Chart Watch (NEW)

Week Ending March 25, 2012. Albums: Appetite For “Hunger”

Chart Watch

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The Hunger Games soundtrack enters The Billboard 200 at #1. It's the first multi-artist soundtrack to top the chart since October 2009, when The Twilight Saga: New Moon achieved the feat. The Hunger Games has a lot in common with the Twilight franchise. Both are based on a series of popular young adult novels which were written by talented (and now very wealthy) women. Stephenie Meyer created the Twilight novels. Suzanne Collins wrote The Hunger Games novels. (This is the first in a planned four-film series based on those novels.)

The soundtracks from the first two Twilight movies both debuted at #1. The soundtracks from the next two installments both opened in the top five. Twilight is one of only two movie franchises in movie history to spawn four or more top 10 soundtracks. The other is Star Wars, which leads with five. It will be interesting to see if The Hunger Games franchise one day joins this little club.

The Hunger Games sold 100K digital copies this week. That's the greatest one-week total for the soundtrack to a theatrically released movie in digital history. (The soundtrack to TV's Glee: The Music: Journey To Regionals sold 106K digital copies in its first week in June 2010.) An impressive seven songs from The Hunger Games are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by Taylor Swift's "Eyes Open," which debuts at #4.

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"Safe & Sound" by Taylor Swift featuring The Civil Wars, which is the lead single from The Hunger Games, debuted at #30 on the Hot 100 last month. It ranked #71 last week, but it's expected to make a big jump this week. Swift and the members of The Civil Wars (Joy Williams and John Paul White) co-wrote "Safe & Sound" with T-Bone Burnett, who produced The Hunger Games soundtrack. I'm getting ahead of myself, but "Safe & Sound" will probably be a candidate for Oscar, Golden Globe and Grammy recognition as the year's best movie song.

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond (that's the official title) also includes solo songs by Swift and The Civil Wars and songs by Arcade Fire, the Decemberists, Kid Cudi, Miranda Lambert & Pistol Annies, and Maroon 5 featuring Rozzi Crane, among others.

The Hunger Games grossed nearly $153 million over the weekend, which constitutes the third highest domestic opening in history. The soundtrack sold 175K copies in its first week. Figuring the album sold for about $12, it grossed about $2.1 million. As you can see, blockbuster movies and hit albums are in different universes.

For the record, Michael Jackson's This Is It was the last soundtrack to top the chart. It bumped The Twilight Saga: New Moon out of the top spot in November 2009. But it was a single-artist soundtrack.

Pop Quiz: Last week, you may recall, Guns N' Roses' 2004 album Greatest Hits zoomed to #3 after AmazonMP3 and Google Play sold the digital edition for just a quarter. There was no such offer this week, so you might reasonably expect the album to drop. Where do you think it landed this week? Answer below.

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The Shins' fourth album Port Of Morrow debuts at #3. This is the band's second top five album in a row. The Shins reached #2 in 2007 with Wincing The Night Away. In the meantime, James Mercer, the group's lead vocalist and guitarist, collaborated with Brian Burton (a.k.a. Danger Mouse) in the duo Broken Bells. Their album, Broken Bells, hit #7 in March 2010.

Whitney Houston's Whitney: The Greatest Hits drops from #6 to #9 in its 36th week. This is its ninth week in the top 10 (two weeks when it was released in 2000 plus the past seven weeks). This is Houston's longest run in the top 10 since The Bodyguard soundtrack amassed 42 weeks in the top 10 from 1992 to a few weeks ago. Of Houston's other post-Bodyguard albums, The Preacher's Wife had eight weeks in the top 10, I Look To You had four and Just Whitney… had one. (The multi-artist Waiting To Exhale soundtrack, which logged 21 weeks in the top 10, doesn't count as a Houston album.) Whitney: The Greatest Hits returns to #1 on Top Catalog Albums, displacing Guns N' Roses' Greatest Hits. This is its sixth week on top of that chart.

[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]

Esperanza Spalding scored one of the biggest upsets in Grammy history in February 2011 when she was named Best New Artist. She triumphed over four artists who had had far greater chart success: Justin Bieber, Drake, Mumford & Sons and Florence + the Machine. Radio Music Society, Spalding's first album since she won the award, opens at #10 this week. That's a huge improvement over Spalding's pre-Grammy releases (though it's still no match for these other artists' albums.)

On the night she accepted her Grammy, Spalding had spent just a solitary week on The Billboard 200. It happened six months earlier, in August 2010, when Chamber Music Society debuted at #107.  The week after her stunning win, that album re-entered the chart at a new peak, #34. Also, Spalding's previous album, Esperanza, finally made its first chart appearance at #138. Both albums headed south the following week.

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Radio Music Society (the title is a clever play on Chamber Music Society) features such guest artists as hip-hop star Q-Tip and Lalah Hathaway, daughter of the late soul great Donny Hathaway.

Quiz Answer: Guns N' Roses' Greatest Hits plummeted from #3 to #152 this week. Sales dropped by 96%, from 85K to just 3K.

"We Are Young" by fun. featuring Janelle Monae is #1 on Top Digital Songs for the sixth time in the past seven weeks. Will it also hold at #1 on the Hot 100? And where will Taylor Swift's "Eyes Open" open? You'll find out later today when we post Chart Watch: Songs.

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

1. Various Artists, The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond, soundtrack, 175,000. This new entry is the first soundtrack from a theatrically-released movie reach #1 since 2009. Six songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by Taylor Swift's "Eyes Open," which debuts at #4.

