Chart Watch

Week Ending May 23, 2010: Direct From 1972, The Rolling Stones

Chart Watch

The Rolling Stones' 1972 classic Exile On Main St. re-enters The Billboard 200 at #2, just behind the latest Glee album, which debuts at #1. The last time Exile was in the top 10 (Aug. 19, 1972), Richard Nixon was President, the Carpenters were on top and Maude was a month away from its debut on CBS.

Exile is only the second catalog studio album to rank among the two best-selling albums in the U.S. in the Nielsen/SoundScan era. It follows Michael Jackson's Thriller, which, as a catalog album, sold enough copies to reach #2 twice (first with the Thriller 25 reissue in February 2008 and again after Jackson's death in June 2009).

Three other catalog studio albums sold enough copies to place in the top five. Pearl Jam's Ten sold enough to reach #5 in March 2009. The Beatles' Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band sold enough to hit #3 and #5, respectively, in September.

I use the term "studio album" to exclude a pair of Christmas albums (Kenny G's Miracles-The Holiday Album and Josh Groban's Noel) and a pair of greatest hits sets (Michael Jackson's Number Ones and The Essential Michael Jackson) which also made the top five as catalog albums.

Exile is 38 years old, which makes it one of the oldest albums ever to rank among the 10 best-selling albums in the country. But it's not the oldest. All five Beatles albums that ranked among the 10 best-sellers in September were older. Those albums were 1965's Rubber Soul, 1966's Revolver, 1967's Sgt. Pepper's, 1968's The Beatles (The White Album) and 1969's Abbey Road.

Exile was re-released in a range of configurations tailored to every interest level (and budget!). There was a standard remastered album, a deluxe version with 10 additional tracks and a super-deluxe boxed set. These albums sold a combined total of 76,000 copies. In addition, Target had an exclusive on an album containing just the 10 bonus tracks. That album, Exile On Main St. Rarities Edition, sold 15,000 copies and bows at  #27.

Some may wonder why the Stones didn't hold off for two years until the 40th anniversary of Exile for this re-release. Re-releases of classic movies are usually tied to anniversaries that are divisible by five. The answer is that there is deep concern in the industry that there will be less of a market for albums two years from now than there is now.

Exile debuts at #1 in the U.K. The album also topped the U.K. chart back in 1972, though surprisingly it stayed on top for only one week. The album was booted from the top spot after a single frame by a K-Tel collection, 20 Dynamic Hits.

Pop Quiz: Exile is of only three albums from the 1970s to rank among the 10 best-selling albums in the U.S. since 1992, the first full year of Nielsen/SoundScan accounting. Name the other two. (Clue: The most obvious guess would be Pink Floyd's The Dark Side Of The Moon. That's not one of them.)

Exile On Main St. first entered The Billboard 200 at #10 on June 10, 1972. It was the only album to debut in the top 10 that year. The album shot to #1 in its second week. Exile spawned a pair of top 30 hits, "Tumbling Dice," which was later revived by Linda Ronstadt, and "Happy," which featured a rare lead vocal by Keith Richards.

Matchbox Twenty paid homage to Exile (and tweaked their own vanilla image) with the title of their 2007 album Exile On Mainstream.

Most of you probably know that until December, catalog albums were barred from The Billboard 200, even if they sold enough copies to make the top 10 (or #1, in the case of Number Ones). That's why I use stilted phrases like "ranked among the 10 best-sellers" and "sold enough copies to reach the top 10." I'm glad The Billboard 200 now actually lists the 200 best-selling albums in the country, no matter their age.

Quiz Answer: The other two albums from the 1970s to rank among the 10 best-selling albums in the U.S. during the Nielsen/SoundScan era are the 1978 Grease soundtrack and Michael Jackson's 1979 smash Off The Wall. Grease ranked among the 10 best-sellers for two weeks in April 1998. It was boosted by a theatrical re-release of the movie. Off The Wall ranked among the 10 best-sellers for two weeks in July 2009, in the wake of the singer's death.

Glee: The Music, Vol. 3: Showstoppers is the second Glee album to reach #1 in the past five weeks, following Glee: The Music, The Power Of Madonna. Glee is one of only three weekly series in television history to spawn two or more #1 albums (during the run of the show). The Monkees, whose eponymous show ran from 1966 to 1968, had four #1 albums. Hannah Montana, which debuted in 2006, also yielded two #1 albums (not counting the movie soundtrack).

All four Glee albums are listed in the top 50 on this week's Billboard 200. In its first season, Glee has surpassed American Idol as the most buzzed-about music show on TV. It's also selling more music than its Fox lead-in. The four Glee albums that have been released to date have sold a combined total of 1,795,000 copies. The studio albums by the top four contestants on Idol last season have sold 1,194,000 copies.

Shameless Plug: Showstoppers spans 72 years of pop music, from Rodgers & Hart's 1937 classic "The Lady Is A Tramp" (written for the Broadway musical Babes In Arms) to Lady Gaga's 2009 smash "Bad Romance." Glee is making pop music history entertaining for 12 million people a week. On Friday, I'm going to look at the Glee phenomenon in a Chart Watch Extra, "I'm Turning Into A Gleek."

Showstoppers assumes the top spot with total sales of 136,000 copies. This is the seventh consecutive week in which the #1 album sold fewer than 150,000 copies. That's the longest stretch in which the #1 album sold fewer than 150K in 15 years. (There was an 11-week streak from March to June 1995 in which the #1 album sold fewer than 150K copies.) Happily, our current soft sales streak will probably end in two weeks with the entry of the latest Jack Johnson album.

Showstoppers sold nearly 56,000 digital copies, making it the week's #1 Digital Album. Digital accounts for 41% of the album's total sales this week.

