Chart Watch

Week Ending March 1, 2009: They’re Not Exactly “Burnin’ Up”

Chart Watch

Jonas Brothers have this week's #2 movie and #3 album. There are worse fates for an act that was largely unknown two years ago, but the brothers' management team and the Disney empire can't be thrilled about the numbers behind the numbers. Music From The 3D Concert Experience enters the Billboard 200 at #3. It sold 50,000 copies in its first week, less than one-tenth of what the brothers' last album, A Little Bit Longer, sold (525,000) when it debuted at #1 in August. It didn't even match what Jonas Brothers sold (69,000) in its first week in August 2007, when the brothers were just stepping up to stardom. The movie grossed $12.5 million, less than half of what Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana's Best Of Both Worlds Concert movie grossed ($31.1 million) in its opening weekend a year ago. And JoBros' movie was in far more theaters (1,271) than Cyrus' (683). The math whizzes at crunched the numbers and found that the per-theater average was $9,843 for JoBros' movie and $45,561 for Cyrus.'

In fairness, the first-week box-office tally on Cyrus' movie was high because fans were led to believe that the movie would have just a one-week run. There was no such time pressure on Jonas fans. And the brothers' album is off to a faster start than Cyrus' Best Of Both Worlds Concert album, which debuted at #10 in March and peaked at #3 five weeks later. Besides, concert albums don't tend to sell as well as regular studio albums, so there's reason to think the brothers will regain ground with their next studio album. Breakout, Cyrus' studio album after Best Of Both Worlds Concert, has sold nearly three times better than her concert album (1,380,000 copies, as of this week, compared to 486,000).

Still, given the avalanche of exposure the brothers have received in recent weeks, from performing on the Grammys with Stevie Wonder to appearing on Barbara Walters' Oscar-night special, one might reasonably have expected more. The music business is tough on artists, and no sphere of the music business is as tough on artists as teen-idoldom. But there are success stories. What many people missed in thinking the Wonder/Jonas collabo on the Grammys was so incongruous is that Wonder, too, started as a teen star. He was 13 when he landed his first #1 album and #1 single in 1963. Beyonce and Justin Timberlake are also shining examples of what can happen for a lucky few former teen stars. Sadly, there are far more cases of teen sensations, even talented ones like Hanson, who don't have longevity. No one yet knows which camp JoBros will fall into. I wish them good luck in navigating this rocky passage.

Another soundtrack, Slumdog Millionaire, vaults from #22 to #4, one week after the movie won eight Academy Awards. Slumdog is the first soundtrack to an Oscar-winning Best Picture to reach the top 10 since Chicago six years ago. It's the first soundtrack to an Oscar-winning Best Picture to reach the top 10 only after the Oscar telecast since Rocky 32 years ago.  The movie grossed $12.2 million over the weekend, to take the #3 spot on the box office chart. This brings its total gross to date to $115.1 million.

"Jai Ho," the Oscar-winning song from Slumdog, vaults from #76 to #7 on Hot Digital Songs. This combines the download activity for A.R. Rahman's original version, which is featured on the soundtrack, and a remix which features the Pussycat Dolls. The two versions are listed separately on Hot Digital Tracks, which allows us to see which version is more popular in the download world. The result may surprise you. The original version sold 103,000 downloads this week. The version featuring the Pussycat Dolls, subtitled "You Are My Destiny," sold 27,000. That version is getting more radio airplay. As a result, it vaults from #100 to #15 on the Hot 100. It's the highest-ranking Best Song Oscar winner since Eminem's "Lose Yourself" topped the Hot 100 for 12 weeks in 2002-2003.

