Alicia Keys' As I Am returns to #1 on Nielsen/SoundScan's list of the top-selling albums in the U.S. in a slow (and I mean slow) sales week. The album sold 70,000 copies, the lowest total for a #1 album since last January, when the chart-topper sold between 60,000 and 66,000 copies for three weeks running (limping would be more like it).
For the third week in a row, the #1 track on Hot Digital Tracks—"Low" by Flo Rida Featuring T-Pain—registered more downloads than the #1 album saw in scanned sales. In fact, every track in the top 10 logged more downloads than the #1 album achieved in sales. (Keys' chart-topping tally of 70,000 would have placed it #12 on this week's Hot Digital Tracks chart.) I'll have more on this exciting new world of digital downloads in a minute, but first let's finish off the album discussion.
Fergie's solo debut release, The Dutchess, returns to the top 10. The album has now cracked the top 10 in three calendar years. It opened at #3 in September 2006, reached its peak position of #2 in September 2007 and now rebounds to #10 in January 2008. Other monster albums have appeared in the top 10 in three calendar years, including such recent winners as Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway, Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts and Nickelback's All The Right Reasons. And one blockbuster from long before the SoundScan era made the top 10 in four calendar years. That's The Sound Of Music soundtrack, which made the winners circle each year from 1965 through 1968.
Let's dig deeper into this week's top 10 albums.
1. Alicia Keys, As I Am, 70,000. Keys's album is back on top for the first time since it debuted at #1 in November. Alas, this week's sales tally is less than one-tenth of the total (742,000) with which it debuted. This week marks the first time that sales of Keys's album have dipped below 100,000. On the plus side, all three of Keys's studio albums have now spent two or more weeks at #1. Keys's 2001 debut, Songs In A Minor, had three weeks on top. Her 2003 follow-up, The Diary Of Alicia Keys, had two. "No One" is #7 on Hot Digital Tracks this week.
2. Radiohead, In Rainbows, 69,000. The band's latest slips a notch from last week, when it vaulted to #1 with sales of 122,000. It has sold 200,000 copies to date.
3. Juno soundtrack, 68,000. Sales of this album—the #1 soundtrack for the second week in a row—shot up 78% compared to last week. It's the only album in the top 25 to register any kind of increase over the previous week. "Anyone Else But You," sung by the movie's stars Michael Cera and Ellen Page, vaults from #88 to #48 in its second week on Hot Digital Tracks. The movie Juno also finished third at the box-office last weekend. It has grossed $70.9 million in its first six weeks in release. It may well double that figure, especially if, as expected, it lands an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.
4. Mary J. Blige, Growing Pains, 64,000. Blige's album continues to do well, even without a smash single. "Just Fine" slips to #62 on the Digital Tracks chart.
6. Various Artists, Now 26, 33,000. This compilation has logged nine straight weeks at #6 or better. Hey, it's almost time for Now 27.
7. Chris Brown, Exclusive, 30,000. Brown is the only artist with two hits in the top 10 on the Digital Tracks chart. "Kiss Kiss" is #8. "With You" is #9.
9. Garth Brooks, The Ultimate Hits, 28,000. Even with his much-ballyhooed "retirement" and his hiatus from regular retail channels, Brooks has managed to appear in the top 10 on SoundScan's chart in 12 of the last 18 calendar years.
10. Fergie, The Dutchess, 28,000. This brings sales to date on Fergie's album to 3,331,000—more than any other album in this week's top 10. Fergie's "Clumsy" is #6 on the Digital Tracks chart. "Big Girls Don't Cry," which was the #2 digital track of 2007, is still in the top 30 after 39 weeks. (Incidentally, The Dutchess wasn't the highest-debuting album the week of September 24, 2006. Opening one notch higher, at #2, was Clay Aiken's sophomore album, A Thousand Different Ways. Alas, Aiken's album logged just 14 weeks in the top 200. Fergie's album has spent nearly as many weeks—13, to be exact—in the top 10.)
Colbie Caillat's Coco dips from #9 to #11 to clear a spot for Fergie.
Only two albums debut in the top 40. Both are by female "adult alternative" artists. Sia's Some People Have Real Problems is the top new entry at #26. Kate Nash's Made Of Bricks arrives at #36. "Breathe Me" from Sia's previous album, Colour The Small One, was featured in the closing scene of HBO's Six Feet Under.
Download This: "Low" by Flo Rida featuring T Pain is #1 on Hot Digital Tracks for the seventh straight week. It's one of only five tracks to head the list that long since mid-2004. Green Day's "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" and Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" both logged eight weeks at #1; Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" and "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" by Soulja Boy Tell 'Em also had seven.
Here's evidence of how fast the digital download universe has developed. The #1 digital track of 2004, Hoobastank's "The Reason," registered a modest 380,000 downloads. The top digital track of 2005, Weezer's "Beverly Hills," had more than twice as many downloads-962,000. The figure doubled again for the top digital track of 2006, Daniel Powter's "Bad Day," which had a final tally of 1,936,000. While the figure didn't double again for the 2007 champ, "Crank That (Soulja Boy)," it nonetheless showed a big increase-to 2,714,000.