Chart Watch

Week Ending Feb. 22, 2009: The Fastest Million-Selling Download Ever

Chart Watch

Flo Rida's "Right Round" tops the 1 million mark in paid downloads in just its second week of release, which makes it the fastest million-selling download ever. This shaves three weeks off the old record, which was set in November by "Live Your Life" by T.I. featuring Rihanna. "Right Round" debuted last week with sales of 636,000 downloads, by far the biggest one-week total ever. This week, it sold 460,000 downloads, the third highest one-week total ever. In second place: Flo Rida's previous smash "Low" (featuring T-Pain), which sold 467,000 downloads during Christmas week 2007. Flo Rida doesn't get one-tenth of the mainstream media exposure of Kanye West or even Lil Wayne, but based on these numbers, I'd say he deserves to have a higher media profile.

The record for fastest-selling download has been broken several times in the past year. "Love In This Club" by Usher featuring Young Jeezy set a record when it topped the 1 million mark in its seventh week in April. It was broken two weeks later when "4 Minutes" by Madonna featuring Justin Timberlake rang the bell in just six weeks. At the rate we're going, we will soon get to the point that high-demand songs sell 1 million copies in their first week of release. This is the second week in a row that rap or hip-hop artists have held down the top three spots on Hot Digital Songs. "Right Round" holds at #1, "Dead And Gone" by T.I. featuring Justin Timberlake inches up to #2 and "Crack A Bottle" by Eminem, Dr. Dre and 50 Cent dips to #3.

"Jai Ho," the rousing finale from Slumdog Millionaire, is shaping up as a hit. A.R. Rahman's original soundtrack version of the song (featuring M.I.A) re-enters Hot Digital Songs at #76, while an English-language rendition by Rahman and the Pussycat Dolls titled "Jai Ho! (You Are My Destiny)" is on deck and will debut next week. (It enters the Hot 100 at #100 this week and will make a huge jump next week.) The Slumdog soundtrack rebounds from #48 to #22 on The Billboard 200 in the immediate aftermath of the Academy Awards, where the movie amassed eight awards, including Best Picture. The album sold 21,000 copies, most of them (12,000) digitally. The sales tracking week ended Sunday night, the same night as the Oscar telecast. So there's every reason to think that the album will climb much higher. If Slumdog breaks into the top 10, it will become the first soundtrack to an Oscar-winning Best Picture to reach the top 10 only after the Oscar telecast since Rocky 32 years ago. Just how high will Slumdog go? Raising Sand, the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss collaboration, vaulted from #69 to #2 last week in the wake of winning five Grammys. Slumdog may well pull off a similar surge next week, especially given the success of the film, which will top the $100 million mark at the box-office this weekend.

"Jai Ho" is the third Oscar Best Song winner that was introduced in a foreign language. The song, in Hindi, follows "Al Otro Lado Del Rio," sung in Spanish by Jorge Drexler in the 2004 film The Motorcycle Diaries, and "Never On Sunday," sung in Greek by Melina Mercouri in the 1960 movie of the same name. Proving there is nothing new under the sun, the English-language rendition of of "Jai Ho" by Rahman and the Pussycat Dolls echoes the Chordettes' English-language cover version of "Never On Sunday" 48 years ago. The female group, best known for the 1954 charmer "Mr. Sandman," had a top 15 hit with the song in the summer of 1961.

Taylor Swift's Fearless tops The Billboard 200 for the 10th week. That's longer than any other album in the 2000s. Unless an album comes along before the end of the year and logs more than 10 weeks at #1, which is highly unlikely, Swift will make chart history. It will be the first time that the longest-running #1 album of a decade was by a female solo artist. Whitney Houston came close to earning that distinction in the 1990s. Her The Bodyguard soundtrack was #1 for 20 weeks, just one week less than the decade's overall leader, M.C. Hammer's Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em, which was #1 for 21 weeks.

