Jackie Evancho, a 10-year old vocal prodigy who was the runner-up in September on America's Got Talent, enters The Billboard 200 at #2 with O Holy Night. Evancho is the youngest artist ever to land a top 10 album. Michael Jackson was 11 in 1970 when the Jackson 5 landed their first top 10 album. Zac Hanson was 11 in 1997 when Hanson first scored. Stevie Wonder, LeAnn Rimes and Miley Cyrus were each 13 when they first reached the top 10 (counting Hannah Montana for Cyrus).
O Holy Night is a four-song EP which consists of two Christmas standards ("O Holy Night" and "Silent Night") and two classical crossover pieces. Evancho sang one of those pieces, "Pie Jesu," on both America's Got Talent and Oprah. The singer, who lives with her family near Pittsburgh, has also appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Today Show and The View. (When I was 10, I had a paper route.)
Evancho first charted last summer with an (aptly-titled) album, Prelude To A Dream, which debuted and peaked at #121. The independently-released, digital-only album was thereafter pulled from the market on the theory that it didn't reflect the singer's current sound. Evancho's new release is on Columbia Records.
(Amazingly, Evancho isn't the only 10-year old who is making noise on this week's charts. Willow, the daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, is riding high with her hit "Whip My Hair," which reached #11 on the Hot 100 a few weeks ago. Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Fallon (as Neil Young) sang a deadpan parody of the song last week on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.)
O Holy Night debuts just behind Susan Boyle's The Gift, which holds at #1 for the second week. This marks the first time that holiday collections have held down the top two spots on The Billboard 200 since December 1957, when Bing Crosby's Merry Christmas and Elvis Presley's Elvis' Christmas Album were #1 and #2.
Boyle was the runner-up in 2009 on Britain's Got Talent, so both of this week's top two albums are by artists who rose to fame on reality TV shows. Simon Cowell is credited with discovering both artists.
Boyle's album sold 335,000 copies this week, a 5% increase over its first-week total of 318,000. The Gift is only the third album so far this year to top 300K in each of its first two weeks. It follows Eminem's Recovery and Taylor Swift's Speak Now. Far from posting increases in their second weeks, those albums experienced steep second-week declines (which is far more common). Recovery dropped 58% in sales in its second week. Sales of Speak Now dropped by 69%.
Two factors led to Boyle's strong second week. Her audience is older, and as such is less inclined to rush out and snap up an album in its first week of release. Also, The Gift is mostly a Christmas album. Its appeal will grow as we get closer to the holidays.
Rihanna's Loud debuts at #3, giving us an all-female top three for the first time since January. As the year began, female solo artists held down the entire top five for two weeks running. Boyle was part of the action then, as she is now. Rihanna's album sold 77,000 digital copies (out of 207K total), which puts it at #1 on the digital chart.
But the best news for Rihanna is on the Hot 100. "Only Girl (In The World)" will rise to #1 when that chart is officially released tomorrow. "Only Girl" is Rihanna's fourth #1 hit on the Hot 100 so far this year, following "Rude Boy," Eminem's "Love The Way You Lie" (on which Rihanna is featured) and "What's My Name?" (featuring Drake), which hit the top spot just two weeks ago. Rihanna is the first artist to amass four #1 hits in a calendar year since Usher scored in 2004.
"Only Girl (In The World)" hit #1 in the U.K. last week. It's Rihanna's third song to reach #1 in both the U.S. and the U.K., following "Umbrella" (featuring Jay-Z) and "Take A Bow." Among female artists, only Madonna has had more transatlantic #1 hits (five). Whitney Houston is tied with Rihanna with three.
Two songs from Glee are listed in the top 10 on Hot Digital Songs for the first time in the show's history. Gwyneth Paltrow's cover of Cee Lo Green's "Forget You" debuts at #1, based on sales of 192K copies. The cast's medley of Gene Kelly's 1952 classic "Singin' In The Rain" and Rihanna/Jay-Z's 2007 smash "Umbrella" debuts at #7, based on sales of 140K copies. This is Glee's first "mash-up" to make the top 10.
Green's original version of "F*** You (Forget You)" vaults from #12 to #2. It sold 191K copies, putting it a little more than 1,000 copies behind Paltrow's version. This pushes Green's version over the 1 million mark in paid downloads. (For all this multi-media attention, Green's album, The Lady Killer, drops from #9 to #39 in its second week on The Billboard 200.)
Paltrow is also featured on the Country Strong soundtrack, which was last week's top-charting soundtrack to a theatrically-released film. In 2000, she had a #1 hit on the adult contemporary chart in a duet with Huey Lewis. That's more chart success than a lot of full-time music acts have had.
Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album enters The Billboard 200 at #8. It's the seventh Glee title to reach the top 10 in a little more than a year. (The tally includes four full-length albums and three EPs.) This is the lowest entry position for any Glee album or EP to date, but the album may well move up after the Glee Christmas episode airs. Glee is the first series in television history to spawn more than five top 10 albums (during the run of the show).
Eminem's Recovery this week becomes the first album to sell 3 million copies in 2010. This is the earliest in the year that an album has topped 3 million in year-to-date sales since 2006, when the first High School Musical album hit that plateau in the week ending Sept. 3. Josh Groban's Noel was the only album to top the 3 million mark in 2007. It reached that plateau in the week ending Dec. 23. In 2008, no album reached 3 million. Taylor Swift's Fearless was the first to top the 3 million mark in 2009. It rang the bell in the week ending Dec. 27. This is a little bit of good news for the beleaguered music industry.
Here's the top 10 on Hot Digital Songs. The Glee version of "Forget You" debuts at #1 (192K). Cee Lo Green's original version of "F*** You (Forget You)" vaults from #12 to #2 (191K). Ke$ha's "We R Who We R" dips from #2 to #3 (189K). Katy Perry's "Firework" holds at #4 (175K). P!nk's "Raise Your Glass" holds at #5 (171K). Rihanna featuring Drake's "What's My Name?" holds at #6 (147K). The Glee version of "Singin' In The Rain"/"Umbrella" debuts at #7 (140K). The Black Eyed Peas' "The Time (Dirty Bit)" drops from #3 to #8 (140K). Rihanna's "Only Girl (In The World)" dips from #8 to #9 (131K). Far*East Movement featuring Cataracs & Dev's "Like A G6" drops from #7 to #10 (130K).
Three of the acts that debut in the top 10 on this week's Billboard 200 have reason to be both pleased and a little concerned. Kid Rock, who debuts at #5, opened at #1 with his last album. Rascal Flatts, which debuts at #6, bowed at #1 with its last four studio albums. Keith Urban, who debuts at #7, started in the top three with his last three studio albums. These lower debuts are largely a function of the logjam in the top 10. With so many superstars releasing albums at the same time, some acts are bound to lose ground in the chart wars.
The outlook is worse for Nelly, who debuts at #10 with sales of just 64K (compared to 140K or more for every other album in the top 10). Nelly opened in the top three with his last five studio albums. The slow start is not for want of a hit. Nelly's current hit, "Just A Dream," tops 2 million in paid downloads this week. It's his first 2-million-seller.
Shameless Plug: The Beatles were late to the digital "Revolution," but they're "Here, There and Everywhere" on the digital charts in the week after they finally allowed their music to be sold digitally. Forty seven Beatles songs enter the Hot Digital Songs chart this week, while 17 of the group's albums enter the Top Digital Albums chart. I have all the details in a Chart Watch Extra. Here's a link.
Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 albums.
1. Susan Boyle, The Gift, 335,000. The album holds at #1 for the second week. It's the first #1 album to post a sales increase in its second week atop the chart since Michael Buble's Crazy Love in October 2009.
3. Rihanna, Loud, 207,000. This new entry is Rihanna's fifth studio album in a row to make the top 10; her fourth in a row to make the top five. Five songs from the album are listed in the top 10 on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "What's Your Name?" (featuring Drake), which holds at #6.
4. Josh Groban, Illuminations, 191,000. This new entry is Groban's sixth top 10 album. Groban's last album, Noel, debuted at #10 in 2007. His last non-holiday studio album, Awake, debuted at #2 in 2006.
5. Kid Rock, Born Free, 189,000. This new entry is Kid's sixth top 10 album. That's his entire output since his 1999 breakthrough except for a 2006 live album.
6. Rascal Flatts, Nothing Like This, 165,000. This new entry is the country trio's seventh straight top 10 album. It's the band's sixth #1 album on the country chart. "Why Wait" drops from #114 to #177 on Hot Digital Songs.
7. Keith Urban, Get Closer, 162,000. This new entry is Urban's fourth top 10 album. "Put You In A Song" drops from #95 to #107 on Hot Digital Songs.
8. Various Artists, Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album, 161,000. This new entry is the seventh Glee album or EP to crack the top 10. It's also the week's top soundtrack. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "O Holy Night" debuts at #116. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" bows at #179.
9. Taylor Swift, Speak Now, 146,000. The former #1 album drops from #2 to #9 in its fourth week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Mine" drops from #42 to #56. "Back To December" drops from #51 to #74.
