Chart Watch

Week Ending June 6, 2010: “Surf’s Up” And “Wipe Out”

Chart Watch

This was a good week for Jack Johnson, but another bad week for the music business. The good news first: Johnson's To The Sea enters The Billboard 200 at #1. The album sold 243,000 copies in its first week, the heftiest one-week tally since Usher's Raymond V Raymond started with sales of 329,000 in April. This ends an eight-week streak in which the #1 album sold fewer than 150,000 copies.

So what's the bad news? Two albums made the top 10 with the slimmest sales of any top 10 album since Nielsen/SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard in May 1991. Clay Aiken's Tried And True debuts at #9 with sales of 22,000 copies. Ke$ha's Animal rebounds from #17 to #10 (in its 22nd week) with sales of just 20,000. The previous low (since 1991) for a top 10 album was held by T.I.'s Paper Trail, which ranked #10 (in its 23rd week) in March 2009 with sales of 24,000.

Overall album sales picked up a bit this week over last week's record-setting low. Nielsen/SoundScan reports that 5,163,000 albums were sold in the U.S. in the week ending June 6, up from 4,984,000 last week. That was the lowest one-week total since Nielsen/SoundScan began compiling this data in January 1994.

Total weekly album sales topped 8.5 million in every week from Jan. 9, 1994 through Jan. 7, 2007. And then things started to slip. Total weekly album sales dropped below 8 million for the first time in the week ending April 29, 2007. They slipped below 7 million for the first time in the week ending Jan. 20, 2008; below 6 million for the first time in the week ending Jan. 18, 2009; and below 5 million for the first time last week.

I put these numbers up high in the blog because they're important, but I don't want to give Johnson's debut short shrift. Selling a quarter-million copies of an album in one week is an impressive achievement. This is Johnson's second biggest opening-week tally, topped only by Sleep Through The Static, which sold 375,000 copies in its first week in February 2008. To The Sea is Johnson's third consecutive album to open in the top spot, following the Curious George soundtrack and Sleep Through The Static.

To The Sea sold 114,000 digital copies, which represented 47% of its total. (It's the week's #1 Digital Album.) Johnson has long been a leading digital artist. He's the only artist with two of the top 20 digital albums of all time. In Between Dreams is #10. Sleep Through The Static is #12.

To The Sea also enters the U.K. chart at #1. It's the first 2010 release to top the chart in both the U.S. and the U.K. It's Johnson's second album in a row to reach #1 in both countries. Johnson is only the fifth artist in the past five years to have a pair of transatlantic #1 albums. He follows Coldplay, Madonna, Eminem and Bruce Springsteen.

The nature-saluting title of Johnson's album, To The Sea, has a poignant resonance in light of the tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"California Gurls" by Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg tops Hot Digital Songs for the third time in the past four weeks. The summer smash sold 318,000 copies this week, which is the third highest weekly tally so far this year. It trails only Eminem's "Not Afraid," which sold 379K in May, and Taylor Swift's "Today Was A Fairytale," which sold 325K in January. In just four weeks, "California Gurls" has sold 1,112,000 copies. It's the first song to top the 1 million mark in just four weeks in 2010.

The song moves up from #2 to #1 on the Hot 100, becoming Perry's second #1. Her debut hit, "I Kissed A Girl," topped the chart for seven weeks in 2008. It's Snoop's second #1 in a featured role. He supported Akon on "I Wanna Love You," which topped the chart in December 2006. "California Gurls" is the second California song to top the Hot 100, following Eagles' "Hotel California" in 1977. (Al Jolson had a smash in 1924 with "California, Here I Come," but that was 16 years before the advent of a definitive national pop song chart.)

Justin Bieber's My World 2.0 rebounds from #3 to #2 on The Billboard 200. The album has never ranked below #5. The album's key hit, "Baby" (featuring Ludacris), tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads this week. It's Bieber's first song to reach this level. Jonas Brothers, his immediate predecessors as America's #1 teen idols, never quite reached this level. JoBros' best-selling song, "Burnin' Up," has sold 1,707,000 copies.

Lady Antebellum's Need You Now holds at #4 in its 19th week. The album is #1 on Top Country Albums for the 19th straight week. It's the first album to spend its first 19 weeks at #1 on this key chart since Garth Brooks' Ropin' The Wind spent its first 29 weeks at #1 in 1991-1992. Brooks holds the all-time record. (Prior to Ropin', no albums had ever debuted at #1 on the country chart.) Will Lady A match Brooks' record? At this point, I wouldn't bet against them, but it gets harder and harder to stay on top as the weeks go by.

