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Week Ending Aug. 21, 2011. Albums: Adele’s “Massacre”

Chart Watch

Album sales aren't what they used to be, but evidently no one told Adele's fans. Her sophomore album 21 tops the 3 million mark in U.S. sales this week. Even in the music industry's heyday, a "triple platinum" album was a big deal.

This is the earliest in the year that we've seen a 3-million-seller since 2005, when 50 Cent's The Massacre topped the 3 million mark in the week ending April 17. (Those were the days.)

By comparison, the first album to sell 3 million copies in 2010, Eminem's Recovery, achieved the feat in the week ending Nov. 21.

The first album to sell 3 million copies in 2009, Taylor Swift's Fearless, did it in the week ending Dec. 27.

No albums sold 3 million copies in 2008.

The only album to sell 3 million copies in 2007, Josh Groban's holiday album Noel, hit the mark in the week ending Dec. 23.

The first album to sell 3 million copies in 2006, the first High School Musical soundtrack, scored in the week ending Sept. 3.

21 rebounds from #4 to #2 in its 26th week on The Billboard 200. It's the first album to spend its first 26 weeks in the top five since Whitney Houston's The Bodyguard soundtrack, which spent its first 30 weeks in the top five in 1992-1993.

Watch The Throne by Jay-Z and Kanye West logs a second week at #1. Jay-Z's most recent solo album, 2009's The Blueprint 3, also spent two weeks at #1, but West's last three #1 albums spent just a single frame in the top spot. This is his first album to spend two weeks at #1 since 2004's Late Registration.

Watch The Throne sold nearly 62K digital copies this week, which puts it at #1 on Hot Digital Albums for the second week. The album has sold 383K digital copies in its first two weeks, which is more than half of its 613K total.

Eli Young Band's Life At Best debuts at #6, becoming the band's highest-charting album to date. The band's last full-length album, Jet Black & Jealous, reached #30 in 2008. If you're a country fan, you already know that there is no "Eli Young." The group is headed by Mike Eli and James Young. Life At Best is one of four country albums in this week's top 10. That's becoming a common occurrence.

Eminem's Recovery this week tops the 4 million mark in sales. It's Em's fifth album to hit that sales threshold (not counting the 2002 soundtrack to 8 Mile, which also achieved the feat). Recovery has sold nearly twice as many copies as Eminem's 2009 album Relapse (which is up to 2,203,000).

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"She Will" by Lil Wayne featuring Drake enters Hot Digital Songs at #1. It's the first song to debut in the top spot since Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" in February. "Stereo Hearts" by Gym Class Heroes featuring Adam Levine also breaks into the top 10. How high will these songs rank on the Hot 100? You'll find out later today when we post Chart Watch: Songs.

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

1. Jay-Z and Kanye West, Watch The Throne, 177,000. The album logs a second week at #1. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Otis" (featuring Otis Redding), which jumps from #44 to #23.

2. Adele, 21, 80,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #4 to #2 in its 26th week. It has been in the top five the entire time. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Rolling In The Deep," which drops from #15 to #17.

3. Various Artists, Now 39, 63,000. The album holds at #3 in its second week. The album has sold 173K copies in its first two weeks.

4. Luke Bryan, Tailgates & Tanlines, 53,000. The album drops from #2 to #4 in its second week. It's #1 on Top Country Albums for the second week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Country Girl (Shake It For Me)" holds at #27. "Drunk On You" drops from #50 to #105.

5. Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party, 37,000. The album inches up from #6 to #5 in its 42nd week. This is its 20th week in the top 10. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Dirt Road Anthem" drops from #16 to #18. "Don't You Wanna Stay" (with Kelly Clarkson) rebounds from #67 to #54.

6. Eli Young Band, Life At Best, 35,000. This new entry is the band's first top 10 album. "Crazy Girl" jumps from #42 to #38 on Hot Digital Songs.

7. Eric Church, Chief, 31,000. The former #1 album drops from #5 to #7 in its fourth week. It has been in the top 10 the entire time. "Homeboy" drops from #62 to #69 on Hot Digital Songs.