David Cook's David Cook tops the 1 million sales mark in its 15th week on the chart. Six of the seven American Idol winners have reached this sales milestone with their debut albums. Cook's album took longer to reach the million mark than the debut albums by the first four Idol champs--a reflection of a slower market, not any lack of star-power on Cook's part. Ruben Studdard's Soulful and Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts both topped the million sales mark in just five weeks. Kelly Clarkson's Thankful did it in nine weeks. Fantasia's Free Yourself took 13 weeks.  But David Cook got there much faster than the debut album by Season 6 winner, Jordin Sparks. Jordin Sparks topped the 1 million mark just last week, in its 68th week of release. (But at least it got there. And it got there despite some snarky comments, here and elsewhere, about a tepid opening week in which it sold 119,000 copies.) The only American Idol winner who hasn't topped the 1 million mark is Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks, whose Taylor Hicks has stalled at 703,000.

Beyonce, Jamie Foxx and Kanye West set new "personal bests" this week for their longest tenures in the top 10 on The Billboard 200. Beyonce's I Am...Sasha Fierce logs its 14th week in the top 10, one more than her 2003 solo debut, Dangerously In Love. West's 808s & Heartbreak logs its 12th week in the top 10, one more than his 2004 debut The College Dropout. Foxx's Intuition logs its 10th week in the top 10, one more than his 2005 smash Unpredictable. The celebrations may be muted by the fact that sales of two of the three current albums are down from where the earlier albums were at the same point in their chart lives, a reflection of the slower market. The only artist whose sales are running ahead of her earlier album is Beyonce, whose current album has sold 1,918,000 copies. Dangerously In Love had sold 1,651,000 copies at the 15-week mark.

Song Scorecard: Flo Rida's "Right Round" holds at #1 on Hot Digital Songs for the third straight week. The song sold 334,000 digital downloads, bringing its total after three weeks to 1,430,000. It's the first song ever to top the 300,000 mark in paid downloads three times. The smash draws heavily from Dead Or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)," which peaked at #11 on the Hot 100 in August 1985...Katy Perry's "Hot N Cold" this week moves into Nielsen/SoundScan's all-time list of the top 10 songs with the most paid downloads. It dislodges Perry's previous hit, "I Kissed A Girl." "Hot N Cold" has sold 3,307,000 downloads. "I Kissed A Girl" has sold 3,296,000. (Perry, Rihanna and T.I. are the only artists with two or more songs with 3 million paid downloads. I left Perry's name out of a related item two weeks ago.)

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

1. Taylor Swift, Fearless, 73,000. This is the first album to spend 11 weeks at #1 since Santana's Supernatural in January 2000. It's the first album to spend 11 of its first 16 weeks at #1 since the Titanic soundtrack in March 1998. Jonas Brothers' movie and album feature a collaboration with Swift on "Should've Said No," a song from her blockbuster debut album. The pop/country star thus appears on two of this week's top three albums. Three songs from Fearless are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Love Story," which dips to #12.

2. Lamb Of God, Wrath, 68,000. This new entry is the metal band's first top five album. Its previous album, Sacrament, debuted and peaked at #8 in August 2006. The band first charted in 2004 with Ashes Of The Wake. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

3. Jonas Brothers, Music From The 3D Concert Experience soundtrack, 50,000. This is the highest that a soundtrack has appeared on the Billboard 200 since Twilight debuted at #1 in November. 3D opened at #2 on the box-office chart, behind the Tyler Perry comedy Madea Goes To Jail. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Tonight," which jumps to #43.

4. A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack, 44,000. The soundtrack vaults from #22 to #4. This post-Oscar bounce, while welcome, is less than the post-Grammy bounce experienced two weeks ago by the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss collaboration Raising Sand, which vaulted from #69 to #2 with sales of 77,000. Slightly more than half of this week's tally was sold digitally, making Slumdog the week's #1 Digital Album for the second time. (It first topped that list six weeks ago.) Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Jai Ho!," which vaults to #7.

5. Nickelback, Dark Horse, 41,000. The album dips from #4 to #5. This is the album's 14th week in the top 10. The album is nearly halfway to matching the top 10 longevity of the band's last album, All The Right Reasons, which notched 29 weeks in the winners circle. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Gotta Be Somebody," which dips to #39.

