Chart Watch

Week Ending July 4, 2010: Miley’s Tricky Transition

Chart Watch

Stray Cats had a top five hit in 1983 called "(She's) Sexy + 17." That's a tricky combination, at least when you're a Disney-created teen idol. Just ask Miley Cyrus, whose Can't Be Tamed slips from #3 to #9 in its second week on The Billboard 200. The album has sold 135,000 copies in its first two weeks, which is well below Cyrus' usual standards.  Her last full-length studio album, Breakout, sold 534,000 copies in its first two weeks in the summer of 2008. The Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack sold 225,000 copies in its first two weeks in the spring of 2009. Cyrus' The Time Of Our Lives EP sold 215,000 copies in its first two weeks in September.

Cyrus is also having some trouble on the Hot Digital Songs chart. The album's punchy title track falls from #12 to #21. The four other songs from the album that appeared on the 200-deep Digital Songs chart last week all fell off the chart this week. Those songs are "Stay" (#47 last week), "Liberty Walk" (#80), "Two More Lonely People" (#129) and a cover of Poison's 1988 smash "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" (#131). By contrast, two of Cyrus' old hits just keep chugging along. "Party In The U.S.A. holds at #74 in its 47th week. "The Climb" drops from #136 to #179 in its 70th week.

Some have suggested that Cyrus' young fans (or perhaps their parents) are put off by her new, more mature image, as reflected in the midriff-baring album cover and the more provocative tone of her new single, "Can't Be Tamed." To be sure, Cyrus doesn't look as demure on the cover of the new album as she did on the cover of Hannah Montana: The Movie, where she personified wholesome, all-American beauty. But "Can't Be Tamed" is hardly risqué. It's mildly rebellious, but what 17-year old in America isn't?

Female artists often have a rocky passage as they move from teen stardom to adulthood. Britney Spears raised some eyebrows with her sexy 2001 hit "I'm A Slave 4 U," which was released when she was 19. The following year, she appeared to comment on her transition to adulthood in her songs, "I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman" and "Overprotected."

Christina Aguilera stirred considerable controversy with her 2002 song, "Dirrty" (featuring rapper Redman), which was released when she was 21. The risqué song peaked at #48 on the Hot 100, breaking a string of seven consecutive top 20 hits.

Cyrus is younger than Spears and Aguilera were when they released the songs that announced that they were all grown up. Cyrus was also younger than these other artists when she became a star. Cyrus was not yet 14 when the Hannah Montana soundtrack charted in October 2006. Spears was 17 and Aguilera was 18 when their debut albums charted in 1999. So it's possible that some people will be (even) more intent on keeping Cyrus' image pure than they were with Spears and Aguilera.

Young male artists don't seem to have this problem, at least not to the same degree. In the immortal words of the late James Brown, "It's A Man's, Man's, Man's World."

In a way, Cyrus can't win. She'll be criticized in some quarters if she attempts to change her image. She'll be ridiculed in other quarters if she doesn't. Since she's going to get flak no matter what she does, she should just follow her heart.

Of course, there other possible reasons for the new album's slow start. One has to do with the natural arc of a career. Acts who are red-hot for three years, as Cyrus was from 2006 to 2009, are going to start to cool off. It happens to almost everybody eventually. It's also possible that Disney over-saturated the market with Cyrus product. Counting Hannah Montana albums, eight Cyrus albums have made the top three in less than four years.

Eminem's Recovery tops The Billboard 200 for the second straight week. The album sold 313,000 copies this week, which brings its two-week total to 1,058,000. That's the highest tally for any album since Susan Boyle's 2009 phenomenon I Dreamed A Dream, which sold 1,224,000 copies in its first two weeks. It's the highest tally for a rap album since Lil Wayne's 2008 blockbuster Tha Carter III, which sold 1,316,000 in its first two weeks. It's the highest tally for an Eminem album since his 2004 smash Encore, which sold 1,582,000 in its first two weeks.

Recovery is the fifth album to top the 1 million mark in sales so far this year. The album will probably have a third week on top next week. That would constitute Eminem's longest run at #1 since Encore had four weeks on top.

Recovery sold 83,000 digital copies this week, bringing its two-week total to 338,000. Only one album in digital history has sold more copies in its first two weeks. That's Coldplay's Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends, which sold 354,000 digital copies in its first two weeks in 2008. Recovery is of course #1 on Hot Digital Albums for the second week. "Love The Way You Lie," Eminem's collabo with Rihanna, tops Hot Digital Songs for the second week in a row. It sold 280,000 copies this week, bringing its two-week total to 621,000.

Lady Gaga's The Fame this week surpasses Coldplay's Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends as the best-selling album in digital history. The Fame has sold 783,000 digital copies, compared to 782,000 for Viva La Vida.

