Chart Watch

Week Ending Aug. 31, 2008: The Week With Two #1 Albums

Chart Watch

We all knew that The Game's LAX and Slipknot's All Hope Is Gone were locked in a tight race for #1 on the Billboard album chart. But when the numbers came in, it was breathtaking just how tight it was. The margin between the two albums was in the low double-digits. Billboard's Keith Caulfield reported that it was the closest race between the #1 and #2 albums since the magazine began using Nielsen SoundScan sales data in May 1991. He calculated the margin between the two albums at .005%.

The winner, by this narrowest of margins, was The Game. But about 12 hours after the initial result was posted, Nielsen/SoundScan reran the numbers and declared Slipknot as the winner. It's not uncommon for Nielsen/SoundScan to adjust the final sales tallies. It's just that the tallies have rarely been so close that the final adjustment reversed the order of finish for the top two albums.

So (assuming Nielsen/SoundScan isn't going to re-rerun the numbers, and I'm not sure my heart can take it), the winner is Slipknot. All Hope Is Gone sold 240,000 copies, compared to 238,000 for LAX. (In the initial chart released by Nielsen/SoundScan, the two albums had both sold 238,000 copies, when rounded off to the nearest thousand.)

All Hope Is Gone is Slipknot's first #1 album, following two near misses. Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses) debuted (and peaked) at #2 in June 2004. Iowa debuted (and peaked) at #3 in September 2001. This is the first metal (or metal-leaning hard rock) album to hit #1 since Tool's 10,000 Days topped the chart in May 2006.

Hits magazine reports that this is the third time that a late revision changed the outcome of the race for #1. In September 2001, Alicia Keys' Songs In A Minor was originally slated to return to #1 in its 11th chart week. A late change gave the top spot to System of a Down's Toxicity, a new entry that week. In a similar scenario, in October 2004, Usher's Confessions was pegged to return to #1 in its 29th chart week. A late change gave the nod to George Strait's debuting 50 Number Ones.

The Game and Slipknot were also neck-and-neck in the race for #1 on Top Digital Albums. There, even before the recount, Slipknot eked out a narrow win. All Hope Is Gone sold 30,000 copies digitally, compared to 29,000 for LAX.

Blues legend B.B. King's latest album, One Kind Favor, enters The Billboard 200 at #37.  King, 82, is among the oldest artists ever to land a top 40 album. Tony Bennett was 81 when his most recent album, Tony Bennett Sings The Ultimate American Songbook Vol. 1, debuted at #16 in September. Frank Sinatra was 79 when Duets II, his last top 40 album during his lifetime, bowed at #16 in November 1994.

King landed his first #1 R&B hit, "3 O'Clock Blues," in February 1952. If that sounds like a long time ago, it was. Harry S. Truman was President, A Streetcar Named Desire was the front-runner in the Oscar nominations and I Love Lucy was midway through its first season. Not many artists who were on top back then are still active today, but King just keeps on adding to his legacy.

Except for Riding With The King, a 2000 collaboration with Eric Clapton that reached #3, this is King's first top 40 album since Live In Cook County Jail in 1971. One Kind Favor also enters the Blues Albums chart at #1, giving King a 56-1/2 year span of #1 recordings on various Billboard charts. This is a terrific early-birthday present for King, who will turn 83 on Sept. 16.

Download This: Rapper T.I.'s "Whatever You Like" tops the Hot Digital Songs chart for the second straight week. The song sold 176,000 downloads this week, down 14% from last week. Pink's "So What" jumps from #4 to #2. And Katy Perry, who many assumed would be a one-hit wonder, has two songs in the top 10. "Hot N Cold" jumps from #29 to #8. "I Kissed A Girl" dips from #8 to #9. No other artist has two songs in the top 20.

