Dave Matthews Band's Big Whiskey And The GrooGrux King enters The Billboard 200 at #1 with first-week sales of 424,000 copies. It's the group's fifth consecutive studio album to debut at #1 with first-week sales north of 400,000 units. This streak started with Before These Crowded Streets in May 1998 and has continued with Everyday, Busted Stuff, Stand Up and now Big Whiskey. Only four other groups have reached #1 with five or more consecutive studio albums. The Rolling Stones rang the bell with eight consecutive studio releases, from 1971's Sticky Fingers to 1981's Tattoo You. The Beatles scored with seven straight studio albums, from 1965's Beatles '65 to 1969's Abbey Road. Metallica has topped the chart with its last five studio albums, from 1991's Metallica to last year's Death Magnetic. The Kingston Trio also topped the chart with five straight studio albums, from 1958's The Kingston Trio to 1960's String Along.
Three other groups had five consecutive #1 albums, but they weren't all regular studio releases. Chicago's streak from 1972 to 1975 included the compilation Chicago IX-Chicago's Greatest Hits. Paul McCartney & Wings' volley from 1973 to 1977 included the live Wings Over America. U2's run from 1987 to 1997 included the Rattle And Hum soundtrack. (While we're at it, the Beatles followed Abbey Road with another #1 album, Let It Be, which I'm classifying as a soundtrack rather than a studio album. I know: picky, picky.)
Big Whiskey is dedicated to DMB founding member LeRoi Moore, the band's sax player, who died Aug. 19 from complications stemming from an ATV accident in June. The album's first-week tally of 424,000 copies is the third biggest opening so far in 2009, following Eminem's Relapse, which bowed with 608,000 two weeks ago, and U2's No Line On The Horizon, which opened with 484,000 in March. More than 134,000 copies of Big Whiskey were sold digitally, the second highest tally of 2009 (trailing only U2, which sold 155,000 digital copies in its first week).
In addition to the DMB releases, Matthews has released one studio album as a solo artist. 2003's Some Devil debuted and peaked at #2, with first-week sales of 469,000.
The Comeback Trail: Whitney Houston's first studio album in nearly seven years is due Sept. 1. Houston's last studio album, Just Whitney..., debuted (and peaked) at #9 in December 2002. It has sold 737,000 copies to date, a disappointment by Houston's standards. (Houston's previous studio album, 1998's My Love Is Your Love, has sold a healthier 2,753,000 copies.) The diva's first two albums, Whitney Houston and Whitney, were both blockbusters. They logged a combined total of 25 weeks at #1. The Houston-dominated 1992 soundtrack to The Bodyguard has sold 11,807,000 copies, which makes it the fifth best-selling album of the Nielsen/SoundScan era (which began in 1991). Will the new album dominate the charts like prime Whitney or make a fleeting impression like Just Whitney...? That's the million-dollar question.
Houston was just 21 when her debut album was released. She'll be 46 by the time this album comes out. But that doesn't mean it can't or won't happen. Tina Turner was also 46 in 1984 when she made her dramatic comeback with the #1 smash "What's Love Got To Do With It." Houston's cousin Dionne Warwick was 45 in 1986 when she hit #1 with "That's What Friends Are For" (which wasn't really a comeback hit, but close enough). It's a little strange to think that Houston is as old as those women were back then, but that's what happens. So how will the album do? I think Whitney will get a shot, but the album will have to be great. "Pretty good" won't be enough. Is that fair? To quote the title of a 1999 Houston hit, "It's Not Right But It's Okay."
Nickelback's Dark Horse tops the 2 million mark in U.S. sales this week. It's the Canadian rock band's fourth album in a row to top the 2 million sales mark. But it took considerably longer to get there than the band's last three albums did. Dark Horse took 29 weeks to reach the 2 million mark. 2001's Silver Side Up and 2005's All The Right Reasons both rang the bell in 14 weeks. 2003's The Long Road took 13 weeks.
Last week, Twilight became the first theatrical movie soundtrack to top the 2 million mark since 2003's Chicago. Twilight has sold 2,037,000 copies. Chicago is up to 2,339,000. Twilight rebounds from #17 to #15 in its 31st week on The Billboard 200. The album has ranked in the top 20 for its entire run.
Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow" logs its 10th week at #1 on Hot Digital Songs. Only one other song has topped the chart this many times since the chart's 2004 launch. "Low" by Flo Rida featuring T-Pain had 13 weeks on top. But "Boom Boom" has been out front from its first week. "Low" took five weeks to reach #1. "Boom Boom" sold 205,000 downloads this week, bringing its 10-week total to 2,586,000.
Song Scorecard: The All-American Rejects' robust "Gives You Hell" tops the 3 million mark in paid downloads this week. The group's current album, When The World Comes Down, has sold 422,000 copies.
Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 albums.
1. Dave Matthews Band, Big Whiskey And The GrooGrux King, 424,000. This new entry is Matthews' 14th top 10 album in the past 13 years. The tally includes a solo album and two collaborations with Tim Reynolds. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Funny The Way It Is," which vaults to #25.
2. Eminem, Relapse, 141,000. The album slips to #2 after two weeks on top. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "We Made You," which jumps to #19.
3. 311, Uplifter, 60,000. This new entry is the veteran rock band's highest-charting album to date. It surpasses Transistor, which peaked at #4 in 1997. This is the band's seventh top 10 album.
