Chart Watch

Week Ending Feb. 15, 2009: Taylor Swift Gets Last Laugh

Chart Watch

Three of the biggest winners from last week's Grammy Awards surge into the top 10 on The Billboard 200, but the #1 spot goes to an artist who wasn't even nominated this year. Taylor Swift, who performed on the telecast with fellow non-nominee Miley Cyrus, returns to #1 with Fearless. This is the second year in a row that Swift was passed over for a nomination for Best Female Country Vocal Performance, despite a long string of eligible hits over these two years including "Teardrops On My Guitar," "Our Song" and "Love Story." Last year, she was nominated for Best New Artist, but lost to Amy Winehouse. Though Swift hasn't gotten much Grammy love, she is receiving strong fan support. This is the ninth week on top for Fearless, which puts it in a tie with Santana's Supernatural and Usher's 2004 smash Confessions as the longest-running #1 album of the 2000s. (Supernatural had three additional weeks on top in 1999.)

The Robert Plant/Alison Krauss collaboration Raising Sand vaults from #69 to #2, its highest ranking since it debuted at #2 in October 2007. The album won five Grammys, including Album and Record of the Year. Coldplay's Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends surges from #31 to #8, its highest ranking since August. The band won three awards, including Song of the Year. Adele's 19 leaps from #27 to #10, its highest ranking to date. Adele won two awards, including Best New Artist. (In addition, the annual Grammy Nominees CD rebounds from #12 to #9.) Thus, half of the albums in the top 10 owe a big chunk of their sales this week to the Grammy telecast.

Two weeks ago, Raising Sand wasn't listed on The Billboard 200. Last week, it re-entered at #69. This week it's #2. So it has had a great, Grammy-fueled resurgence. And yet, the album sold just 77,000 copies this week, which means the overwhelming majority of Grammy viewers weren't motivated to buy it. This is the second week in a row that we've seen that even the biggest TV platforms don't sell great numbers of albums. The week after performing at half-time during the Super Bowl, Bruce Springsteen sold a mere 102,000 copies of Working On A Dream. Obviously, any spike in sales is welcome, but shouldn't these numbers be a lot higher? Or is it just a case that there always be vastly more people who want to watch something on TV for free than will be willing to pay to own it? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Incidentally, this is the second time that Raising Sand has been blocked from the #1 spot by the sophomore album by a red-hot female country singer. Carrie Underwood's Carnival Ride debuted at #1 the week the Plant/Krauss album debuted at #2.What are the odds?

Flo Rida's "Right Round" sold 636,000 downloads this week, the highest weekly tally in digital history. Flo Rida also held the old record with "Low" (featuring T-Pain), which sold 467,000 downloads in December 2007. Only two other songs have sold more than 400,000 downloads in one week. "Just Dance" by Lady GaGa featuring Colby O'Donis sold 419,000 in December; "Crack A Bottle" by Eminem, Dr. Dre and 50 Cent sold 418,000 just last week. "Right Round" enters Hot Digital Songs at #1 and also vaults from #58 to #1 in its third week on Billboard's Hot 100.

"Low" still holds the record as the best-selling download of all time. It has sold 4,711,000 copies. (And it's still selling. It's #71 in its 68th week on Hot Digital Songs.) But Flo Rida is what they used to call a "singles artist." Nearly 13 times as many people have paid to download "Low" as bought Flo Rida's debut album Mail On Sunday (as either a CD or a download). The album's sales tally as of this week stand at 367,000. Perhaps with another smash single under his belt, Flo Rida will do better with his second album.

Song Scorecard: Pink's "So What" and "Live Your Live" by T.I. featuring Rihanna both top the 3 million mark in paid downloads this week. This is Rihanna's third song to reach the 3 million threshold, following "Umbrella" (featuring Jay-Z) and "Disturbia."  It's T.I.'s second, following "Whatever You Like." Only one other artist (Katy Perry) has more than one song listed above the 3 million mark. "Live Your Life" took just 20 weeks to reach 3 million, faster than any other song in digital history. "Whatever You Like" had held the speed record. It took 24 weeks.

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

1. Taylor Swift, Fearless, 92,000. The album rebounds from #4 to #1. This is its ninth week on top. Fearless has sold 2,610,000 copies in 14 weeks. That's the highest cumulative total of any album in this week's top 20. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Love Story" at #12.

2. Robert Plant/Alison Krauss, Raising Sand, 77,000. This is the album's third week in the top 10; its first since November 2007. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Rich Woman" debuts at #109. "Please Read The Letter" bows at #115. The songs have sold a combined total of 102,000 downloads during their entire runs. (Taylor Swift sells that many in a good day.)

3. India.Arie, Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics, 75,000. This new entry is India.Arie's fourth consecutive top 10 album, following Acoustic Soul, Voyage To India and Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship, which debuted at #1 in July 2006. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

4. The Fray, The Fray, 75,000. The album slips from #1 to #4 in its second week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "You Found Me" slips to #11. "Absolute" drops to #177.

5. Lily Allen, It's Not Me, It's You, 70,000. This new entry is the British singer's first top 10 album. Her debut album, Alright, Still..., debuted (and peaked) at #20 in February 2007. Nearly 44,000 copies of the new album were sold digitally, making it the week's #1 Digital Album. The album was boosted by a $3.99 download offer at Amazon.com, proof again that bargain pricing spikes sales. "Fear" vaults to #76 on Hot Digital Songs.

