Chart Watch

Chart Watch Extra: Reeling In The Years

Chart Watch

Susan Boyle's I Dreamed A Dream is the #1 album on Billboard's year-end chart for 2010. This is the fourth time in the past five years that a female solo artist has had the #1 album of the year. Taylor Swift's Fearless was cited last year. Alicia Keys' As I Am came out on top in 2008. Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts scored for 2006.

This marks a major change from the way it used to be. From 1956 to 1985, no female solo artist had Billboard's #1 album of the year. In 1986, Whitney Houston's debut became the first album by a female solo artist to come out on top. Since then, this has become fairly commonplace, with albums by Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey and Alanis Morissette also being named the #1 album of the year.

This is the third time in the past five years that a reality TV contestant has had Billboard's #1 album of the year. Boyle rose to fame on Britain's Got Talent. American Idol winner Carrie Underwood had the #1 album of 2006. Daughtry, fronted by Idol contestant Chris Daughtry, had the #1 album of 2007. (Of these three artists, only Underwood actually won the talent show, which shows that winning isn't everything.)

This is the first time that a foreign-born artist has had the year's #1 album since 2001, when the Beatles had the top album with 1, their greatest hits collection.

Boyle's album sold 3,840,000 copies during Billboard's chart year, which ran from Dec. 5, 2009 through Nov. 27. (That corresponds to Nielsen/SoundScan's charts for the weeks ending Nov. 22, 2009 through Nov. 14.) Boyle's album sold 81% of that total in the last six weeks of 2009. It gets the Billboard crown for 2010 because of the magazine's November to November eligibility period (which is necessitated by the time needed to produce its massive year-end issue).

To mark Boyle's achievement, I decided to scroll back through Billboard's #1 albums of the year all the way back to 1956, which was the year the magazine launched its weekly album chart. You can watch as rock, R&B, country and rap take center stage and as Broadway cast albums drop off in popularity. You can watch passing trends (such as calypso, psychedelic rock and disco) come and go. The list is long (with many a winding turn), so let's get to it.

 

2010: Susan Boyle, I Dreamed A Dream. Boyle's debut album logged six weeks at #1 starting in December 2009. The album didn't produce any top 40 hits. The title song, from the musical Les Miserables, and a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" cracked the Hot 100.

2009: Taylor Swift, Fearless. Swift's sophomore album logged 11 weeks at #1 starting in November 2008. The album spawned five top 10 hits, including "Love Story" and "You Belong With Me." This won a Grammy for Album of the Year.

2008: Alicia Keys, As I Am. Keys' fourth album spent four weeks at #1 starting in December 2007. It spawned the #1 smash "No One" and a top 15 follow-up, "Like You'll Never See Me Again."

2007: Daughtry, Daughtry. The band's debut album spent two weeks at #1 starting in February 2007. It spawned a pair of top 10 hits: "It's Not Over" and "Home." The latter song was subsequently featured as the farewell song on American Idol, the show that gave Chris Daughtry his big break.

2006: Carrie Underwood, Some Hearts. Underwood's debut album peaked at #2 in December 2005. It's one of only three albums to wind up #1 for the year without hitting #1 on any weekly chart. The album housed two top 10 hits: "Before He Cheats" and "Inside Your Heaven," Underwood's American Idol coronation song.

2005: 50 Cent, The Massacre. The rapper's second formal album logged six weeks at #1 starting in March 2005. It made him only the third artist to have the #1 album of the year twice (with two different albums). The Massacre spawned four top 10 hits including the chart-topping "Candy Shop" (featuring Olivia).

2004: Usher, Confessions. Usher's fifth album logged nine weeks at #1 starting in April 2004. It spawned four #1 hits: "Yeah!" (featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris), "Burn," "Confessions Part II" and "My Boo," a duet with Alicia Keys. It received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.

2003: 50 Cent, Get Rich Or Die Tryin'. The rapper's first formal album logged six weeks at #1 starting in February 2003. It spawned two #1 hits, "In Da Club" and "21 Questions" (featuring Nate Dogg).