4. Chickenfoot, Chickenfoot, 52,000. This new entry is the debut album by a group consisting of Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Chad Smith (drummer with Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Michael Anthony (former bassist with Van Halen). Hagar and Anthony were bandmates in Van Halen from 1985 to 1996.
5. Green Day, 21st Century Breakdown, 52,000. The former #1 album slips from #2 to #5. This is its fourth week in the top five. "Know Your Enemy" dips to #28 on Hot Digital Songs.
6. Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana, Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack, 50,000. The former #1 album dips from #3 to #6. This is its 11th week in the top 10. (It's #1 on the country chart for the sixth week.) Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "The Climb," which holds at #16.
7. Taking Back Sunday, New Again, 48,000. This new entry is the New York-based rock band's third album in a row to debut in the top 10. But it's lagging a little behind the two earlier albums. Where You Want To Be opened at #3 in August 2004. Louder Now bowed at #2 in April 2006.
8. Lady GaGa, The Fame, 47,000. The album drops from #5 to #8. This is the album's 16th week in the top 10. Five songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Lovegame," which jumps to #2.
9. Kenny Chesney, Greatest Hits II, 39,000. The compilation slips from #6 to #9. This is its third week in the top 10. "Out Last Night" enters Hot Digital Songs at #13.
10. Taylor Swift, Fearless, 36,000. The former #1 album dips from #9 to #10. This is the album's 27th week in the top 10. The album has sold 3,321,000 copies, proof that "triple platinum" hits are still possible. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "You Belong With Me," which jumps to #24.
Four albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Marilyn Manson's The High End Of Low dives from #4 to #24, Wisin Y Yandel's La Revolucion drops from #7 to #18, Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest plummets from #8 to #39, and Rascal Flatts' Unstoppable slips from #10 to #14.
Rancid's Let The Dominoes Fall bows at #11, with first-week sales of 33,000. This is the band's first album since Indestructible was released in August 2003, back when President Bush was still popular, the economy was healthy and album sales were brisk. So how do the two albums stack up? Indestructible debuted a little lower (#15), but with a stronger opening tally (51,000).
Elvis Costello's Secret, Profane & Sugarcane bows at #13. It's the third-highest charting album of Costello's career, trailing only 1979's Armed Forces, which reached #10, and 1980's Get Happy!!, which hit #11. Costello first charted in December 1977 with My Aim Is True. The Englishman famously lost the Grammy for Best New Artist to A Taste Of Honey. Well, let's see. Costello is still on the charts in 2009. A Taste Of Honey last cracked The Billboard 200 in 1982. This award isn't just about forecasting which act will have the longest career as a viable recording artist, but that's at least part of the equation. And in this case the voters got it wrong. Not to worry: Costello will probably pick up a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award one day. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for A Taste Of Honey to get one.
Kings Of Leon's Only By The Night jumps from #15 to #12, its highest ranking since it debuted at #5 in September...Mitchel Musso's Mitchel Musso bows at #19. Musso plays Oliver Oken in Hannah Montana...Paolo Nutini's Sunny Side Up debuts at #57. The album opens at #1 in the U.K. this week...Journey's Greatest Hits returns to #1 on the Catalog Albums chart for a fifth week. The album sold 7,000 copies this week and would have ranked #82 on the big chart if older, catalog albums were eligible to compete there.
Neil Young's Neil Young Archives, Vol. 1: 1963-1972 debuts at #102. This is one of the most expansive (and expensive) packages ever to crack the chart. The opus is available in three formats, encompassing 10 discs on Blu-ray or DVD, or as an eight-CD set. The price tag runs from $299 for the Blu-ray option to $99 for the CDs. Since 1991, Bob Dylan's fans have been treated to a similar archival bounty, but in periodic installments. The Bootleg Series has entailed six volumes. The first was a three-disk set; all subsequent editions have been two-disk sets. Dylan's approach seems to be more in tune with the times, both in terms of the economy and in the way that people can only process so much information at one time. Dylan's six Bootleg Series albums have sold a combined total of 1,543,000 copies, as of this week. A final note: Young was one of the first rock artists to have a major archival retrospective with the three-disk Decade set in 1977.
The New Broadway cast recording of West Side Story debuts at #123. This is the fourth time that an album of this landmark Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim musical has hit the chart. The original cast album charted in March 1958 (before Prince, Madonna or Michael Jackson were even born.) The album peaked at #5. The subsequent movie soundtrack logged 54 weeks at #1 in 1962-1963. The Songs Of West Side Story, featuring performances by such artists as Aretha Franklin, Kenny Loggins and Wynonna, climbed to #65 in 1996. These four albums have logged a combined total of 401 weeks on the chart. The new production of West Side Story was nominated for a Tony for Best Revival of a Musical, but lost to Hair. Look for both of these albums, as well as such new hits as Billy Elliot-The Musical, to surge next week. (The Tonys aired Sunday night, at the close of the tracking week.)
Heads Up: Black Eyed Peas have been hitting The Billboard 200 since 1998, but have yet to land a #1. That's likely to change next week with the arrival of The E.N.D. (Energy Never Dies). Pleasure P, who topped the chart in 2007 with Pretty Ricky's Late Night Special, releases his solo debut album, The Introduction Of Marcus Cooper. Also due: Iron Maiden's Flight 666, Mos Def's The Ecstatic, Sonic Youth's The Eternal, Teena Marie's Congo Square, Rhett Miller's Rhett Miller and Aventura's The Last.