Chart Watch

Week Ending June 12, 2011. Albums: The Tortoise & The Hare

Chart Watch

Adele's 21 returns to #1 in its 16th week on The Billboard 200, displacing Lady Gaga's Born This Way, which is in just its third week. 21 is the first album to rank #1 this late its chart run since Taylor Swift's Fearless, which was #1 in its 16th week in March 2009.

Two weeks ago, Gaga posted the biggest one-week sales tally since 2005. But last week, sales of the album dropped by 84%. That was the biggest sales drop-off, expressed in a percentage basis, of any of the 17 albums to sell 1 million copies in a week in the Nielsen SoundScan era.

Adele, meanwhile, has been a model of consistency. Her album has sold between 88,000 and 168,000 copies every week for the last 15 weeks. (It sold more than that in its first week, but has since settled into a very nice groove. Just when its sales were starting to soften, "Rolling In The Deep" became a monster hit and helped to keep the pace up. The song is expected to top the Hot 100 for the sixth straight week when the chart is released later today.)

This is the 10th week at #1 for Adele's album, which is the longest run by any album since Fearless had 11 weeks on top in 2008-2009. It's the longest run at #1 for an album by a British artist since George Michael's Faith logged 12 weeks on top in 1988. Both of those albums went on to win Grammys for Album of the Year. Adele is front-runner for the honor at next year's Grammys.

21 is the first album to spend its first 16 weeks in the top three since Usher's 2004 blockbuster Confessions, which spent its first 17 weeks in that high-rent district. A key difference between the two albums? By its 16th week, Usher's album had spawned three #1 hits on the Hot 100. Adele is still on her first.

Born This Way spent just two weeks at #1. Of the 17 albums to sell 1 million copies in a single week in the Nielsen SoundScan era, Born This Way is one of just five to spend only one or two weeks in the top slot. *NSYNC's Celebrity and Britney Spears' Oops!...I Did It Again both had one week on top. Backstreet Boys' Black & Blue and Limp Bizkit's Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water both had two. (Of course, Born This Way may return to #1 down the line, rendering this point moot.)

The Book Of Mormon re-enters The Billboard 200 at #3. It's the first original cast album to appear in the top 10 since Hair wound up a 28-week run in the top 10 in October 1969. (Hair, which was billed "the American tribal love-rock musical," spent 13 of those weeks at #1.) The Book Of Mormon won nine Tonys on Sunday, including Best Musical.

Since Hair, just two other cast albums have even reached the top 20. Dreamgirls peaked at #11 in August 1982 (boosted by Jennifer Holliday's Grammy-winning hit "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going"). Rent debuted and peaked at #19 in September 1996.

Mormon sold 61,000 copies this week. Billboard's Keith Caulfield reports that this is the biggest one-week total for a cast album in Nielsen SoundScan history. The old record was held by Highlights From The Phantom Of The Opera, which sold 54K copies during Christmas week of 1992. This week's sales tally for Mormon consists of 9K CDs (this was the first week it was available on CD) and 52K digital copies (goosed by a $1.99 sale at AmazonMP3, which ran from Thursday through Sunday).

Cast albums held center-stage in the pop market for more than 20 years, from December 1943, when the Oklahoma! cast album made the top 10 on the pop songs chart (there was no album chart yet), to February 1965, when Fiddler On The Roof made the top 10. Rock's ascendance in the mid-1960s pushed cast albums to the sidelines. The only two cast albums to make the top 10 since Fiddler are Hair and now The Book Of Mormon.

It's not that cast albums don't sell. They do. They just sell slowly, over time. The aforementioned Highlights From The Phantom Of The Opera has sold 4,959,000 copies since SoundScan started tracking sales for Billboard in 1991, though it never climbed higher than #46 on The Billboard 200. Wicked (which peaked at #77) has sold 2,112,000 copies since its release just before Christmas 2003.

The Book Of Mormon has exceed the chart success of a previous project from Mormon co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The soundtrack to South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut  reached #28 in 1999.

Ronnie Dunn's eponymous solo debut album debuts at #5. With his former partner Kix Brooks, Dunn notched nine top 10 albums between 1991 and 2009. In addition, the album enters Top Country Albums at #1. Brooks & Dunn had six #1 albums on the country chart, from Waitin' On Sundown (1994) to #1s...And Then Some (2009).

Pop Quiz: Ronnie Dunn is the only second artist to reach #1 on Top Country Albums both in a group or duo and as a solo artist. Name the other. Answer below the top 10 list.

Jason Aldean's "Dirt Road Anthem" leaps from #16 to #4 on Hot Digital Songs. Will it make the top 10 on this week's Hot 100? Find out later today when we post Chart Watch: Songs.

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

1. Adele, 21, 114,000. The album logs its 10th week at #1 in its 16th week on the chart. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Rolling In The Deep," which logs its sixth straight week at #1.

2. Lady Gaga, Born This Way, 100,000. The album slips to #2 after two weeks on top. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "The Edge Of Glory," which dips from #4 to #5.

3. Original Cast Album, The Book Of Mormon, 61,000. This is the first cast album to appear in the top three since Hair spent 20 consecutive weeks in the top three in 1969. It's #1 on Top Digital Albums.

