Chart Watch

Week Ending April 4, 2010: Usher Sends Protege Packing

Chart Watch

Usher played a key role early in Justin Bieber's career, helping the teenager land a record deal with L.A. Reid and Island Def Jam. He even joined Bieber on "First Dance," a track from the young star's debut EP, My World. This week, Usher boots his young protégé out of the #1 spot on The Billboard 200. Usher's Raymond V Raymond debuts at #1, sending Bieber's My World 2.0 down to #2 (even though Bieber's album sold more copies in its second week than it did in its first; more on this later).

This isn't the first time a mentor has knocked a protégé out of the top spot. In 1974, a red-hot Elton John signed '60s star Neil Sedaka to his Rocket Records. The following year, Elton sang a background vocal on Sedaka's "Bad Blood." The song topped the Hot 100 for three weeks, a career best for Sedaka, but it was replaced in the top spot by....Elton's "Island Girl." In both of these cases, I'm sure it was nothing personal. It's just that nothing comes between a hit-maker and the #1 spot.

And Bieber may well have the last laugh. My World 2.0 is expected to return to the top spot next week. Bieber's album is already demonstrating its buoyancy, while superstar releases like Usher's often experience a big second week drop-off. (It can't hurt that Bieber will be the musical guest on Saturday Night Live this weekend.)

Raymond V Raymond is Usher's third album in a row to enter the chart at #1. The album sold 329,000 copies in its first week, fewer than his last album, Here I Stand, which sold 443,000 copies in its first week in June 2008 and far fewer than his 2004 blockbuster Confessions, which sold 1,096,000 copies in its first week. Confessions still holds the record for the biggest one-week sales by a (non-rap) R&B album in Nielsen/SoundScan history.

Raymond V Raymond is Usher's fifth consecutive studio album to reach the top five on The Billboard 200. Each of the other four spawned at least one #1 single on the Hot 100. 1997's My Way gave us "Nice & Slow." 2001's 8701 spawned a pair of #1 hits, "U Remind Me" and "U Got It Bad." Confessions contained four #1 hits, "Yeah!" (featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris), "Burn," "Confessions Part II" and "My Boo" (a duet with Alicia Keys). Here I Stand yielded "Love In This Club" (featuring Young Jeezy). Will Raymond Vs. Raymond keep this string alive? Stay tuned. His single "OMG" (featuring will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas) enters the Hot 100 at #14 this week.

Usher has said that the title of his new album was inspired by the title of the Oscar-winning 1979 film Kramer Vs. Kramer. Usher isn't the first R&B artist to be inspired by that movie title. Kool & the Gang had a Top 40 hit in 1981 titled "Jones Vs. Jones."

Though My World 2.0 slips to #2, its sales jumped from 283,000 in its first week to 291,000 in its second. It's the first album to experience this odd mixed fortune (losing the #1 spot but gaining sales) since NOW 9 did the same thing in March 2002.

My World 2.0 is the first album by a teen star to top 200K in both of its first two weeks since Taylor Swift's Fearless topped that mark in each of its first three weeks in 2008. (The record for a teen act was set by the Backstreet Boys' Millennium, which topped the 200K sales mark in each of its first 15 (!) weeks in 1999. The boy band featured 19-year old Nick Carter.)

Erykah Badu's NEW AMERYKAH: Part Two: Return Of The Ankh debuts at #4 with first-week sales of 110,000. It's Badu's sequel to New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War, which debuted at #2 in March 2008, with first-week sales of 124,000. Five of Badu's six albums have reached the top five on The Billboard 200, an impressive show of consistency.

Badu has stirred controversy with the video for the album's first single, "Window Seat." In the video, she disrobes in Dallas' Dealey Plaza, the site of President Kennedy's assassination in November 1963. Near the end of the video, she falls to the ground, as if she's been shot. Badu was born and still lives in Dallas, so she has a connection to the city. But that doesn't really matter. It's tacky to exploit a national tragedy for promotional gain. Let's hope nobody out there is thinking of self-serving stunts capitalizing on 9/11.

Lady Antebellum this week becomes the first country group or duo to achieve two historic firsts. The red-hot trio becomes the first country group or duo to have a song reach the 3 million mark in digital sales. Lady A accomplishes the feat with its Eagles--influenced, mid-tempo ballad "Need You Now." Taylor Swift is the only other country act to land a 3 million-seller. She has scored twice, with "Love Story" (4,471,000) and "You Belong With Me" (3,140,000). Until "Need You Now," the biggest digital seller by a country group or duo was Rascal Flatts' 2006 hit "Life Is A Highway," which has sold 2,320,000 copies.

Also, Lady A becomes the first country group or duo to have an album spend its first 10 weeks at #1 on the Top Country Albums chart. Need You Now is the first album by any artist (male, female or group) to spend its first 10 weeks on top of the country chart since Taylor Swift's Fearless, which was #1 for its first 12 weeks in 2008-2009. No one debuted at #1 on Top Country Albums between 1964, when the chart was introduced, and 1991, when Nielsen/SoundScan brought much more immediacy to the chart, so acts in those years didn't have a chance to achieve this feat. Even so, Lady A's accomplishment is "A-mazing."

Train's "Hey, Soul Sister" tops the Hot Digital Songs chart for the second straight week. The song sold 219,000 copies this week, bringing its 32-week total to 2,725,000. Here's the rest of this week's top five: Rihanna's "Rude Boy" holds at #2 for the fourth (non-consecutive) week; "Nothin' On You" by B.O.B featuring Bruno Mars rebounds from #5 to #3; "Break Your Heart" by Taio Cruz featuring Ludacris dips from #3 to #4; and "Baby" by Justin Bieber featuring Ludacris slips from #4 to #5.

