Chart Watch

Chart Watch Extra: Ranking The Year’s Biggest Hits

Chart Watch

You can never count anyone out in pop music. Train, a San Francisco-based group that hadn't so much as cracked the top 40 since 2003, has the best-selling song of the first half of 2010 with "Hey, Soul Sister." The unassuming but widely pleasing pop song sold 3,319,000 copies in the first six months of the year. Its success marks a major comeback for the group, which first hit the big time in 2001 with its top five, Grammy-winning song "Drops Of Jupiter (Tell Me)." By 2005, the group was barely on the radar, with two songs that died "Bubbling Under" the Hot 100. The group's leader, Pat Monahan, tried a solo album in 2007, but its key single, "Her Eyes," also stalled in "Bubbling Under."

Lady Antebellum's Need You Now is the best-selling album of the first six months, with sales of 2,325,000. The heartfelt title track is the #3 song of the period. The country trio and Usher are the only acts with both a song and an album in the top five at mid-year. Lady A won its first Grammy in January with "I Run To You," a track from its 2008 debut album. "Need You Now" is so perfectly in tune with Grammy voters' tastes that I'll be stunned if it's not nominated for Record and Song of the Year when the nominations are revealed in December.

The Need You Now album topped the 2 million mark in the week ending May 9. That was nearly six months earlier in the year than any album topped the 2 million mark in 2009 sales. Michael Jackson's Number Ones was the first album to sell 2 million copies last year. It did so in the week ending Oct. 25.

B.o.B is the only lead artist with two of the top 10 songs of the first six months. "Airplanes" (featuring Hayley Williams of Paramore) is #7. "Nothin' On You" (featuring Bruno Mars) is #8. Given what a big hit "Nothin' On You" was, it's remarkable that B.o.B's follow-up has already pulled even with it in sales and will far surpass it.

Ke$ha is the only lead artist with three of the top 20 songs of the first six months. It's sweet vindication for Ke$ha, whose featured credit on Flo Rida's 2009 smash "Right Round" was taken away midway through the song's six-week run at #1. That must have been disappointing for Ke$ha, but she has moved on, to say the least. "TiK ToK" is #4 for the first six months, "Your Love Is My Drug" is #14 and "Blah Blah Blah" (featuring 3OH!3) is #17.

Fully 11 of the top 20 songs of the first six months are collaborations. The most successful collabo was "OMG" by Usher featuring will.i.am, which ranks #5. Both of these artists are collaboration veterans. Usher has had previous top 10 hits with P. Diddy, Lil Jon & Ludacris, Alicia Keys, Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz and Young Jeezy. Will.i.am has had previous top 10 hits with Fergie and Flo Rida.

Eminem's current album Recovery sold enough copies (741,000) in just one week to enable it to rank #8 for the first six months. That's a clear sign of two things: the size of Eminem's following and the weakness of the album market. (The album's sales total is 744,000. It is credited with 3,000 early sales last week, before the album's official release date.)

Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber is the only artist with two of the top 10 albums of the first six months. My World 2.0 is #2. Last year's My World EP is #9. Bieber is one of five artists with both a song and an album in the top 10 at mid-year. He joins Lady Antebellum, Usher, the Black Eyed Peas and Ke$ha.

I have two lists for you today, the top 20 songs of the first six months and the top 10 albums. I'm going deeper on songs because that's what you're buying these days.

In the first six months, one song topped the 3 million mark, down from three in the first six months of 2009. Thirteen songs topped 2 million, up from seven; 39 songs topped 1 million, up from 31; and 83 songs topped 500K, the same as in the first six months of 2009.

In the first six months, one album topped the 2 million mark, up from none in the first six months of 2009; four albums topped 1 million, up from three in the first six months of 2009; and 17 albums topped 500K, down from 19.