2. Adele, 21, 130,000. The former #1 album holds at #2 for the third straight week. This is its 57th week in the top 10. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Set Fire To The Rain," which drops from #13 to #15.

3. The Shins, Port Of Morrow, 74,000. This new entry is the band's second top five album. The Shins reached #2 in 2007 with Wincing The Night Away. The band first charted in 2003. "Simple Song" drops from #132 to #190 on Hot Digital Songs.

4. One Direction, Up All Night, 55,000. The former #1 album drops to #4 in its second week.  Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "What Makes You Beautiful" holds at #7. "One Thing" drops from #48 to #83.

5. Odd Future, The OF Tape Vol. 2, 40,000. This new entry is the rap collective's fourth album; its first to crack the top 10. The ensemble includes Tyler, the Creator and Frank Ocean.

6. Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball, 37,000. The former #1 album drops from #4 to #6 in its third week. The album has sold 292K copies.

7. Melanie Fiona, The MF Life, 34,000. This new entry is the Canadian R&B singer's sophomore album; her first to reach the top 10. Her 2009 debut, The Bridge, reached #27. "4 AM" rebounds from #158 to #127 on Hot Digital Songs.

8. Various Artists, Now 41, 31,000. The album holds at #8 in its seventh week. It has been in the top 10 the entire time. The album has sold 547K copies.

9. Whitney Houston, Whitney: The Greatest Hits, 28,000. The album drops from #6 to #9 in its 36th week. This is its ninth week in the top 10. "I Will Always Love You" drops from #102 to #165 on Hot Digital Songs.

10. Esperanza Spalding, Radio Music Society, 25,000. This new entry is Spalding's first top 10 album.

Five albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Guns N' Roses' Greatest Hits plummets from #3 to #152, Passion's Passion: White Flag dives from #5 to #51, Drake's Take Care drops from #8 to #18, Gotye's Making Mirrors drops from #9 to #12 and .fun's Some Nights dips from #10 to #11.

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Diggy's Unexpected Arrival bows at #13. This is his major label debut following a series of independently released mix-tapes. Diggy is a second-generation recording star. His father is Joe "DJ Run" Simmons of the influential rap trio Run-D.M.C.

Luke Bryan's Tailgates & Tanlines drops from #14 to #16 in its 33rd week. The album is #1 on Top Country Albums for the second week in a row and the fourth overall… Shake It Up: Live 2 Dance bows at #17. Shake It Up is a tween favorite that debuted on the Disney Channel in November 2010. An earlier album, Shake It Up: Break It Down, hit #22 in July.

Pop Quiz: Who was the first solo woman to crack the top 20 on The Billboard 200 with a comedy album? I'll give you a hint. It wasn't Lily Tomlin, whose 1971 album This Is A Recording reached #15. Who scored before Tomlin? Answer below.

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Casey James' Casey James bows at #23. James finished third in Season 9 of American Idol. None of the finalists from that season has cracked the top 10 on The Billboard 200. (Winner Lee DeWyze hit #19 with Live It Up. Runner-up Crystal Bowersox hit #27 with Farmer's Daughter.) That's the only season of Idol (through Season 10) in which no contestants cracked the top 10…MGK's EP Half Naked & Almost Famous debuts at #46.

Billy Joel's Opus Collection, available at Starbucks, debuts at #80. Joel "bubbled under" The Billboard 200 in 1972 with Cold Spring Harbor. He first charted two years later with Piano Man. His last pop album was 1993's River Of Dreams. That's way too long. Billy, this what you do best. Do it.

Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band this week tops the 20 million mark in U.S. sales since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard in 1991. Impressive as this figure is, it doesn't count Seger's first 22 years of sales, dating back to the 1969 entry of Bob Seger System's first charted album, Ramblin' Gamblin' Man.

Paul Weller lands his fourth #1 album in the U.K. with Sonik Kicks. Weller has yet to chart in the U.S. as a solo artist, though he did make the upper half of The Billboard 200 as a member of both The Jam (in 1981) and The Style Council (in 1984).

Adele's Live At The Royal Albert Hall is #1 on Top Music Videos for the 17th straight week. It's the first video to hold the top spot for 17 consecutive weeks since Collision Course by Jay-Z/Linkin Park was #1 in its first 17 weeks in 2004-2005. Adele's DVD sold 15K copies this week, bringing its total to 763K.

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Quiz Answer: Moms Mabley was the first solo woman to crack the top 20 on The Billboard 200 with a comedy album. The lovably bawdy comedian reached the top 20 with Moms Mabley At The "UN" in 1961 and again with Young Men, Si—Old Men, No in 1963. Mabley was in her late 60s at the time. She died in 1975 at age 81.  I say "solo woman" because Mike Nichols & Elaine May had a pair of top 20 albums in 1961-1962 as a comedy duo. One of them, An Evening With Mike Nichols and Elaine May, made the top 10 and won a Grammy for Best Comedy Performance of 1961.

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Coming Attractions: Madonna's MDNA is expected to debut at #1 next week with sales in the 325K range. Lionel Richie's Tuskegee is eyeing a #2 debut. Shinedown's Amaryllis looks good for #4. The Used's Vulnerable will probably open at #9. Also due: The Mars Volta's Noctourniquet, The All-American Rejects' Kids In The Streets, and My Darkest Days' Sick & Twisted Affair.

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