Chart Watch

Week Ending Jan. 4, 2009: It’s Taylor Swift’s World…

Chart Watch

Taylor Swift's Fearless holds at #1 on The Billboard 200 for the fifth week. That's the longest that any album has topped the chart since Josh Groban's Noel had five straight weeks on top in late 2007. It's the longest run by a non-holiday album (let's face it, Noel was a phenomenon) since 50 Cent's The Massacre had six straight weeks on top in the spring of 2005. It's the longest run by a country crossover album since Shania Twain's Up! had five straight weeks on top in late 2002.

Fearless holds the #1 spot with sales of just 90,000 copies. It's the first time that sales of the #1 album have dipped below 100,000 copies since it happened for four straight weeks last January and February. The winter doldrums are a seasonal occurrence in the music business: It's cold out, people are tapped out after Christmas and release schedules tend to be sparse.

Fearless has sold 2,202,000 copies in its first eight weeks. That total includes 244,000 paid downloads, more than any other country album in digital history. In second place: Swift's previous album, Taylor Swift, which has sold 212,000 downloads. In third: Dixie Chicks' Taking The Long Road, with 201,000.

Swift this week also becomes the first country artist to reach the 2 million paid download mark with two different songs. Her current hit, "Love Story," has sold 2,026,000 downloads. Her 2007 hit, "Teardrops On My Guitar," has sold 2,052,000 downloads. (A third Swift hit, "Our Song," will reach the 2 million milestone next week. Its sales currently stand at 1,998,000.) Carrie Underwood is the only other country act to reach the 2 million mark in paid downloads. Her three-year-old "Before He Cheats" stands at 2,590,000.

I have lots more digital news for you. "Just Dance" by Lady GaGa featuring Colby O'Donis holds at #1 on Hot Digital Songs for the second straight week. It sold 293,000 copies this week, down from last week's tally of 419,000 (which was the second biggest one-week tally ever). This brings the total number of paid digital downloads for "Just Dance" past the 2 million mark. Lady GaGa's album, Fame, vaults from #58 to #26 in its in its 10th week on The Billboard 200.

Two of the biggest hits of 2008, Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" and Coldplay's "Viva La Vida," both reached the 3 million mark in paid downloads this week. Perry is only the fourth woman to reach this level, following Leona Lewis, Fergie and Rihanna (featuring Jay-Z).

Kanye West's "Love Lockdown" tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads this week (it stands at 2,023,000). It's West's third song to reach the milestone, following "Stronger" and "Gold Digger" (featuring Jamie Foxx). It was a gamble for the rap star to put out a jazz-tinged ballad; one that has paid off handsomely. West's current album, 808s & Heartbreak, has also been a big digital hit. It has sold 197,000 copies digitally, more than any other non-rap R&B album in digital history. The old record had been held by Alicia Keys' As I Am, which has sold 183,000 digital copies.

Pop Quiz: Nielsen/SoundScan keeps a running list of the 100 albums that have sold the most copies digitally in its history. The majority of the titles on the list are from the past few years, as you would expect. But there are five albums on the list that were released prior to 2000. If you think about it, I bet you can name two of them. Maybe even three. But I don't think anybody could get all five. (Answer below.)

In my year-end wrap-up, I told you that 2008 was the fifth time that Beyonce has put an album in Nielsen SoundScan's year-end top 10. She did it twice with Destiny's Child in 2000 and 2001 and has now done it three times on her own, with Dangerously In Love (#6 for 2003), B'Day (#7 for 2006) and I Am...Sasha Fierce (#10 for 2008). Everywhere I go, it seems, people ask the same question. "Has anyone else ever done this?" Three artists have, but they all got their starts years before Beyonce. Garth Brooks, Mariah Carey and Shania Twain have also placed in the year-end top 10 five times. Justin Timberlake is in second place with four year-end top 10 rankings (three with *NSYNC and one on his own).

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

1. Taylor Swift, Fearless, 90,000. The album holds at #1 for the fifth week. Five songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Love Story," which holds at #3.

2. Beyonce, I Am...Sasha Fierce, 77,000. The former #1 album holds at #2 for the second week. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)," which holds at #2.

3. Kanye West, 808s & Heartbreak, 71,000. The former #1 album jumps from #5 to #3 in its fifth appearance in the top 10. The album slipped out of the top 10 two weeks ago, but has rallied on the strength of two smash singles. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Heartless," which dips a notch to #5.

4. Various Artists, Twilight soundtrack, 66,000. The former #1 album jumps from #6 to #4 in its ninth consecutive week in the top 10. The album sold nearly 25,000 copies digitally this week, putting it atop the Digital Albums chart for the third week. The soundtrack has sold 239,000 copies digitally, a total topped by only one soundtrack in history. That would be last year's smash Juno, with digital sales of 318,000. A hit from Twilight, Paramore's "Decode," dips to #33 on Hot Digital Songs.