While The Fame has sold more digital copies than Viva La Vida, the Coldplay album has realized a higher percentage of its sales (29%) in the digital sphere than the Gaga album has (22%). The obvious reason: Gaga's album has sold more overall copies (physical and digital combined): 3,539,000, compared to 2,693,000 for Coldplay's album.

The key to the success of Gaga's album has been a non-stop barrage of hits. The tracks on The Fame have sold a combined total of 24,645,000 digital copies. This constitutes an all-time record, far ahead of the nearest runners-up, the Black Eyed Peas' The E.N.D. (17,878,000) and Rihanna's Good Girl Gone Bad (17,041,000).

Viva La Vida became the best-selling album in digital history in June 2008, when it surpassed the previous record holder, John Mayer's Continuum. Mayer's album first claimed the title in March 2007, when it surpassed The Fray's How To Save A Life. The Fray's album moved into the lead in December 2006, when it bumped off Coldplay's X&Y.

The digital album market has so far been a disappointment to the beleaguered music industry. After six years of digital album availability, just five albums have topped the 500,000 mark in digital sales. In addition to The Fame and Viva La Vida they are Taylor Swift's Fearless (655,000), the Twilight soundtrack (617,000) and Kings Of Leon's Only By The Night (603,000). The music industry has been hoping (praying?) that digital albums would catch on in a big way. These sales numbers are nothing to sneeze at, but they're not anything you can pin the future of an industry on.

Drake's Thank Me Later holds at #2 on The Billboard 200 for the second week. The album sold 105,000 copies this week, bringing its three-week total to 709,000. That puts it at #10 for the year-to-date. It displaces I Dreamed A Dream from the year-to-date top 10.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse rebounds from #10 to #3 in the wake of the movie's opening. The movie was #1 at the box-office, matching the first two installments. Twilight was #1 for one weekend in November 2008. The Twilight Saga: New Moon was #1 for two weekends in November 2009.  The soundtracks to both of those movies reached #1. The soundtrack to the current installment has yet to climb above #2. It is, however, the #1 theatrical movie soundtrack for the fourth straight week. (Howard Shore's album of the movie's original score debuts at #20. Details below.)

Pop Quiz: Which soundtrack series has sold more total albums in the U.S., Twilight or Glee? (For what it's worth, there are three Twilight soundtracks vs. five for Glee.) Answer below.

Lady Antebellum's Need You Now rebounds from #12 to #10. It logs its 23rd consecutive week at #1 on Top Country Albums. The album is now only six weeks away from equaling the mark set by Garth Brooks' Ropin' The Wind, when it spent its first 29 weeks at #1. Will Lady A match Mr. B? Stay tuned.

"California Girls" by Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg holds at #2 on Hot Digital Songs. The song sold 277,000 copies this week. It came within 3,000 units of overtaking the Eminem/Rihanna hit and moving back to #1.

"California Gurls" tops the Hot 100 for the fifth straight week. This matches "Empire State Of Mind" by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, which was #1 for five consecutive weeks in November and December. "California Gurls" was of course conceived as a West Coast answer to "Empire State Of Mind."

"California Gurls" is also #1 in the U.K. for the second week. "Airplanes" by B.o.B featuring Hayley Williams leaps from #12 to #2 there.

The Top 10: Here's the rest of the top 10 on Hot Digital Songs. Taio Cruz's "Dynamite" vaults from #10 to #3 (189,000), "Airplanes" by B.o.B featuring Hayley Williams slips from #3 to #4 (176,000), "Billionaire" by Travie McCoy featuring Bruno Mars holds at #5 (168,000), "OMG" by Usher featuring will.i.am drops from #4 to #6 (152,000), Mike Posner's "Cooler Than Me" dips from #6 to #7 (149,000), Jason DeRulo's "Ridin' Solo" holds at #8 (146,000), Eminem's "Not Afraid" drops from #7 to #9 (140,000), and Justin Bieber's "Somebody To Love" vaults from #23 to #10 (111,000). The top new entry is Kanye West's "Power," which powers on at #14 (80,000).

Quiz Answer: Twilight stomps Glee in album sales. The three Twilight soundtracks have sold a combined total of 4,035,000 copies. The five Glee soundtracks have sold a combined total of 2,386,000 copies.

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

1. Eminem, Recovery, 313,000. The album logs its second week at #1. It also holds at #1 in the U.K. Nine songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Love The Way You Lie" (featuring Rihanna), which holds at #1.

2. Drake, Thank Me Later, 105,000. The former #1 album logs its second week at #2. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Find Your Love," which dips from #9 to #11.

3. Various Artists, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, 65,000. The album rebounds from #10 to #3 in its fourth week. Muse's "Neutron Star Collision" re-enters Hot Digital Songs at #140.