2002: Eminem, The Eminem Show. This was the first rap album to wind up as the #1 album of the year. The album, Eminem's third album, spent six weeks at #1 starting in June 2002. It spawned two top 10 hits, "Without Me" and "Cleanin' Out My Closet." It received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.

2001: The Beatles, 1. The hit-studded collection was #1 for eight weeks starting in December 2000. Remarkably, this was the Beatles' first album to wind up as the #1 album of the year. (It could be worse: Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and the Rolling Stones never had the year's #1 album.)

2000: *NSYNC, No Strings Attached. The boy band's second regular studio album logged eight weeks at #1 starting in April 2000. It spawned three top 10 hits: "Bye Bye Bye," "It's Gonna Be Me" and "This I Promise You." (As a solo artist, Justin Timberlake has ranked as high as #5 for the year.)

1999: Backstreet Boys, Millennium. The boy band's sophomore album logged 10 weeks at #1 starting in June 1999. The album spawned two top 10 hits: the silky "I Want It That Way" and the tender "Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely." This received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. (It did?? Yep.)

1998: Soundtrack, Titanic. The soundtrack logged 16 weeks at #1 starting in January 1998. The movie won 11 Oscars, including one for James Horner's score and another for the instant standard "My Heart Will Go On," which Horner co-wrote with Will Jennings. Celine Dion's recording of the song was a #1 hit.

1997: Spice Girls, Spice. This is the only album by an all-female group to wind up as the #1 album of the year. The album, the group's debut, logged five weeks at #1 starting in May 1997. The album spawned three top 10 hits: "Wannabe," "Say You'll Be There" and "2 Become 1."

1996: Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill. Morissette's first U.S. album logged 12 weeks at #1 starting in October 1995. The album spawned five top 15 hits (counting airplay hits) including "You Oughta Know" and "Ironic." This won a Grammy for Album of the Year.

1995: Hootie & the Blowfish, Cracked Rear View. The group's debut album logged eight weeks at #1 starting in May 1995. It spawned three top 10 hits: "Hold My Hand," "Let Her Cry" and "Only Wanna Be With You." Lead singer Darius Rucker has had a impressive second act as a country artist.

1994: Ace of Base, The Sign. The debut album by the Swedish pop group spent two weeks at #1 starting in April 1994. The album contained three top 10 hits: "All That She Wants," "The Sign" and "Don't Turn Around." Abba never got this hot, but Ace of Base will probably never inspire a Mamma Mia!-style musical blockbuster.

1993: Whitney Houston/Soundtrack, The Bodyguard. The soundtrack to Houston's first movie logged 20 weeks at #1 starting in December 1992. It contained her chart-topping reinvention of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You." The album, Houston's fourth, won a Grammy for Album of the Year.

1992: Garth Brooks, Ropin' The Wind. This was the first country album to wind up as the #1 album of the year. The album, the country star's third, logged 18 weeks at #1 starting in September 1992. It spawned three #1 country hits, including a cover of Billy Joel's "Shameless." The Country Music Assn. voted it Album of the Year.

1991: Mariah Carey, Mariah Carey. Carey's debut album logged 11 weeks at #1 starting in March 1991. All four singles from the album, including "Vision Of Love" and "Love Takes Time," hit #1. The album received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.

1990: Janet Jackson, Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814. Jackson's fourth album spent four weeks at #1 starting in October 1989. It spawned seven top 10 hits, including the chart-topping "Miss Me Much." Janet and Michael Jackson are the only siblings who each had a #1 album of the year.

1989: Bobby Brown, Don't Be Cruel. Brown's second solo album (after leaving New Edition) spent six weeks at #1 starting in January 1989. The album spawned five top 10 hits, including the chart-topping "My Prerogative."

1988: George Michael, Faith. This is the only solo debut album to wind up as the #1 album of the year. The solo debut by the former Wham! star logged 12 weeks at #1 starting in January 1988. It spawned four #1 hits: "Faith," "Father Figure," "One More Try" and "Monkey." This won a Grammy for Album of the Year.