5. Nickelback, Dark Horse, 64,000. The album dips from #4 to #5 in its seventh week in the top 10. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Gotta Be Somebody," which dips to #18.

6. Britney Spears, Circus, 64,000. The former #1 album drops from #3 to #6 in its fifth week. Last week, the album topped Spears' previous album, Blackout, in total sales. Circus sold more copies in its first four weeks (1,104,000) than Blackout has in its entire run (942,000). Spears is the only artist with two songs in the top 10 on this week's Hot Digital Songs chart. "Circus" jumps to #7. "Womanizer" dips to #8.

7. Keyshia Cole, A Different Me, 54,000. The album holds at #7 for the second week after debuting at #2 two weeks ago. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

8. Jamie Foxx, Intuition, 45,000. The album inches back up from #9 to #8 in its third week. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

9. Various Artists, Now 29, 44,000. The compilation dips a notch to #9 in its eighth week in the top 10. This brings total sales of the album to 941,000.

10. Various Artists, All Wrapped Up, 40,000. The holiday compilation, a Target exclusive, vaults from #88 to #10. The album features tracks by Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Plain White T's, Demi Lovato and three others. The album experienced a 112% sales increase this week, greater than any other album in the top 200. It's the only album in the top 20 to register any sales increase at all over last week. Why the jump? After Christmas, Target slashed the price to clear shelf space.

One album drops out of the top 10 this week. David Cook's David Cook falls from #10 to #16. The album has sold 842,000 copies in its first seven weeks, more than the debut album by Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks has sold in its entire run. Sales for Taylor Hicks stand at 703,000.

Beethoven's back in the top 30, sandwiched right between High School Musical 3: Senior Year and Guns N' Roses (I'm not sure how he'd react to that news). The 99 Most Essential Beethoven Masterpieces debuts at #29, based entirely on digital sales. The collection was the "Deal of the Day" at Amazon.com's MP3 store on Dec. 30, with its standard $7.99 price slashed to $1.99. Such a deal! The album is #2 on Top Digital Albums, just behind Twilight.

Catalog Report: ABBA's Gold-Greatest Hits returns to #1 on the Catalog Albums chart for the first time since it had a eight-week lock on the top spot last summer. The album sold 17,000 copies this week and would have ranked #44 on the big chart if older, catalog albums were eligible to compete there. Total sales of the album to date: 4,730,000. Mamma Mia!, indeed.

The Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack jumps from #183 to #85 in its second week on The Billboard 200. The biggest hit from the album, M.I.A's "Paper Planes," has sold 2,354,000 downloads and is a Grammy finalist for Record of the Year. The Oscar-bound movie grossed $4.8 million in its eighth weekend to rank #10 at the box-office.

Ups & Downs: Faith Hill's Joy To The World was the third biggest holiday album of 2008, and finished second only to Enya's And Winter Came among newly-released holiday titles. (Which cost me a nickel, by the way. I bet a friend that Hill would outsell Enya.) But the holidays are over. Joy To The World plummets from #38 to #187 this week, with a sales drop of 92%. That's the steepest drop of any album in the top 200.

Pop Quiz Answer: The five pre-2000 albums that have sold the most copies digitally are: Pink Floyd's 1973 classic The Dark Side Of The Moon, with sales of 173,000 downloads; the Vince Guaraldi Trio's 1965 holiday perennial A Charlie Brown Christmas, 167,000; Bob Marley & the Wailers' 1984 compilation Legend, 157,000; Journey's 1988 compilation Greatest Hits, 145,000; and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' 1993 compilation Greatest Hits, 129,000. I imagine that a lot of you guessed Pink Floyd and Marley, and maybe Journey, but after that, it gets harder. Hats off to those of you who got three or more.

Heads Up: Two dance-oriented compilations are due on next week's chart. Ultra Dance 10 features hits by Rihanna, T.I. and Britney Spears, among others. Total Club Hits features T.I., Usher and T-Pain, among others.

That's it-the first Chart Watch of 2009. In this year, we will mark the 10th anniversary of Eminem's debut; the 20th anniversary of Milli Vanilli, one of the biggest shams in music history; the 25th anniversary of the release of Bruce Springsteen's Born In The U.S.A. and Prince & the Revolution's Purple Rain; the 30th anniversary of the release of Pink Floyd's The Wall; the 40th anniversary of Led Zeppelin's debut album; the 50th anniversary of the Broadway premiere of The Sound Of Music; and the 75th anniversary of the snazzy "The Continental," the first song to win an Academy Award.

 

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