Chart Watch (NEW)

Week Ending Feb. 19, 2012. Albums: 21 For 21

Chart Watch

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Adele's 21 logs its 21st week at #1 on The Billboard 200, which is the longest that any album has remained on top since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard in 1991. The album sold 730,000 copies in its 52nd week, which is more than any album has sold this deep into its chart run. It blows past a record set nine years ago by Norah Jones' Come Away With Me, which sold 621K in its 53rd week in March 2003. Both albums owed their late surges to a Grammy sweep. Jones won five awards; Adele won six.

Other factors fueling Adele's surge: a 60 Minutes profile that preceded the Grammys, Valentine's Day gift-giving and a string of three straight #1 singles.

The last album to log 21 weeks at #1 was M.C. Hammer's Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em in 1990.

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This is the longest that an album by a female solo artist has held the top spot since the album chart became a weekly feature in 1956. 21 surpasses Whitney Houston's The Bodyguard, which logged 20 weeks on top in 1992-1993.

Adele has a second album in this week's top five. Her 2008 debut album 19 jumps from #9 to #4, its highest ranking to date. Adele's two albums sold a combined 817K copies this week, which is more than all the other albums in the top 18 combined (809K).

21 is only the fourth album in the history of The Billboard 200 to spend its first 52 weeks inside the top 10. Fleetwood Mac's Rumours spent its first 52 weeks in the top 10 in 1977-1978. Bruce Springsteen's Born In The U.S.A. spent its first 84 weeks in the top 10 from 1984 into 1986. Celine Dion's Falling Into You spent its first 59 weeks in the top 10 in 1996-1997.

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21 tops the 7 million mark in U.S. sales in its 52nd week. It's the first album to reach 7 million that quickly since Usher's Confessions hit that plateau in its 36th week in November 2004. Two other albums that have been released since Confessions have sold 7 million or more copies, but they both took much longer to hit the 7 million mark. Nickelback's All The Right Reasons took three years and two months. Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts took four years and eight months.

21 has sold 7,353,000 copies, which is more than any album since All The Right Reasons, which was released in October 2005. It has sold more copies than any album by a female artist since Norah Jones' Come Away With Me, which came out in February 2002. (The current sales tallies on those albums: 7,575,000 and 10,802,000, respectively.)

Pop Quiz: This is the eighth consecutive week at #1 for 21. What was the last album to top the chart eight weeks in a row? (This is a tough question that I bet practically no one will get right. Let that be a challenge to you.) Answer below.

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Shameless Plug I: 21 and Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em have something in common. Both are those artists' sophomore albums. They are the most successful sophomore albums in chart history. Over the weekend, I posted a Chart Watch Extra in which I looked at the top 16 sophomore albums, in terms of total weeks they held the top spot. The list includes such classic works as Carole King's Tapestry and Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP. I also explore why sophomore albums are so often stellar. (Hint: The artists are warmed up, revved up and eager to make their mark.) If you missed it, here's a link.

Shameless Plug II: As noted, Adele's 21 this week surpasses Whitney Houston's The Bodyguard soundtrack for the longest run at #1 by a female artist on The Billboard 200 since 1956. This probably isn't the last time this year that Adele will surpass a record set by Houston. Adele's Live At The Royal Albert Hall logs its 12th week at #1 on Top Music Videos. Houston has held the record for female artists on that chart since 1986, when her The #1 Video Hits logged 22 weeks on top. I looked at similarities between the two women in a Chart Watch Extra that went up yesterday. If you missed it, here's a link.

Quiz Answer: The last album before 21 to spend eight consecutive weeks at #1 was Creed's Weathered, which was #1 for its first eight weeks in 2001-2002.

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Whitney Houston's The Greatest Hits jumps from #6 to #2 in the first full week following her death. The album thus surpasses its initial peak of #5 in 2000. This is similar to the situation with Michael Jackson's Number Ones, which peaked at #13 when it was first released in November 2003. It, too, did better after his death as fans reconnected with music that once meant a lot to them. Number Ones was the best-selling album in the U.S. for six weeks in the summer of 2009.

This is the highest-charting greatest hits album since Frank Sinatra's Nothing But The Best debuted and peaked at #2 in May 2008. (Of course this stat must carry an asterisk because Jackson's Number Ones didn't get to play on the big chart.) Both Houston and Sinatra were born in New Jersey. Both artists were nicknamed "The Voice."

Two other Houston albums are listed in this week's top 50. Whitney Houston jumps from #72 to #37. The Bodyguard soundtrack jumps from #80 to #38.

The Greatest Hits is #1 on Top Catalog Albums for the second week. This is the second time that Adele's 19 has been bumped out of the #1 spot on the catalog chart by a resurging album by a fallen pop star. Amy Winehouse's Back To Black was the top catalog album for four weeks last summer.

