Chart Watch

Week Ending Jan. 31, 2010: Lady A Rates An A

Chart Watch

Lady Antebellum is a lot bigger than you may think. The country trio's sophomore album, Need You Now, sold 481,000 copies in its first week, which is more than such titans as Dave Matthews Band, The Black Eyed Peas, Michael Jackson and Jay-Z sold in any one week in the past year. In all of 2009, only three albums sold more copies in one week: Susan Boyle's I Dreamed A Dream, Eminem's Relapse and (by just a hair) U2's No Line On The Horizon.

Lady Antebellum is only the fourth country group or duo ever to land a #1 album on The Billboard 200. It follows Dixie Chicks, Rascal Flatts and Sugarland. The trio performed the poignant title song from the new album on Sunday night's Grammy telecast.

The group's sales achievement this week is especially noteworthy because sales are traditionally slow in January and February, when people are still tapped out from Christmas shopping. Need You Now had the biggest sales total for any week in January or February since 2005, when The Game's The Documentary started with sales of 587,000.

Lady A's new album sold more than 11 times as many copies in its first week as its eponymous debut album did when it opened and peaked at #4 in April 2008. That album is still riding high. It jumps from #16 to #15 in its 94th week. Lady Antebellum spawned the hit "I Run To You," which was voted Single of the Year at the Country Music Assn. Awards in November. It also won a Grammy on Sunday for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

Lady A are big digital sellers, especially by country standards. The new album sold 91,000 digital copies this week, which is one of the biggest digital tallies ever for a country album. (Fearless sold 129,000 digital copies when it debuted). The title song to the new album has sold 1,686,000 digital copies.

And here's next week's chart news today: Need You Now is expected to have a second week at #1, with sales in the range of 200,000 copies. It would be the first country album to spend its first two weeks at #1 since Dixie Chicks' Taking The Long Way in May and June 2006.

Hope For Haiti Now sold 143,000 copies in its second week. The digital-only album is the first album ever to top the 100,000 mark in weekly digital sales more than once. (It's also the only album ever to top 100K in digital sales in other than its first chart week.) In just two weeks, Hope For Haiti Now has sold 314,000 digital copies, which puts it at #21 on the all-time list of top digital album sellers. (The all-time champ is Coldplay's Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends, which has sold 765,000 digital copies since its release in June 2008.)

Last week I told you that Hope For Haiti Now is only the third charity album to reach #1 on The Billboard 200, following We Are The World and God Bless America. Billboard's Keith Caulfield added a great detail: Bruce Springsteen is the only artist to appear on all three of these albums. Springsteen contributed a live track, "Trapped," to We Are The World; another live track, "Land Of Hopes And Dreams," to God Bless America; and "We Shall Overcome" to Hope For Haiti Now.

Eleven songs from Hope For Haiti Now are listed on Hot Digital Songs. The five highest-ranking on this week's Hot Digital Songs chart are "Hallelujah" by Justin Timberlake & Matt Morris featuring Charlie Sexton at #5; "Lean On Me" by Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock & Keith Urban at #21; Taylor Swift's "Breathless" at #40; "Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour)" by Jay-Z, Bono, The Edge and Rihanna at #54; and "Let It Be" by Jennifer Hudson featuring The Roots at #72.

Ke$ha's "TiK ToK" returns to #1 on Hot Digital Songs for a sixth week. The song sold 200,000 copies this week, upping its 19-week total to 3,364,000. It's the first song by a female solo artist to log six weeks at #1 on this chart since Miley Cyrus' "Party In The U.S.A." did it last year. (Charts make for strange bedfellows.) Last week's #1, Taylor Swift's "Today Was A Fairy Tale," falls to #11. It sold 100,000 copies this week, bringing its two-week total to 425,000. Swift sang part of the song on the Grammy telecast on Sunday.

