As part of Nirvana, Kurt Cobain had two top 10 albums during his lifetime and three since he took his own life in April 1994. Janis Joplin had two top 10 albums during her lifetime (counting one with Big Brother & the Holding Company) and two since she died of an overdose in October 1970. R&B star Aaliyah had one top 10 album before she died in a plane crash in August 2001 and one afterwards.
Several other stars never reached the top 10 during their lifetimes, but scored repeatedly after they died. These include Jim Croce and The Notorious B.I.G., each of whom had four top 10 albums posthumously, and Selena, who had two.
How to explain this? Why is Cash, who died at 71 of diabetes, the only artist who led a full life in this discussion? Until the advent of Nielsen/SoundScan in 1991, country music was under-represented on the Billboard album chart. If Nielsen/SoundScan had been around since 1958, when Cash first charted, he would probably have had several more top 10 albums during his lifetime.
The #1 album on The Billboard 200 sold at least 120,000 copies every week in January and February. It's the first time that's been true since 2001, when the chart-topping albums in the first two months of the year were the Beatles' 1, Jennifer Lopez's J. Lo and Shaggy's Hotshot. For an industry that has been battered over the past five years, this is very good news.Shania Twain's Up! spent its first six weeks in the top two in November and December 2002.
Lady Antebellum also heads Top Country Albums for the fifth straight week, and thus keeps Johnny Cash out of the #1 spot. He debuts at #2. The Man in Black amassed 10 #1 country albums from 1964 to 2006. In fact, Cash had the very first #1 album when this chart debuted in January 1964: Ring Of Fire (The Best Of Johnny Cash).
Cash's album is #1 on the Digital Albums chart, with sales of 16,000 digital copies. That's the slimmest weekly sales tally for a #1 Digital album since George Strait's Twang topped the chart with the same number in August. (It's not that country can't deliver big digital numbers. Carrie Underwood's Play On headed the chart in November with digital sales of 63,000.)
In the U.K., The Fame returns to #1 for a fifth week. The album was on top for four weeks in April and May. This is the longest run at #1 in the U.K. for an album by an American artist since The Essential Michael Jackson was on top for seven weeks last summer. The Fame has yet to reach #1 in the U.S. (it has climbed as high as #2)...Jason Derulo's "In My Head" is the new #1 U.K. single. His "Whatcha Say" peaked at #3 in the U.K.
The Peas have two more bits of good news this week. "Meet Me Halfway" tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads. It's the group's third single from The E.N.D. to reach (or exceed) this threshold. "Imma Be" is about two weeks away from becoming the fourth. Also, "I Gotta Feeling" jumps to #2 on the list of all-time top digital songs. It sends "Just Dance" by Lady Gaga featuring Colby O'Donis down to #3. Only "Low" by Flo Rida featuring T-Pain has sold more digital copies.
Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 albums.Sade, Soldier Of Love, 127,000. The album logs its third week at #1. "Soldier Of Love" drops from #82 to #112 on Hot Digital Songs. Lady Antebellum, Need You Now, 118,000. The former #1 album logs its third week at #2. This is its fifth week in the top 10. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Need You Now," which inches up to #3. Johnny Cash, American VI: Ain't No Grave, 54,000. This new entry is Cash's fifth top 10 album. He scored his first, Johnny Cash At San Quentin, in August 1969. The Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D., 50,000. The former #1 album dips from #3 to #4 in its 38th week. This is its 25th week in the top 10. Four songs from the album are listed in the top 50 on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Imma Be," which returns to #1. Lady Gaga, The Fame, 48,000. The album dips from #4 to #5 in its 70th week. This is its 36th 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 drops from #7 to #11. Lil Wayne, Rebirth, 38,000. The album dips from #5 to #6 in its fourth week. "Drop The World" (featuring Eminem) dips from #48 to #55. Ke$ha, Animal, 32,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #14 to #7 in its eighth week. This is its fourth week in the top 10. Two songs from the album are listed in the top 10 on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "TiK ToK," which inches up from #6 to #5. Susan Boyle, I Dreamed A Dream, 30,000. The former #1 album drops from #6 to #8 in its 14th week. This is its 14th week in the top 10. Taylor Swift, Fearless, 28,000. The former #1 album inches up from #10 to #9 in its 68th week. This is its 58th week in the top 10. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "You Belong With Me," which drops from #66 to #80.