1987: Bon Jovi, Slippery When Wet. The band's third album logged eight weeks at #1 starting in October 1986. It spawned back-to-back #1 singles, "You Give Love A Bad Name" and "Livin' On A Prayer."

1986: Whitney Houston, Whitney Houston. This was the first album by a female solo artist to wind up as the #1 album of the year. The album, Houston's debut, logged 14 weeks at #1 starting in March 1986. It spawned three #1 hits, including "Greatest Love Of All." This received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.

1985: Bruce Springsteen, Born In The U.S.A. The Boss' seventh album logged seven weeks at #1 starting in July 1984. It spawned seven top 10 singles, including "Dancing In The Dark." The album received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.

1984: Michael Jackson, Thriller. This was only the fourth album to finish #1 for the year twice. And it's the only album by an individual artist or group to so. The three others are a soundtrack (West Side Story) and two original cast albums (The Sound Of Music and My Fair Lady).

1983: Michael Jackson, Thriller. Jackson's second album as an adult pop star logged 37 weeks at #1 starting in February 1983. It spawned an unprecedented seven top 10 hits, including "Billie Jean," "Beat It" and "The Girl Is Mine," a duet with Paul McCartney. It won a Grammy for Album of the Year.

1982: Asia, Asia. The group's debut album logged nine weeks at #1 starting in May 1982. It spawned the top 10 hit "Heat Of The Moment" and the top 20 follow-up "Only Time Will Tell." The group featured former members of such bands as Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

1981: REO Speedwagon, Hi Infidelity. This was the heartland band's ninth album. It logged 15 weeks at #1 starting in February 1981. It spawned two top 10 hits: "Keep On Loving You" and "Take It On The Run."

1980: Pink Floyd, The Wall. The album logged 15 weeks at #1 starting in January 1980. It spawned the #1 hit "Another Brick In The Wall Part II." The album, the band's 12th, received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.

1979: Billy Joel, 52nd Street. Joel's sixth album logged eight weeks at #1 starting in November 1978. It spawned the top 10 hit "My Life" (which was later used as the theme song for the Tom Hanks sitcom Bosom Buddies). This won a Grammy for Album of the Year.

1978: Bee Gees/Soundtrack, Saturday Night Fever. This soundtrack logged 24 weeks at #1 starting in January 1978. The album spawned four #1 singles, including the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" and Yvonne Elliman's "If I Can't Have You." It was the trio's 19th album to make The Billboard 200. It won a Grammy for Album of the Year.

1977: Fleetwood Mac, Rumours. This was the first album by a mixed-gender group to wind up as the #1 album of the year. The album logged 31 weeks at #1 starting in April 1977. It spawned four top 10 hits, including "Dreams" and "Don't Stop." Rumours was the veteran band's 15th chart album. It won a Grammy for Album of the Year.

1976: Peter Frampton, Frampton Comes Alive! This is the only live album to finish as the #1 album of the year. The album logged 10 weeks at #1 starting in April 1976. It spawned two top 10 hits, "Show Me The Way" and "Do You Feel Like We Do." The album received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.

1975: Elton John, Greatest Hits. This was the first greatest hits album to wind up as the #1 album of the year. Its success marked the only time that an artist has had the #1 album of the year (with two different albums) in back-to-back years. The album logged 10 weeks at #1 starting in November 1974.

1974: Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. The album spent eight weeks at #1 starting in November 1973. It included the #1 hit "Bennie And The Jets" and the original version of "Candle In The Wind," a future #1 hit.

1973: War, The World Is A Ghetto. This was the first R&B album to wind up as the #1 album of the year. The album, the group's third (after parting with Eric Burdon), spent two weeks at #1 in February 1973. It spawned two top 10 hits, "The World Is A Ghetto" and "The Cisco Kid."

1972: Neil Young, Harvest. Young's third solo album spent two weeks at #1 in March 1972. It spawned the #1 hit "Heart Of Gold," which featured backing vocals by Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor.

1971: Various Artists, Jesus Christ Superstar. The rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice spent three weeks at #1 starting in February 1971. Two songs reached the top 30: Murray Head's "Superstar" and Yvonne Elliman's "I Don't Know How To Love Him." This received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.