4. Tech N9ne, All 6's And 7's, 56,000. This new entry is the rapper's first top 10 album. Killer, Sickology 101 and K.O.D. all peaked in the second half of the top 20. The album enters Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums at #1. It's his first #1 on that chart.

5. Ronnie Dunn, Ronnie Dunn, 45,000. This new entry is Dunn's first solo album, following a long string of hit albums with former partner Kix Brooks. Brooks & Dunn had nine top 10 albums between 1991 and 2009. "Bleed Red" jumps from #110 to #80 on Hot Digital Songs.

6. All Time Low, Dirty Work, 44,000. This new entry is the group's second straight top five album. Nothing Personal hit #4 in July 2009. "Time-Bomb" enters Hot Digital Songs at #136.

7. Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party, 41,000. The album holds at #7 for the second week in its 32nd week on the chart. This is its 10th week in the top 10. Three songs  from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Dirt Road Anthem," which jumps from #16 to #4.

8. Brad Paisley, This Is Country Music, 38,000. The album drops from #6 to #8 in its third week on the chart. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Remind Me," a duet with Carrie Underwood, debuts at #43. "Old Alabama" (featuring Alabama) drops from #68 to #75.

9. Various Artists, Now 38, 31,000. The album drops from #7 to #9 in its sixth week on the chart. It has been in the top 10 the entire time. It has sold 359K copies.

10.  Death Cab for Cutie, Codes And Keys, 30,000. The album drops from #3 to #10 in its second week. It has sold 133K copies in its first two weeks.

Four albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Eddie Vedder's Ukulele Songs drops from #4 to #11, My Morning Jacket's Circuital drops from #5 to #18, Flogging Molly's Speed Of Darkness plummets from #9 to #58 and Glee: The Music, Season Two, Vol. 6 drops from #10 to #21. Glee: Vol. 6 is the #1 soundtrack for the third straight week.

Quiz Answer: Wynonna is the only other artist (besides Ronnie Dunn) to reach #1 on Top Country Albums both in a group or duo and as a solo artist. She topped the chart four times in the Judds (with her mother Naomi Judd) and has since reached the summit three times on her own. (Note: I'm not counting collaborations involving solo artists as "groups or duos.") I'll give you half credit if you answered John Rich. Rich has topped the Country Albums chart as part of a group (Lonestar) and as part of a duo (Big & Rich), but not yet as a solo artist.

Tedeschi Trucks Band's Revelator enters The Billboard 200 at #12. This is the first album by the 11-member group which is headed by Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks (who are married). Tedeschi received a Grammy nomination as Best New Artist of 1999 (she lost to Christina Aguilera).

Arctic Monkeys' Suck It And See debuts at #14. It's the band's third top 15 album in a row, following Favourite Worst Nightmare and Humbug. Suck It... debuts at #1 in the U.K., displacing Lady Gaga's album. This is the band's fourth album in a row to debut at #1 in that market, following Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not and the two other just-named titles. Only three other acts have debuted at #1 with four straight albums in the U.K.: George Michael (1987-1998), Boyzone (1995-1999) and Keane (2004-2010). ("Suck It And See" is a colloquial expression, common in Britain and Australia, which means "to try something new to discover what it's like." So it's not a prurient title, as many pop fans will assume, given some of the titles we've seen on the charts this year.)

Def Leppard's Mirrorball debuts at #16. The album, a two-CD with DVD combo, is a Walmart exclusive. Def Leppard first charted in May 1980 with On Through The Night. The band first cracked the top 20 in February 1983 with Pyromania. The band joins a long line of "heritage" acts (such as Eagles and Journey) to strike exclusive deals with Walmart. (Sarah McLachlan released a live album titled Mirrorball in 1999. It reached #3. But we seem to have run out of good album titles.)

I have more good news for Def Leppard. The band's 1995 compilation Vault: Greatest Hits 1980-1995 tops the 5 million mark in sales this week.

Randy Travis' Anniversary Celebration debuts at #19. The collection marks Travis' 25th anniversary as a country star. Travis first hit the country album chart in June 1986 with Storms Of Life...Adele's 2008 album 19 drops from #15 to #24. It's  #1 on Top Catalog Albums for the 15th time in the past 17 weeks...Country Strong drops from #71 to #96. It's the top-ranking soundtrack to a theatrically released movie for the 15th week. (Will somebody please put out a hit movie soundtrack?)

The Broadway cast album to the latest revival of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, starring Daniel Radcliffe, debuts at #122. The cast album to the original 1961 production, starring Robert Morse, peaked at #19. The cast album to the 1995 revival, starring Matthew Broderick, didn't chart. Radcliffe sang "The Brotherhood Of Man" on the Tonys.

Coming Attractions: Jackie Evancho's Dream With Me and Bad Meets Evil's Hell: The Sequel will debut at #1 and #2 next week, though it's not yet clear which will come out on top. Bad Meets Evil is a collabo featuring Eminem and Royce Da 5'9''. Owl City's All Things Bright And Beautiful will also debut in the top 10. Barry Manilow's 15 Minutes may also crack the top 10. Also due: Black Veil Brides' Set The World On Fire, Now Country 4, Neil Young & the International Harvesters' A Treasure, Ledisi's Pieces Of MeZiggy Marley's Wild And Free, Andy Grammer's Andy Grammer and Madeleine Peyroux's Standing On The Rooftop.

Trey Parker & Matt Stone photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

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