Chart Watch (NEW)

Week Ending May 19, 2013. Albums: Strait Ties McCartney

Chart Watch

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George Strait’s new album Love Is Everything enters The Billboard 200 at #2, just behind Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires Of The City. It’s Strait’s 18th top 10 album, which puts him in the top five among male solo artists since 1955. The other four men who have reached this plateau constitute a veritable Mount Rushmore of pop. Frank Sinatra leads with 34, followed by Elvis Presley with 27, Bob Dylan with 20 and Paul McCartney, also with 18. (Sinatra’s total includes a collabo with Count Basie. Dylan’s tally includes three collabos with The Band. McCartney’s total includes an album with his late wife Linda McCartney and eight albums with his band Wings.)

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It’s remarkable that Strait has tied McCartney, who is probably the most famous musician on the planet. It’s even more remarkable when you consider that Strait has piled up all of these top 10 albums since November 1992, when the Pure Country soundtrack became his first top 10 album.

Since May 1991, when Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard, Strait has amassed more top 10 albums than any other artist—male or female. Mariah Carey is in second place with 16. (Carey’s tally includes her debut album, which appeared in the top 10 both before and after the start of the Nielsen SoundScan era.) Tim McGraw and Dave Matthews are in third place with 15.

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If Nielsen SoundScan had been around in the years prior to 1991, Strait might well have even more top 10 albums. Country (like rap) was under-represented on the charts in the years before 1991. Strait has been a giant in the country world since February 1984, when Right Or Wrong became his first #1 album on Top Country Albums.

Love Is Everything also enters Top Country Albums at #1, displacing Lady Antebellum’s Golden. It’s Strait’s 25th #1 on that chart, which is more, by far, than any other artist in the chart’s 49-year history. Merle Haggard is in second place, with 15. Tim McGraw is third, with 14. Willie Nelson and Alan Jackson are tied for fourth, with 13.

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Strait’s #1 country albums span more than 29 years. He has a ways to go to top the all-time leader in this regard, Johnny Cash, whose #1 albums span more than 42 years, from Ring Of Fire (The Best Of Johnny Cash), which was #1 on the first country album chart in January 1964, to American V: A Hundred Highways in July 2006.

Strait has sold 44,256,000 albums since 1991, which puts him in sixth place among all artists in the Nielsen SoundScan era. Among male solo artists (and also among country artists), he’s #2, behind Garth Brooks. Brooks is also the overall leader with sales of 68,630,000.

“Give It All We Got Tonight,” the first single from the album, is Strait’s 86th top 10 hit on Hot Country Songs. He landed his first, “Unwound,” in August 1981. He’s second only to Eddy Arnold, who amassed 92 top 10 country hits from 1945 to 1980.

The album’s title, Love Is Everything, echoes the romanticism of Strait’s 1988 album title, If You Ain’t Lovin (You Ain’t Livin’).

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Vampire Weekend’s third studio album Modern Vampires Of The City debuts at #1 with sales of 134K, which is a personal best for the New York band. It’s the band’s second #1 album in a row. Contra debuted on top in January 2010 with sales of 124K. Modern Vampires sold 86K digital copies to enter Top Digital Albums at #1. Contra topped that chart with digital sales of 74K.

Deep Trivia: This marks the first time the word “vampire” has appeared in the title of a top 10 album. The previous highest-charting album with the word “vampire” in its title was Hellogoodbye’s Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!, which hit #13 in 2006.

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Demi Lovato’s fourth studio album Demi debuts at #3 with sales of 110K, which is a personal best for Lovato. All four albums have made the top five. “Heart Attack,” the album’s first single, has cracked the top 10 on the Hot 100. Lovato is just 20. When George Strait was that age, he was still nine years away from releasing his debut album, Strait Country. (What a slacker!)

Music From Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby drops from #2 to #4. It’s #1 on Top Soundtracks for the second week. Soundtracks to two earlier Luhrmann movies were also smash hits. Romeo + Juliet was the highest-ranking soundtrack on The Billboard 200 for three weeks. Moulin Rouge was the top soundtrack for eight weeks.

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“Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton holds at #1 for the fourth week on Hot Digital Songs (231K). “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell vaults from #23 to #2 (206K). Will “Can’t Hold Us” also hold at #1 for the third week on the Hot 100? And how high will “Blurred Lines” climb? (It was #54 last week.) You’ll find out later today when we post Chart Watch: Songs.

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

The Top Five: Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires Of The City debuts at #1 (134K). It’s the band’s second top 10 album…George Strait’s Love Is Everything debuts at #2 (125K). It’s his 18th top 10 album…Demi Lovato’s Demi debuts at #3 (110K). It’s her fourth top five album… Music From Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby drops from #2 to #4 in its second week (95K)…Lady Antebellum’s Golden drops from #1 to #5 in its second week (56K).