Clay Aiken's Tried & True bows at #9. Aiken has sold 4,937,000 albums, a total topped by only four contestants in American Idol history. Aiken trails Carrie Underwood (11,658,000), Kelly Clarkson (10,583,000) and Daughtry (5,770,000). It's noteworthy  that two of the four best-selling Idol contestants, Aiken and Chris Daughtry, didn't win the competition.

Eminem's "Not Afraid," which holds at #5 on Hot Digital Songs, tops the 1 million mark in paid downloads in just its fifth week. So far this year, only "California Gurls" has reached the 1 million mark as fast (or faster).

Remarkably, both participants in the recent smash "Nothin' On You" are already back in the top five on Hot Digital Songs. B.o.B holds at #2 with "Airplanes" (featuring Hayley Williams). Bruno Mars is featured on Travie McCoy's "Billionaire," which jumps from #8 to #4. On the Hot 100, "Billionaire" leaps from #11 to #5. It's the second top 10 hit on that chart to give Brad Pitt a name-check, following Shania Twain's 1999 smash "That Don't Impress Me Much." In the current hit, Pitt and companion Angelina Jolie are cited for adopting underprivileged kids. In Twain's song, Pitt was cited for being a hunk. I imagine he enjoys them both, for different reasons.

The Black Eyed Peas' "Rock That Body" jumps from #14 to #7 on Hot Digital Songs and from #16 to #9 on the Hot 100. It's the fifth top 10 hit from The E.N.D. on both charts.

"Miss Me" by Drake featuring Lil Wayne is the top new entry on Hot Digital Songs at #8. Drake has a second hit in the top 20. "Find Your Love" inches up from #17 to #16 in its fifth week. Drake's 2009 breakthrough smash "Best I Ever Had" has sold 1,885,000 copies. His subsequent hit "Forever" (featuring Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Eminem) has sold 1,972,000 copies. (Think what it might sold done if Drake had been able to get some big names to back him up.)

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

1. Jack Johnson, To The Sea, 243,000. This new entry is Johnson's fifth album to debut in the top three; his third in a row to debut at #1. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "You And Your Heart," which vaults from #111 to #51.

2. Justin Bieber, My World 2.0., 52,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #3 to #2. This is its 11th week in the top five. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Eenie Meenie" (duet with Sean Kingston), which dips from #19 to #21.

3. Various Artists, Glee: The Music, Volume 3: Showstoppers, 45,000. The former #1 album slips to #3 in its third week. Seven songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Poker Face" (featuring Idina Menzel), which drops from #9 to #44.

4. Lady Antebellum, Need You Now, 41,000. The former #1 album holds at #4. This is its 19th week in the top 10. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Need You Now" drops from #23 to #27. "American Honey" drops from #55 to #64.

5. Usher, Raymond V Raymond, 35,000. The former #1 album holds at #5. This is its 10th week in the top 10. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "OMG" (featuring will.i.am), which holds at #3.

6. Lady Gaga, The Fame, 33,000. The album holds at #6 in its 84th week. This is its 46th week in the top 10. Six songs from the expanded version of the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Alejandro," which dips from #6 to #9.

7. Carole King/James Taylor, Live At The Troubadour, 25,000. The album jumps from #9 to #7 in its fifth week. This is its fourth week in the top 10. Thirty-nine years ago this week, Tapestry reached #1 on The Billboard 200 and the letter-perfect "It's Too Late" hit #1 on the Hot 100.

8. Taio Cruz, Rokstarr, 24,000. This new entry is Cruz's first U.S. album. More than 15,000 copies of the album (65%) were sold digitally. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Break Your Heart" (featuring Ludacris), which dips from #10 to #11.

9. Clay Aiken, Tried & True, 22,000. This new entry is Aiken's fifth top 10 album. In the Nielsen/SoundScan era, no album has ever debuted in the top 10 with a slimmer sales tally.

10. Ke$ha, Animal, 20,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #17 to #10 in its 22nd week. This is its sixth week in the top 10. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Your Love Is My Drug," which dips from #4 to #6.

The Rolling Stones' Exile On Main St. drops from #7 to #21. The 1972 classic is the #1 Catalog album for the third straight week. Three other albums drop out of the top 10. Stone Temple Pilots' Stone Temple Pilots crashes from #2 to #16, The Black Keys' Brothers drops from #8 to #15, and Damian Marley & Nas' Distant Relatives drops from #10 to #18.