6. Bruce Springsteen, Working On A Dream, 65,000. The former #1 album slips from #2 to #6 in its third week. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

7. Bobby Valentino, The Rebirth, 64,000. This new entry is Valentino's third top 10 album. The 2005 album Disturbing Tha Peace Presents Bobby Valentino reached #3. Valentino followed that up with a #3 album of his own in 2007, Special Occasion. "Beep" (featuring Yung Joc) vaults to #118 on Hot Digital Songs.

8. Coldplay, Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends, 62,000. The album surges from #31 to #8. This is the former #1 album's 11th week in the top 10; its first since August. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Viva La Vida" surges to #9. "Lost" bows at #25.

9. Various Artists, Grammy Nominees 2009, 61,000. The compilation rebounds from #12 to #9 in its third week.

10. Adele, 19, 57,000. The album leaps from #27 to #10. This is the album's first week in the top 10. Its previous peak was #11 in October, the week after Adele appeared on Saturday Night Live. Thus, the album owes both of its big surges to live TV events. Before Adele's SNL appearance, the album's highest ranking was #46. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Chasing Pavements" vaults to #10. "Make You Feel My Love" jumps to #162.

Seven albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Dierks Bentley's Feel That Fire plummets from #3 to #22, Beyonce's I Am...Sasha Fierce drops from #5 to #12, Nickelback's Dark Horse drops from #6 to #11, Kidz Bop Kids' Kidz Bop 15 dives from #7 to #27, Jamie Foxx's Intuition drops from #8 to #14, Kanye West's 808s & Heartache falls from #9 to #16, and Keyshia Cole's A Different Me drops from #10 to #19.

Lonely Island's debut album Incredibad bows at #13. The comedy troupe consists of Andy Samberg, a Saturday Night Live cast member since 2005, and Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer, who are writers on the show. The three shared an Emmy in 2007 for co-writing the song "Dick In A Box" for a notorious Justin Timberlake sketch on the show. The album also features contributions by Norah Jones and the team of Natalie Portman and former SNL cast member Chris Parnell. Incredibad sold nearly 48,000 copies this week. Most (28,000) were sold digitally, making this the week's #2 Digital Album. Lonely Island has two songs on Hot Digital Songs. "I'm On A Boat" vaults to #61. "Jizz In My Pants" jumps to #145.

SNL has a long history of spinning off hit albums. An album of comedy highlights from the show, released shortly before Christmas 1976, cracked the top 40. As Blues Brothers, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd hit #1 in February 1979 with Briefcase Full Of Blues. Mike Myers and Dana Carvey took their Wayne and Garth personas to the top in March 1992 when the Wayne's World soundtrack reached #1. Various individual cast members, including Gilda Radner and Eddie Murphy, have also had hit albums while they were on the show. SNL, which debuted in 1975, has been on the air so long that it is older than most of its current players. Samberg is 30, which means he was born just before the show started its fourth season.

Lonely Island is the second comedy troupe to land a hit album in less than a year. Flight Of The Conchords' Flight Of The Conchords debuted at #3 in April.

Red's Innocence & Instinct debuts at #15. The Christian hard rock group's 2006 debut album, End Of Silence, has sold 195,000 copies...The Twilight soundtrack dips to #20 in its 15th consecutive week in the top 20. The album has been the #1 movie soundtrack for 14 of those weeks. (It slipped behind Notorious for one week.)...NCIS: The Official TV Soundtrack debuts at #82. The series, starring Mark Harmon, debuted on CBS in September 2003.

Dean Martin's Amore tops the Catalog Albums chart for the second straight week. The album sold 12,000 copies and would have ranked #59 on the big chart if older, catalog albums were eligible to compete there.

Heads Up: Three solo artists who first gained prominence in well-known groups are due on next week's chart. Charlie Wilson's Uncle Charlie is the latest from the co-founder of The Gap Band. Wilson's 2005 solo album Charlie Last Name: Wilson reached #10.

Morrissey's Years Of Refusal is the latest from the long-time leader of The Smiths. The rock veteran climbed as high as #11 with 2004's You Are The Quarry. Annie Lennox's The Annie Lennox Collection is a solo retrospective by the former lead singer of Eurythmics. Lennox climbed as high as #4 with 2003's Bare. Also due next week: M. Ward's Hold Time and ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead's The Century Of Self.

Shameless Plug: We will soon learn the identity of the 75th winner of the Oscar for Best Original Song. It will either be from Slumdog Millionaire, which has two tunes in the running ("O Saya" and the joyous finale "Jai Ho"), or WALL-E, which has one ("Down To Earth," co-written by Peter Gabriel). If you haven't seen the movies, you probably haven't heard these songs. None has cracked Billboard's Hot 100. But that's the way things have been going in this category in recent years. Six of the last eight Best Song winners failed to crack the Hot 100. In my latest Chart Watch Extra, I take a look at Best Song category, which is down, but hopefully not out. The guest list for this column is incredible, from Bing Crosby to Eminem; from Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers to Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes. Check it out.

 

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