Chart Watch

Week Ending Aug. 10, 2008: Back From The Dead, The Hollywood Musical!

Chart Watch

The soundtrack to Mamma Mia! jumps to #1 in its fifth week on The Billboard 200. This is the second time in less than 20 months that a movie musical based on a Broadway show has spawned a chart-topping soundtrack. The soundtrack to Dreamgirls was #1 for two weeks in January 2007. Before that, there was a decades-long gap in Broadway-to-Hollywood transfers that yielded #1 soundtracks-stretching all the way back to Grease in 1978.

In the 52-year history of Billboard's weekly album chart, only four other chart-topping movie soundtracks were from musicals that originated on the stage. These are The Sound Of Music (1965), West Side Story (1962), South Pacific (1958), and The King And I (1956). (A shout-out to Rodgers & Hammerstein, who wrote three of these four shows.)

The comeback of the movie musical is one of the brightest (and most surprising) stories in entertainment in this decade. The trend kicked off in 2001 with the success of Baz Luhrmann's original musical, Moulin Rouge. It gathered steam in 2002 with Chicago, which became the first musical to win the Oscar for Best Picture since Oliver! in 1968. Dreamgirls in late 2006 and Hairspray last summer kept the trend going. The soundtracks to all four of these movies reached the top three on the Billboard chart, though only Dreamgirls went all the way.

The Mamma Mia! soundtrack hits #1 the same week that the movie tops the $100 million mark at the domestic box office. Both milestones may boost the movie's chances of landing Golden Globe nominations in the comedy/musical categories. The amiable but featherweight movie would not appear to have serious Oscar potential.

Mamma Mia! is the second movie soundtrack to hit #1 this year, following Juno. This is the first year in which two movie soundtracks have risen to #1 since 2002, when the Grammy-winning O Brother, Where Art Thou? and 8 Mile, paced by Eminem's Oscar-winning "Lose Yourself," both rang the bell. (8 Mile continued at #1 into 2003, when Bad Boys II also made it to the top.)

Though ABBA drew wide acclaim for making some of the best-produced, best-sounding records of their time, they never had a #1 album. (They never even had a top 10 album.) So it's ironic that an album consisting of cover versions of ABBA songs sung by such actors as Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan has gone all the way. It would be as if the Beach Boys had never had a #1 album and then, three decades later, a soundtrack featuring Beach Boys covers reached the summit.

That may be why a lot of people are going right to the source and buying ABBA albums. The quartet's 1993 compilation, Gold-Greatest Hits, holds at #1 on the Catalog Albums chart for the fourth straight week. The album sold 33,000 copies this week and would have ranked #11 on the big chart if older, catalog albums were eligible to compete there. This is the third catalog album so far this year that would have made the top 15 on the big chart if the rules allowed. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' Greatest Hits would have ranked #12 in February following the group's half-time performance at the Super Bowl. Michael Jackson's Thriller 25 would have placed at #2 for two weeks later that month.

The season's other high-profile soundtrack, The Dark Knight, continues to flounder. The album drops from #45 to #75, even as the film remains #1 at the box-office for the fourth straight week. The movie has grossed $441.6 million in its first four weeks. The soundtrack has sold a paltry 63,000 copies in the same period. And it's not just a function of album sales being soft: The Mamma Mia! soundtrack has sold more than eight times as many copies as The Dark Knight soundtrack, even though The Dark Knight has grossed more than four times as much at the domestic box-office as the ABBA tune-fest.

Rihanna's "Disturbia" holds at #1 on Hot Digital Songs for the second week in a row, with 148,000 paid downloads this week. All five of Rihanna's #1 hits on this chart have had multiple weeks on top. The success of "Disturbia" has pulled Rihanna's album back into the top 10, as you will soon see.

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

1. Various Artists, Mamma Mia! soundtrack, 131,000. This is the first album of 2008 to take five weeks to first reach #1. Nearly 15,000 copies were sold digitally, making this the #1 Digital Album for the second straight week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by Meryl Streep's "Mamma Mia" at #85.

2. Miley Cyrus, Breakout, 102,000. Two weeks after debuting at #1, Cyrus holds at #2 for the second week. This is the only the third album by a female artist in the past 12 months to spend its first three weeks in the top two positions. It follows Leona Lewis's Spirit and Mariah Carey's E=MC2. (How about Alicia Keys' As I Am? Not quite. Mary J. Blige's Growing Pains? Nope. Madonna's Hard Candy? Sorry.) Five songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "7 Things" at #11.

3. Sugarland, Love On The Inside, 91,000. Last week's #1 album drops to #3. Sugarland is the ninth country act since June 2006 (the 10th, if you count the hard-to-categorize Eagles) to log a single week at #1 on The Billboard 200. The last country act to spend two weeks on top? Dixie Chicks, which did the trick with the Taking The Long Way in May-June 2006. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "All I Want To Do" at #33.

4. Kid Rock, Rock N' Roll Jesus, 90,000. Kid Rock holds at #4 in his 44th week on the chart. Sales of the album dipped 6% compared to last week, ending a remarkable 16-week streak in which sales increased every single week. (I hope I didn't jinx the album's winning streak by pointing it out last week.)  The album has sold 856,000 copies in 2008, which puts it at #9 for the year to date. The album has sold more copies this year than it did in 2007, when it moved 661,000 copies.

5. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III, 67,000. This is first rap album to spend its first nine weeks in the top five since The Game's The Documentary in early 2005. (50 Cent's subsequent The Massacre spent its first eight weeks in the top five, fell out and then returned to rack up a few additional weeks.) Five songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "A Milli" at #24.

6. Coldplay, Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends, 55,000. The album holds at #6 in its eighth week in the top 10. Lil Wayne and Coldplay have been back-to-back (with one or the other in the lead) for six of those eight weeks. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Viva La Vida" at #8.

7. Lloyd, Lessons In Love, 51,000. This new entry is the R&B artist's second straight top 10 album. Street Love debuted at #2 in March 2007. "Girls Around The World" jumps from #129 to #105 on Hot Digital Songs.

8. Various Artists, Camp Rock, 47,000. The TV soundtrack rebounds to #8 in its eighth straight week in the top 10. The album has sold 811,000 copies to date and is just one week away from topping Juno as the best-selling soundtrack of 2008. Not bad for a High School Musical knockoff. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "This Is Me" by Demi Lovato & Joe Jonas at #56.

9. Rihanna, Good Girl Gone Bad, 44,000. Rihanna climbs back into the top 10 after coming up a little short the last two weeks. This is the album's eighth week in the top 10. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Disturbia" at #1.

10. Heidi Newfield, What Am I Waiting For, 34,000. This solo debut album starts at a higher position than Newfield ever attained with Trick Pony. That country trio reached #20 with its highest-charting album, R.I.D.E. The new album features the hit "Johnny & June," which jumps from #69 to #54 on Hot Digital Songs. The tune is about the love affair of country legends Johnny and June Carter Cash. (Country music is getting awfully self-referential. On their current albums, you can also hear Taylor Swift's "Tim McGraw," Sugarland's "Steve Earle" and George Strait's "House Of Cash.")

Three albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Third Day's Revelation drops from #6 to #19. Kidz Bop Kids' Kidz Bop 14 falls from #8 to #14. Nas' untitled album falls from #10 to #17.

Three albums that have been riding the chart for more than a year are ranked in the top 20. The aforementioned album by Rihanna is in its 62nd week on the chart. Jonas Brothers' Jonas Brothers jumps from #14 to #11 in its 53rd week. Taylor Swift's Taylor Swift dips from #13 to #16 in its 94th week. This is the 40th consecutive week in the top 20 for Swift's album. The 2006 release has sold 3,292,000 copies, more than any other album in this week's top 50.

Three other albums enter the chart inside the top 20. Keith Anderson's C'Mon! debuts at #12. This is a breakthrough week for the emerging country star, whose last album, Three Chord Country And American Rock & Roll, peaked at #71 in 2005. Anderson's "I Still Miss You" vaults from #180 to #113 on Hot Digital Songs...Conor Oberst's eponymous set opens at #15. As Bright Eyes, Oberst debuted at #4 in April 2007 with its/his highest-charting album, Cassadaga...Trapt's Only Through The Pain bows at #18. It's the hard rock group's second top 20 album. Trapt bowed at #14 in September 2005 with Someone In Control.

Hawthorne Heights' Fragile Future opens at #23. The group debuted at #3 with its last album, If Only You Were Lonely, in March 2006. "Rescue Me," a song from the new album, starts at #134 on Hot Digital Songs. (Is it just me or does Hawthorne Heights sound like a cheesy spin-off from Melrose Place?)

Randy Newman's Harps And Angels opens at #30. It's the second highest-charting album of Newman's four-decade career, topped only by Little Criminals. That album made the top 10 in February 1978, boosted by the fluke #2 hit single, "Short People." This album is being carried only by Newman's stature as one of America's greatest songwriters. Newman first made the album chart in 1971 with Randy Newman/Live. He has since made the chart with eight studio albums, including such classics as Sail Away and Good Old Boys.

Ups & Downs: Rick Springfield's Venus In Overdrive drops from #28 to #173. Sales slipped 76% compared to last week, the steepest decline in the top 200...Steven Curtis Chapman's This Moment reenters that chart at #163. The album peaked at #47 when it was released in October. This Moment experienced a 67% sales increase this week, greater than any other non-debuting album. The reason could hardly be sadder: Curtis did a TV interview about how his family has coped with his five-year old daughter's accidental death in May.

Heads Up: Jonas Brothers' A Little Bit Longer will make next week's splashiest debut, but there will be other notable entries, including Daddy Yankee's Talento De Barrio soundtrack, Yung Berg's Look What You Made Me, Toby Keith's Beer For My Horses soundtrack, New Kids On The Block's Greatest Hits, the soundtrack to Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Taylor Hicks' Early Works, a Target exclusive.

R.I.P. Isaac Hayes, who died this week, was the first African American songwriter to win an Academy Award for Best Song. He won his Oscar for "Theme From Shaft," a #1 smash from 1971 that still sounds smokin' hot today. From 1969 to 1975, Hayes amassed eight top 20 albums. He returned to the top 20 in 1998 as a participant in the TV soundtrack, Chef Aid: The South Park Album. Hayes recorded albums with the elegant Dionne Warwick and the funky Millie Jackson, which hints at his range.

Useless Information: Except for the long-running NOW That's What I Call Music! series, the Mamma Mia! soundtrack is the first #1 album to carry an exclamation point since Shania Twain's Up! in 2002. Hey, if you were #1, you'd use an exclamation point too.

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