Chart Watch (NEW)

Week Ending July 22, 2012. Albums: What’s He Doing Here?

Chart Watch

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Phil Collins' tersely titled compilation album, …Hits, re-enters The Billboard 200 at #6. This is a new peak for the album, which originally peaked at #18 the week it entered the chart in November 1998. The album had two things going for it. It's studded with 12 top 10 hits. And it was on sale for just 99 cents at Amazon's MP3 store. (That comes out to about eight cents per top 10 hit. A sweet deal.)

That 99 cent deal lifted the album's weekly sales from less than 1K last week to 40K this week. Even though the album hadn't cracked the top 10 until this week, it has sold very well over the past 13 plus years. It has sold 3,429,000 copies.

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…Hits is Collins' fifth top 10 album as a solo artist, which equals the number of top 10 albums he has had with Genesis. It's his first appearance in the top 10 since Genesis' We Can't Dance wound up a long run in the top 10 in March 1992. …Hits is #1 on Top Catalog Albums, displacing Zac Brown Band's The Foundation.

Amazon MP3's sale pushed three other albums back into the top 30. Bruno Mars' Doo-Wops & Hooligans vaults from #135 to #11 in its 94th week.  Shinedown's Amaryllis rebounds from #108 to #24 in its 17th week. Demi Lovato's Unbroken vaults from #124 to #27 in its 29th week.

This is clearly a win for these artists, who gain extra sales. And it's a win for their fans, who get a great buy. The objective for Amazon MP3 is to build a reputation for low pricing, so that fans get in the habit of checking the site to see what deals they have. The idea of 99-cent pricing is controversial in the music industry, with some saying it devalues albums in consumers' minds. Others counter that that has already happened, and that whatever it takes to get an album sold is fair game.

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AmazonMP3 also put Frank Ocean's buzzed-about Channel Orange on sale for $2.99 on July 16. The move resulted in about 15K extra sales for the album. But they're not included in Ocean's sales tally this week. Billboard policy holds that albums must sell for a minimum of $3.49 during their first four weeks of release for the sales to count. If these 15K sales had counted, the album would have ranked #3 this week. Without them, it ranks #4. Ocean fans shouldn't get too riled, though. This album has "Grammy" written all over it, so expect it to have a long life.

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All artists need to stay relevant, and there's probably no genre where that's more important than rap. That's why Nas' accomplishment this week is so impressive. Nas' Life Is Good enters The Billboard 200 at #1, a little more than 16 years after he first topped the chart with It Was Written. Only one hip-hop artist has had a longer span of #1 albums. Beastie Boys, whose identity encompasses pop, rap and alternative, has had #1 albums spanning 17 years and three months, from Licensed To Ill (March 1987) to To The 5 Boroughs (June 2004).

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You don't need me to tell you that 16 years is a long time. 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. were both alive and well in July 1996, when It Was Written entered the chart at #1. Justin Bieber was two years old, just learning to say "baby-baby-baby" (a phrase that would come in handy later in life).

Wanna know the rap artists who are next in line behind Beastie Boys and Nas for the longest spans of #1 albums? Jay-Z's #1 albums span 12 years and 10 months, from Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life (October 1998) to Watch The Throne (with Kanye West, Aug. 2011). Eminem's span 10 years and three months, from The Marshall Mathers LP (May 2000) to Recovery (August 2010).

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Life Is Good is Nas' fifth #1 album, not counting a 1997 album by the rap collective The Firm. That album, The Firm-The Album, also featured Foxy Brown, AZ and Nature. Only two rap artists in history have had more than five #1 albums. Jay-Z leads with 12; Eminem has had six (not counting two albums he recorded as part of D12). Tied with Nas with five #1 albums are DMX, Kanye West and 2 Pac.

Life Is Good sold 149K copies this week, which is the second biggest one-week total so far this year for a hip-hop album. It trails Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, which opened with sales of 253K in April. Life Is Good sold 69K digital copies, which puts it at #1 on Top Digital Albums.

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Kidz Bop Kidz' Kidz Bop 22 debuts at #3. This is the 15th album in this series to make the top 10. The series was launched in October 2001, which means kidz who were bopping to the first volume (at, say, age seven) are now nearly 18. (The word "bopping" presumably means something different to them now.)

Justin Bieber's Believe advances to #6 on the year-to-date chart. It's #4 for the year-to-date among albums that were released in 2012. See next item.

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One Direction's Up All Night this week becomes the first album that was released in 2012 to top the 1 million mark in sales. It achieves the feat in its 19th week on the chart. Here are the rest of the top five sellers so far this year that were released in 2012: Lionel Richie's Tuskegee (951K), Now 41 (725K), Justin Bieber's Believe (649K) and Carrie Underwood's Blown Away (644K).

One Direction's DVD Up All Night: The Live Tour is #1 for the eighth week on Top Music Videos. It sold 13,000 copies this week, bringing its eight-week total to 223K.

