Chart Watch

Week Ending Dec. 27, 2009: Boyle’s Five-Week Blitz

Chart Watch

Susan Boyle's I Dreamed A Dream sold 510,000 copies this week, bringing its five-week total to 2,968,000. It's the first album to top 500K in each of its first five weeks of release since December 2000, when the Beatles' 1 and Backstreet Boys' Black & Blue both did the trick. (The Beatles' compilation topped 500K in each of its first six weeks.) In the more than 18 years that Nielsen/SoundScan has tracked sales for Billboard, only one other album has topped 500K in each of its first five weeks of release. That's Garth Brooks' 1997 album, Sevens.

Some quick stats: I Dreamed A Dream is the first album to spend its first five weeks at #1 since 50 Cent's The Massacre in 2005. It's the first album by a female solo artist to spend its first five weeks at #1 since Norah Jones' Feels Like Home in 2004. It's the first album by a British artist to spend its first five weeks at #1 since Def Leppard's Adrenalize in 1992.

There's still one chart week to go in 2009, but it now seems clear that Taylor Swift's Fearless will come out on top. Fearless has sold 3,157,000 copies so far this year, which is 189,000 more than I Dreamed A Dream. Sales for all albums will slow markedly next week as the holidays recede, so Boyle probably won't be able to close that gap. Even so, this has been one of the closest races for the year's #1 album in Nielsen/SoundScan history. The closest contest was in 1994, when The Lion King soundtrack edged out Ace Of Base's The Sign for bragging rights by just 17,000 copies. The second closest was in 2005 when Mariah Carey's The Emancipation Of Mimi edged out 50 Cent's The Massacre by 116,000 copies.

Both Fearless and I Dreamed A Dream have already outsold the #1 album of 2008, Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III, which sold 2,874,000 that year. This is the first time since 2002 that the top two albums of the year outsold the #1 album of the year before.

Fearless this week becomes the first album in a decade to log 50 weeks in the top 10. The last album to hang in the top 10 this long was Britney Spears' 1999 debut album, ...Baby One More Time. Swift's next target will be Shania Twain's Come On Over, which logged 53 weeks in the top 10 from 1997 to 2000.

Fearless topped the 5 million mark in total sales last week and this week advances to 5,269,000. It's the best-selling album since a pair of blockbusters which were released in the fourth quarter of 2005: Nickelback's All The Right Reasons (7,280,000) and Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts (6,901,000).

Mary J. Blige's Stronger With Each Tear opens at #2 with first-week sales of 330,000. Blige is a model of consistency. This is her seventh consecutive studio album to debut at #1 or #2. That's every studio album she has released since Share My World in 1997.

Stronger With Each Tear is Blige's third studio album in a row to be released just before Christmas. The Breakthrough debuted at #1 on the chart for the week ending Dec. 25, 2005 with first-week sales of 727,000. Growing Pains started at #2 on the chart for the week ending Dec. 23, 2007 with sales of 629,000. As you can see, the new album got off to a slower start than Blige's last two studio albums. The same was true of Alicia Keys' current album, The Element Of Freedom, which started with sales of 417K last week. To a large degree, that's just the way it is these days.

Blige also appears on a second album in the top three, Andrea Bocelli's My Christmas. She joins the opera star to sing "What Child Is This."

Michael Buble's Crazy Love, which debuted at #1 nine weeks ago, moves up to #1 in the U.K. this week. It's Buble's first #1 album in the U.K. The Canadian star evokes the eternal cool and class of Frank Sinatra, who had four #1 albums in the U.K.: Songs For Swingin' Lovers!, This Is Sinatra!, A Swingin' Affair! and Portrait Of Sinatra. But none of those four albums also reached the top spot in the U.S., which means that Buble has achieved something (a transatlantic #1 album) that eluded even the Chairman of the Board.