This marks the first time that two catalog albums have ranked among the top five best-selling albums in the U.S. since September 2009, when the Beatles' Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band ranked #3 and #5 among all albums.

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Grammy Nominees 2012 rebounds from #8 to #5 in its fourth week. The album's resurgence isn't surprising. The telecast enjoyed its best ratings since the 1984 edition when a red-hot Michael Jackson became the first artist to win eight awards in one night.

This week's top 10 includes winners from this year's Grammys (Adele, Lady Antebellum and The Civil Wars), music that won in past years (Adele's "Chasing Pavements," Bruno Mars' "Just The Way You Are" and several of the hits on Whitney Houston's compilation) and, perhaps, winners from next year's show. Paul McCartney and Van Halen will both be in the mix next year. They're early front-runners for, respectively, Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album and Best Hard Rock Performance. You read it here first.

The Civil Wars' Barton Hallow jumps from #41 to #10 in its 54th week. This is the album's highest ranking to date. The album, which won two Grammys including Best Folk Album, had climbed as high as #12.

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Katy Perry's "Part Of Me" enters Hot Digital Songs at #1. It sold 411K copies this week. But one song sold even more copies, if you combine the three different versions that appear on this week's chart. That, of course, is "I Will Always Love You." Whitney Houston's version sold 367K copies. Amber Riley's version from Glee sold 36K copies. Jennifer Hudson's version from the Grammys sold 15K. Grand total: 418K. Will "Part Of Me" also enter the Hot 100 at #1? 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. Adele, 21, 730,000. The album logs its 21st week at #1. This is its 52nd week in the top 10. The album is #1 on Top Digital Albums for the 14th week. It sold 176K digital copies this week. Six songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Rolling In The Deep," which rebounds from #10 to #3.

2. Whitney Houston, The Greatest Hits, 175,000. The album jumps from #6 to #4 in its 31st week. This surpasses the album's original #5 peak from May 2000. This is the album's fourth week in the top 10. Twenty-four Houston songs are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "I Will Always Love You," which jumps from #3 to #2.

3.  Various Artists, Now 41, 94,000. The album holds at #3 its second week. The album has sold 236K copies.

4. Adele, 19, 87,000. The album jumps from #9 to #4 in its 122nd week on the chart. This is its highest ranking to date. This is its third week in the top 10. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Chasing Pavements" vaults from #180 to #96. "Make You Feel My Love" jumps from #145 to #108.

5. Various Artists, Grammy Nominees 2012, 85,000. The album rebounds from #8 to #5 in its fourth week. It has been in the top 10 the entire time. The album has sold 222K copies.

6. Van Halen, A Different Kind Of Truth, 58,000. The album drops from #2 to #6 in its second week. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, which does not bode well for the album.

7. Paul McCartney, Kisses On The Bottom, 58,000. The album drops from #5 to #7 in its second week. "My Valentine" enters Hot Digital Songs at #177.

8. Bruno Mars, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, 38,000. The album rebounds from #30 to #8 in its 72nd week. This is its 12th week in the top 10; its first since the week ending March 6, 2011. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Runaway Baby," which vaults from #152 to #33.

9. Lady Antebellum, Own The Night, 37,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #17 to #9 in its 23rd week. This is its 12th week in the top 10. The album is #1 on Top Country Albums for the 10th week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Just A Kiss" dips from #83 to #84. "Dancin' Away With My Heart" drops from #111 to #137.

10. The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow, 36,000. The album vaults from #41 to #10 in its 54th week. This is its first week in the top 10. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Barton Hollow" re-enters at #103. "Poison And Wine" re-enters at #187.

Three albums drop out of the top 10 this week. The Fray's Scars & Stories drops from #4 to #14, Dierks Bentley's Home drops from #7 to #24 and Drake's Take Care drops from #10 to #12.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1 jumps from #22 to #16 in its 15th week. The album has climbed as high as #4. The album is #1 on Top Soundtracks for the fifth week. It has been the top soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie for 11 weeks.

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Adele's Live At The Royal Albert Hall is #1 on Top Music Videos for the 12th straight week. That's the longest run at #1 for a video by a female artist since Barbra Streisand's Barbra—The Concert held the top spot for 16 weeks from 1994 to 1996. The all-time record for a video by a female artist is Whitney Houston's The #1 Video Hits, which held the top spot for 22 weeks in 1986. Will Adele top that mark? Place your bets. (Adele's DVD sold 74K copies this week, bringing its total to 649K.)

Safe House was #1 at the box-office over the weekend. Ramin Djawadi composed the score, which is not on the chart.

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Coming Attractions: Tyga's Careless World: Rise Of The Last King is expected to be next week's top new entry, with sales in the range of 70K.  Also due: fun's Some Nights, Chiddy Bang's Breakfast, Sleigh Bells' Reign Of Terror and The Chieftains' Voice Of Ages.

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