Swift's 10 week run at #1 is the longest that any album has held the top spot since Santana's Supernatural had 12 weeks on top in 1999-2000.  It's the longest that a female artist has held the top spot since Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill had 12 weeks on top in 1995-1996. It's the longest that a country album has held the top spot since Billy Ray Cyrus' Some Gave All had 17 consecutive weeks on top in 1992. Fearless sold just 62,000 copies this week, the lowest tally for an album at #1 since Alicia Keys' As I Am held the top spot with sales of 61,000 a year ago. That's the bad news. The good news is that Fearless has sold 2,672,000 copies. That's the highest cumulative total of any album in this week's top 30.

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

1. Taylor Swift, Fearless, 62,000. This is the album's second straight week at #1. Fearless has been #1 in 10 of its 15 weeks on the chart. It's the first album to have rolled up 10 weeks at #1 this early in its chart life since the Backstreet Boys' 1999 blockbuster Millennium, which was #1 in 10 of its first 14 weeks. Four songs from Fearless are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Love Story," which rebounds to #10.

2. Charlie Wilson, Uncle Charlie, 58,000. Imagine landing your highest-charting album when you're 30 years into your career. That's what happens to Wilson, a founding member of The Gap Band, whose third solo album bows #2. Wilson's highest-charting album with the group was Gap Band IV, which reached #14 in 1982. His previous highest-charting solo album was Charlie Last Name: Wilson, which debuted (and peaked) at #10 in September 2005. No songs from the new album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

3. The Fray, The Fray, 53,000. The former #1 album inches up from #4 to #3 in its third week. The album sold 17,000 copies digitally, which puts it back at #1 on the Digital Albums chart. "You Found Me" holds at #11 on Hot Digital Songs.

4. Nickelback, Dark Horse, 43,000. The album rebounds from #11 to #4. This is the album's 13th week in the top 10. This is the second week in a row (and the third time overall) that Nickelback has finished ahead of Beyonce, who debuted at #1 the week that Nickelback bowed at #2. Two songs from Dark Horse are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Gotta Be Somebody" inches up to #32. "Something In Your Mouth" rebounds to #138.

5. Beyonce, I Am...Sasha Fierce, 41,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #12 to #5. This is the album's 13thweek in the top 10. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)," which inches up to #12.

6. Jamie Foxx, Intuition, 33,000. The album rebounds from #14 to #6. This is its ninth week in the top 10, tying the mark set by Foxx's previous album, Unpredictable. Two songs from the new album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Blame It" (featuring T-Pain) jumps to #27. "Just Like Me" (featuring T.I.) jumps to #145.

7. India.Arie, Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics, 32,000. The album slips from #3 to #7 in its second week. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

8. Kanye West, 808s & Heartbreak, 32,000. The album rebounds from #16 to #7. This is the album's 10th week in the top 10, which is West's best showing since his 2004 debut, The College Dropout had 11 weeks there. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Heartless" dips to #9. "Love Lockdown" inches up to #41.

9. Robert Plant/Alison Krauss, Raising Sand, 32,000. The album slips from #2 to #9 as the Grammy effect begins to wear off. (Three other Grammy-boosted albums fall out of the top 10 this week. (See Coldplay, Adele and Grammy Nominees 2009 below.)  The album has now had as many weeks in the top 10 post-Grammys (two) as it did when it was first released. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

10. Lady GaGa, The Fame, 32,000. The album vaults from #26 to #10, finally breaking into the top 10 in its 17th week. This is the second week in a row that an album has taken months to reach top 10. Adele's 19 cracked the top 10 last week in its 36th week. Four songs from The Fame are listed on Hot Digital Songs. Lady GaGa is the only artist with two songs in the top 10 (or even in the top 20). "Poker Face" holds at #4. "Just Dance" (featuring Colby O'Donis) holds at #8.

Six albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Lily Allen's It's Not Me, It's You slips from #5 to #16. Bruce Springsteen's Working On A Dream falls from #6 to #13, Bobby Valentino's The Rebirth drops from #7 to #27, Coldplay's Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends drops from #8 to #14, Grammy Nominees 2009 falls from #9 to #20, and Adele's 19 drops from #10 to #19.