Ke$ha's "TiK ToK" holds at #1 on Hot Digital Songs for the second straight week. The song sold 610,000 downloads this week, the second greatest weekly total in digital history. Flo Rida's "Right Round," which featured Ke$ha, sold 636,000 copies in its first week in February. That makes "TiK ToK" the new record-holder for a song by a female artist and for any song not in its first week of release.

"TiK ToK" also tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads this week. All of this bodes well for her album, Animal, which is due on Jan. 5.

This must be gratifying for Ke$ha, whose "featured" credit on "Right Round" was suddenly yanked in the song's sixth week of release. While the record was #1 on the Hot 100, the billing (which is shown on the chart) went from "Flo Rida featuring Ke$ha" to simply "Flo Rida." (It's a tough business...)

By coincidence, "Right Round" this week becomes the 12th song to top the 4 million mark in paid downloads. Flo Rida's 2007 smash "Low" (featuring T-Pain) has sold 5,312,000 downloads, more than any other song. Only two other acts, Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas, have two songs at or above the 4 million mark. Flo Rida is what used to be called a "singles artist." "Low" and "Right Round" have sold a combined total of 9,378,000 downloads. But Flo's two albums, Mail On Sunday and R.O.O.T.S. (Route Of Overcoming The Struggle), have sold a combined total of just 663,000 copies.

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

1. Susan Boyle, I Dreamed A Dream, 510,000. The album logs its fifth straight week at #1. It's the first album by a female artist in the Nielsen/SoundScan era to top 500,000 in sales in each of its first five weeks of release.

2. Mary J. Blige,  Stronger With Each Tear, 330,000. This new entry is Blige's seventh consecutive studio album to debut at #1 or #2. It's her 10th top 10 album. "I Am" falls from #82 to #109 on Hot Digital Songs.

3. Andrea Bocelli, My Christmas, 284,000. The album dips from #2 to #3 in its eighth week. The album has been listed in the top three all eight weeks. The album is #4 for the year-to-date.

4. Alicia Keys, The Element Of Freedom, 280,000. The album drops from #2 to #4 in its second week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart," which falls from #23 to #81.

5. Taylor Swift, Fearless, 224,000. The former #1 album dips from #4 to #5. This is its 50th week in the top 10; its 59th week on the chart. Five songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "You Belong With Me," which jumps from #38 to #22.

6. Lady Gaga, The Fame, 169,000. The album holds at #6 in its 59th week. This is its 27th week in the top 10. Six songs from the expanded version of the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Bad Romance," which dips from #2 to #3. The album is #5 for the year-to-date.

7. Justin Bieber, My World, 157,000. The EP rebounds from #8 to #7 its sixth week. This is its fourth week in the top 10. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "One Time," which leaps from #34 to #13.

8. Carrie Underwood, Play On, 153,000. The former #1 album drops from #5 to #8 in its eighth week. This is its eighth week in the top 10. "Cowboy Casanova" jumps from #36 to #25 on Hot Digital Songs.

9. Young Money, We Are Young Money, 142,000. This new entry features collaborations by artists signed to Lil Wayne's Young Money label. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Bedrock" (featuring Lloyd), which holds at #11.

10. Michael Buble, Crazy Love, 137,000. The former #1 album dips from #7 to #10 in its 12th week. This is its 10th week in the top 10. "Haven't Met You Yet" drops from #62 to #84.

Two albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Robin Thicke's Sex Therapy: The Experience drops from #9 to #30. Glee: The Music, Volume 2 drops from #10 to #16.

Eminem's Relapse vaults from #113 to #11 in the wake of the release of Relapse: Refill, which features seven new tracks. Relapse debuted at #1 in May with first-week sales of 608,000. Its total sales as of this week: 1,694,000.

Relapse is just the latest in a long line of albums to experience a resurgence after the release of an expanded edition. Here are five other high-profile examples from the past 18 months. Fergie's The Dutchess leaped from #104 to #28 in June 2008 with the release of The Dutchess Deluxe. Rihanna's Good Girl Gone Bad vaulted from #124 to #7 in June 2008 with the release of a Reloaded edition. Chris Brown's Exclusive surged from #56 to #10 in June 2008 after the release of The Forever Edition.  Coldplay's Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends jumped from #54 to #25 in November 2008 after the release of a Prospekt's March Edition. Lady Gaga's The Fame advanced from #34 to #6 in November after the release of The Fame Monster.