10. Nelly, 5.0, 63,000. This new entry is the rapper's sixth top 10 album. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Just A Dream" drops from #9 to #11. "Liv Tonight" (featuring Keri Hilson) debuts at #46.
Eight albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Kid Cudi's Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Rager drops from #3 to #21. Now 36 drops from #4 to #13, Bon Jovi's Bon Jovi Greatest Hits drops from #5 to #18, Jason Aldean's My Kinda Party drops from #6 to #12, Reba's All The Women I Am drops from #7 to #33, Sugarland's The Incredible Machine drops from #8 to #15, Cee Lo Green's The Lady Killer drops from #9 to #39 and Lil Wayne's I Am Not A Human Being drops from #10 to #31.
A Day To Remember's What Separates Me From You opens at #11. This is the metal band's first top 20 album...P!nk's Greatest Hits...So Far!!! bows at #14. This is P!nk's fifth album to crack the top 20, though it failed to follow the other four into the top 10. Greatest hits albums simply don't mean what they used to.
Bruce Springsteen's The Promise bows at #16. The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story debuts at #27. The former album includes 21 previously-unreleased songs that were recorded during the sessions that produced Springsteen's 1978 album Darkness At The Edge Of Town. The latter album is a three-CD, three-DVD box set. (If the sales for the two albums had been combined, Springsteen would have debuted at #10 this week, which would have upped his total of top 10 albums to 17.) Darkness, which reached #5 in July 1978, was Springsteen's follow-up to his 1975 breakthrough album Born To Run. (That album also inspired a successful archival project, Born To Run: 30th Anniversary Edition, which hit #18 in November 2005.)
Contemporary Christian star Chris Tomlin is the only artist with two albums in this week's top 20. His new album And If Our God Is For Us... bows at #17, becoming his fourth consecutive top 20 album. His 2009 album Glory In The Highest: Christmas Songs Of Worship dips from #19 to #20. The latter album is #1 on the Catalog chart for the second straight week. Tomlin has headed the Catalog chart for 11 weeks this year, more than any other artist.
Lee DeWyze's Live It Up bows at #19. This is the lowest entry for an album by an American Idol winner. Last year, Kris Allen became the first Idol winner to fall short of the top 10 with his debut. (Kris Allen opened and peaked at #11.) While DeWyze and Allen haven't set off the sparks of such Idol superstars as Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, these diminished chart numbers are largely a reflection of the series being past its peak. It's still a hit show, but it's not the force it was. If Clarkson and Underwood had won the competition in the last two years, instead of in Seasons 1 and 4, would they have been able to overcome this Idol fatigue and still chart powerfully? Discuss amongst yourselves.
Norah Jones' ...Featuring Norah Jones bows at #29. This collection of duets is Jones' first album to fall short of the top 10.
Take That's Progress enters the U.K. chart at #1. The album sold nearly 520,000 copies during the week, according to the Official Charts Company. That's the biggest one-week sales tally in the U.K. since Oasis' Be Here Now, which sold 663,000 in its first week in August 1997. Progress is Take That's sixth #1 album in the U.K.
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Part One was #1 at the box-office over the weekend. All seven movies in the series have opened at #1. The score by Alexandre Desplat enters The Billboard 200 at #74. It's the week's highest-charting soundtrack to a theatrically-released film. All seven Potter soundtracks have made the top half of The Billboard 200. This is the first Potter movie that Desplat has scored. John Williams did the honors on the first three. Patrick Doyle scored the fourth. Nicholas Hooper handled the last two.
Song Scorecard: Three songs top the 1 million mark in paid downloads this week: Cee Lo Green's "F*** You (Forget You)," Sugarland's "Stuck Like Glue" and OneRepublic's "Secrets."
Coming Attractions: Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday are expected to enter The Billboard 200 in the top two slots next week. Also due: My Chemical Romance's Danger Days The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys, Ne-Yo's Libra Scale, Ke$ha's Cannibal, Lloyd Banks' H.F.M. 2 (Hunger For More 2), the Burlesque soundtrack, Jay-Z's The Hits Collection-Volume One, Alan Jackson's 34 Number One Hits and Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine: 2010 Remastered.
Be Thankful: What's the best Thanksgiving song of all time? The list would certainly include William DeVaughn's 1974 hit "Be Thankful For What You Got." The Rolling Stones also expressed the day's sentiments perfectly in their 1969 classic "You Can't Always Get What You Want" (the next line: "But if you try sometimes you just might find/You get what you need)." I also like Andrew Gold's 1978 hit "Thank You For Being A Friend," which gained immortality when it was used as the theme song for The Golden Girls. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.