed in a percentage basis, of any of the 17 albums that sold 1 million units in a week in Nielsen SoundScan history.
Gaga's album sold 174,000 copies this week, down from 1,108,000 last week, when sales were goosed by a two-day, 99-cent sale at Amazon.
The old record for the steepest drop-off following a million-unit week was held by *NSYNC's 2001 album Celebrity. Sales dropped by 76% in the week following its 1,880,000 debut. Two recent albums were tied for second place in the steepest drop-off column. Sales of Lil Wayne's 2008 hit Tha Carter III and Taylor Swift's 2010 smash Speak Now both dropped off by 69% in the week following their debuts of 1,006,000 and 1,047,000, respectively.
A big drop-off was to be expected. But the fact that Gaga's drop-off was steeper than any of the other follow-ups to albums that had a million-unit week is troublesome. It seems obvious that the opening week tally for Born This Way was generated not only by hard-core fans, but also by casual fans who just didn't want to pass up such a deal. Last week's near giveaway worked in the short term (by giving Gaga the biggest one-week sales total since 2005), but it may have also served to devalue albums in general and Gaga's brand in particular.
You may be wondering why *NSYNC's album experienced such a sharp drop-off in its second week. Celebrity was released 16 months after the boy band reached its peak with No Strings Attached. In the world of boy bands, 16 months is a lifetime.
If you want to know which three albums experienced the mildest drop-offs in the weeks following their million-plus weeks, here you go. Sales of 50 Cent's 2005 album The Massacre slipped by just 32% in the week following its 1,141,000 debut. Sales of Eminem's 2002 album The Eminem Show dropped by 39% in the week following its 1,322,000 debut. Sales of Garth Brooks' 1998 double-disk set Double Live slipped by 40% in the week following its 1,085,000 debut.
Born This Way fell off even more sharply in the digital realm. The album sold 38K digital copies this week, a 94% drop from its record-setting opening week total of 662K. Born This Way isn't even #1 on this week's Digital Albums chart. That honor goes instead to Death Cab for Cutie's Codes And Keys, which sold 59K digital copies (57% of its total).
Born This Way holds at #1 in the U.K. for the second week, but it drops from #1 to #7 in Japan. Gaga's previous full-length, The Fame, logged seven weeks at #1 in the U.K., but didn't reach #1 in Japan.
Adele's 21 rebounds from #3 to #2 on The Billboard 200. The album has ranked in the top three for each of its first 15 weeks. This is the best showing by any album since Alicia Keys' As I Am ranked in the top three for each of its first 15 weeks in 2007-2008. Both albums were powered by songs that had long runs at #1 on the Hot 100. Keys' "No One" logged five weeks on top. I expect Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" to hold the top spot for a fifth week when the chart is released later today.
21 tops the 2 million mark in sales this week. It's the first album to sell 2 million copies in 2011. This is later in the year than we saw the first 2 million-seller of 2010 (Lady Antebellum's Need You Now hit the 2 million mark in the week ending May 9), but it's ahead of the pace for 2009 (Michael Jackson's Number Ones reached the 2 million mark in the week ending Oct. 25.)
Eddie Vedder's Ukulele Songs debuts at #4. It's Vedder's first solo studio album. He reached #11 with the 2007 soundtrack to Into The Wild. All nine of Vedder's studio albums with Pearl Jam have made the top 10. The band's best-seller is its first album, Ten, which has sold 9,869,000 copies.
Vedder enters Top Music Videos at #1 with Water On The Road: Eddie Vedder Live. The video sold 11K copies, which allowed it to unseat AC/DC's Live At River Plate, which had topped the chart the last three weeks. Pearl Jam reached #1 on Top Music Videos with Touring Band 2000 (for five weeks in 2001) and Immagine In Cornice/Picture 1 (for one week in 2007).
Lil Wayne's "How To Love" vaults from #52 to #5 in its second week (its first full week) on Hot Digital Songs. The song entered the Hot 100 last week at #69. How high will it climb this week? Check back later today when we post Chart Watch: Songs.
Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 albums.
1. Lady Gaga, Born This Way, 174,000. The album logs its second week at #1. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "The Edge Of Glory," which holds at #4 for the second week.
2. Adele, 21, 121,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #3 to #2 in its 15th week. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Rolling In The Deep," which hold at #1 for the fifth straight week.
3. Death Cab for Cutie, Codes And Keys, 102,000. This new entry is the group's third straight top five album. It follows Plans (#4 in 2005) and Narrow Stairs (#1 in 2008). "You Are A Tourist" enters Hot Digital Songs at #153.
