Danity Kane this week becomes the first female group to reach #1 with its first two albums in the 52-year history of Billboard's weekly pop album chart. The group's sophomore album, Welcome To The Dollhouse, opens at #1 with sales of 236,000. This surpasses (if just barely) the opening week tally rung up by the group's eponymous debut album, which bowed in the top spot in August 2006 with sales of 234,000.
Danity Kane is only the fourth female group to reach #1 with any two albums. The Supremes and Dixie Chicks share the lead among female groups with three #1 albums. Destiny's Child, like Danity Kane, has had two.
Will Danity Kane ever be as famous as these other groups? Will one of its members one day follow Diana Ross or Beyonce to superstardom? Place your bets. Three tracks from Danity Kane's album move up on the Hot Digital Tracks chart. "Damaged" jumps from #24 to #15, "Lights Out" debuts at #61 and "Bad Girl" (featuring Missy Elliott) opens at #79. The group's debut album spawned "Show Stopper," a top 10 hit on the Hot 100.
Danity Kane has now tallied as many #1 albums as its mentor, Diddy, who assembled the group for the MTV series, Making The Band 3. As Puff Daddy, Diddy topped the chart with his 1997 debut, No Way Out. As Diddy, he returned to the top spot with the 2006 release, Press Play. (Diddy also had a hand in a 2002 Various Artists album that reached #1-P. Diddy & Bad Boy Records Present...We Invented The Remix.)
Danity Kane's sales performance this week echoes what Rick Ross accomplished last week, when his second album opened at #1 with a larger first-week tally than his debut album had achieved when it bowed on top. (The two acts are operating on remarkably similar timetables. Danity Kane's first album arrived two weeks after Ross' first. This time around, they're one week apart.)
Incidentally, Go-Go's' Beauty And The Beat was the first debut album by a female group to hit #1. It topped the chart for six weeks in 1982. But the pop-rock quintet's second album, Vacation, stalled at #8 later that same year.
Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" jumps to #1 on Top Digital Tracks, with 219,000 paid downloads. That's the highest tally any track has attained since the first week of January. "Bleeding Love" displaces Usher's "Love In This Club," which slips to #2 after three weeks on top. Lewis' Spirit album is due on April 8.
One more thing before we run down the top 10 albums. There is some debate about whether the new Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana album, Best Of Both Worlds Concert, is a soundtrack. There was a Best Of Both Worlds Concert Tour movie, after all. The 3-D concert film spent five weeks in the top 20, and grossed more than $63 million. Yet, the word "soundtrack" doesn't appear on the front of the album. Billboard and Nielsen/SoundScan aren't calling it a soundtrack. But Amazon.com is including it on their soundtrack chart. And Entertainment Weekly referred to it as a soundtrack in this week's issue. So I emailed Joel Whitburn, the publisher of dozens of books that chronicle the history of the Billboard charts, to get his take. Whitburn said he'll list the album under Hannah Montana, with an S code (for soundtrack) in the next edition of his definitive The Billboard Albums book. He'll also list it under Soundtracks, with a cross-reference to the main listing. That's good enough for me. A soundtrack it is.
With that vital matter settled, here's the low-down on this week's top 10 albums.
1. Danity Kane, Welcome To The Dollhouse, 236,000. This is the second biggest weekly sales tally so far in 2008. It trails Jack Johnson's Sleep Through The Static, which opened with sales of 375,000 in February.
2. Various Artists, Now 27, 170,000. The latest installment in the long-running franchise holds at #2 for the second week. It's the 21st regular Now volume to reach the top two. Twelve of these volumes have made #1. This is the ninth to reach #2.
3. Rick Ross, Trilla, 90,000. Last week, this became the first rap album to hit #1 since Jay-Z's American Gangster in November. Both albums logged just one week on top. At least Ross didn't fall as far as Jay-Z, who tumbled all the way to #8. (Ross, whose single "The Boss" dips to #49 on Hot Digital Tracks, is the #1 Floridian on this week's album chart, topping Flo Rida by a little more than 4,000 units.)
4. Flo Rida, Mail On Sundays, 86,000. This past week, nearly as many fans (82,000) paid to download "Low," which has been out for five months, as bought this brand new album. That brings the total of paid downloads for "Low" to 3,377,000-more than any other track in history. Flo Rida has two other tracks in this week's top 30: "Elevator" and "Roll." He had high-powered help on all three tracks, from T-Pain, Timbaland and Sean Kingston, respectively.
5. Jack Johnson, Sleep Through The Static, 67,000. This is Johnson's seventh week in the top five. The album, the year's top-seller, has sold 939,000 copies. Will it top the million mark next week? If it does, I just may have something to say about it.