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

1. Slipknot, All Hope Is Gone, 240,000. This is the group's third studio album in a row to arrive with first-week sales between 240,000 and 255,000. That's a remarkably stable rate of success, especially given the downturn in the music business. Iowa had first-week sales of 255,000. Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses), which spawned the Grammy-winning "Before I Forget," had first-week sales of 243,000. "Psychosocial," from the new album, dips to #94 on Hot Digital Songs.

2. The Game, LAX, 238,000. Both of The Game's last two albums debuted at #1 with heftier first-week totals. The Documentary bowed in January 2005 with sales of 587,000. Doctor's Advocate opened in November 2006 with sales of 358,000. Two songs from the new album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "My Life," featuring the ubiquitous Lil Wayne, which jumps from #21 to #12.

3. Kid Rock, Rock N Roll Jesus, 89,000. The album slips a notch to #3 in its 47th week on the chart. It's the first time an album has ranked in the top three this late in its chart run since Fergie's The Dutchess placed #2 in its 51st week on the chart in September 2007. Big radio hits held the key in both cases. "Big Girls Don't Cry" pushed The Dutchess; "All Summer Long" is boosting Kid Rock's album, which is now the #5 album for the year-to-date (counting just its 2008 sales).

4. Jonas Brothers, A Little Bit Longer, 80,000. The brothers fall to #4 after spending two weeks at #1. But here's good news for Jonas Brothers and their fans: The album is already #17 for the year-to-date. The trio's Jonas Brothers is #19 on that list (again, counting just its 2008 sales). The brothers are the only act with two albums in the top 20 for the year-to-date. Three songs from the new album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Burnin' Up" at #20.

5. Various Artists, Mamma Mia! soundtrack, 78,000. The album dips a notch to #5 in its seventh week in the top five. That's the longest run in the top five by a movie soundtrack since the Eminem-paced 8 Mile spent its first 11 weeks in the winners circle in 2002-2003. Mamma Mia! this week tops Juno as the best-selling movie soundtrack so far in 2008. (It's still a tick behind the Camp Rock TV soundtrack.) For the second week in a row, no songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. The movie logged its seventh week in the top 10 in the box-office listings. It has grossed $132.5 million.

6. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III, 54,000. This is Lil Wayne's 12th straight week in the top 10. Rap albums rarely last this long in the top 10. (Kanye West's Graduation, last year's best-selling rap album, lasted six weeks.) This is the first rap album to log 12 weeks in the top 10 since Eminem's Curtain Call in 2005-2006. Five songs from the album are featured on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Got Money" (featuring T-Pain), which jumps to #28. This is the 13th consecutive week that five or more songs from the album have been listed on that chart.

7. Various Artists, NOW Country!, 50,000. This new entry is the third NOW spin-off volume to reach the top 10, following NOW Christmas! (#3 in 2001) and NOW #1's! (#6 in 2006). Other spin-offs include NOW 80s! (#11 in March), NOW Classic Rock! (#20 in June), NOW Latino! (#36 in 2005) and NOW Party Hits! (#60 in November). (I'm waiting for NOW Death Metal!.) This is the week's #1 country album, bumping Sugarland down to #2 after five weeks on top.

8. Sugarland, Love On The Inside, 47,000. The country duo holds at #8 in its sixth week in the top 10. This is the first country album to log six or more weeks in the top 10 since Taylor Swift's eponymous debut album logged 17 weeks in the top 10 from November to April. "All I Want To Do" dips from #52 to #60 on Hot Digital Songs.

9. Solange, Sol-Angel And The Hadley St. Dreams, 46,000. This opens far ahead of where Solange's first album started five years ago. Solo Star debuted (and peaked) at #49 in January 2003. Solange is Beyonce's sister. It's extremely difficult to establish yourself in music when you're the sibling or (child) of a superstar. Solange and Beyonce Knowles are the first sisters to each land top 10 albums since Jessica and Ashlee Simpson

10. Coldplay, Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends, 44,000. After slipping to #11 last week, the album jumps back into the top 10 for a 10th week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by the majestic "Viva La Vida" at #6.