8. Blue October, Any Man In America, 27,000. This new entry is the rock band's first top 10 album. Its last album, 2009's Approaching Normal, reached #13, its previous best mark.

9. Beyonce, 4, 25,000. The former #1 album drops from #7 to #9 in its eighth week. It has been in the top 10 the entire time. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Best Thing I Never Had" drops from #28 to #33. "Run The World (Girls)" drops from #172 to #177.

10. Kidz Bop Kids, Kidz Bop 20, 24,000. The album holds at #10 in its fifth week. It has been in the top 10 the entire time. It has sold 193K copies to date.

Two  albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Ace Hood's Blood, Sweat + Tears dives from #8 to #34. Jackie Evancho's Dream With Me drops from #9 to #19.

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Foster The People's Torches jumps from #15 to #11 in its 13th week. "Pumped Up Kicks" holds at #3 on Hot Digital Songs.

Victorious: Music From The Hit TV Show drops from #12 to #20 in its third week. It's the #1 soundtrack for the third straight week...Glee: The 3D Movie drops from #16 to #36 in its second week. It's the first Glee album or EP to fall short of the top 10. There is no "glee" in Glee-land over this chart move, I assure you. The album is, nonetheless, the top-ranking soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie for the second week.

Breaking Benjamin's Shallow Bay: Best Of Breaking Benjamin debuts at #22. The hard rock band has had two top five albums.

An eponymous album by Jeff Bridges debuts at #25 (and at #10 on Top Country Albums). T-Bone Burnett produced the album. Burnett also produced the soundtrack to Crazy Heart, which reached #18 on The Billboard 200 in March 2010, one week after both Bridges and Burnett won Oscars for their work on the movie. Bridges won as Best Actor; Burnett and his collaborator, Ryan Bingham, shared the award for Best Song for "The Weary Kind." The soundtrack has sold a healthy 350K copies. This isn't Bridges' first album. In 2000 he released Be Here Soon, which has sold a modest 3K copies.

Adele's 2008 album 19 rebounds from #37 to #29. It's #1 on Top Catalog Albums for the 20th week, following a four-week period in which it finished second to Amy Winehouse's resurgent Back In Black. 19 has sold 428K copies so far this year, which makes it the #28 best-seller of the year-to-date.

The Help stepped up to #1 at the box-office in its second weekend. The soundtrack jumps from #64 to #52 in its fourth week. The album features Mary J. Blige's "The Living Proof" and a host of songs from the 1960s, including "Jackson" by Johnny Cash & June Carter and Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright." ("They spent some bucks on that one," a friend whispered to me when that 1963 classic started playing.)

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Nat "King" Cole died in 1965, but his music lives on.  That might sound like just polite talk, but I have the stats to back it up. As of this week, Cole's albums have sold a combined total of 10 million units since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard in 1991. Of course, Cole also sold millions of albums between 1945, when his King Cole Trio first cracked Billboard's album chart, and 1991. Cole's greatest hits include "Mona Lisa," "Unforgettable" and "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)."

Also as of this week, Michael Jackson's Thriller has sold 6 million copies in the Nielsen SoundScan era. The album, of course, sold millions more between its release in 1982 and the day Nielsen SoundScan set up shop in 1991.

Elvis Presley's Elvis: Great Performances returns to #1 on Top Music Videos. This is its second appearance at #1 in the past three weeks.

Coming Attractions: Game's The R.E.D. Album and Barbra Streisand's What Matters Most: Barbra Sings The Lyrics Of Alan and Marilyn Bergman will both debut in the top five next week. (I guess if Barbra can drop the "a" in her name, Game can drop the "The" in his.) Pistol Annies' Hell On Heels (a great title) will also debut in the top 10. The female trio features the red-hot Miranda Lambert. Also due: the Muppets: The Green Album compilation, Sunny Sweeney's Concrete and 30 Seconds To Mars' MTV Unplugged EP.

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