Chart Watch

Week Ending June 22, 2008: Coldplay On A Hot Streak

Chart Watch

Coldplay lands its second straight #1 album as Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends opens at #1. The album sold 721,000 copies in its first week, just a shade less than the group's first-week tally with its previous album, X&Y, which bowed with sales of 737,000 in June 2005. Coldplay is the first act with back-to-back albums that topped the 700,000 mark in sales the first week out since Kanye West did it with Late Registration in 2005 and Graduation in 2007.

In just one week, Viva La Vida has become the #10 best-seller so far in 2008. If it holds up through the rest of the year-and it probably will-it will become Coldplay's third straight studio album to finish among the year's top 10 sellers. A Rush Of Blood To The Head, released in late summer 2002, was the #10 album of 2003. X&Y was #6 for 2005.

Coldplay's eye-popping debut comes just one week after Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III opened with sales of 1,006,000. This marks the first time in nearly four years in which two albums have topped the 700,000 mark in back-to-back weeks. (It last happened in November 2004 when Eminem's Encore and U2's How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb achieved the feat). This is the first time in more than eight years that two albums have debuted at #1 with sales north of 700,000 in back-to-back weeks. (This last happened in May 2000 when Britney Spears' Oops!...I Did It Again and Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP opened big.)

Tha Carter III slips to #2, with second-week sales of 309,000. Of the 15 albums that have sold a million copies in one week in the Nielsen/SoundScan era, this is the third to log just a single week on top. N Sync's Celebrity and Britney Spears' Oops!...I Did It Again also fell to #2 in the week following their million-unit weeks. (This is also the lowest sales tally any album has had in the week immediately following a million-unit week.) On the plus side, in just two weeks, Tha Carter III has surpassed Jack Johnson's Sleep Through The Static, which has been out for 20 weeks, to become the best-selling album so far in 2008.

This week's sales total for Viva La Vida includes 288,000 digital downloads, which constitutes a new weekly record. It's more than twice the old record-setting total (139,000) that Sleep Through The Static ran up in February. Moreover, in just one week, Viva La Vida has topped Sleep as the album with the most paid downloads in 2008. Sleep's current total is 283,000.

There's still more: Viva La Vida has sold more digital downloads in this one week than any previous album has in an entire calendar year.  The previous best mark for an entire year was Maroon 5's It Won't Be Soon Before Long, which sold 252,000 downloads in 2007. And Viva La Vida has sold more downloads in this one week than any previous Coldplay album has in its entire run. The previous best mark for a Coldplay album was X&Y, which has sold 248,000 digital copies to date.

All three of Coldplay's previous studio albums surge this week, enabling the group to hold down three of the top five spots on the Catalog Albums chart. X&Y jumps from #11 to #1 with sales of 13,000 copies. It would have ranked #47 on the big chart if older, catalog albums were allowed to compete there. A Rush Of Blood To The Head and Parachutes, both of which previously topped this chart, jump to #4 and #5, respectively.

Coldplay's Chris Martin married actress Gwyneth Paltrow on December 5, 2003. The marriage made Martin more of a publicity magnet and it certainly didn't hurt Coldplay's album sales. Both of the group's albums since the marriage have debuted at #1. None of the group's releases before the marriage (two studio albums and a live set) ever climbed above #5. But Coldplay was clearly on the ascendancy before the wedding. As I noted earlier, the group had clinched a spot in the top 10 of 2003 before anyone said "I do."

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

1. Coldplay, Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends, 721,000. This is Coldplay's second #1 album in a row, following X&Y. Coldplay is the first English group to reach #1 with back-to-back studio albums since Def Leppard scored with Hysteria in 1988 and Adrenalize in 1992.  Seven songs from Viva La Vida are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by the title song, which falls to #3 after logging three weeks at #1.

2. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III, 309,000. The rapper slips to #2 in his second week. But look at it this way: Except for last week, this is the biggest sales week of Lil Wayne's career, topping the 238,000 first-week number for Tha Carter II. Also, Tha Carter III has sold 1,316,000 copies in just two weeks-more than any other album has sold so far this year and nearly as many as Tha Carter II has sold in its entire run. Six songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Lollipop" (featuring Static Major), which dips from #7 to #8.

3. Various Artists, Camp Rock soundtrack, 188,000. This TV soundtrack features one track by Jonas Brothers and a solo by middle brother Joe Jonas. The album sold nearly three times as many copies in its first week as the trio's Jonas Brothers sold when it debuted at #5 in August. Of course, the brothers are like a million times hotter now, ohmigod!!!! Camp Rock aired three times over the weekend. Its premiere Friday on the Disney Channel drew 8.86 million viewers. Five songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by Demi Lovato's "This Is Me," which opens at #2.

4. Various Artists, Now 28, 81,000. Two weeks after debuting at #2, this dips from #3 to #4.  The first Now volume took 11 weeks to reach the top 10 (in January 1999). Every subsequent regular installment in the series has debuted in the top 10.