6. Miley Cyrus/Soundtrack, Hannah Montana 2, 61,000. This TV soundtrack has been in and out of the top 10 for the past 39 weeks. Its total sales are 2,918,000--the highest total of any album in the top 10. This is the second time in eight weeks that there have been two Cyrus/Hannah Montana albums in the top 10 simultaneously. The Non-Stop Dance Party album joined Hannah Montana 2 in the top 10 in February.
8. Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift, 57,000. Swift's debut returns to the top 10 in its 74th week on the chart. It's the oldest album to appear in the top 10 since Nickelback's All The Right Reasons, which was in its 102nd week on the chart when it made its final appearance in the top 10 in September. Three tracks from Swift's album, including the new "Picture To Burn," are riding Hot Digital Tracks. (All The Right Reasons is still riding the top 200, at #59 this week. It has sold 6,695,000 copies, more than any other album on the current chart.)
10. Miley Cyrus/Soundtrack, Best Of Both Worlds Concert, 51,000. This is the #1 movie soundtrack for the second week running. Billboard reports that this is the third "proprietary release" to reach the top 10 since November. That's hip industry jargon for an album that is available at only one retailer. This Wal-Mart exclusive follows Eagles' Long Road Out Of Eden, also a Wal-Mart exclusive, and John Legend's Live In Philadelphia, a Target exclusive.
Four albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Alan Jackson's Good Time slips from #5 to #14, Janet Jackson's Discipline falls from #8 to #17, Erykah Badu's New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War) plummets from #9 to #37, and Fat Joe's The Elephant In The Room free-falls from #6 to #56. Sales of Fat Joe's album dropped by 67%, a higher percentage than any other album in the top 200. (Memo to Fat Joe: I had to bring it up. You might say it was the elephant in the room.)
Michael Jackson's Thriller 25 sold 49,000 copies last week and would have ranked #11 on the big chart if older, catalog albums were allowed to compete there. This ends (for now, at least) a five-week run in which the classic album would have placed in the top 10 if there were no restrictions on what albums could appear there. The album remains #1 on the catalog album chart for the sixth straight week. The Beatles' American Idol-boosted hits compilation 1 jumps to #4 on that list. I bet old chums Jackson and Paul McCartney trade warm, congratulatory messages about this latest chart news. (And perhaps the Clintons and the Obamas will take their next vacation together.)
Gnarls Barkley's second album, The Odd Couple, debuts at #18. The duo's 2006 debut, St. Elsewhere, peaked at #4. Two tracks from the new album enter Hot Digital Tracks. "Going On" opens at #42. "Run (I'm A Natural Disaster)" bows at #99. (And yes, the duo must surely be the first act whose first two albums shared their titles with classic TV shows. And while we're on the TV beat, The Odd Couple is the second hit album so far this year with the same title as a vintage sitcom. It follows Mary J. Blige's Growing Pains. Alan Jackson's Good Time missed joining this odd little list by one letter.)
Other top debuts are Rocko's Self-Made at #21, Sheek Louch's Silverback Gorilla at #41, Celtic Thunder's Celtic Thunder The Show at #48 and an eponymous album by Yael Naim at #55. Yael Naim's "New Soul" rebounds to #9 on Hot Digital Tracks. It was #2 for two weeks in February.
Many family-friendly titles advance on this week's chart, proving that some Easter baskets are topped off by a CD. The Enchanted soundtrack vaults from #148 to #39. The album's sales jumped by 281%, the greatest increase of any non-debuting album. Star Amy Adams' performance of the Oscar-nominated "That's How You Know" enters Hot Digital Tracks at #80.
Heads Up: Due to enter next week's chart are Counting Crows' Saturday Nights And Sunday Mornings, B-52's' Funplex, Panic at the Disco's Pretty. Odd., and an eponymous album by Day26, the current Making The Band winner. Counting Crows debuted at #1 with Recovering The Satellites in 1996. B-52's climbed as high as #4 with the hit-studded Cosmic Thing in 1990. Panic! At The Disco (they have since shed the exclamation point, reflecting, perhaps the uncertainty of the times) reached #13 with their 2005 breakthrough album, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out.
Looking further ahead, Mariah Carey is due April 15 with E=MC2. Madonna follows two weeks later with Hard Candy, her final album through Warner Bros. Counting Crows had a hit album called Hard Candy six years ago. Somehow, I suspect Madonna will find innuendo in that title that escaped Counting Crows. I'd be kind of disappointed if she didn't.