Tony Bennett 's Duets II enters The Billboard 200 at #1. This enables the 85-year old pop legend to supplant Bob Dylan as the oldest artist ever to land a #1 album. Dylan was nearly 68 when he topped the chart in May 2009 with Together Through Life. The fact that Bennett is more than 17 years older than the previous record holder suggests that this record is likely to be his for keeps.
Bennett also tops Frank Sinatra as the oldest artist ever to land a top 10 album. Sinatra was 79 in December 1993 when he made his final appearance in the top 10 during his lifetime. Coincidentally, his album was also titled Duets II. Grammy winner Phil Ramone produced both albums.
Surprisingly, this is Bennett's first #1 album. Bennett first cracked what is now The Billboard 200 in February 1957 with his album Tony. This enables him to set yet another record, for the longest wait for a #1 album. His more than 54 year wait surpasses Neil Diamond's wait of nearly 42 years between his first chart album (The Feel Of Neil Diamond in October 1966) and his first #1 (Home Before Dark in May 2008.)
This is Bennett's fourth top 10 album. He hit #5 with back-to-back albums in the early 1960s, I Left My Heart In San Francisco and I Wanna Be Around. He reached #3, his previous best mark, in 2006 with Duets: An American Classic. Bennett is the first artist to send two Duets albums into the top five.
Shameless Plug: Bennett's album is the third Duets collection to reach #1, following Ray Charles' Genius Loves Company and Reba McEntire's Reba: Duets. On Friday, I'll have a Chart Watch Extra in which I look at all 21 Duets albums to make the top half of The Billboard 200 through the years. Where else will you find The Notorious B.I.G. and Anne Murray on the same list? Check it out on Thursday.
Duets II is almost certain to win a Grammy in February as Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. This will be Bennett's 11th victory in that category, which was introduced in 1991. His closest rival is Michael Buble, who has won three times in the category. Buble sings with Bennett on the new album, just as he did on Bennett's first Duets collection.
Buble and k.d lang are the only artists to appear as guests on both of these albums. Bennett and lang have a long history of collaborations. They teamed to sing "Moonglow" on Bennett's 1994 album MTV Unplugged and "Keep The Faith, Baby" on his 2001 album Playin' With My Friends: Bennett Sings The Blues. The two singers also collaborated on an entire album, A Wonderful World, in 2002.
"How Do You Keep The Music Playing" is the only song to appear on both of Bennett's Duets albums. He sang it with George Michael on the first album and sings it with Aretha Franklin on the second. (Franklin and Michael were, of course, duet partners on 1987's chart-topper "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)." Bennett originally wanted Franklin to join him on "Lost In The Stars" (from the 1949 musical of the same name), but she preferred "How Do You Keep..." Bennett knows enough not to argue with a diva.
Harry Belafonte's Calypso was the #1 album the week Bennett first cracked the album chart. The album, which featured the hit "Banana Boat (Day-O)," was a sensation, logging 31 weeks at #1. But the calypso craze was short-lived. While Belafonte remains a widely-admired star, he hasn't had a top 10 album since 1962, and he hasn't appeared on The Billboard 200 at all since 1970. This goes to show how extraordinary it is that Bennett has been able to connect with several generations.
Duets II debuts at #5 in the U.K. It's Bennett's first top five album in that country. Bennett first cracked the U.K. album chart in 1965 with I Left My Heart In San Francisco.
We have a broad range of ages in this week's top 10, from 85-year old Tony Bennett to a pair of teen acts: the R&B group Mindless Behavior (whose four members are all 14) and 19-year old Demi Lovato. And just outside the top 10 is 14-year old Cody Simpson.
Adele's 21 dips from #2 to #3 in its 31st week. It's the first album in Nielsen SoundScan history (which dates to 1991) to spend its first 31 weeks inside the top five. This breaks a record set by Whitney Houston's The Bodyguard soundtrack, which spent its first 30 weeks in the top five.
21 is virtually certain to become the year's #1 CD and the year's #1 digital album. Surprisingly, no album has ever topped both year-end tallies. I wrote all about it in a Chart Watch Extra. If you missed it, here's a link. (I just updated all the sales tallies, so they're current.)
Gavin DeGraw's fourth album, Sweeter, bows at #8. This puts DeGraw back in the top 10 after his last album, Free, peaked at #16 in 2009. Press reports about DeGraw's really bad night in New York City (he was mugged and then hit by a car) put a renewed focus on the singer. (Note to publicists and managers: I wouldn't recommend this as a buzz-building strategy.)
Pearl Jam's Pearl Jam Twenty soundtrack bows at #10. It's the first soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie to crack the top 10 since Country Strong in January. This is the band's 10th top 10 album. The title is of course a play on the title of Pearl Jam's 1991 album Ten, which is the best-selling album to emerge from the Seattle grunge scene of the early 1990s. Ten has sold 9,886,000 copies. The runner-up from the Seattle scene, Nirvana's Nevermind, has sold 8,848,000.
Cameron Crowe, who directed Pearl Jam Twenty, has long been a fan of the band. Crowe included two Pearl Jam songs, "Breath" and "State Of Love And Trust," on the soundtrack to his 1992 film Singles. That soundtrack reached #6 in October 1992.
Most of Crowe's films have spawned hit soundtracks, which isn't surprising given his background as a rock journalist (notably for Rolling Stone). Other Crowe films to spawn charted soundtracks are Fast Times At Ridgemont High (#54), Say Anything... (#62), Jerry Maguire (#49), Almost Famous (#43), Vanilla Sky (#109) and Elizabethtown (#68).