5. Plies, Definition Of Real, 68,000. This falls from #2 to #5 in its second week. The rapper's 2007 debut album, Real Testament, took an even bigger dive in its second week. It slipped from #2 to #9. (Will Plies work the word "Real" into the title of his third album? Place your bets.) "Bust It Baby Pt. 2," featuring Ne-Yo, dips from #21 to #25 on Hot Digital Songs.

6. Usher, Here I Stand, 65,000. Usher dips from #5 to #6 in his fourth week. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by the former #1 "Love In This Club" (featuring Young Jeezy), which falls from #16 to #30.

7. Rihanna, Good Girl Gone Bad, 63,000. An expanded, Reloaded edition helps this platinum seller vault from #124 to #7 in its 55th week. This puts the album back in the top 10 for the first time since June 2007, when it spent its first two weeks in the winners circle. The album registered a sales increase of 930%--more than any other non-debuting album. Five songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Disturbia," which debuts at #6.

8. Disturbed, Indestructible, 59,000. Two weeks after debuting at #1, the album drops from #4 to #8. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Inside The Fire," which dips from #84 to #90.

9. Katy Perry, One Of The Boys, 47,000. This debut album, a new entry this week, features the smash single "I Kissed A Girl," which jumps to #1 on Hot Digital Songs. The song sold 235,000 downloads this week, bringing its seven-week total to 988,000.

10. The Offspring, Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace, 46,000. This new entry is The Offspring's sixth top 10 album. The band's best-seller was Smash, which reached #4 in October 1994 and became the #9 album of the year. Its highest-charting album was Americana, which hit #2 in 1999. The new album has already climbed higher than the band's last studio album, Splinter, which stalled at #30 in 2003. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "You're Gonna Go Far, Kid," which debuts at #93.

Five albums fall out of the top 10. Journey's Revelation drops from #6 to #12, Weezer's Weezer dips from #10 to #13, Alanis Morissette's Flavors Of Entanglement falls from #8 to #15, N.E.R.D.'s Seeing Sounds drops from #7 to #20 and My Morning Jacket's Evil Urges dives from #9 to #24. Sales of N.E.R.D.'s album fell by 70%--a steeper decline than any other album in the top 200.

Judas Priest lands the highest-charting album of its 30-year career as Nostradamus opens at #11. The concept album about the 16th Century seer bows two points higher than the group's last album, Angel Of Retribution, which debuted (and peaked) at #13 in 2005. The band was on life support in 2001, when Demolition peaked at #165 and spent just one week in the top 200.  But these back-to-back hits have given the band new life. They have also proved the wisdom of the adage, "It's always darkest before the dawn."

Movie Watch: Three of this past weekend's top 10 box-office hits are rip-offs, er, spin-offs of prime-time TV series. Get Smart is #1, The Incredible Hulk is #2 and Sex And The City is #8. While we're on the topic, Sex And The City is the #1 movie soundtrack for the fourth week in a row. On the big chart, it slips from #12 to #22.

Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway this week tops the 6 million mark in sales. It's the second album by an American Idol alum to reach this milestone. Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts hit 6 million in November. (Its current tally is 6,465,000.) Breakaway was Clarkson's sophomore album, while Some Hearts was Underwood's debut. Breakaway won a Grammy as Best Pop Vocal Album-beating Paul McCartney, no less.

Download This: In 20 weeks of release, Jack Johnson's Sleep Through The Static has sold more downloads than any of his previous albums have in their entire runs. With 283,000 paid downloads, Sleep surpasses In Between Dreams, which has sold 282,000 downloads from its release in 2005 until this week. Johnson continues to be the only artist with three albums in the top 30 on Nielsen/SoundScan's running list of the albums with the most paid downloads. Sleep is #9, In Between Dreams is #10 and his 2006 Curious George soundtrack is #29.

R.I.P.: Not many recordings trigger U.S. Supreme Court decisions, but one that did was George Carlin's "Filthy Words," a track from his 1973 album, Occupation: Foole. Carlin, a brilliant wordsmith and cultural critic, died Sunday night. Carlin had five consecutive top 40 albums from 1972 through 1975, topped by FM & AM, which hit #13 in 1972. In 1975, he hosted the first episode of Saturday Night Live. Carlin had a good run, stretching from the era of getting loaded to the era of getting downloaded.

Heads Up: None of this week's new releases seems strong enough to dislodge Coldplay from the #1 spot. The albums that will give it their best shot include Three 6 Mafia's Last 2 Walk, Motley Crue's Saints Of Los Angeles, Dwele's Sketches Of A Man, Billy Idol's Idolize Yourself , Shinedown's The Sound Of Madness, Thalia's Lunada and Sigur Ros's Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust.

Useless Information: Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends is a very long title (nine words), but that's not a record for a #1 album. In 2002, Diddy put together a #1 album with an 11-word title, P. Diddy & Bad Boy Records Present...We Invented The Remix. For verbosity (and maybe pomposity), it's hard to top Diddy.

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