Chart Watch

Week Ending May 17, 2009: Three Days Is Plenty For Green Day

Chart Watch

Green Day gave its competition a three-day head-start in racking up sales and it still managed to come out on top with its new album, 21st Century Breakdown. The album, the band's first studio release in nearly five years, was released on Friday. It sold 215,000 copies by Sunday night, the end of Nielsen/SoundScan's tracking week. That's the fifth biggest opening so far in 2009, trailing U2's No Line On The Horizon (484,000), Rascal Flatts' Unstoppable (351,000), Kelly Clarkson's All I Ever Wanted (255,000) and Bruce Springsteen's Working On A Dream (224,000). While Green Day's showing in an abbreviated week is respectable, it pales next to Metallica's Death Magnetic, which sold 490,000 copies in three days in September. (Death Magnetic was the first album to top The Billboard 200 in an abbreviated opening week since Metallica's 2003 album, St. Anger, did so in a four-day frame.) 21st Century Breakdown also enters the U.K. album chart at #1, based on just two days of sales activity. (The U.K. tracking week ends on Saturday). It's the fourth album so far this year to reach the summit in both the U.S. and the U.K. It follows Working On A Dream, No Line On The Horizon and Bob Dylan's Together Through Life.

21st Century Breakdown is Green Day's second studio album in a row to enter The Billboard 200 in the top spot. American Idiot bowed at #1 in September 2004 with first-week sales of 267,000 copies. (Both tallies might have been higher, but Wal-Mart, the country's biggest retailer, won't stock albums with "Parental Advisory" stickers. Green Day wouldn't come up with a "clean" edit of either release.) American Idiot spent a total of three weeks at #1 and 24 weeks in the top 10. It also spawned three top 20 hits on the Hot 100, including "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams," which won a Grammy as Record of the Year. Green Day was hardly an overnight success when it arrived on the scene in the early 1990s. Its first two albums didn't even crack The Billboard 200 until they were re-released in the wake of the band's sleeper smash, Dookie. That album entered the chart at a tepid #127 in February 1994. But it gradually built momentum and reached its #2 peak in its 49th week on the chart. The band's follow-up, Insomniac, debuted (and peaked) at #2 in October 1995.

The U.S. tally for 21st Century Breakdown includes 76,000 paid digital downloads. That's the third highest weekly total of 2009, topped only by No Line On The Horizon (155,000) and The Fray's The Fray (78,000).

Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" this week becomes only the fourth song to top the 4 million mark in paid downloads. The amiable tune has sold 4,005,000 digital copies. It trails "Low" by Flo Rida featuring T-Pain (4,938,000), "Apologize" by Timbaland featuring OneRepublic (4,270,000) and "Crank That Soulja Boy" by Soulja Boy Tell 'Em (4,183,000). A fifth song, "Just Dance" by Lady GaGa featuring Colby O'Donis, is set to top the 4 million mark next week. It currently stands at 3,997,000. You might surmise that all of the albums that spawned such smash hits have topped the million sales mark, but that's not the case. Only two have thus far: Timbaland's Timbaland Presents Shock Value and Mraz's We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. The poorest seller of this group is Flo Rida's Mail On Sunday, which has sold just 390,000 albums.

Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow" becomes the first hit to spend seven weeks at #1 on Hot Digital Songs since "Low" by Flo Rida featuring T-Pain, which spent a record 13 weeks atop the list in 2007-2008. Moreover, "Boom Boom" is the first song to spend its first seven weeks of release at #1 since "Candy Shop" by 50 Cent with Olivia, which spent its first eight weeks on top in early 2005. The Peas' smash sold 204,000 downloads this week, bringing its seven-week total to 1,921,000. The top six songs on Hot Digital Songs all topped the 100,000 mark in paid downloads this week. Trailing "Boom Boom" are Pitbull's "I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)," which leaps from #11 to #2, Lady GaGa's "Poker Face," which dips to #3, 3OH!3's "Don't Trust Me," which dips to #4, Katy Perry's "Waking Up In Vegas," which vaults from #33 to #5, and Eminem's "Beautiful," which debuts at #6.

Miley Cyrus' Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack logs its seventh week at #1 or #2 on The Billboard 200. That's the longest run in the top two spots for a theatrical movie soundtrack since Armageddon logged seven weeks in the top two spots in 1998. Miley may not remember that soundtrack too well. It was released when she was five.

Taylor Swift's Fearless logs its 25th week in the top 10 on The Billboard 200, the longest run for a country album since Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts had 30 weeks in the top 10 from 2005 to 2007. (I erred in previously saying that Some Hearts had just 25 weeks in the top 10.) What's the all-time record for a country album? Shania Twain's Come On Over, which rode the top 10 for 53 weeks from 1997 to 1999. Pace yourself, Taylor.

Song Scorecard: Soulja Boy Tell 'Em's "Kiss Me Thru The Phone" tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads. It's the hip-hopper's second song to reach this mark, following "Crank That Soulja Boy"...Two songs top the 1 million mark in 2009 digital downloads this week-Beyonce's "Halo" and Akon's "Beautiful" (featuring Colby O'Donis and Kardinal Offishall).