Crowe and Danny Bramson won a Grammy for the Almost Famous soundtrack, which memorably featured Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." The album was voted Best Compilation Soundtrack of 2000.
In addition to having a Duets album at #1 on The Billboard 200, a duet ("Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera) holds at #1 on Hot Digital Songs for a fifth week. Will it remain on top of the Hot 100 for a fourth week? Check back later today when we post Chart Watch: Songs.
Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 albums.
1. Tony Bennett, Duets II, 179,000. This new entry is the first #1 album of Bennett's career. It's his fourth top five album. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "The Lady Is A Tramp" (with Lady Gaga) debuts at #102. "Body And Soul" (with Amy Winehouse) drops from #57 to #139.
2. Lady Antebellum, Own The Night, 125,000. The former #1 album dips to #2 in its second week. It's #1 on Top Country Albums for the second week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Just A Kiss" rebounds from #27 to #12. "We Owned The Night" jumps from #79 to #62.
3. Adele, 21, 117,000. The former #1 album dips from #2 to #3 in its 31st week. It has been in the top five the entire time. Five songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Someone Like You," which holds at #2.
4. Demi Lovato, Unbroken, 96,000. This new entry is Lovato's third album. All three have made the top five. The album sold 53,000 digital copies, which puts it at #1 on Top Digital Albums. Seven songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Skyscraper," which rebounds from #42 to #31.
5. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter IV, 84,000. The former #1 album drops from #3 to #5 in its fourth week. Seven songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "How To Love," which drops from #13 to #18.
6. NeedToBreathe, The Reckoning, 49,000. This new entry is the Christian rock group's first top 10 album. The Outsiders hit #20 in 2009. The group is opening for Taylor Swift on her current tour. "The Reckoning" enters Hot Digital Songs at #98.
7. Mindless Behavior, #1 Girl, 36,000. This new entry is the R&B teen quartet's debut album. "Mrs. Right" jumps from #154 to #125 on Hot Digital Songs.
8. Gavin DeGraw, Sweeter, 34,000. This new entry is DeGraw's second top 10 album. Gavin DeGraw hit #7 in 2008. "Not Over You" jumps from #52 to #39 on Hot Digital Songs.
9. Jay-Z/Kanye West, Watch The Throne, 31,000. The former #1 album holds at #9 in its seventh week. It has been in the top 10 the entire time. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Otis" (featuring Otis Redding) drops from #33 to #49. "Ni**as In Paris" jumps from #54 to #50.
10. Pearl Jam, Pearl Jam Twenty, soundtrack, 27,000. This new entry is the band's 10th top 10 album. It's the week's #1 soundtrack. This marks the first time since April that the week's top soundtrack has been from a theatrical movie rather than a TV show.
The Beatles' 1 drops from #6 to #17. It's #1 on Top Catalog Albums for the third straight week (and the 12th week overall). Five other albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Brantley Gilbert's Halfway To Heaven drops from #4 to #16, Staind's Staind drops from #5 to #28, George Strait's Here For A Good Time drops from #7 to #11, Dream Theater's A Dramatic Turn Of Events dives from #8 to #57 and The Devil Wears Prada's Dead Throne plummets from #10 to #68.
Cody Simpson's Coast To Coast EP bows at #12. The Australian pop singer is 14, a year younger than Justin Bieber was when he released his career-launching EP My World...Thrice's Major/Minor bows at #18. It's the band's fourth top 20 album...Opeth's Heritage bows at #19. It's the band's first top 20 album. Watershed reached #23 in 2008...Tori Amos's Night Of Hunters bows at #24. Unless it kicks in, it will become Amos' first regular studio album to fall short of the top 10 since 1994, when Under The Pink peaked at #12. The album is a departure for Amos: It was recorded entirely with acoustic instruments.
Superheavy's Superheavy bows at #26. All five members of this high-powered quartet have cracked the top 10 on The Billboard 200. Mick Jagger has amassed 36 top 10 albums with the Rolling Stones (yet none on his own). Joss Stone has had three. Dave Stewart had two with Eurythmics. Damian Marley has had two. A.R. Rahman made it with the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack. Given this fire-power, this week's tepid entry is surprising. Which suggests two things: 1) You just never know. 2) Don't hold your breath waiting for Superheavy II.
The Lion King (in 3-D) was #1 at the box-office for the second straight weekend. The soundtrack sold more than 2,000 copies, too few to make The Billboard 200. The Lion King soundtrack has sold 7,803,000 copies since its release in 1994. Only two soundtracks have sold more copies in the Nielsen SoundScan era: Whitney Houston's The Bodyguard (11,827,000) and Titanic (10,143,000).
Celtic Thunder's Storm debuts at #1 on Top Music Videos. It's the Celtic group's second #1 video of the year. Heritage debuted in the top spot in February.
Coming Attractions: Look for J. Cole's Cole World: The Sideline Story to debut at #1 next week with sales in the 225K range. Blink 182's Neighborhoods will probably debut at #2. Four other albums are looking at top 10 debuts: Wilco's The Whole Love, Chickenfoot's III, Switchfoot's Vice Verses and Mastodon's The Hunter. Also due: Machine Head's Unto The Locust and Gloria Estefan's Miss Little Havana. Two catalog titles, Nirvana's Nevermind and Pink Floyd's The Dark Side Of The Moon, will also chart high.
Photo by Michael Buble & Tony Bennett by KMazur/WireImage