The idea of expanded editions is relatively new. Back in the day, acts simply moved on to their next albums. In April 1971, Carole King released Tapestry, which was one of the most successful and influential albums of its time. In December, with Tapestry still in the top 10, King released her follow-up, Music. That album also reached #1, but it, perhaps inevitably, fell short of the massive expectations that its predecessor had created. Under today's industry customs, Music would probably never have been released. King would have simply chosen the seven best of those 12 songs, which would have gone on a Christmas 1971 reissue of Tapestry: Reloaded (or, in this case, Tapestry: Restitched.)

Michael Jackson continues to sell well, a full six months after his death. Michael Jackson's This Is It dips from #11 to #13. It's the #1 theatrical movie soundtrack for the ninth straight week. Number Ones holds at #32 (as it tops the 4 million mark in total sales). It's the #1 catalog album for the 19th time in 2009. The last album to top the catalog chart this many times in one calendar year was Johnny Cash's 16 Greatest Hits in 2006. Both of these albums were released when the artists were still living, but topped the catalog chart only after the artists' death.

Owl City's Ocean Eyes sold 108,000 copies this week to rebound from #23 to #14. One third of those copies (35,000) were sold digitally, making this the week's #1 digital album. Over the course of its run, Ocean Eyes has sold 609,000 copies, more than a third of them (224,000) in the digital realm.

The soundtrack to Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel jumps from #30 to #20. This gives the Chipmunks a 50-year span of top 20 albums. The Chipettes' version of Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" enters Hot Digital Songs at #132. Over the years, the Chipmunks have cracked (or bubbled under) the Hot 100 with parodies of Eddy Howard's "Ragtime Cowboy Joe," Gene Autry's "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer," the Beatles' "All My Loving," Billy Joel's "You May Be Right," Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" and Lipps Inc.'s "Funkytown."

The soundtrack to the musical Nine debuts at #97. The film was directed by Rob Marshall, who also did the honors on Chicago. The Chicago soundtrack reached #2 on The Billboard 200 in February 2003 and went on to sell more than 2 million copies. But Chicago was a more famous stage musical than Nine. That was reflected in the fate of the cast albums from both shows. The 1975 Broadway cast album from Chicago and the cast album from a 1997 revival of the show both made The Billboard 200. The 1982 cast album from Nine and the caster from a 2003 revival of the show both failed to chart. (So this week's debut of the Nine soundtrack marks the first time this property has ever made The Billboard 200.)

Josh Groban's Noel tops the 5 million mark this week. It's the fourth holiday album to reach that threshold, following Kenny G's Miracles-The Holiday Album (7,215,000), Celine Dion's These Are Special Times (5,123,000) and Mariah Carey's Merry Christmas (5,048,000).

Song Scorecard: Three current hits topped the 2 million mark in paid downloads this week: Ke$ha's "TiK ToK," Iyaz's "Replay," and "Empire State Of Mind" by Jay Z & Alicia Keys. Keys' "No One" has sold 3,208,000 copies. Rihanna's "Umbrella," which featured Jay-Z, has sold 3,453,000 copies.

Survivor's 1982 single "Eye Of The Tiger" also tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads this week. The propulsive pop/rock smash, which was featured in the movie Rocky III, is the third song first released prior to 1990 to reach this digital milestone. It follows Journey's 1981 hit "Don't Stop Believin'" (3,330,000 paid downloads) and Michael Jackson's 1984 smash "Thriller" (2,145,000).

Two other songs topped the 2 million mark this week: Cascada's 2005 hit "Everytime We Touch" and Fall Out Boy's 2007 hit "Thnks Fr Th Mmmrs."

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