The Fine Print: Due to a quirk in the calendar, the first six months of 2010, which runs through the week ending June 27, contained just 25 weeks. The first six months last year contained 26 weeks. Keep that in mind when comparing stats from the two years. I could have waited another week, but four of the seven days in the week ending July 4 fall into the month of July. That tips the week into the month of July, and thus the second half of the year. Besides, I didn't want to send you to your Fourth of July celebrations without knowing the pop sales score.

Here are the lists. The tally after the title is the total number of copies the song or album has sold in the first six months. Some of these hits sold additional copies prior to this chart year (which began with the week ending Jan. 10). If a song or album ranked among the top 200 songs or albums of 2009, I show its 2009 ranking and sales tally.

First, here are the 20 songs that have sold the most digital copies in the first six months of 2010. At the end of each entry, I show the song's peak position on the Hot 100.

1. Train, "Hey, Soul Sister," 3,319,000. This song, with its '80s pop culture references to Mr. Mister and Madonna, is the group's biggest hit to date. It sold an additional 687K copies in 2009, which made it that year's #131 song. Peak: #3.

2. The Black Eyed Peas, "Imma Be," 2,561,000. The Peas had the top two songs on the year-end Digital Songs chart for 2009 and may rank in the year-end top five again this year. This song sold an additional 375K in 2009. Peak: #1.

3. Lady Antebellum, "Need You Now," 2,530,000. This was the biggest country hit of the first six months. It sold an additional 1,325,000 copies in 2009, which made it that year's #57 song. Peak: #2.

4. Ke$ha, "TiK ToK," 2,494,000. This was the biggest hit of the first six months by a female solo artist. It sold an additional 2,443,000 copies in 2009, which made it that year's #17 song. It has sold 4,938,000 total copies, more than "Bad Romance" (4,037,000) and "Hey, Soul Sister" (4,005,000). Peak: #1.

5. Usher featuring will.i.am, "OMG," 2,485,000. This was the biggest collaboration of the first six months. This gives will.i.am two songs in the mid-year top five (combining lead and featured roles). Peak: #1.

6. Taio Cruz featuring Ludacris, "Break Your Heart," 2,461,000. Ludacris was added to the U.S. remix of the song. A solo version by Cruz topped the U.K. chart for three weeks in September and October. Peak: #1.

7. B.o.B featuring Hayley Williams, "Airplanes," 2,270,000. As of this week, B.o.B's follow-up hit has sold about the same number of copies in 11 weeks as his first hit, "Nothin' On You," has sold in 22 weeks. Peak: #2.

8. B.o.B featuring Bruno Mars, "Nothin' On You," 2,267,000. This marvelous record combines the classic songwriting values of old-school pop/R&B hits by Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson with a modern, hip-hop sensibility. Peak: #1.

9. Justin Bieber featuring Ludacris, "Baby," 2,139,000. This gives Ludacris featured billing on two of the top 10 songs at mid-year. Ludacris has been featured on previous top 10 hits by Missy Elliott, Chingy, Usher, Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, Ciara, Jamie Foxx and Fergie. Peak: #5.

10. Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg, "California Gurls," 2,110,000. Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" was #4 on the year-end Digital Songs chart in 2008. This may very well rank even higher this year. This is the biggest hit on which Snoop has been a featured artist, surpassing hits by Chingy, the Pussycat Dolls and Akon. Peak: #1.

11. Rihanna, "Rude Boy," 2,079,000. This was the second biggest hit of the first six months by a female solo artist (working solo). Peak: #1.

12. Jason Derulo, "In My Head," 2,068,000. This was the biggest hit of the first six months by a male solo artist (who didn't have a billed collaborator). It sold an additional 174K copies in 2009. Derulo's previous hit, "Whatcha Say," was #10 on the year-end chart for 2009. Peak: #5.

13. Young Money featuring Lloyd, "Bedrock," 2,037,000. Yabba-dabba-do! We'll never be able to watch The Flintstones again without thinking of this song. It sold an additional 610K copies in 2009, which made it that year's #157 song. Peak: #2.

14. Kesha, "Your Love Is My Drug," 1,949,000. This was the third biggest hit of the first six months by a female solo artist (working solo). Impressively, Ke$ha has two of these three songs. Peak: #4.