1970: Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water. The duo's sixth album logged 10 weeks at #1 starting in March 1970. The album contained three top 10 hits, "The Boxer" (a hit the previous year), the chart-topping title song and "Cecilia." This won a Grammy for Album of the Year.

1969: Iron Butterfly, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. The album, an iconic artifact of the psychedelic era, peaked at #4 in August 1969. The title track ran 17 minutes on the album, but was edited down to 2:52 for a single version that cracked the top 30.

1968: The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced. This was the first rock album to wind up as the #1 album of the year. It was also the first album that didn't reach #1 on the weekly charts to finish #1 for the year. The album, Hendrix's breakthrough, peaked at #5 in October 1968. It spawned the hits "Purple Haze" and "Foxey Lady."

1967: The Monkees, More Of The Monkees. The group's sophomore album logged 18 weeks at #1 starting in February 1967. The biggest hit from the album was the #1 smash "I'm A Believer," which was written by Neil Diamond.

1966: Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass, Whipped Cream & Other Delights. This was the first album in 10 years that wasn't a soundtrack or cast album to rank as the year's #1 album. Whipped Cream logged eight weeks at #1 starting in November 1965. It spawned the top 10 hit "Taste Of Honey." It received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.

1965: Soundtrack, Mary Poppins. The soundtrack logged 14 weeks at #1 starting in March 1965. The movie won five Oscars, including Best Actress for Julie Andrews and Best Song for "Chim Chim Cheree."  "Super-cali-fragil-istic-expi-ali-docious" by Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and the Pearlies cracked the Hot 100.

1964: Original Cast, Hello, Dolly! This was the last original cast album to wind up as the #1 album of the year. The album spent one week at #1 in June 1964. Carol Channing starred in the Jerry Herman musical.  The title song became a #1 hit for Louis Armstrong.

1963: Soundtrack, West Side Story. This is the only movie soundtrack to wind up as the #1 album of the year twice. The soundtrack logged 54 weeks at #1 starting in May 1962. It received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. The movie, which starred Natalie Wood, won 10 Oscars, including Best Picture.

1962: Soundtrack, West Side Story. This is the only soundtrack from a movie that was based on a Broadway show to wind up as the #1 album of the year. The musical originated on Broadway in September 1957. The Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim score includes such classics as "Somewhere," "Tonight" and "Maria."

1961: Original Cast, Camelot and Original Cast, The Sound Of Music. It was a split decision: Camelot was the #1 album of the year on the mono chart. The Sound Of Music was the #1 album of the year on the stereo chart. Camelot logged six weeks at #1 starting in June 1961. Richard Burton, Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet starred in the Lerner & Loewe musical, which features such gems as "If Ever I Would Leave You."

1960: Original Cast, The Sound Of Music. This album logged 16 weeks at #1 starting in January 1960. Mary Martin starred in the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical. The score contains such classics as "My Favorite Things," which has been recorded by everyone from John Coltrane to Barry Manilow.

1959: Henry Mancini, The Music From Peter Gunn. This is the only TV soundtrack to wind up as the #1 album of the year. (Peter Gunn was a detective series starring Craig Stevens which ran from 1958 to 1961.) The album, Mancini's breakthrough, logged 10 weeks at #1 starting in February 1959.  It won a Grammy as Album of the Year.

1958: Original Cast, My Fair Lady. This was the first album to wind up as the #1 album of the year twice. The album spent 15 weeks at #1 starting in July 1956. The album appeared at #1 on the weekly charts in four different years (1956 through 1959), an unequalled achievement.

1957: Original Cast, My Fair Lady. Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews headlined the Lerner & Loewe musical, which spawned such classics as "I Could Have Danced All Night" and "On The Street Where You Live."

1956: Harry Belafonte, Calypso. The album, Belafonte's second, logged 31 weeks at #1 starting in September 1956. The album spawned the top five hit "Banana Boat (Day-O)," which was based on a Jamaican folk song.

View Comments