Chart Watch

Week Ending Jan. 10, 2010: Putting The $ In Ke$ha

Chart Watch

The charts often make for strange bedfellows, but that seems especially true this week. Ke$ha's debut album, Animal, enters The Billboard 200 at #1, dethroning Susan Boyle's I Dreamed A Dream. The two women are polar opposites. Boyle, 48, is old enough to be Ke$ha's mother. Boyle's conservative image and traditional adult contemporary musical approach are also far removed from Ke$ha's edgy, bratty style. Here's a factoid that underscores the difference in their appeal: Animal sold more digital copies this week (115,000) than I Dreamed A Dream has in its entire seven-week run (89,000).

More than three-quarters (76%) of this week's total sales for Animal came from the digital realm. Billboard's Keith Caulfield reports that this is the highest digital share for any #1 album in chart history. The previous record was set just seven weeks ago. Digital sales accounted for 45% of the total sales for John Mayer's Battle Studies in the week it debuted in November.

This is the first time that a debut album has sold more than 100,000 digital copies in any one week. And Animal is only the third album by a female artist to top 100,000 in digital sales in any one week. It trails Taylor Swift's Fearless, which sold 129,000 digital copies in its first week out, and Britney Spears' Circus, which sold 118,000.

Ke$ha is also making waves on Hot Digital Songs. "TiK ToK" tops the chart for the fourth straight week. The sassy smash sold 252,000 digital copies this week, bringing its 16-week total to 2,695,000. Ke$ha also has the week's #2 song, "Blah Blah Blah" (featuring 3OH!3), which sold 206,000 copies this week. Only three other artists in digital history have had the top two songs on Hot Digital Songs. Mariah Carey scored in December 2005 with "Don't Forget About Us" and her holiday perennial, "All I Want For Christmas Is You." Beyonce triumphed in November 2008 with "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" and "If I Were A Boy." The Black Eyed Peas scored for two weeks in June 2009 with "I Gotta Feeling" and "Boom Boom Pow."

("Between "Blah Blah Blah" and "Boom Boom Pow," I don't know why people say "they don't write songs like they used to.")

"Blah Blah Blah" must surely be the first collaboration in recording history in which both artists had an oddball punctuation mark embedded in their name. Ke$ha and 3OH!3 are clearly on the same wavelength. ("Blah Blah Blah" has already climbed higher on Hot Digital Songs than 3OH!3's breakthrough smash "Don't Trust Me," which peaked at #3 in May. It has sold 2,670,000 digital copies as of this week.)

Female solo artists hold down the top five spots on The Billboard 200 for the second week in a row. Until last week, this had never happened in all of chart history. Now it has happened two weeks running.

This week also marks the first time that debut albums have appeared at #1 on The Billboard 200 back-to-back since July 2001, when Alicia Keys' Songs In A Minor replaced D-12's Devil's Night in the top spot.

In a related note, this is the second week in a row that debut albums have held down the top two spots on the chart. Last week, it was I Dreamed A Dream and Lady Gaga's The Fame. This week, it's Animal and I Dreamed A Dream. Until these past two weeks, debut albums hadn't held down the top two spots simultaneously since January 2003, when Norah Jones' Come Away With Me and Avril Lavigne's Let Go did the trick.

Incidentally, Lady Gaga has two entries in the top 10 for the third time in the past seven weeks. The Fame slips from #2 to #3, while The Fame Monster EP dips from #9 to #10.

The Black Eyed Peas' The E.N.D. logs its 18th week in the top 10. You may remember that, last June, the album's run at #1 was broken up by Jonas Brothers' Lines, Vines And Trying Times. The E.N.D. would have had three straight weeks at #1, but JoBros' album sold 99,000 more copies in the middle week. And where is Lines, Vines And Trying Times these days? Last week, it slipped off The Billboard 200 after a 27-week run. The album has sold 622,000 copies, about one-third of the 1,823,000 tally rung up by The E.N.D.

Shameless Plug: Taylor Swift's Fearless logs its 52nd week in the top 10 on The Billboard 200. It's one of only 18 albums to spend a full year in the top 10 since 1963, when Billboard combined its separate mono and stereo surveys into one comprehensive chart. On Friday, I'll have a Chart Watch Extra in which I count them down. The list couldn't be more eclectic, running the gamut from Doctor Zhivago to Appetite For Destruction. Check it out on Friday.

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

1. Ke$ha, Animal, 152,000. The new entry is the first #1 album of 2010. I guess you could say it's #1 for the year-to-date! Six songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "TiK ToK," which holds at #1 for the fourth week.

2. Susan Boyle, I Dreamed A Dream, 93,000. The album slips to #2 after six straight weeks at #1. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

3. Lady Gaga, The Fame, 66,000. The album slips from #2 to #3 in its 63rd week. This is its 29th 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.

4. Alicia Keys, The Element Of Freedom, 62,000. The album dips from #3 to #4. This is its fourth week in the top five. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart," which jumps from #82 to #55.

