Chart Watch

Week Ending May 22, 2011. Albums: 21 = 9 + 16

Chart Watch

Adele's 21 logs its ninth week at #1 on The Billboard 200. Next week it will yield to Lady Gaga's Born This Way, which will probably debut with first-week sales of more than 1 million, but I expect 21 to return to the top spot down the line. This is already the longest run at #1 since Taylor Swift's Fearless had 11 weeks on top in 2008-2009. It's the longest run at #1 for an album by a British artist since George Michael's Faith logged 12 weeks on top in 1988. Both of those albums went on to win Grammys for Album of the Year. Adele is front-runner for the honor at next year's Grammys.

21 also holds at #1 for the 16th week in the U.K. That's the longest run at #1 in that country since Bee Gees' Saturday Night Fever soundtrack had 18 consecutive weeks on top in 1978. It's the longest run at #1 by an album featuring a female lead singer since the Carpenters' The Singles 1969-1973 had 17 weeks on top in 1974. (I think just about everybody calls them The Bee Gees and The Carpenters, but I go by the name they put on their albums.)

21 is the first album to log nine or more weeks at #1 on both sides of the Atlantic since Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill, which was #1 in the U.S. for 12 weeks in 1995-1996 and #1 in the U.K. for 11 weeks in 1996. (Jagged also won the Grammy for Album of the Year, as did Saturday Night Fever, for that matter.)

Why is 21 so huge? It appeals to all ages and both genders. The single, "Rolling In The Deep," is a hit at Top 40, Hot AC and adult contemporary stations. The song has been covered on Glee, American Idol and The Voice. Adele has made the rounds of morning and evening talk shows. At a certain point, momentum takes over.

There are one or two albums every year that rise above the rest, where the unspoken message is "if you buy just one album this year, this should be it." (There's a similar dynamic with movies, where a select few movies become "must-sees.") Even people who aren't that plugged to the scene pick up on the message. 21 will probably remain hot through the end of the year, when it will benefit from holiday shopping, the Grammy nominations and year-end critics polls and year-in-music wrap-ups.

Shameless Plug: 21 is only the 16th album by female artist to log nine or more weeks at #1 since the pop album chart became a weekly feature in March 1956. (I'm including movie soundtracks and original cast albums on which a woman had star billing.) Whitney Houston leads the pack with three albums that stayed on top for nine or more weeks: her first two studio releases and the soundtrack to The Bodyguard. Julie Andrews is in second place with two. She scored with the My Fair Lady cast album and the Mary Poppins soundtrack. Who else is on the list? You'll find out on Thursday when we post this Chart Watch Extra, which truly has something for everybody, whether your tastes run to "I Could Have Danced All Night" or "You Oughta Know."

Seether, a hard rock band from South Africa, debuts at #2 with Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray. If that sounds like an awfully philosophical title for a hard rock band, it's nothing new for these guys. Their two previous top 10 albums were Karma And Effect and Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces.

Jason Aldean's My Kinda Party jumps from #10 to #4 in its 29th week. This is its highest ranking since it debuted at #2 in November. My Kinda Party is #1 on Top Country Albums for the ninth week. That's the longest run for an album by a male solo artist since Kenny Chesney's When The Sun Goes Down had 14 weeks on top in 2004.

The Lonely Island's Turtleneck & Chain drops from #3 to #7 in its second week. It's the first comedy album to spend two or more weeks in the top 10 since Jeff Foxworthy's Games Rednecks Play logged five weeks in the top 10 in August and September 1995. Foxworthy's album has sold 2,084,000 copies, which makes it the second best-selling comedy album of the last 20 years. The best-selling comedy album of the last 20 years is Adam Sandler's What The Hell Happened To Me?, which has sold 2,124,000 copies. But you know that if you read my Chart Watch Extra last week in which I listed 20 record-holding albums from the 20 years that The Billboard 200 has been based on Nielsen SoundScan's point-of-sale data. If you missed it, here's a link.

Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" is #1 on Hot Digital Songs for the third straight week. Will it also stay at #1 on the Hot 100? And will Lady Gaga's "Hair" debut in the top 10? You'll find out when we post Chart Watch: Songs later today.

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

1. Adele, 21, 138,000. The album logs its ninth week at #1. The tally includes 48K digital copies, which puts it at #1 on the Digital Albums chart for the sixth week. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Rolling In The Deep," which holds at #1 for the third week.

2. Seether, Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray, 61,000. This new entry is the hard rock band's first top five album and its third to make the top 10, following Karma And Effect and Finding Beauty In Negative Spaces. "Country Song" holds at #83 on Hot Digital Songs.

3. Various Artists, Now 38, 50,000. The album dips from #2 to #3 in its third week. It has been in the top three the entire time. It has sold 243K copies to date.

4. Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party, 29,000. The album jumps from #10 to #4 in its 29th week. This is its seventh week in the top 10. This is its highest ranking since it debuted at #2 in November. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Dirt Road Anthem," which jumps from #30 to #22.

5. Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More, 25,000. The album rebounds from #12 to #5 in its 61st week. This is its 18th week in the top 10. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "The Cave" drops from #80 to #89. "Little Lion Man" drops from #93 to #102.

6. Beastie Boys, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, 24,000. The album holds at #6 for the second week in its third week on the chart. It has been in the top 10 the entire time.

7. The Lonely Island, Turtleneck & Chain, 24,000. The album drops from #3 to #7 in its second week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. The very clever "Jack Sparrow" (featuring Michael Bolton) drops from #45 to #79. "I Just Had Sex" (featuring Akon) re-enters at #164.

8. Justin Bieber, Never Say Never: The Remixes, 23,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #11 to #8 in its 14th week. This is its seventh week in the top 10. The resurgence is linked to the recent release of the DVD. "Never Say Never" (featuring Jaden Smith) rebounds from #92 to #84 on Hot Digital Songs.

9. Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues, 23,000. The album dips from #8 to #9 in its third week. It has been in the top 10 the entire time. The album has sold 150K copies to date.

10. Il Volo, Il Volo, 23,000. This new entry is the debut album by the operatic teen trio, which performed on American Idol on Thursday. Their take on the classic "O Sole Mio" enters Hot Digital Songs at #195.

Four albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Christina Perri's lovestrong. drops from #4 to #14, Tyler, The Creator's Goblin plummets from #5 to #32, The Cars' Move Like This falls from #7 to #29 and Jennifer Lopez's Love? drops from #9 to #12.

Rome, a collaboration between Danger Mouse and film composer Daniele Luppi featuring Jack White and Norah Jones bows at #11. The album is an homage to such film scorers as Ennio Morricone, Gianfranco and Gian Piero Reverberi. This isn't the first hit album that pays tribute to Morricone. Hugo Montenegro cracked the top 10 in 1968 with Music From "A Fistful Of Dollars" & "For A Few Dollars More" & "The Good, The Bad And The Ugly." Morricone's soundtrack to the latter film reached #4 in May 1968. Danger Mouse, who teamed with Cee Lo Green in Gnarls Barkley, won a Grammy in February as Producer of the Year. He has been nominated in that key category in four of the last six years.

Michael Grimm's Michael Grimm debuts at #13. This is the major label debut album by the Season 5 winner of America's Got Talent. (The runner-up that season was Jackie Evancho, whose EP O Holy Night debuted at #2 in November. Even with that late start, it wound up as the #13 best-selling album of 2010.)

Ben Harper's Give Till It's Gone debuts at #15. It's Harper's fifth album to crack the top 20. His first was 2003's Diamonds On The Inside...Adele's 2008 album 19 dips from #15 to #16. It's #1 on Top Catalog Albums for the 12th time in the past 14 weeks...Lemonade Mouth drops from #13 to #17. It's #1 on Top Soundtrack Albums for the fifth time in the past six weeks.

Parachute's sophomore album, The Way It Was, bows at #19. The band's 2009 debut album Losing Sleep peaked at #40...Tinie Tempah's Disc-overy bows at #21. The album hit #1 in the U.K. in October. The single "Written In The Stars" (featuring Eric Turner) hit #1 in the U.K. in September and peaked at #12 in the U.S. three weeks ago...Newsong's One True God bows at #27. It's the highest-charting album to date for the Christian pop group.

The Broadway cast album to The Book Of Mormon debuts at #31. The album sold 13K copies this week. It's already the fourth best-selling cast album of 2011, trailing only the perennials Wicked (46K), Jersey Boys (29K) and The Lion King On Broadway (15K). The Book Of Mormon was created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, and Robert Lopez, who won a Tony for his songs for Avenue Q.  Faithful Mormons Donny & Marie have said they won't see the show, but most people who have seen it say it's a hoot. The show was nominated for 14 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The awards will be presented on June 12.

The soundtrack to Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides debuts at #45. It's the top-ranking soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie, displacing Country Strong. The movie, the fourth installment in the franchise, opened at #1 at the box-office over the weekend. The soundtrack albums to all four installments have made the top 100. The highest-charting of the four is the third, subtitled At World's End, which peaked at #14.

AC/DC's Live At River Plate holds at #1 on Top Music Videos for the second week in a row. The video sold 9K this week, bringing its two-week total to 28K. The Aussie band first cracked The Billboard 200 in August 1977, which means they have international head-bangers for more than a third of a century.

Coming Attractions: Lady Gaga's Born This Way won't be the only new album in next week's top 10. Look for Brad Paisley's This Is American Music to debut at #2. Other albums that are good for top 10 debuts: Glee: The Music, Season Two, Volume 6, Maybach Music Group Presents: Self Made, Vol. 1 and an eponymous album by NKOTBSB (New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys). Also due: Foster The People's Torches and Jadakiss' I Love You (A Dedication To My Fans).

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