Five albums fall out of the top 10 this week. Staind's The Illusion Of Progress drops from #3 to #13, Ice Cube's Raw Footage drops from #5 to #14, Miley Cyrus' Breakout dips from #6 to #11, the Camp Rock soundtrack drops from #9 to #16, and Shwayze's Shwayze drops from #10 to #28. I don't think Staind intended for its album title to seem as ironic as it does.

Luis Fonsi's Palabras Del Silencio debuts at #15. This is the highest-charting album to date for the 30-year old Latin music star, who first hit the chart in 2002 with Amor Secreto. This is the second biggest sales week of 2008 for a Latin artist. Only Luis Miguel, a star of the genre for more than 15 years, had a bigger sales week this year. Both of these artists were born in Puerto Rico.

Dragonforce's Ultra Beatdown opens at #18. The hard-rock band from London got its big break when its song "Through The Fire And Flames" was featured in the game Guitar Hero III: Legends Of Rock.

After a hiatus that stretched to nearly 11 years, The Verve picks up exactly where it left off. The English group's second album, Forth, opens at #23. The group's 1997 debut album, Urban Hymns, peaked at #23. (That album spawned the #12 single, "Bitter Sweet Symphony," which returns to Hot Digital Songs at #146. It has sold 1,016,000 downloads to date.) Lead singer Richard Ashcroft subsequently went solo, to disappointing results. Alone With Everybody peaked at #127 in 2000.

Curtain Up: The latest Broadway cast album of Gypsy, starring Patti LuPone, enters the chart at #58. This is the fifth recording of this wonderful Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim show to reach the chart-and it's already the highest-charting version since 1962. Let's recap them, shall we? The original 1959 Broadway version, with Ethel Merman, peaked at #13. The 1962 movie soundtrack, starring Rosalind Russell, hit #10. A 1993 TV soundtrack, with Bette Midler, hit #183. A 2003 Broadway revival, with Bernadette Peters, hit #175. The current revival won three Tony Awards in June, including one for LuPone as Best Actress in a Musical.

Ups & Downs: The Academy Is...' (Fast Times At Barrington High) slips from #17 to #71 in its second week on the chart, with a sales drop of 68%. That's a steeper decline than any other album in the top 200. Natalie Grant's Relentless jumps from #184 to #129, with a sales increase of 30%. It's the second week in a row that Grant made the biggest sales increase of any non-debuting album.

ABBA's Gold-Greatest Hits tops the Catalog Albums chart for the seventh week in a row. The collection sold 18,000 copies this week and would have ranked #29 on the big chart if older, catalog albums were eligible to compete there.

Heads Up: Young Jeezy, who hit #1 in December 2006 with The Inspiration, will aim for his second straight #1 with the release this week of The Recession. The rapper's "Put On," featuring Kanye West, is #18 on Hot Digital Songs. The Christian rock group Underoath, which hit #2 in June 2006 with its last album, Define The Great Line, returns with Lost In The Sound Of Separation. New Kids On The Block, which hit #22 the first week out with its Greatest Hits collection two weeks ago, returns with The Block, its first studio album since 1994. Also due: Brian Wilson's That Lucky Old Sun, Chris Tomlin's Hello Love, Terrence Howard's Shine Through It and Donnie Klang's Just A Rolling Stone.

Useless Information: Slipknot hails from Des Moines, Iowa (which explains the title of its 2001 album). Slipknot isn't the first act from Iowa to land a #1 album. Legendary bandleader Glenn Miller, who had four #1 albums between 1945 and 1954, was born in Clarinda, Iowa. (Chart Watch may be the only place you'll see the sublime "Moonlight Serenade" mentioned in the same sentence with "Psychosocial.")

If you missed last week's Chart Watch Extra, which was bumped a day because of news of John McCain's surprise selection of Sarah Palin as his VP, here's a link.


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