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The Dark Knight Rises soundtrack debuts at #8. It's the fourth soundtrack to a Batman movie to reach the top 10, following Prince's Batman (#1 in 1989), Batman Forever (#5 in 1995) and Batman & Robin (#5 in 1997). Only two other franchises in movie history have yielded four or more top 10 soundtracks. Star Wars leads with five. Twilight has also had four. Hans Zimmer composed The Dark Knight Rises score. It's the first soundtrack score to make the top 10 since Daft Punk's score to Tron: Legacy reached #4 in January 2011. Zimmer has received nine Oscar nominations for his scores. He won for 1994's The Lion King.

The tragedy in Aurora, Colo. doesn't appear to have impacted the soundtrack. Industry projections, which were released before the shootings, suggested that the album would debut right around #9 with sales of about 28K. It wound up with sales of 33K. (That's a normal difference between projected and actual sales.)

The Dark Knight Rises is #1 on this week's Top Soundtracks chart, displacing Rock Of Ages. The movie was #1 at the box-office over the weekend. All three installments in director Christopher Nolan's trilogy have achieved that feat. Batman Begins spent two weekends at #1 in June 2005. The Dark Knight spent four weekends on top in July and August 2008.

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Flo Rida's "Whistle" displaces Katy Perry's "Wide Awake" from the #1 spot on Hot Digital Songs. "Whistle" sold 211K copies this week, compared to 170K for "Wide Awake." Will one of these songs also hit #1 on the Hot 100, or will "Call Me Maybe" prevail for the seventh straight week? You'll find out later today when we post Chart Watch: Songs.

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

The Top Five: Nas' Life Is Good debuts at #1 (149K). This is Nas' 10th top 10 album; his fifth #1… Zac Brown Band's Uncaged dips from #1 to #2 in its second week (78K). The album is #1 on Top Country Albums for the second week…Kidz Bop Kidz' Kidz Bop 22 debuts at #3 (64K). This is the 15th album in this series to make the top 10… Frank Ocean's Channel Orange drops from #2 to #4 in its second week (54K)…Justin Bieber's Believe drops from #3 to #5 in its fifth week (45K). It has been in the top five the entire time.

The Second Five: Phil Collins' …Hits re-enters the chart at #6 (40K). This is its first week in the top 10. It's Collins' 10th top 10 album (counting five albums with Genesis)…One Direction's Up All Night holds at #7 in its 19th week (36K). This is its 18th week in the top 10… The Dark Knight Rises soundtrack debuts at #8 (33K). It's #1 on Top Soundtracks…Adele's 21 dips from #8 to #9 in its 74rd week (33K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time… Maroon 5's Overexposed drops from #5 to #10 in its fourth week (29K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time.

Four albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Chris Brown's Fortune drops from #4 to #13, Linkin Park's Living Things drops from #6 to #14, Katy Perry's Teenage Dream drops from #9 to #15, and Kenny Chesney's Welcome To The Fishbowl drops from #10 to #16.

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Pierce the Veil's third album Collide With The Sky debuts at #12. This marks a major breakthrough for the group, which didn't chart with its first album, A Flair For The Dramatic, and peaked at #106 with its second, Selfish Machines. Another punk band didn't fare as well. HellYeah's third album Band Of Brothers debuts at #20. This represents a drop-off from the group's two previous albums. HellYeah hit #9 in 2007. Stampede hit #8 in 2010.

Matisyahu's Spark Seeker debuts at #19. This the third top 20 album by the Hasidic reggae rapper...Old Crow Medicine Show's Carry Me Back debuts at #22. This is the bluegrass band's highest-charting album to date. It tops Tennessee Pusher, which peaked at #50 in 2008.

Elton John lands his first #1 album in the U.K. in 22 years as Good Morning To The Night debuts in the top spot on the Official U.K. Chart. The album consists of remixed versions of his 1970s classics, by Australian electronic/dance duo Pnau. This is Elton's seventh #1 album in this home country. This enables him to finally pull even with the number of #1 albums he has had in the U.S. since November 1975, when Rock Of The Westies debuted in top spot. Elton hasn't had a #1 album in the U.S. since Westies, though he has had six top 10 albums in that time, the most recent being The Union, a 2010 collabo with Leon Russell. (Incidentally, Good Morning To The Night takes its title from a line in "Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters," a song from Elton's 1972 album Honky Chateau.)

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Queen's 1992 album Greatest Hits tops the 7 million mark in sales this week. It's the second best-selling greatest hits album by a British act in Nielsen SoundScan history (which dates to 1991). It trails only the Beatles' 1, which has sold 12,072,000 copies. Queen's Freddie Mercury died on Nov. 24, 1991. Clearly, his music lives on.

Coming Attractions: Nas and Zac Brown Band are in a close race for #1 next week.  Two new releases will debut in the top 10: The Gaslight Anthem's Handwritten (around #6) and Passion Pit's Gossamer (around #9). Also due: Love And Theft's Love And Theft and Jennifer Lopez's Dance Again…The Hits.

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