Michael Jackson always liked to set records. He sets quite a few of them this week.Jackson 5 and later the Jacksons. (I'm even throwing in "We Are The World," which he wrote and on which he was featured.) Last year, by way of comparison, David Cook and Joe Jonas each put 17 songs on the chart in one week. Jackson kind of leaves them in the dust.
Jackson has six songs in the top 10 on Hot Digital Songs. "Thriller" is #2, kept out of the top spot by the Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" (see item below). "Man In The Mirror" is #3, followed by "Billie Jean" at #4, "The Way You Make Me Feel" at #6, "Beat It" at #7 and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" at #8. Nine of Jackson's songs topped the 100,000 mark in paid downloads this week-those six hits plus "Smooth Criminal," "Black Or White" and "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)."the Beatles and AC/DC. Number Ones, first released in 2003, sold 108,000 copies this week. The two-CD The Essential Michael Jackson, first released in 2005, sold 102,000 copies. Thriller, first released in 1982, sold 101,000. It's the first time since at least 1992 that one artist has topped the 100,000 mark with three albums in the same week. Even Garth Brooks at his peak didn't do that. Jackson has a total of 16 albums on the top 200 Digital Albums chart.
Number Ones vaults from #121 to #1 in the U.K., where Jackson was slated to open a 50-date engagement later this month. Jackson is the first artist to top the British chart posthumously since Elvis Presley scored in August 2007 with The King. Number Ones debuted at #1 in the U.K. when it was first released in 2003. (In the U.S., it debuted and peaked at #13.)
Before this week, six catalog albums had sold enough copies to make the top 10 on The Billboard 200, but were ineligible to appear on the chart. These albums were Pearl Jam's Ten in March, Jackson's Thriller 25 in 2008 and the Grease soundtrack in 1998, as well as three resurging holiday titles: Kenny G's Miracles-The Holiday Album in 1995 and 1996, Il Divo's The Christmas Collection in 2006 and Josh Groban's Noel in 2008.
For the record, I think the top 10 on The Billboard 200 should consist of the week's 10 best-selling albums, whether they're current or catalog. (That all-inclusiveness is the great strength of The Billboard 200. The chart includes everything that sells, from Josh Groban to AC/DC; from a digital-only release to an elaborate box set.) In late 2007, Billboard and Nielsen/SoundScan wisely rescinded their policy that barred "exclusive" albums (albums sold in only one retail chain) from The Billboard 200. In the same spirit, I think they should modify their policy that bars catalog albums from the big chart. (The idea behind moving catalog titles off the chart is to give new albums needed visibility.) The ideal solution might be to allow albums that sold well enough to make the top 10 to receive the recognition they've earned. The top 10, after all, is the part of the chart that is reprinted in newspapers and websites around the world.
In death, Jackson has given a boost to the digital music phenomenon. This week's top 200 Digital Songs sold a combined total of 7,003,000 downloads, a big jump from last week, when the top 200 sold 5,361,000 downloads. Likewise, this week's top 200 Digital Albums sold 596,000 downloads, a big gain from last week's tally of 420,000.Men At Work's Business As Usual topped the chart for 15 consecutive weeks. The Aussie group had a few appealing hits and videos, but the fact that a debut album by a group that left such light footprints on the pop scene was able to spend that much time at #1 suggests that there wasn't much else going on. But the release of Thriller kicked off a two-year period that was among the most exciting in pop music history. By the end of 1984, we also saw hit albums by David Bowie, The Police, Lionel Richie, Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, Bruce Springsteen and Prince & the Revolution.
I'll have more on Jackson at the end of this week's blog, but we should get to the top 10.
Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 albums.The Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D., 88,000. The album returns to #1 its third week. It's the first album to regain the top spot after losing it since Taylor Swift's Fearless. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "I Gotta Feeling," which holds at #1. Jonas Brothers, Lines, Vines And Trying Times, 68,000. The album slips to #2 after debuting at #1 last week. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Paranoid," which falls to #86. Regina Spektor, Far, 50,000. This new entry is Spektor's first top 10 album. She first charted in 2006 with Begin To Hope, which reached #20. Dave Matthews Band, Big Whiskey And The Groogrux King, 47,000. The former #1 album dips from #3 to #4 in its fourth week. "Funny The Way It Is" slips to #129 on Hot Digital Songs. Eminem, Relapse, 47,000. The former #1 album dips from #4 to #5 in its sixth week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "We Made You," which falls to #114. Dream Theater, Black Clouds And Silver Linings, 40,000. This new entry is the hard rock band's first top 10 album in a career dating back to 1993. The band's previous highest-charting album was 1994's Awake, which peaked at #32. Lady GaGa, The Fame, 37,000. The album dips from #6 to #8. This is its 19th week in the top 10. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Lovegame," which falls to #15. "Lovegame" tops the 1 million mark in paid downloads this week. GaGa is the only hit-maker to sell as many as 1 million digital copies of three different songs in 2009. Ginuwine, A Man's Thoughts, 37,000. This new entry is the R&B star's fourth top 10 album. Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana, Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack, 34,000. The former #1 album drops from #8 to #10. This is its 14th week in the top 10. It's the first theatrical movie soundtrack to spend its first 14 weeks in the top 10 since the Eminem-dominated 8 Mile in 2002-2003. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "The Climb," which falls to #39.
Four albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Incubus' Moments And Melodies drops from #5 to #24, Chickenfoot's Chickenfoot falls from #7 to #15, Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown drops from #9 to #14 and Taylor Swift's Fearless dips from #10 to #11.
The Mars Volta's Octahedron opens at #12. This represents a sub-par opening for the band, which has had three top 10 albums, including last year's Bedlam In Goliath. (Memo to The Mars Volta: Please have mercy on writers. No more album titles like Octahedron and Amputechture where we always have to double-check the spelling. Thanks.)Flo Rida featuring T Pain in 2007-2008. (The Peas, of course, needed two hits to stay on top this long, while Flo Rida did it with just one hit, "Low."). But the Peas have Flo Rida beat in one respect: The Peas have topped the 200,000 mark in paid downloads in all 13 of these weeks. Flo topped that mark in only two of his 13 weeks on top with "Low." (I've been telling you that the download market is exploding.) The Peas' initial hit, "Boom Boom Pow," tops the 3 million mark in paid downloads this week.
Song Scorecard: "Don't Trust Me" by 3OH!3 tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads this week. The song, with its irreverent line about Helen Keller, is one of the loopiest songs ever to become a smash. And I mean that in a good way.
More Michael: Jackson ranks #8 among the hit-makers of the rock era in the upcoming 12th edition of Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-2008. Joel was kind enough to give me a preview of the top 10 list for his next edition, which is due in late August. The list is based on the artists' chart performance on the Hot 100. Here's the list: 1) Elvis Presley, 2) The Beatles, 3) Elton John, 4) Madonna, 5) Mariah Carey, 6) Stevie Wonder, 7) Janet Jackson, 8) Michael Jackson, 9) James Brown, and 10) The Rolling Stones. And here's a link to Joel's site.Ben" hit #1, while "Burning Love" climbed to #4. Both were milestone hits for these pop legends. "Ben" was Jackson's first #1 solo hit; "Burning Love was Presley's last top 10 hit. And both songs capture the performers' essences-Michael's child-like yearning and Elvis' sensuality and energy.
Last Friday, I posted a Chart Watch Extra in which I recounted Jackson's lifetime spent on the charts. If you missed it, here's a link.Rob Thomas and Brad Paisley to debut in the top 10 next week. Thomas is in line to pick up his sixth top 10 album (counting Matchbox Twenty releases) with Cradlesong, his follow-up to his chart-topping solo debut, ...Something To Be. Paisley is expected to pick up his fifth top 10 album with American Saturday Night, his first regular vocal album since 5th Gear hit #3 in 2007. Wilco, which has had two top 10 albums, may be back in the top 10 with Wilco (The Album). Also due: NOW 31, Killswitch Engage's Engage, Maino's If Tomorrow Comes, Jeremih's Jeremih and Ace Hood's Ruthless.
Shameless Plug: This week marks the end of the first six months of 2009. On Friday, I'll have a Chart Watch Extra in which I count down the top 10 albums and the top 10 digital songs for the first half. I won't spill the beans just yet, but I will tell you that only two acts appear in the top 10 on both mid-year lists: Lady GaGa and Miley Cyrus.