Chart Watch

Chart Watch Extra: Eminem Bumps Off Gaga

Chart Watch

Eminem's Recovery this week surpasses Lady Gaga's The Fame as the best-selling album in digital history. Recovery has sold 922,000 digital copies, compared to 919,000 for The Fame.

Recovery sold its first 500,000 digital copies in just six weeks, which is faster than any other album in history. The biggest hit from the album, "Love The Way You Lie" (featuring Rihanna), also holds a digital record. It's the only song to top 300K in weekly digital sales five times.

Recovery is the sixth album to hold the title of the best-selling album in digital history, as measured by Nielsen SoundScan. Coldplay's X&Y held the title from January to December 2006. The title then went, in turn, to The Fray's How To Save A Life, John Mayer's Continuum, Coldplay's Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends and The Fame.

Taylor Swift is the only artist with two albums in the all-time digital top 10. Her 2008 smash Fearless is #4. Her current Speak Now is #9. Swift is also the only artist with three albums in the all-time digital top 40. Her 2006 debut, Taylor Swift, is #31.

Here are the 10 albums that have sold the most digital copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, together with their digital sales totals as of this week. I also indicate which song from the album has sold the most digital copies, and its sales total as of this week.

 

1. Eminem, Recovery, 922,000. This 2010 release won a Grammy as Best Rap Album, though it didn't take Album of the Year, as had been widely expected. Biggest hit: "Love The Way You Lie" (featuring Rihanna) (4,582,000).

2. Lady Gaga, The Fame, 919,000. This 2008 release is the top-selling debut album, the top-selling pop album and the top-selling album by a female artist. Biggest hit: "Just Dance" (featuring Colby O'Donis) (6,038,000).

3. Coldplay, Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends, 799,000. This 2008 release is the top-selling rock album, the top-selling album by a group and the top-selling album by a British act. It sold 288K copies in its first week, which is still a one-week digital record. Biggest hit: "Viva La Vida" (4,858,000).

4. Taylor Swift, Fearless, 713,000. This 2008 release is the top-selling country album. It won a Grammy for Album of the Year. Biggest hit: "Love Story" (4,930,000).

5. Kings Of Leon, Only By The Night, 658,000. This 2008 release spawned a Grammy-winning Record of the Year. Biggest hit: "Use Somebody" (3,558,000).

6. Various Artists, Twilight soundtrack, 651,000. This 2008 release is the top-selling soundtrack. Biggest hit: Paramore's "Decode" (1,152,000).

7. Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More, 575,000. This 2010 release is second only to Coldplay's Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends as the top-selling album by a British act. Biggest hit: "Little Lion Man" (980,000).

8. The Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D., 556,000. This 2009 release spawned three #1 singles on the Hot 100. Biggest hit (and the biggest digital hit of all time by any artist): "I Gotta Feeling" (6,927,000).

9. Taylor Swift, Speak Now, 543,000. This 2010 release sold 278K digital copies in its first week, second only to Coldplay's album. Biggest hit: "Mine" (1,771,000).

10. John Mayer, Continuum, 494,000. This 2006 release won a Grammy as Best Pop Vocal Album. Biggest hit: "Waiting On The World To Change" (2,348,000).

 

Here are 10 other albums that hold digital records, together with their digital sales totals as of this week.

13. Journey, Greatest Hits, 428,000. This 1988 release is the top-selling greatest hits album. It's also the top-selling album that was released in the 1980s. Biggest hit: "Don't Stop Believin'" (4,339,000).

23. Various Artists, Hope For Haiti Now, 371,000. This 2010 charity album is the top-selling digital-only release (meaning it was never released as a CD.) Biggest hit: A cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" by Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris (featuring Charlie Sexton) (308K).

32. Michael Jackson, The Essential Michael Jackson, 352,000. This 2005 compilation is the top-selling (non-rap) R&B album (though of course Jackson's appeal was universal). Biggest hit: "Thriller" (2,639,000).

34. Pink Floyd, The Dark Side Of The Moon, 351,000. This 1973 classic is the top-selling album that was released in the 1970s. Biggest hit: "Money" (488K).

37. Bob Marley & the Wailers, Legend, 345,000. This 1984 compilation is the top-selling reggae album. Biggest hit: "Three Little Birds" (1,167,000).

46. Original Cast, Wicked, 306,000. This album, which first charted in January 2004, is the top-selling Broadway cast album. Biggest hit: "Defying Gravity" by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth (409,000).

59. Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster, 274,000. This eight-track disk from 2009 is the top-selling EP. Biggest hit: "Bad Romance" (4,649,000).

63. Dane Cook, Harmful If Swallowed, 268,000. This 2003 release is the top-selling comedy album. Biggest hit: "Not So Kool-Aid" (258K).

66. Various Artists, Glee: The Music: Season One, Vol. 1, 258,000. This 2010 album is the top-selling TV soundtrack. Biggest hit: the cast's cover of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" (1,115,000).

80. Vince Guaraldi Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas, 239,000. This 1965 classic is the top-selling Christmas album. It's also the top-selling album that was released in the 1960s. Biggest hit: "Christmas Time Is Here" (298K).

Fun With Numbers: While Taylor Swift is the only artist with three of the top 40 albums in digital history, three other acts have three of the top 100. They are Carrie Underwood, Jack Johnson and Kanye West.

The top 100 digital albums of all time have sold a combined total of 33,661,000 digital copies as of this week. Corinne Bailey Rae's eponymous debut album is #200, with sales of 216K since its release in 2006.

As for the other albums that once held the title of "best-selling album in digital history," Coldplay's X&Y is #43 on the all-time list (with digital sales of 332,000). The Fray's How To Save A Life is #27 (with sales of 360,000). Continuum, Viva La Vida... and The Fame are still in the top 10.

What will be the next "best-selling album in digital history"? Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More is coming on strong. The album has sold 232K digital copies just in 2011, more than any other album.

Reality Check: The music industry had high hopes that digital album sales would replace CD sales, which have been declining for several years. And digital albums are percolating, as this report shows. Still, the fact that eight years into the digital music revolution not one album has sold 1 million digital copies has to be seen as a disappointment for the music industry.

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