6. Beyonce, I Am...Sasha Fierce, 35,000. The former #1 album dips from #5 to #6. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)," which dips to #17.

7. Lady GaGa, The Fame, 32,000. The album jumps from #10 to #7. This is its second week in the top 10. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. Lady GaGa is the only artist with two songs in the top 10. "Poker Face" jumps to #2. "Just Dance" (featuring Colby O'Donis) dips to #9.

8. The Fray, The Fray, 31,000. The former #1 album dips from #3 to #8. This is its fourth week in the top 10. "You Found Me" dips to #14 on Hot Digital Songs.

9. Jamie Foxx, Intuition, 31,000. The album dips from #6 to #9. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Blame It" (featuring T-Pain) which jumps to #15.

10. Kanye West, 808s & Heartbreak, 26,000. The former #1 album dips from #8 to #10. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Heartless," which dips to #10.

Three albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Charlie Wilson's Uncle Charlie plummets from #2 to #20. India.Arie's Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics drops from #7 to #15. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss' Raising Sand drops from #9 to #16.

Jake Owen's sophomore album, Easy Does It, opens at #13. The up-and-coming country singer debuted in 2006 with Startin' With Me, which reached #31... Chris Isaak's Mr. Lucky opens at #29.  A TV show by that title aired on CBS in the 1959-1960 season. Henry Mancini composed the theme song...K'naan's sophomore album, Troubadour, bows at #32. Nearly two-thirds of this week's tally was sold digitally.

Van Morrison's Astral Weeks Live At The Hollywood Bowl debuts at #33. This has already outdone Morrison's classic Astral Weeks album, which failed to chart when it was released in 1968. The venerable Hollywood Bowl has been the setting of several other chart albums, including the Beatles' The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl (recorded in 1964 and 1965, it hit #2 in 1977), the Doors' Live At The Hollywood Bowl (recorded in 1968, it hit #154 in 1987) and Chuck Mangione's An Evening Of Magic--Chuck Mangione Live At The Hollywood Bowl (#27 in 1979).

The digital-only 99 Most Essential Mozart Masterpieces debuts at #34. In January, the digital-only 99 Essential Beethoven Masterpieces debuted at #29. Mozart died 217 years ago, but I'm sure he would be pleased to know that he's in the top 40 with Lady GaGa and Kid Rock. (It beats the alternative, not being in the top 40 with Lady GaGa and Kid Rock.)

Here's this week's saddest item. Mary J. Blige's Mary J. Blige & Friends is #1 on this week's Catalog Albums chart. The album sold 10,000 copies and would have ranked #57 on the big chart if older, catalog albums were eligible to compete there. Why is this sad? The album was a Circuit City exclusive and is selling because the retailer has been liquidating its merchandise at deep-discount prices.

Heads Up: U2's No Line On The Horizon is expected to debut at #1 next week, with a first-week total in the range of 425,000. That would be less than U2's last album, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, which debuted in November 2004 with first-week sales of 840,000. But it would be nearly twice as many copies as Bruce Springsteen's Working On A Dream sold (224,000) in its first week four weeks ago. (That's the biggest weekly sales tally that any album has had so far in 2009.) Other albums due on next week's chart include Total Dance 2009, Neko Case's Middle Cyclone, Rush's Retrospective 3 and the soundtrack and score albums to the movie Watchmen.

Shameless Plug: Slumdog Millionaire this week joins a very exclusive club. It becomes only the 16th movie to both win an Academy Award for Best Picture and generate a top 10 soundtrack album. The list of films that have achieved both feats includes both "little movies" such as Rocky and Chariots Of Fire and big, screen-filling epics such as Titanic and Lawrence Of Arabia. It includes six musicals (most recently, Chicago) and one movie filled with iconic oldies (Forrest Gump). If that's not the makings of a Chart Watch Extra, I don't know what is. Check back on Friday for the complete list.


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