Six new releases debut in the Top10 on Nielsen/SoundScan's survey of this week's top-selling albums, led by Carrie Underwood's sophomore release, Carnival Ride. Underwood, the only artist to win both American Idol and a Grammy Award for Best New Artist, bows with sales of 527,000, the best showing by a female artist in more than a year. The last woman to make such a strong debut was Beyonce, whose second solo studio collection, B'Day, opened with sales of 541,000 in September 2006.
Underwood's first album, Some Hearts, debuted and peaked at #2 in November 2005, with sales of 315,000. The album that kept it from #1 was Madonna's Confessions On A Dance Floor. While Madonna won the first-week battle, Underwood's album has sold nearly four times as many copies over the long haul--close to 6 million. That total is topped by only one album on the current chart--Nickelback's All The Right Reasons. In SoundScan's 16-year history, only two female country solo stars--Shania Twain and Faith Hill--have sold more copies of an album. Which proves, once again, it's not where you start; it's where you finish.
The very unlikely team of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss debuts at #2 this week with Raising Sand, which sold 112,000 copies. Krauss, a top bluegrass and country star, wasn't even born when Plant first topped Billboard magazine's pop album chart in 1969 with Led Zeppelin. Plant released his first solo album in 1982, a one-off collaboration with the Honeydrippers in 1984, and the first of two duet projects with Jimmy Page (his former bandmate in both Led Zeppelin and the Honeydrippers) in 1994.
Country singer/guitarist Gary Allan debuts at #3 with his eighth album, Living Hard, which sold 69,000 copies. Allan's previous studio album, Tough All Over, also debuted at #3 in October 2005, with opening-week sales of 100,000. The drop-off represents an industry-wide decline in album sales more than any softening in Allan's popularity.
Serj Tankian, lead singer of the hard-rock band System Of A Down, debuts at #4 with Elect The Dead. The Los Angeles-based group has had three #1 albums, starting with Toxicity in 2001.
Josh Groban's holiday album, Noel, dips a notch to #5. But that still makes it the week's top carryover album. Last week's #1, Bruce Springsteen's Magic, plummets to #12. It's the biggest fall from the top spot since the Notorious B.I.G.'s Greatest Hits nosedived to #15 in March.
Last week's #2, Kid Rock's Rock 'N' Roll Jesus, slips to #7. Last week's #3, Rascal Flatts' Still Feels Good, remains right on its heels, falling to #8.
Coheed & Cambria, a hard-rock group from New York, bows at #6 with No World For Tomorrow. It's the band's fourth, and highest-charting, album. The band's previous album, Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV... peaked at #7.
Seether opens at #9 with its fourth album, Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces. It's the second straight Top 10 album for the hard rock group from South Africa. Karma And Effect opened at #8 in 2005.
The soundtrack to High School Musical 2 dips to #10 in its 11th straight week in the Top 10. That's more than twice as long a stay as any other album in this week's Top 10. The album is closing in on the 2 million sales mark.
Besides Springsteen, five other albums drop out of the Top 10 this week, to make way for the influx of newcomers. Reba McEntire's Reba Duets falls from #6 to #14, Colbie Caillat's Coco dips from #10 to #15, Kanye West's Graduation drops from #9 to #16, Santana's Ultimate Santana plunges from #8 to #22, and Jimmy Eat World's Chase This Light free-falls from #5 to #38.
This week's Top 10 proves once again that rock and country are the most dependable genres in album sales. Eight of the Top 10 albums come from those two worlds (with the Plant/Krauss collaboration neatly bridging the two genres).
Two albums debut just below the Top 10. Neil Young arrives at #11 with Chrome Dreams II while Latin star Juanes opens at #13 with La Vida...Es Un Ratico. Young first hit the album chart with Buffalo Springfield in 1967. He first made it under his own name (with Neil Young & Crazy Horse) in 1969.
Robert Plant and Neil Young have long been among the most durable rock stars to have emerged in the 1960s. That they are still going strong in the fall of 2007 underscores the point.
Juanes, who hails from Colombia, has been gaining ground in the U.S. crossover market for the past five years.
Singles Watch: On the Hot 100, 18-year old R&B phenom Chris Brown lands his second #1 single with "Kiss Kiss." Brown first topped the chart two years ago with "Run It." "Kiss Kiss" features the ubiquitous T-Pain, who had a #1 single of his own in May with "Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin'), which featured Yung Joc.
Another current smash, "Apologize" by Timbaland featuring OneRepublic, moves up a notch to #2. These two hits push "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" by Soulja Boy Tell'em down to #3 following seven weeks at #1. "Crank That..." is in a three-way tie with "Irreplaceable" by Beyonce and "Umbrella" by Rihanna featuring Jay-Z for the longest run on top in 2007. Beyonce's smash also had three weeks on top in 2006, for a total of 10 weeks in the lead. "Umbrella" is still in the Top 40 after 28 weeks in release. All three of these singles are eligible for Record Of The Year when the Grammy nominations are announced in December. "Umbrella" stands the best chance of making the finals.