Song Scorecard: "Empire State Of Mind" by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys tops the 3 million mark in paid downloads this week. The classy collaboration is the second 3 million seller for both artists. Rihanna's "Umbrella" (which features Jay-Z) has sold 3,497,000 digital copies. Keys' "No One" has sold 3,252,000. "Empire State Of Mind" just missed the eligibility cut-off for this year's Grammys, but it will be high on the list of contenders for Record and Song of the Year nominations next year.

Lady Gaga's "Lovegame" becomes the fifth song from expanded version of The Fame to top the 2 million mark in paid downloads. Gaga is only the second artist to pull five 2 million-selling songs from one album. Fergie achieved the feat with her 2006 solo debut album, The Dutchess.

Pop Quiz: "Sexy Chick" by David Guetta featuring Akon also tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads this week. (As is always the case with digital songs, this figure combines all versions of the song by the same artist.) You probably know that there's an edgier variation of "Sexy Chick" titled "Sexy B***h."  My question for you is to estimate what percentage of "Sexy Chick's" 2 million total that "Sexy B***h" accounts for. I'll even make it multiple choice for you: a) 23%, b) 51%, c) 75%, d) 94%. Answer below.

Barry Manilow lands his 12th top 10 album as The Greatest Love Songs Of All Time debuts at #5. The entertainer first cracked the top 10 in February 1975 with his second album (which featured the #1 hit "Mandy"). Manilow had seven top 10 albums in a row from 1975 to 1979, when he was just about the hottest male singer in the business. He struggled on the charts (though not as a concert draw) in the '80s and '90s, but he has had a remarkable resurgence since February 2002, when his Ultimate Manilow collection caught the industry by surprise by debuting at #3. The Greatest Songs Of The Fifties opened at #1 in February 2005. Manilow followed it with three more decade recaps. But when The Greatest Hits Of The Eighties stalled at #14 in November 2008, it was obvious that it was time for a new idea, hence this collection of romantic ballads, released just in time for Valentine's Day.

Michael Jackson's This Is It rebounds from #17 to #6 in the wake of the release of the DVD. This gives Jackson a nearly 40 year span of top five albums. Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5 cracked the top five in April 1970. Only 10 artists in chart history have had longer spans of top five albums. This Is It will probably get a boost on next week's chart from the salute to Jackson on the Grammy telecast. "Earth Song," which was the song chosen for the salute, is included in both This Is It and Number Ones, but not The Essential Michael Jackson.

This Is It also returns to #1 on the soundtrack chart, bumping off Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. This is the Jackson album's 10th week as the #1 movie soundtrack.

Corinne Bailey Rae's sophomore album, The Sea, opens at #7. It's her second top 10 album in a row. Her eponymous debut album debuted at #17 in June 2006 and peaked at #4 in February 2007, in the wake of that year's Grammy telecast. Bailey Rae was nominated in three key categories: Best New Artist and Record and Song of the Year for "Put Your Records On."

Quiz Answer: "Sexy B***h" accounts for 75% of the total sales rung up by "Sexy Chick." I guess that's just a sign of the times. Actually, Elton John's "The B***h Is Back" was a top five hit on the Hot 100 in October 1974, so this ship sailed quite a while ago.

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

1. Lady Antebellum, Need You Now, 481,000. This new entry represents the best first-week showing for a country album since Taylor Swift's Fearless started with sales of 592,000 in November 2008. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Need You Now," which jumps from #18 to #8.

2. Various Artists, Hope For Haiti Now, 143,000. The compilation drops to #2 after debuting at #1 last week. Eleven songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Hallelujah" by Justin Timberlake & Matt Morris featuring Charlie Sexton, which jumps from #24 to #5.

3. Lady Gaga, The Fame, 68,000. The album holds at #3 in its 66th week. This is its 32nd 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 rebounds from #6 to #3.

4. Susan Boyle, I Dreamed A Dream, 59,000. The former #1 album slips from #2 to #4 in its 10th week. The album has sold 3,416,000 copies. This includes a paltry 95,000 digital copies.

5. Barry Manilow, The Greatest Love Songs Of All Time, 57,000. This new entry is the veteran entertainer's 12th top 10 album; his eighth to make the top five.

6. Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson's This Is It, 55,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #17 to #6 in its 14th week. This is the album's fifth week in the top 10. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Thriller," which jumps from #191 to #162.

7. Corinne Bailey Rae, The Sea, 53,000. This new entry is Bailey Rae's second top 10 album in a row. It sold more in its first week than Bailey Rae's first album did (40,000).

8. Various Artists, 2010 Grammy Nominees, 45,000. The album dips from #5 to #8 in its second week. This will have a big week next week in the wake of the Grammy telecast.

9. Celtic Woman, Songs From The Heart, 42,000. This is the female group's second top10 album. New Journey debuted at #4 in February 2007. Celtic Woman is a PBS favorite.

10. The Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D., 40,000. The former #1 album dips from #9 to #10 in its 34th week. This is its 21st week in the top 10. Four songs from the album are listed in the top 40 on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Imma Be," which jumps from #7 to #2.

Five albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Spoon's Transference drops from #4 to #27, Vampire Weekend's Contra drops from #6 to #14, Alicia Keys' The Element Of Freedom drops from #7 to #11, Ke$ha's Animal drops from #8 to #16, and Taylor Swift's Fearless drops from #10 to #13. (Expect Fearless to jump back into the top 10 next week. The tracking week ended Sunday night, just as Swift won four Grammys, including Album of the Year.)

Kidz Bop Kids 17 bows at #12. This breaks a string of 10 straight top 10 albums by the tot-pleasing act. On the plus side, it's the Kids' 13th top 20 album....Michael Jackson's Number Ones inches up from #32 to #31. It's the #1 Catalog album for the 23rd week...The Avatar soundtrack drops from #48 to #91. Total sales to date: a measly 84,000. The movie was #1 at the box-office for the seventh straight weekend, the longest run by any movie since Titanic.

New Songs: Eddie Vedder's version of Bruce Springsteen's "My City In Ruins" is the top new entry on Hot Digital Songs at #60. The performance, taken from the Kennedy Center Honors broadcast, benefits Artists for Peace and Justice/Haiti Relief. Springsteen's version appeared on his post 9/11 album The Rising.

Eric Clapton's "I've Got A Rock'n'Roll Heart" enters Hot Digital Songs at #89. The song was a top 20 hit for Clapton in 1983. It's back because of its exposure in a widely aired TV spot for T Mobile's Fender phone. Old songs never die. They just lie dormant for a couple of decades before they are re-discovered. (The same principle applies to artists sometimes. Charlie Sexton, who has featured billing on "Hallelujah" from Hope For Haiti Now, was a hot, buzzy act in 1986, when he was just 17. His "Beats So Lonely" became a Top 20 hit on the Hot 100. And then his career stalled. But you can never count anyone out. Here he is, back on a big hit.)

19th Century Breakdown: Barry Manilow's The Greatest Love Songs Of All Time includes "When You Were Sweet Sixteen," a ditty that was first published in 1898. That's got to be the oldest song on any album in this week's top 10, right? Nope. Hope For Haiti Now includes two songs that are even older: "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child," which dates to the 1870s, and Stephen Foster's "Hard Times Come Again No More," which dates to 1854.

Heads Up: Lil Wayne's long-awaited rap/rock project, Rebirth, is likely to be next week's top debut, with sales in the range of 150,000 copies. Also due: Nick Jonas & The Administration's Who I Am and Rob Zombie's Hellbilly Deluxe 2.

Shameless Plug: Randy Newman and T-Bone Burnett, who came up through the ranks in rock before moving into film music, are both nominated for Academy Awards. Newman has two songs in the running for Best Original Song: "Almost There" and "Down In New Orleans," both from The Princess And The Frog. Burnett has one: "The Weary Kind (Theme From Crazy Heart)." This brings Newman's total of Best Song nominations to 11, which puts him in Oscar's all-time top 10. Sounds like a list to me. Here's a link to an And The Winner Is... feature I wrote.

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