AC/DC's Iron Man 2 drops from #14 to #19. It is the #1 movie soundtrack for the sixth time in the past seven weeks. It regains the title from Sex And The City 2, which snuck in last week. This week, Sex 2 tumbles from #13 to #30 on The Billboard 200...Staying on the movie beat, Shrek Forever Ever was #1 at the box-office for the third straight weekend.

Lee DeWyze's  cover of U2's "Beautiful Day" drops from #24 to #72 in its second week on the Hot 100. That makes it the lowest-charting "coronation song" by an American Idol winner. Here are the eight previous coronation songs, with their Hot 100 peak positions: Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like This" (#1), Ruben Studdard's "Flying Without Wings" (#2), Fantasia's "I Believe" (#1), Carrie Underwood's "Inside Your Heaven" (#1), Taylor Hicks' "Do I Make You Proud" (#1), Jordin Sparks' "This Is My Now" (#15), David Cook's "The Time Of My Life" (#3) and Kris Allen's "No Boundaries" (#11).

I want to remind you that DeWyze was the first Idol winner who wasn't given a new coronation song. It's more than a little unfair to judge him based on his cover version of a U2 classic. Also, coronation songs are just the starting point, not the finish line. Sparks, for example, followed the tepid showing of "This Is My Now" with back-to-back top 10 hits ("Tattoo" and "No Air").

Incidentally, this is the second time that "Beautiful Day" has just missed the top 20 on the Hot 100. U2's original version peaked at #21 in January 2001. I've always been baffled why it didn't climb higher. It was a superb pop single. (It won Grammys for Record and Song of the Year.) Timing may have worked against it. That was the height of the teen pop/boy band boom. Anybody out there have a theory on why this exhilarating pop song wasn't a top five smash?

Song Scorecard: Leona Lewis' 2008 smash "Bleeding Love" tops the 4 million mark in paid downloads. Lewis was the winner on the British TV talent show The X Factor in December 2006. Surprisingly, "Bleeding Love" has sold more digital copies than any song released by any American Idol winner (or contestant, for that matter). The top-selling song by an Idol contestant is "No Air" by Jordin Sparks (and Chris Brown), which has sold 3,143,000 copies.

Buckcherry's 2006 hit "Crazy B***h" tops the 2 million mark. It's the first song with an R-rated word in its title to reach this sales level..."I Made It (Cash Money Heroes)" by Kevin Rudolf featuring Birdman, Jay Sean and Lil Wayne tops the 1 million mark.

Frenchman David Guetta lands his third #1 hit in the U.K. with "Gettin' Over You" (featuring Chris Willis). He previous led the chart with "When Love Takes Over" (featuring Kelly Rowland) and "Sexy Chick" (featuring Akon).

Heads Up: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Glee: The Music: Journey To Regionals and Christina Aguilera's Bionic will be the top three debuts next week, probably in that order. All three are expected to debut with sales north of 100,000 copies. Also due: Plies' Goon Affiliated, Dierks Bentley's Up On The Ridge, Jewel's Sweet And Wild, Clay Walker's She Won't Be Lonely Long, Travie McCoy's Lazarus, Saving Abel's Miss America, and an eponymous album by Grace Potter & The Nocturnals.

Shameless Plug: If you missed my Chart Watch Extra last week listing the R&B oldies that have sold the best in the digital era, here's a link. Michael Jackson dominates the list, just as Johnny Cash dominated the equivalent country list I compiled recently. I guess that's why they call them legends.

R.I.P. Marvin Isley, who helped energize the Isley Brothers in the '70s with the million-sellers "That Lady (Part 1)" and "Fight The Power (Part 1)," died on Sunday. He was 56. Isley was a member of the top-rank R&B group from 1973 to 1984, at which time he helped form Isley, Jasper, Isley. That trio's biggest hit was "Caravan Of Love."

Jon Konjoyan of JK Promotions in Los Angeles read my item a few weeks ago about "Telephone" by Lady Gaga featuring Beyonce topping the 2 million mark in paid downloads. What struck him wasn't the information, but the accompanying photo of Gaga and B in the front seat of a car.

The image looked vaguely familiar. Konjoyan searched his pop memory bank and finally remembered a similar shot of the Carpenters. This photo was used as the cover of their 1973 album Now & Then, which reached #2 on The Billboard 200. Karen and Richard were right. It really is "Yesterday Once More."

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