Morrissey's Years Of Refusal debuts at #11, matching the debut and peak position of his highest-charting album to date, 2004's You Are The Quarry. Morrissey first charted 25 years ago with The Smiths. The group's highest-charting album was 1987's Strangeways, Here We Come, which peaked at #55. (While Morrissey has already waited 25 years for a top 10 album, he shouldn't lose hope. Van Morrison landed his first top 10 album (Keep It Simple) in April, more than 40 years after first hitting the chart.)

M. Ward's Hold Time debuts at #31. That far surpasses the #81 debut (and peak) last year of She & Him's Volume One, in which Ward (born Matthew Ward) teamed with actress Zooey Deschanel. Hold Time sold 19,000 copies this week, most of them digitally...Annie Lennox's The Annie Lennox Collection debuts at #34. In an iTunes era, greatest hits sets just don't mean what they used to...The soundtrack to Spectacular!, a Nickelodeon TV movie, vaults from #195 to #44 in its second week.

Slumdog Millionaire isn't the only current soundtrack that shows the power of film. The Mamma Mia! soundtrack has sold 1,574,000 copies in just 33 weeks, slightly more than the original cast album has sold since its release in October 2001. The cast album has sold 1,555,000 copies. The success of the soundtrack enables ABBA's Gold/Greatest Hits to return to #1 on the Catalog Albums chart. It sold 10,000 copies this week and would have ranked #64 on the big chart if older, catalog albums were eligible to compete there. Gold/Greatest Hits has sold 426,000 copies since the release of the Mamma Mia! soundtrack. It has, in this time, jumped from #199 to #156 on Nielsen/SoundScan's running list of the best-selling albums in its history (which dates to 1991). Bear in mind, this still means that in the last 33 weeks more than three times as many people bought the soundtrack than Gold/Greatest Hits. They could be listening to ABBA singing its greatest hits and are instead listening to Pierce Brosnan. Whatever. Incidentally, this is the 12th week at #1 on the catalog chart for Gold/Greatest Hits. It's the first greatest hits set to top the catalog chart for 12 weeks since Guns N' Roses' Greatest Hits achieved the feat in January 2008.

Song Scorecard: "Just Dance" by Lady GaGa featuring Colby O'Donis this week becomes the 20th song to top the 3 million mark in paid downloads...The All-American Rejects' 2005 hit "Dirty Little Secret" becomes the 82nd song to top the 2 million mark.

Heads Up:  Jonas Brothers' Music From The 3D Concert Experience will probably debut at or near #1 next week. The brothers' last album, A Little Bit Longer, debuted at #1 in August, with first-week sales of 525,000 copies. This soundtrack owes its existence to the success of Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana's Best Of Both Worlds Concert movie and soundtrack. That album (which featured a collaboration with Jonas Brothers on "We Got The Party") debuted at #10 in March and peaked at #3 five weeks later. Also due next week: Lamb Of God's Wrath, Jake Owen's Easy Does It, Chris Isaak's Mr. Lucky and Van Morrison's Astral Weeks Live At The Hollywood Bowl. The original Astral Weeks, released in 1968, is in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Big Guns: U2's No Line On The Horizon is due is due to hit the chart in two weeks, along with The-Dream's Love v/s Money. U2's last album, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, debuted with first-week sales of 840,000 in November 2004. Granted, that was one month before Christmas, the busiest sales period of the year. And of course sales have dipped in the last five years. But it will be interesting to see if U2 can come anywhere near that hefty total. Due to chart in three weeks: Kelly Clarkson's All I Ever Wanted, featuring the #1 single "My Life Would Suck Without You." Clarkson's first three albums all debuted in the top three with first-week sales north of 250,000 copies, but those stats hardly do justice to the drama she's experienced in her six years in the music business.

The Long View: I was kind of happy with my item pointing out the similarity between the new rendition of "Jai Ho" featuring the Pussycat Dolls and the cover version of "Never On Sunday" by the Chordettes until I realized that it would be like someone in 1961 saying "Oh, that's nothing new. Why, back in 1913..." I guess 48 years is a long time. Incidentally, if you missed my latest Chart Watch Extra, a decade-by-decade look at the biggest hits and misses in the 75-year history of Oscar's Best Song category, here's a link.


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