4. Eddie Vedder, Ukulele Songs, 71,000. This new entry is Vedder's first solo studio album. He debuted and peaked at #11 with the 2007 soundtrack to Sean Penn's Into The Wild.
5. My Morning Jacket, Circuital, 55,000. This new entry is the group's second top 10 (and first top five) album. Evil Urges hit #9 in 2008. "Circuital" enters Hot Digital Songs at #86.
6. Brad Paisley, This Is Country Music, 53,000. The album drops from #2 to #6 in its second week. It holds at #1 on the Country Albums chart. "Old Alabama" (featuring Alabama) holds at #68 for the second week on Hot Digital Songs.
8. Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party, 33,000. The album inches up from #9 to #8 in its 31st week. This is its ninth week in the top 10. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Dirt Road Anthem," which jumps from #23 to #16.
9. Flogging Molly, Speed Of Darkness, 25,000. This new entry is the group's second top 10 album. Float debuted and peaked at #4 in 2008. "Don't Shut 'Em Down" enters Hot Digital Songs at #112.
10. Soundtrack, Glee, The Music: Season Two Volume 6, 25,000. The album drops from #4 to #10 in its second week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Light Up The World" drops from #17 to #97. "Pretending" drops from #21 to #120.
Four albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Maybach Music Groups Presents: Self Made, Vol. I drops from #5 to #12, NKOTBSB's NKOTBSB drops from #7 to #22, Foster The People's Torches drops from #8 to #25 and Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More dips from #10 to #11.
Adele's 2008 album 19 jumps from #21 to #15. It's #1 on Top Catalog Albums for the 14th time in the past 16 weeks. Among all albums, it's #33 for the year-to-date. (By comparison, last year's top catalog album, Michael Jackson's Number Ones, ranked #78 among all albums for the year.)
Trin-I-Tee 5:7's Angel & Chanelle bows at #20. It's the highest-charting album to date for the female contemporary gospel trio, which first charted in 1998...Black Stone Cherry's Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea debuts at #29. It's the Southern rock band's second top 30 album...Jordan Knight's Unfinished debuts at #48. With New Kids on The Block, Knight amassed five top 10 albums between 1989 and last week, when NKOTBSB reached #7.
Dave Matthews Band's Live At Wrigley Field debuts at #49. Jimmy Buffett had a hit video with the same title in 2006. The Police, Rascal Flatts and the high-powered duo of Elton John and Billy Joel have also performed at the fabled Chicago baseball stadium...Country Strong holds at #71. It's the top-ranking soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie for the 14th week.
X-Men: First Class, the fifth installment in the X-Men franchise, was #1 at the box-office over the weekend. It bumps off the sequel to The Hangover, which in turn bumped off the fourth installment in the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise. Sequels didn't used to be much of a factor in movie-making. This started to change with the success of The Godfather Part II in 1974. (The soundtrack to X-Men: First Class sold 1K copies this week, too few to make The Billboard 200.)
Guns N' Roses' 2004 compilation Greatest Hits tops the 5 million mark in sales this week. It's the band's second album to reach this plateau. Its 1987 debut, Appetite For Destruction, has sold 5,082,000 copies since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991. (It sold millions more copies in its first four years of release.)
Two weeks ago, Carrie Underwood became the first former American Idol contestant to top the 2 million mark in U.S. sales with three different albums. She achieved the feat as Play On topped the 2 million mark. It follows Some Hearts, which is up to 7,110,000, and Carnival Ride, which is up to 3,198,000. Three former Idol contestants (Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken and Daughtry) have each amassed two million-selling albums. Four more (Ruben Studdard, Fantasia, Jordin Sparks and David Cook) have each notched one.
I hope you're going to watch the Tony Awards on Sunday night. The Book Of Mormon is heavily favored to win Best Musical. It's vying with The Scottsboro Boys and musical adaptations of the movies Catch Me If You Can and Sister Act. Anything Goes and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying are competing for Best Musical Revival. (Anything Goes originally opened on Broadway in November 1934. How To Succeed... originally opened in October 1961.) The cast album to The Book Of Mormon has sold 20K digital copies in three weeks. The CD was released yesterday. Expect it to return to the chart next week.
Coming Attractions: Tech N9ne's All 6's And 7's and All Time Low's Dirty Work are expected to be next week's top new entries, each with sales in the range of 50K. Ronnie Dunn's solo debut, Ronnie Dunn, is expected to start with sales of about 45K. Dunn notched nine top 10 albums as one-half of Brooks & Dunn. Also due: Arctic Monkeys' Suck It And See, Def Leppard's Walmart exclusive Mirrorball: Live And More, Iron Maiden's From Fear To Eternity: The Best Of 1990-2010 and Randy Travis' Anniversary Celebration.