15. Lady Gaga featuring Beyonce, "Telephone," 1,948,000. This was the biggest all-female collaboration of the first six months. It sold an additional 335K copies in 2009. Peak: #3.

16. Lady Gaga, "Bad Romance," 1,941,000. This sold an additional 2,097,000 copies in 2009, which made it that year's #29 song. Peak: #2.

17. Ke$ha featuring 3OH!3, "Blah, Blah, Blah," 1,833,000. This was the first joint hit by the young "brat pop" stars. "My First Kiss" is moving up now. Peak: #7.

18. Timbaland featuring Justin Timberlake, "Carry Out," 1,684,000. This was the fourth big hit on which these stars have teamed, following Timberlake's "SexyBack," Timbaland's "Give It To Me" (which also featured Nelly Furtado) and 50 Cent's "Ayo Technology" (on which they were both featured). "Carry Out" sold an additional 185K copies in 2009. Peak: #11.

19. Jay-Z featuring Mr. Hudson, "Young Forever," 1,606,000. This was the third top 10 hit from Jay-Z's The Blueprint 3. It sold an additional 333K copies in 2009. "Young Forever" borrows from Alphaville's 1985 near-hit "Forever Young." The Alphaville recording logged 18 weeks on the Hot 100, combining two separate runs, but never made it past #65. Peak: #10.

20. Ludacris, "How Low," 1,493,000. This is Ludacris' biggest hit of the first six months as a lead artist, though he is also featured on higher-ranking hits by Taio Cruz and Justin Bieber. "How Low" sold an additional 412K copies in 2009. Peak: #6.

Now, here are the 10 albums that have sold the most total copies in the first six months of 2010. I also show how many of the total sales were digital. Ke$ha's album sold 309,000 digital copies in the first six months, second only to the digital-only Hope For Haiti Now, which sold 371,000. At the other extreme, Susan Boyle's I Dreamed A Dream sold just 21,000 digital copies in the first six months.

1. Lady Antebellum, Need You Now, 2,325,000 (includes 298,000 digital). In addition to being the biggest album of the first six months overall, this was the biggest album by a group and by a country artist.

2. Justin Bieber, My World 2.0, 1,346,000 (includes 129,000 digital). This was Bieber's first full-length album, making it the top debut album of the first six months. It was also the biggest album of the first six months by a solo artist; by a pop artist; and by a teen artist.

3. Sade, Soldier Of Love, 1,208,000 (includes 173,000 digital). This was the biggest album of the first six months by a veteran artist. Sade first charted in February 1985 with Diamond Life.

4. Lady Gaga, The Fame, 1,127,000 (includes 265,000 digital). This was the biggest album of the first six months by a female solo artist and by an album released prior to 2010. It sold an additional 150K copies in 2008, its year of release. It also sold 2,238,000 copies in 2009, which made it that year's #4 album.
5. Usher, Raymond V Raymond, 874,000 (includes 116,000 digital). This was the biggest album of the first six months by an R&B artist (unless you classify the genre-bridging Sade as R&B).

6. The Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D. 838,000 (includes 173,000 digital). This sold an additional 1,787,000 copies in 2009, which made it that year's #7 album.

7. Ke$ha, Animal, 800,000 (includes 309,000 digital). This was the second biggest album of the first six months by a female solo artist.

8. Eminem, Recovery, 744,000 (includes 255,000 digital). This was the best-selling rap album of the first six months. In just one week, this sold more than such long-running hits as Lil Wayne's Rebirth and Ludacris' Battle Of The Sexes.

9. Justin Bieber, My World, 698,000 (includes 70,000 digital). This was the best-selling EP of the first six months. It sold an additional 728K copies in 2009, which made it that year's #39 album.

10. Susan Boyle, I Dreamed A Dream, 660,000 (includes 21,000 digital). This was the best-selling "traditional pop" album of the first six months. It sold an additional 3,104,000 copies in 2009, which made it that year's #2 album.

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