Shameless Plug: "Telephone" by Lady Gaga featuring Beyonce tops the 1.5 mark in digital sales this week. The smash, which holds at #5 on the Hot 100, joins a long line of all-female collaborations to scale the chart. Most of the most successful pairings have something in common: The artists come from different worlds. Think: Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer. Eve and Gwen Stefani. Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya and Pink. And we can't forget Eurythmics/Aretha Franklin, whose great hit "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves" is the rallying cry for this trend. Does this sound like a plug for an upcoming Chart Watch Extra? It is. Check it out on Friday.

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

1. Usher, Raymond V Raymond, 329,000. This new entry is Usher's third album in a row to reach #1. 46,000 copies were sold digitally, making this the week's #1 Digital Album. Five songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "OMG" (featuring will.i.am), which bows at #7.

2. Justin Bieber, My World 2.0, 291,000. The album slips from #1 to #2 in its second week. The album is already #6 for the year-to-date. Five songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Baby" (featuring Ludacris), which dips from #4 to #5.

3. Various Artists, NOW 33, 123,000. The compilation holds at #3 in its second week. The album has sold 258,000 copies in its first two weeks.

4. Erykah Badu, NEW AMERYKAH: Part Two: Return Of The Ankh, 110,000. This new entry is Badu's fifth top 10 album. "Window Seat," the song with the controversial video, enters Hot Digital Songs at #165.

5. Lady Antebellum, Need You Now, 87,000. The former #1 album dips from #4 to #5 in its 10th week. It's #1 for the year-to-date. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Need You Now" dips from #7 to #9. "American Honey" dips from #37 to #40.

6. Monica, Still Standing, 81,000. The album drops from #2 to #6 in its second week. "Everything To Me" drops from #132 to #184 on Hot Digital Songs.

7. Alan Jackson, Freight Train, 72,000. This new entry is Jackson's 11th top 10 album. It enters Top Country Albums at #2. It looks like it's going to become his first studio album to fall short of the #1 spot on the country chart since Under The Influence in 1999.

8. Justin Bieber, My World, 63,000. The EP slips from #5 to #8 in its 20th week. This is its 10th week in the top 10. Three songs from the EP are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "One Time," which jumps from #75 to #70.

9. Lady Gaga, The Fame, 49,000. The album slips from #8 to #9 in its 75th week. This is its 41st week in the top 10. Seven songs from the expanded version of the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Telephone" (featuring Beyonce), which holds at #6.

10. The Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D., 43,000. The album holds at #10 in its 43rd week. This is its 30th week in the top 10.  Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Imma Be," which holds at #8.

Three albums fell out of the top 10 this week. She & Him's Volume 2 dives from #6 to #28, Ludacris' Battle Of The Sexes falls from #7 to #11 and Marvin Sapp's Here I Am falls from #9 to #13.

Meth/Ghost/Rae's Wu-Massacre debuts at #12. The album marks a reunion for Method Man, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon, who were key members of Wu-Tang Clan, which released four studio albums from 1993 through 2001. In the intervening years, all three MCs had solo success. Method Man had six top 10 albums (including two with Redman), Ghostface Killah had four and Raekwon had three.

Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel rebounds from #30 to #14 on the heels of the movie's release on DVD. It's the #1 soundtrack, knocking off The Twilight Saga: New Moon. This is the eighth week at #1 on the soundtrack chart for the latest album by Alvin, Theodore and Simon...Barenaked Ladies' All In Good Time bows at #23. The Canadian pop band had three top 10 albums from 1998 through 2003...Gretchen Wilson's fourth studio album, I Got Your Country Right Here, bows at #33. The country singer's first three studio albums all debuted in the top five.

E-40's current album, Revenue Retrievin,' was released in two volumes. They sold almost exactly the same number of copies this week, a shade less than 12,000 each. Day Shift enters The Billboard 200 at #47. Night Shift arrives at #49....Chris Tomlin's 2006 album See The Morning drops from #32 to #68. It's the #1 Catalog Album for the fourth straight week.

The 3-D remake of Clash Of The Titans was #1 at the box-office this past weekend. The movie grossed $61.2 million over the weekend, more than the 1981 original grossed in its entire run. The original grossed $41 million during its run, according to Boxofficemojo.com. Ramin Djawadi's score album sold about 1,000 copies this week, too few to make The Billboard 200...A pair of pop stars had leading roles in the weekend's #2 and #4 movies. Janet Jackson stars in Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?, which was #2 at the box-office. Miley Cyrus stars in The Last Song, which was #4.

Song Scorecard: Not many songs prove their appeal three times, but Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" has done just that. The song was first a top 10 hit in 1976, and returned to the top 10 in 1992 when it was featured in the movie Wayne's World. This week, it tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads, reflecting activity in the digital era, which began in earnest about six years ago...Another oldie, Panic At The Disco's 2006 breakthrough hit "I Write Sins Not Tragedies," also tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads this week.

Madonna's records have been played in public in the U.K. more than those of any other artist in the past 10 years, according to a study by the People's Artist Chart. This combines radio and TV play as well as spins in pubs, clubs, shops and restaurants. The rest of the top five: the Beatles, Robbie Williams, Queen and Take That. How did a girl from Bay City, Mich. beat out four British acts in their own country? Talent and drive. Maybe Scouting For Girls will head the list a decade from now. Their "This Ain't A Love Song" is this week's #1 hit in the U.K.

Heads Up: Slash's first solo album, Slash, is expected to be next week's top new entry. Also due: Madonna's first live album,  The Sticky And Sweet Tour (a CD/DVD combo), Jakob Dylan's Women + Country, Peter Wolf's Midnight Souvenirs, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings' I Learned The Hard Way, John Butler Trio's April Uprising and Karen Clark-Sheard's All In One.

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