Chart Watch

Week Ending April 26, 2009: 3 Million Downloads In Record Time

Chart Watch

Flo Rida's "Right Round" tops the 3 million mark in paid downloads this week. The ubiquitous smash took just 11 weeks to cross this threshold, faster than any other song in history. Flo Rida broke his own record, set in February 2008 when "Low" (featuring T-Pain) rang the bell in 17 weeks. Another red-hot rapper, T.I., owns the next two spots on this list. "Live Your Life," T.I.'s smash collaboration with Rihanna, took 20 weeks to reach the 3 million mark in paid downloads; "Whatever You Like" took 24. Flo Rida is only the fourth lead artist to have two songs reach the 3 million download mark. He follows Rihanna, Katy Perry and T.I. Flo Rida is now officially the biggest Flo to hit the music business since Florence Ballard, a founding member of the Supremes. Ballard was part of the famed trio for its first 10 #1 singles on the Hot 100.

There's more good news this week about the fast growth of digital music. As of this week, the Twilight soundtrack has sold 412,000 downloads, which allows it to climb to #2 on Nielsen/SoundScan's all-time list of the 100 best-selling digital albums. Only one album, Coldplay's Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends, has sold more downloads (702,000). Twilight bumps John Mayer's Continuum down to third place. Mayer's album has sold 406,000 downloads since its release in 2006. Digital sales account for more than one-fifth of Twilight's total sales. I'll have a Chart Watch Extra on Friday in which look at the all-time list of albums with the most paid downloads. Jack Johnson and Coldplay both figure prominently, as you might expect, but you may be surprised at how well The Killers, Kanye West and Dane Cook do. (Dane Cook, the comedian? Yep.) Circle back on Friday and find out what's hot in the world of digital downloads. If digital is the future of the music business, as the pundits say, you might want to get a grip on it.

All this positive digital news helps to offset some discouraging news about overall sales trends. Taylor Swift's Fearless this week becomes the first album to sell 1 million copies in 2009. (This is, of course, on top of the 2,112,000 copies that the album sold in the last seven weeks of 2008.) The only problem: This is the 17th chart week of the year. This is the latest in the calendar year that we've witnessed the year's first million-selling album in the Nielsen/SoundScan era (which began in 1991). Last year, we were 14 weeks into the year before we saw the year's first million-selling album (Jack Johnson's Sleep Through The Static). U2's No Line On The Horizon is the best-selling album so far this year that was released in 2009. As of this week, it has sold 853,000 copies. The only problem: The album needed eight weeks to equal the first-week sales tally of U2's previous studio release, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, which started with sales of 840,000 copies in November 2004.

Song Scorecard: The Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow" logs its fourth week at #1 on Hot Digital Songs. The smash sold 226,000 downloads this week, bringing its four-week total to 1,289,000..."Blame It" by Jamie Foxx featuring T-Pain and Kid Cudi's "Day 'N' Nite" both reached the 1 million mark in paid downloads this week. "Blame It" took 14 weeks to reach the threshold. "Day 'N' Nite" took 15.

Depeche Mode's Sounds Of The Universe enters The Billboard 200 at #3, becoming the veteran group's highest-charting release since Songs Of Faith And Devotion bowed at #1 in March 1993.The group first cracked the chart in 1981, before three other acts in this week's top 10 were even born. These youngsters are Asher Roth, who was born in 1985; Lady GaGa, born in 1986; and Miley Cyrus, born in 1992. Roth's Asleep In The Bread Aisle debuts at #5. It's hard to imagine that a record store would have a whole aisle devoted to Bread. Maybe in 1972. (My younger readers will need to get someone to explain the "Bread" reference. And maybe the "record store" reference too, sadly.)

Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 albums.

1. Rick Ross, Deeper Than Rap, 158,000. This new entry is Ross' third album in a row to debut at #1. Port Of Miami debuted in the top spot in August 2006 with sales of 187,000. Trilla followed suit in March 2008 with sales of 198,000. Ross still has a ways to go to catch DMX, who debuted at #1 with his first five albums. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Maybach Music 2," which bows at #63.

2. Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack, 104,000. The album slips to #2 after reaching the top spot last week. The album has been ranked in the top two for four of its first five weeks on the chart. Seven songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "The Climb," which dips to #4.

3. Depeche Mode, Sounds Of The Universe, 80,000. This new entry is the English group's sixth top 10 album. Depeche Mode first made the top 10 in April 1990 with Violator. It has made it back to the top 10 with every subsequent studio release. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

4. Rascal Flatts, Unstoppable, 68,000. The former #1 album slips from #3 to #4 in its third week. "Here Comes Goodbye" slips to #47 on Hot Digital Songs.

5. Asher Roth, Asleep In The Bread Aisle, 65,000. This new entry is the latest in a long line of hit albums by white rappers. The roster includes chart-toppers by the Beastie Boys, Vanilla Ice, Eminem and Paul Wall. Nearly half of the copies (32,000) were sold digitally, making this the week's #1 Digital Album. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by the appealing "I Love College," which dips to #13.

6. Various Artists, Twilight soundtrack, 40,000. The former #1 album slips from #4 to #6. This is its 18th week in the top 10. That's the longest stay for a theatrical movie soundtrack since City Of Angels logged 20 weeks in the top 10 in 1998. Twilight has sold 1,878,000 copies, more than any other album in this week's top 10. Paramore's "Decode" dips to #130 on Hot Digital Songs.

7. Lady GaGa, The Fame, 40,000. The album inches up from #8 to #7. This is its 10th week in the top 10. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Poker Face," which rebounds to #2. Will "Poker Face" become the second 3-million seller from this album? It will.

8. Day26, Forever In A Day, 37,000. The album dives from #2 to #8 in its second week. "Imma Put It On Her" (featuring P. Diddy and Yung Joc) slips to #81 on Hot Digital Songs. (And people say they don't write songs like they used to.)

9. Various Artists, NOW 30, 36,000. The former #1 album slips from #5 to #9 in its fifth week. The compilation has sold 414,000 copies in five weeks. Seven of the NOW volumes sold more than that in their first week.

10. Jadakiss, The Last Kiss, 30,000. The album slips from #6 to #10 in its third week. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

Three albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Silversun Pickups' Swoon plummets from #7 to #33. Jason Aldean's Wide Open drops from #9 to #12. Taylor Swift's Fearless dips from #10 to #11, ending (at least for now) its 22-week run in the top 10.

Lacuna Coil's Shallow Life bows at #16. It's the highest-charting album to date for the Italian Goth-rock group. Karmacode hit #28 in 2006... Jars Of Clay's The Long Fall Back To Earth starts at #29. The Christian pop group hit the top 10 in 1997 with Much Afraid...Chimaira's Infection bows at #30.  (An unfortunate title given the current swine flu scare. Or maybe a timely one.) It's the hard rock group's highest-charting album to date. Resurrection debuted at #42 in March 2007.

Pet Shop Boys' Yes opens at #32. Virtually all of the duo's albums have had one-word titles. This is the shortest one yet, edging out 1993's Very by one character. (I bet they're a little peeved that Peter Gabriel thought of So first. Or that R. Kelly was able to call an album R.)

Point Of Grace's 2007 album How You Live is this week's #1 Catalog Album. The album sold 8,000 copies and would have ranked #56 on the big chart if older, catalog albums were eligible to compete there. The female Contemporary Christian group first topped the catalog chart in 2007 with Winter Wonderland.

Heads Up: Bob Dylan's Together Through Life is expected to debut at #1 on next week's chart. Dylan's last studio release, Modern Times, debuted at #1 in September 2006. Mike Jones' The Voice is also expected to debut next week. It's the rapper's first full-length album since Who Is Mike Jones? bowed at #3 in April 2005. Also look for solid debuts from Don Omar's IDon, Jason Michael Carroll's Growing Up Is Getting Old, Melody Gardot's My One And Only Thrill, Ben Folds' University a Cappella, Tech N9ne's Sickology 101 and Heaven & Hell's The Devil You Know.

And finally: Rick Ross is closing in on Diana Ross as the top Ross in terms of #1 albums on The Billboard 200. Rick has had three #1 albums. Diana had four--three with the Supremes, followed by the Lady Sings The Blues soundtrack in 1973.

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