Justin Bieber, My World, 26,000. The EP rebounds from #12 to #10 in its 15th week. This is its seventh week in the top 10; its first since Jan. 10. Three songs from the EP are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "One Time," which dips from #84 to #91.
Alkaline Trio's This Addiction debuts at #11, becoming the group's third top 20 album, and its highest-charting release to date. The group reached #20 with 2003's Good Mourning and #13 with 2008's Agony & Irony...Chayanne's No Hay Imposibles debuts at #23. It's the highest-charting Latin music album since Aventura's Last debuted at #5 in June.
Train's "Hey, Soul Sister" jumps to #2 on Hot Digital Songs, its highest ranking to date. This is a sweet comeback story for Train, which had three top 20 hits early in the last decade and then had some hard years. Two of their singles "bubbled under" the Hot 100, which means they showed some signs of life, but never made it. A solo single by front man Pat Monahan experienced the same fate. Bottom line: The group was absent from the Hot 100 for nearly six years. As I've said before, this is a tough business for artists.
A month ago, Nicki Minaj was a virtual unknown. Now, she is on the brink of becoming an international superstar. Maybe I'm overstating things, but Minaj is featured on three songs on this week's Hot Digital Songs chart. She has featured billing on Ludacris' "My Chick Bad," which debuts at #27, Lil Wayne's "Knockout," which inches up to #44 and Mariah Carey's "Up Out My Face," which falls to #153.
Kris Allen's cover of the Beatles' "Let It Be," which he performed on American Idol, enters Hot Digital Songs at #29. Proceeds go to Haiti earthquake relief. Allen's performance is poignant and characteristically understated. But I suspect there are other factors at work, too. A You Tube clip of him performing the song on Idol inspired one poster to write: "hes sooooooooooooooooooooo hotttttttt." This is the second Haiti-inspired cover of this classic to chart, following one by Jennifer Hudson featuring the Roots. Allen's "Live Like We're Dying" jumps to #19 on Digital Songs. It will top the 1 million mark in paid downloads next week.
Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel dips from #19 to #22 on The Billboard 200. It's the #1 movie soundtrack for the seventh week...Shutter Island was #1 at the box-office for the second weekend. The soundtrack, helmed by Robbie Robertson, sold about a thousand copies this week, still not enough to put it on the chart.
Michael Jackson's Number Ones dips from #50 to #53. It's the #1 Catalog Album for the 27th week. It helps that the album is widely stocked at Target and Best Buy and other stores that carry CDs. Most other catalog CDs have to be ordered, for example, through Amazon.com.Beyonce's I Am...Sasha Fierce and Nickelback's Dark Horse entered the chart at #1 and #2 the same week in November 2008. While Beyonce's album has had a far higher media profile, they have been very evenly-matched in terms of sales. Beyonce's album has sold 2,785,000 copies to date. Nickelback's has sold 2,636,000. So Beyonce is 149,000 copies ahead. Now here's the amazing part: Beyonce sold 156,000 more copies than Nickelback in that long-ago first week. If you were to exclude that first week, Nickelback is slightly ahead, by 7,000 copies. And Nickelback did it without a ubiquitous hit like "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)," a six-pack of Grammys and all the other hoop-de-do that (not undeservedly) greeted Beyonce's album. Nickelback just plods along, quietly selling tons of records. Blake Shelton's Hillbilly Bone is expected to be next week's highest-debuting new title. The six-song EP will probably bow in the top five. Six other albums have a shot at debuting in the top 10: the Almost Alice companion album/soundtrack to the movie Alice In Wonderland; Danny Gokey's My Best Days; Lifehouse's Smoke And Mirrors; Jason Derulo's Jason Derulo; Raheem DeVaughn's The Love And War Masterpeace; and Easton Corbin's Easton Corbin. How many of these will actually make the top 10? Place your bets. Also due: DJ Khaled's Victory, Jamie Cullum's The Pursuit, Peter Gabriel's Scratch My Back, and Point of Grace's No Changin' Us. link. An alert reader let me know that I left out Smashing Pumpkins, which rang the bell in 1995 with Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness. So I inserted them where they belong in the chronology, between Ace Of Base and the Fugees. Where else are you going to find a list that features such wide-ranging groups?