The Second Five: Now 46 drops from #3 to #6 in its second week (52K)…Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience dips from #6 to #7 in its ninth week (44K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time…Michael Buble’s To Be Loved drops from #4 to #8 in its fourth week (40K)…Pistol Annies’ Annie Up drops from #5 to #9 in its second week (30K)…Blake Shelton’s Based On A True Story… dips from #9 to #10 in its eighth week (28K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time.

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Rod Stewart’s Time drops from #7 to #19 in its second week. The album fares better in the U.K., where it enters The Official U.K. Chart at #1. It’s Stewart’s eighth #1 album in the U.K.; his first since Rod Stewart—Greatest Hits logged five weeks on top in December 1979 and January 1980. That 33-year gap between #1 albums in one of the longest in U.K chart history. Bob Dylan holds the all-time record, with a 38-1/2 year gap between New Morning in November 1970 and Together Through Life in May 2009.

Two other albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Kenny Chesney’s Life On A Rock drops from #8 to #13. Bruno Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox drops from #10 to #17.

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Amy Grant lands her fifth top 20 album as How Mercy Looks From Here debuts at #12. The album features such guest artists as James Taylor, Sheryl Crow, Carole King and Grant’s husband, Vince Gill. Grant first cracked the top 20 in May 1991 with Heart In Motion. That hit-laden album logged 28 weeks in the top 20, peaking at #10. It received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. Grant landed her highest-charting album in December 1992, when Home For Christmas peaked at #2…Trace Adkins lands his sixth top 20 album as Love Will debuts at #14. Adkins has climbed as high as #3 twice, with 2006’s Dangerous Man and 2011’s Proud To Be Here.

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The Wonder Years’ fourth studio album The Greatest Generation debuts at #20. It’s the first top 40 album for the pop punk band…Dillinger Escape Plan’s fifth studio album One Of Us Is The Killer bows at #25. It’s the band’s first top 40 album…Escape The Fate’s fourth studio album Ungrateful debuts at #27. It’s the band’s second top 30 album in a row.

The Grateful Dead’s Dave’s Picks Vol. 6 debuts at #32. The three-CD live album contains two complete concerts from 1969 and 1970. The Dave’s Picks series is named after Grateful Dead tape archivist David Lemieux. The legendary band first cracked the top 40 in July 1970 with Workingman’s Dead. The band’s first triple-disk live album to crack the top 40 was Europe ’72 in January 1973…Pop Evil’s fourth studio album Onyx bows at #39. It’s the band’s first top 40 album.

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Eve’s Lip Lock, the fourth studio album by the pioneering female rapper (and her first since 2002), debuts at #46. That’s a big come-down from her first three studio albums, all of which made the top 10. She may have simply stayed away too long. As Gerrick D. Kennedy noted in an album review in the Los Angeles Times, “When Eve's last album was released, Kanye West was known only as a producer, Drake was playing an awkward teenager on Canadian TV and waitress Nicki Minaj was slinging Red Lobster's famous cheddar biscuits.”

The Star Trek: Into Darkness soundtrack debuts at #59. The highest-charting soundtrack from this long-running franchise is from 2009’s Star Trek, which reached #49. The movie was #1 at the box-office over the weekend, displacing Iron Man 3.

George Jones’ 1987 compilation Super Hits drops from #68 to #70 in its fourth week on the chart. The album holds at #1 for the second week on Top Catalog Albums. Right before that, Jones’ 1998 compilation 16 Biggest Hits was on top for two weeks. Jones is the first artist to top the catalog chart in each of the first four weeks after his or her death since Whitney Houston did it in each of the first five weeks after her death in February 2011.

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R.I.P. Ray Manzarek, best known as keyboardist for The Doors, one of the top American bands in rock history, died on Monday. The band’s eponymous debut album peaked at #2 for two weeks in September 1967 (behind the decade’s most famous album, the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band). The band made it to #1 the following summer with its third album, Waiting For The Sun. They had seven top 10 albums between 1967 and 1971 and returned to the top 10 in 1991 with the soundtrack to Oliver Stone’s The Doors. Manzarek was 74. Expect The Doors to make a big impact on next week’s charts.

Eagles’ History Of The Eagles, a three-disk documentary/concert video, is #1 on Top Music Videos for the third week. It sold 5K copies this week, bringing its three-week total to 38K. That’s a pretty dismal total for one of the biggest groups in music history.

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Coming Attractions: Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories will debut at #1 next week with first-week sales north of 300K. Three other albums appear headed for top five debuts: The National’s Trouble Will Find Me (#2, 70K), Darius Rucker's True Believers (#3, 60K) and Thirty Seconds To Mars’ Love Lust Faith + Dreams (#3, 60K). French Montana’s Excuse My French will probably open around #7 (45K).

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