Chart Watch

Chart Watch Extra: The Top 10 Songs And Albums At Mid-Year

Chart Watch

If you like downloading individual songs, you have lots of company. Three inescapable songs, "Right Round," "Poker Face" and "Boom Boom Pow," each sold more than 3 million downloads in the first half of 2009. No songs sold that well in the first half of 2008. If you like buying full albums, you're part of a shrinking club. A total of 19 albums sold 500,000 copies in the first half of this year, down from 26 in the first half of last year. You can imagine what shell-shocked record company executives are thinking when they look at these numbers: "We'll take the 'boom boom,' but we really need more 'pow.'"

Flo Rida's "Right Round" was the song with the most paid downloads in the first half. Taylor Swift's Fearless, a 2008 carryover, was the #1 album in this period. Miley Cyrus' Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack is the best-selling album that was released in 2009 (beating out albums by Eminem and U2). Cyrus and Lady GaGa were the only artists to finish in the mid-year top 10 on both the album and song charts.

Lady GaGa is definitely the hit-maker of the moment: She had two of the top five song hits, with "Poker Face" joined in the top five by "Just Dance" (featuring Colby O'Donis). She's also the only performer to sell 1 million copies of three different songs in the first half (with those two hits joined by "Lovegame.") Lady GaGa, who clearly went to school on Madonna's sound and style, even made the cover of Rolling Stone last month.

It was a fizzy first half for song downloads, with numbers up across the board. Seven songs sold 2 million downloads in the first half, up from four in the first half of '08. A total of 31 songs sold 1 million or more, up from 22. A total of 83 songs sold 500,000 or more, up from 66.

There was no such luck with albums, where the numbers were flat or down across the board. Just three albums sold 1 million or more copies in the first half of 2009, the same number as in the first half of '08. There were six million-selling albums in the first half of 2007; 16 in the first half of 2006. (If you're really feeling nostalgic, there were 37 million-selling albums in the first half of 2001, when the music industry was at its peak.)

So, what is selling? Four of the top 10 albums for the year-to-date are rock; three are country (accepting Billboard's classification of Hannah Montana: The Album as country). Female artists accounted for three of the four best-selling albums so far this year. And women sing lead on five of the top 10 songs for the year-to-date.

Just one week after his death, Michael Jackson is already making gains. Three of his albums are listed among the top 200 sellers for the year-to-date, topped by Number Ones at #62. Three of his songs are listed among the top 200 digital songs for the year-to-date, topped by "Thriller" at #131. You can bet that he will be much higher on the year-end charts.

I have two lists for you: the top 10 songs with the most paid downloads in the past six months, followed by the top 10 best-selling albums of this period.

First, here are the top 10 songs with the most paid downloads since January 1. (If the song also had paid downloads in 2008, I note that fact in my text, but it's not reflected in the tally.)

1. Flo Rida, "Right Round," 3,516,000. In addition to being the biggest hit overall so far this year, this is the biggest hit by a male artist and the biggest hit by a hip-hop act. (Thank you, Dead Or Alive, wherever you are.)

2. Lady GaGa, "Poker Face," 3,366,000. This is the biggest hit by a female artist so far this year. The song sold an additional 170,000 downloads in 2008.

3. The Black Eyed Peas, "Boom Boom Pow," 3,139,000. This is the biggest hit by a group so far this year. "I'm so 3008/You so 2000 and late" is one of the catchiest lyrical hooks of the year. It's dumb and inspired at the same time.

4. The All-American Rejects, "Gives You Hell," 2,554,000. This robust tune is the biggest hit by a rock group so far this year. The song sold an additional 532,000 downloads in 2008.

5. Lady GaGa featuring Colby O'Donis, "Just Dance," 2,520,000. This is the biggest debut or breakthrough hit so far this year. It's also the biggest billed collaboration. The song sold an additional 1,743,000 downloads in 2008.

6. T.I. featuring Justin Timberlake, "Dead And Gone," 2,273,000. The song, the third smash from T.I.'s Paper Trail, sold an additional 173,000 downloads in 2008.

7. Soulja Boy Tell 'Em, "Kiss Me Thru The Phone," 2,163,000. The song that kept Soulja Boy from one-hit-wonder status sold an additional 66,000 downloads in 2008.

8. Kanye West, "Heartless," 1,991,000. The Fray and Kris Allen both released versions of this song, which gave the original version a boost. The song sold an additional 1,115,000 downloads in 2008.

9. Kelly Clarkson, "My Life Would Suck Without You," 1,977,000. This sassy smash was Clarkson's first #1 on the Hot 100 since her American Idol coronation song, "A Moment Like This."

10. Miley Cyrus, "The Climb," 1,867,000. This pop/country crossover hit is the biggest hit of 2009 drawn from a motion picture. Will it get an Oscar nomination for Best Song next year? (Will the academy even have a Best Song category next year?) Stay tuned.

Now, here are the top 10 albums since January 1. (Again, if the album also had sales in 2008, I note that fact in my text, but it's not reflected in the tally.)

1. Taylor Swift, Fearless, 1,316,000. In addition to being the best-selling album overall so far this year, this is the best-selling album by a female artist and the best-selling country album. Fearless was the #3 album of 2008, with sales of 2,112,000 last year. The biggest hit from the album is "Love Story," which is #11 for the year-to-date.

2. Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana, Hannah Montana: The Movie, 1,177,000. This is the best-selling album released in 2009. It's also the best-selling soundtrack so far this year.

3. Eminem, Relapse, 1,169,000. This is the best-selling album by a male artist so far this year. It's also the best-selling rap album. But, to put the number in perspective, Eminem's 2000 album, The Marshall Mathers LP, sold more copies (1,760,000) in its first week. Biggest hit: "Crack A Bottle" (with Dr. Dre and 50 Cent), #14 for the year-to-date.

4. Lady GaGa, The Fame, 976,000. This is the best-selling debut album so far this year. It's also the best-selling pure pop album. More than three times as many fans have paid to download "Poker Face" as have bought Lady GaGa's album. The Fame also sold 150,000 copies in 2008.

5. Various Artists, Twilight soundtrack, 971,000. This is the best-selling rock album so far this year. Twilight was the #21 album of 2008, with sales of 1,128,000 last year. Biggest hit: Paramore's "Decode," #98 for the year-to-date.

6. U2, No Line On The Horizon, 939,000. This is the best-selling album by a group so far this year. This is the only album on the list that had no songs among the top 200 for the year-to-date. (Which explains why the album isn't higher on the list.)

7. Nickelback, Dark Horse, 912,000. Dark Horse was the #20 album of 2008, with sales of 1,165,000 last year. Biggest hit: "Gotta Be Somebody," #42 for the year-to-date.

8. Rascal Flatts, Unstoppable, 825,000. Again, for perspective's sake, Rascal Flatts' 2006 album, Me And My Gang, sold nearly as many copies (722,000) in its first week. Biggest hit: "Here Comes Goodbye," #82 for the year-to-date.

9. Beyonce, I Am...Sasha Fierce, 809,000. This is the best-selling R&B crossover album so far this year. I Am...Sasha Fierce was the #10 album of 2008, with sales of 1,459,000 last year. Biggest hit: "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)," #17 for the year-to-date.

10. Dave Matthews Band, Big Whiskey And The GrooGrux King, 689,000. This is the newest album on the list. It racked up these sales in just four weeks. But again, for perspective's sake, 2001's Everyday sold more copies (733,000) in its opening week. Biggest hit: "Funny The Way It Is," #195 for the year-to-date.

 

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