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

1. Green Day, 21st Century Breakdown, 215,000. This new entry is Green Day's second studio album in a row to debut at #1. It's the band's seventh top 10 album. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Know Your Enemy," which jumps to #22.

2. Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana, Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack, 68,000. The former #1 album holds at #2 for the fourth straight week. Six songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "The Climb," which dips to #13.

3. Cam'Ron, Crime Pays, 43,000.  This new entry is Cam'Ron's fourth top 10 album as a solo artist (out of six solo releases). He also made the top 10 in 2003 as a member of the Diplomats. Crime Pays fell a little short of two previous Cam'Ron albums, Come Home With Me and Killa Season, both of which opened at #2. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

4. Lady GaGa, The Fame, 41,000. The album jumps from #6 to #4, matching its highest ranking to date, set on March 8. This is the album's 13th week in the top 10. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Poker Face," which dips to #3.

5. Rascal Flatts, Unstoppable, 33,000. The former #1 album dips from #4 to #5 in its sixth week in the top 10. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Here Comes Goodbye," which dips to #84.

6. Bob Dylan, Together Through Life, 31,000. The former #1 album dips from #5 to #6 in its third week in the top 10. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

7. Taylor Swift, Fearless, 30,000. The former #1 album holds at #7. As noted above, this is the album's 25th week in the top 10. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "You Belong With Me," which jumps to #35.

8. Chrisette Michele, Epiphany, 29,000. The album drops from #1 to #8 in its second week. This is the biggest dive from the top spot since Nas' untitled album made an identical drop in July. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

9. Rick Ross, Deeper Than Rap, 26,000. The former #1 album dips from #8 to #9 in its fourth week in the top 10. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

10. Ciara, Fantasy Ride, 26,000. The album slips from #3 to #10 in its second week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Love Sex Magic" (featuring Justin Timberlake), which dips to #37.

Two albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Ben Harper & Relentless 7's White Lies For Dark Times tumbles from #9 to #38. The Twilight soundtrack dips from #10 to #11.

Kings Of Leon's Only By The Night rebounds from #16 to #14 in its 34th week. This is the album's highest ranking since September, when it spent its first two weeks in the top 10. The album has rallied on the strength of the hit "Use Somebody," which has sold 575,000 downloads. ("Sex On Fire," the album's first single, has sold 805,000 downloads.) While this album has been a solid hit in the U.S., the band's home country, it has been a smash in the U.K., where it has logged four weeks at #1.

Paul Wall's Fast Life bows at #15. This represents a drop from the rapper's two previous albums. The Peoples Champ opened at #1 in September 2005. Get Money Stay True bowed at #8 in April 2007....Roots-rock and country veteran Steve Earle has the highest-charting album of his 23-year career as Townes opens at #19. The album consists of 15 songs written by the late Townes Van Zandt. Earle's previous best mark was set by 1988's Copperhead Road, which reached #56...Gucci Mane's Murder Was The Case bows at #23. This is the rapper's highest-charting album to date. His Back To The Trap House, the sequel to his 2005 breakthrough album, Trap House, peaked at #57 in December 2007.

Bob Marley & the Wailers' 1984 blockbuster Legend returns to #1 on the Catalog Albums chart. The album sold 8,000 copies this week and would have ranked #60 on the big chart if older, catalog albums were eligible to compete there. This is the album's 110th week at #1 on this list, which was introduced (in its present form) in 1991. This is the 10th year in which Legend has spent some time at #1 on the catalog chart.

Carpenters' 40/40 The Best Selection, a 40-track collection marking the duo's 40th anniversary, jumps to #1 this week in Japan. Karen and Richard are the seventh American act to top Nielsen/SoundScan's Japanese chart in the past five years. They follow Bon Jovi (Have A Nice Day and Lost Highway), Britney Spears (Greatest Hits), Destiny's Child (#1's), Linkin Park (Minutes To Midnight), Backstreet Boys (Unbreakable) and Madonna (Hard Candy). In the same period, two other international artists have risen to #1 in Japan: England's Oasis (Don't Believe The Truth) and Canada's Avril Lavigne (The Best Damn Thing). Japan is the world's #2 music market, behind only the U.S.

Heads Up: Eminem's Relapse will debut at #1 next week. It will be the rap icon and provocateur's fifth album in a row to open in the top spot. (I usually say "is expected to," but come on, this is a sure thing.) Also due to chart: Dane Cook's Isolated Incident, Busta Rhymes' Back On My B.S., Ruben Studdard's Love Is, Kenny Chesney's Greatest Hits II, Lionel Richie's Just Go, Tori Amos' Abnormally Attracted To Sin, Mat Kearney's City Of Black And White, Iron and Wine's Around The Well, Method Man and Redman's Blackout! 2 and Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood's Live At Madison Square Garden.

Useless Information: 21st Century Breakdown is the first chart album to feature the phrase 21st Century in its title. Some that came close include Messiah's 21st Century Jesus, released in 1993, and Cowboy Junkies' Early 21st Century Blues, released in 2005.


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