4. The-Dream, Love King, 58,000. This new entry is The-Dream's second album in a row to debut in the top five. Love Vs. Money debuted and peaked at #2 in March 2009. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Love King," which debuts at #97.

5. Various Artists, NOW 34, 45,000. The album holds at #5 in its third week. The compilation has sold 189,000 copies.

6. Justin Bieber, My World 2.0, 41,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #8 to #6 in its 15th week. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Somebody To Love," which vaults from #23 to #10.

7. 3OH!3, Streets Of Gold, 41,000. This new entry is 3OH!3's first top 10 album. Its 2008 debut album, Want, peaked at #44 (but has sold a healthy 457,000 copies). Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "My First Kiss" (featuring Ke$ha), which dips from #11 to #13.

8. Jack Johnson, To The Sea, 35,000. The former #1 album dips from #7 to #8 in its fifth week. "You And Your Heart" drops from #151 to #158.

9. Miley Cyrus, Can't Be Tamed, 33,000. The album slips from #3 to #9 in its second week. "Can't Be Tamed" drops from #12 to #21 on Hot Digital Songs.

10. Lady Antebellum, Need You Now, 30,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #12 to #10 in its 23rd week. This is the album's 22nd week in the top 10. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Need You Now," which dips from #35 to #36.

Three albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Ozzy Osbourne's Scream falls from #4 to #11. The Roots' How I Got Over falls from #6 to #17. Sarah McLachlan's Laws Of Illusion drops from #9 to #12.

Scissor Sisters' Night Work debuts at #18, which makes it the dance group's highest charting album to date. Fully 63% of its first-week sales were in the digital sphere. It's the act's second straight album to debut in the top 20, following Ta-Da, which bowed at #19 in October 2006. Night Work enters the U.K. chart at #2. The group's two previous albums, Scissor Sisters and Ta-Da, both hit #1.

Howard Shore's album of the instrumental score for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse debuts at #20. It's the highest-charting album of an instrumental score since The Dark Knight (composed by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard) debuted at #20 in July 2008. This is the highest-charting of the three Twilight score albums. Carter Burwell's album from the first Twilight reached #65. It has sold 218,000 copies. Alexandre Desplat's album from The Twilight Saga: New Moon reached #68. It has sold 100,000 copies.

Chris Tomlin's 2008 album Hello Love tops the Catalog Albums chart for the second straight week. The album sold 11,000 copies this week. The album drops from #31 to #41 on The Billboard 200.

Song Scorecard: Ke$ha's "Your Love Is My Drug" tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads. It's her second song to reach this plateau.

Happy 4th: This tracking week included the Fourth of July, which brought boosts to several America-themed perennials. Lee Greenwood's 1984 recording of "God Bless The U.S.A." re-entered Hot Digital Songs at #89, Ray Charles' soulful 1972 take on "America The Beautiful" re-entered at #172, Bruce Springsteen's 1984 smash "Born In The U.S.A." re-entered at #183 and Lynyrd Skynyrd's 1974 smash "Sweet Home Alabama" re-entered at #200. That last one's a stretch, but the song is an anthem and it does have the feel of classic Americana. As I noted above, Miley Cyrus' "Party In The U.S.A." holds at #74. Will it become a Fourth of July perennial? I guess we'll find out next year.

Anniversary of Note: This week marks the 40th anniversary of Anne Murray's first Hot 100 appearance with the breezy "Snowbird." Murray rode in on the ballad wave spearheaded by the Carpenters and Bread, but she went on to make her own mark. For one thing, she had a major country career, which culminated in her winning the CMA Award for Single of the Year in 1983 for "A Little Good News." Murray had wide-ranging successes. She revived pop oldies by the Beatles and the Monkees and had a song on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack. Her biggest hit was "You Needed Me," which reached #1 on the Hot 100 in 1978. Murray, who was born in Nova Scotia, also opened doors for fellow Canadian artists.

Heads Up: Big Boi's long-awaited solo debut album, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty, is expected to be next weeks' top new entry. Also due: Bret Michaels' Custom Built, Enrique Iglesias' Euphoria, Kylie Minogue's Aphrodite and Kelis' Flesh Tone, probably in that order.

Shameless Plug: In the holiday crush, you may have missed one or more of the Chart Watch Extras that went up in the past week. I took a fond look at American Top 40 on its 40th anniversary and did my best imitation of a Casey Kasem-style countdown. Here's a link. And I recapped the top 20 songs and the top 10 albums of the first half of 2010. Here's a link. I also posted a blog in the "And The Winner Is" folder on a major Grammy rule change which makes Drake and Kid Cudi eligible for Best New Artist at next year's awards. Here's a link.

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