5. Mary J. Blige, Stronger Witheach Tear, 47,000. The album slips from #4 to #5. This is its third week in the top five. "I Am" jumps from #182 to #122 on Hot Digital Songs.

6. Soundtrack, Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, 44,000. The soundtrack inches up from #7 to #6 in its sixth week. This is its second week in the top 10. It's the #1 movie soundtrack for the second week. The Chipettes' version of Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" drops from #100 to #143 on Hot Digital Songs.

7. Taylor Swift, Fearless, 38,000. The album slips from #5 to #7 in its 61st week. This is its 52nd week in the top 10. It's #1 on the country chart for the 33rd week. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "You Belong With Me," which drops from #24 to #37.

8. The Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D., 36,000. The album holds at #8 in its 31st week. This is its 18th week in the top 10. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "I Gotta Feeling," which dips from #7 to #8.

9. Justin Bieber, My World, 34,000. The seven-song EP drops from #6 to #9 in its eighth week. This is its sixth week in the top 10. Four songs from the EP are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "One Time," which drops from #17 to #28.

10. Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster, 31,000. The eight-song EP dips from #9 to #10 in its seventh week. This is its third week in the top 10. Two songs from the EP are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Bad Romance," which dips from #2 to #3.

One album drops out of the top 10 this week. Owl City's Ocean Eyes drops from #10 to #14.

Katharine McPhee's sophomore album, Unbroken, debuts at #27. Katharine McPhee debuted and peaked at #2 in February 2007. McPhee was the runner-up (to Taylor Hicks) on Season 5 of American Idol.

The Avatar soundtrack inches up from #32 to #31 in its fourth week. Avatar is the second highest-grossing movie of all time, behind Titanic. But this album isn't performing like the Titanic soundtrack did. In its fourth week, the Titanic soundtrack was already #11. (In its fifth week, it was #1.) Leona Lewis' "I See You" is, so far, not living up to the impossibly high standard set by Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On," which was one of the successful movie songs of all time.

More Avatar: Avatar topped the box-office for the fourth straight week. It's the first movie to do that since The Dark Knight in July and August 2008. It's the first Christmas release to top the box-office four weekends since The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King in December 2003/January 2004.

Michael Jackson's Number Ones dips from #33 to #35. It's the #1 Catalog Album for the 20th time in the past 29 weeks. Only 10 albums have logged as many weeks at #1 on the Catalog Albums chart since May 1991, when Nielsen/SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard. The leader is Bob Marley & the Wailers' Legend, which has topped the chart an incredible 110 times, most recently in May 2009. Number Ones topped the 4 million mark in U.S. sales two weeks ago. Its sales tally currently stands at 4,076,000.

Elvis Presley's Elvis 75 debuts at #47. This is a one-disk, 25-song distillation of Elvis 75: Good Rockin' Tonight, a four-disk, 100-song collection that was released last month to commemorate what would have been Presley's 75th birthday on Jan. 8. The box set has sold nearly 9,000 copies in five weeks. RCA Victor released a lavish, six-disk set to mark what would have been Presley's 50th birthday in 1985. That compilation, Elvis-A Golden Celebration, peaked at #80. Will there be a fancy new release to mark the centennial of Presley's birth in 2035? I'd say that's a safe bet.

Ella Fitzgerald's Twelve Nights In Hollywood debuts at #175. Fitzgerald first hit what is now The Billboard 200 in 1949, when she teamed with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Evelyn Knight for an album of songs from Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific. "The First Lady Of Song," as she was known, first hit the album chart on her own steam in 1956 with Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Song Book. Fitzgerald had song hits dating back to 1936, when she was just 18. She scored her biggest hit in 1938 with "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," which was #1 for 10 weeks. Was Ella the Ke$ha of her day? That, and then some.

More 2009 Wrap-Up: I thought my 2009 year-end wrap-up was reasonably complete (here's a link), but I thought of a couple more things in the last week.

I told you that Michael Jackson became the first artist in Nielsen/SoundScan history to put four albums in the year-end top 20, but I neglected to add that Miley Cyrus had two albums in the top 20: Hannah Montana: The Movie at #6 and The Time Of Our Lives EP at #17. The 17-year old star is the youngest artist to have two albums in the year-end top 20 since LeAnn Rimes, who was just 15 when she scored a double in 1997 with You Light Up My Life-Inspirational Songs and Blue.

And speaking of Michael Jackson, the late pop star had the top four best-selling music videos of 2009: Number Ones, Live In Bucharest, Video Greatest Hits: History and History on Film-Vol. 2. These four videos sold a combined total of 1,379,000 copies during the year.

Heads Up: Vampire Weekend's Contra is expected to debut at #1 on next week's chart. The group's eponymous debut album debuted and peaked at #17 in February 2008, with first-week sales of 28,000. The album has sold 491,000 copies to date. Also due on next week's chart: Omarion's Ollusion, OK Go's Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky, Ringo Starr's Y Not and Total Club Hits 4.

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