"OMG" by Usher featuring will.i.am returns to #1 on Hot Digital Songs after two weeks at #2. The song sold 236,000 digital copies this week, bringing its eight-week total to 1,453,000. Two other songs were very close behind this week. "Airplanes" by B.o.B featuring Eminem and Hayley Williams sold 232,000 copies, while "California Gurls" by Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg sold 231,000. (Miley Cyrus' "Can't Be Tamed," which debuts at #4 with first-week sales of 191,000, is the highest-ranking song on this week's chart that isn't a collaboration.)

"OMG" also tops the Hot 100 for the third time in the past four weeks. "Airplanes" inches up from #3 to #2. "California Gurls" dips to #3 after debuting at #2 last week. "Can't Be Tamed" debuts at #8, becoming Cyrus' sixth top 10 hit. Billy Ray Cyrus had just one top 10 hit on the Hot 100, 1992's "Achy Breaky Heart."

Song Scorecard: "Airplanes" tops the 1 million mark in paid downloads in its sixth week. Only one other song has reached the 1 million mark this quickly so far this year. That's "Break Your Heart" by Taio Cruz featuring Ludacris. ...As it happens, "Break Your Heart" tops the 2 million mark this week. The song took 13 weeks to reach this plateau, the fastest climb by any song since Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" rang the bell in its 10th week in January.

I told you last week that Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas have each had six songs that have topped the 2 million sales mark and that this is the record for "lead artists." That's still true, but if you combine lead and "featuring" credits, Kanye West surges to the front of the pack, with seven 2 million-sellers. He has had five as a lead (or co-lead) artist: "Gold Digger," "Stronger," "Love Lockdown," "Heartless" and "Run This Town" (a co-lead effort with Jay-Z and Rihanna). He has also had two as a featured artist: Estelle's "American Boy" and Keri Hilson's "Knock You Down" (which crosses the 2 million mark just this week).

Nas & Damian "Jr Gong" Marley's Distant Relatives enters The Billboard 200 at #5. This is the second top 10 album for Marley, following 2005's Welcome To Jamrock. Marley has now had more top 10 albums than his famous father, Bob Marley. (That just seems wrong, doesn't it?) The late reggae legend had just one top 10 album, 1976's Rastaman Vibration. This is the ninth top 10 album for Nas, not counting a 1997 album by The Firm, in which he teamed with Foxy Brown, AZ and Nature.

I have both good news and bad news for Lady Antebellum. Good news first: Need You Now holds at #1 on Top Country Albums for the 17th straight week. It's the first album to spend its first 17 weeks at #1 on the country chart since Billy Ray Cyrus' Some Gave All topped the chart in each of its first 18 weeks in 1992.

Now for the bad news: Need You Now drops from #2 to #6 on The Billboard 200. It thus falls short of Taylor Swift's run with Fearless, which spent its first 18 weeks in the top five. (You might wonder how it is that Fearless spent its first 18 weeks in the top five, but didn't spend its first 18 weeks at #1 on the country chart. Because it was dislodged in what would have been its 13th week atop the country chart by an eponymous album by Dierks Bentley.) You win some, you lose some.

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

1. Various Artists, Glee: The Music, Volume 3: Showstoppers, 136,000. This new entry is the second Glee album to reach #1. Eight songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by the cast's version of Aerosmith's "Dream On" (featuring Neil Patrick Harris) which bows at #13.

2. The Rolling Stones, Exile On Main St., 76,000. This re-entry is in its 12th week in the top 10. It spent 11 weeks in the top 10 during its first run in 1972. It's #1 on the Catalog Albums chart.

3. The Black Keys, Brothers, 73,000. This new entry is the blues-rock duo's second top 20 album in a row. Attack And Release reached #14 in April 2008. (I like the album cover. Things are so complicated these days. I appreciate the clarity.)

4. Justin Bieber, My World 2.0, 62,000. The album drops from #1 to #4 in its ninth week (even though its sales were up 2% over last week's tally). Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Eenie Meenie, a duet with Sean Kingston, which dips from #15 to #17.

5. Nas & Damian "Jr Gong" Marley, Distant Relatives, 57,000. This new entry is the second top 10 album for Marley; the ninth for Nas.

6. Lady Antebellum, Need You Now, 46,000. The former #1 album drops from #2 to #6 in its 17th week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Need You Now" dips from #18 to #20. "American Honey" dips from #49 to #54.

7. Band Of Horses, Infinite Arms, 45,000. This new entry is the band's first top 10 album. Cease To Begin debuted and peaked at #35 in October 2007.

8. Usher, Raymond V Raymond, 41,000. The former #1 album dips from #7 to #8 in its eighth week. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "OMG" (featuring will.i.am), which returns to #1.

9. AC/DC, Iron Man 2 soundtrack, 32,000. The soundtrack drops from #4 to #9 in its fifth week. It's the #1 theatrical movie soundtrack for the fifth week. The movie was #2 at the box-office after two weekends on top.

10. LCD Soundsystem, This Is Happening, 31,000. This new entry is the act's first top 10 album. Sound Of Silver debuted and peaked at #46 in March 2007.

Six albums drop out of the top 10 this week. The National's High Violet dives from #3 to #15, Dead Weather's Sea Of Cowards plummets from #5 to #31, Carole King/James Taylor's Live At The Troubadour drops from #6 to #11, Charice's Charice drops from #8 to #28, Godsmack's The Oracle drops from #9 to #13, and As I Lay Dying's Powerless Rise drops from #10 to #29.

Janelle Monae's sophomore album, The ArchAndroid: Janelle Monae Suites II And III, bows at #17. It sold more than four times as many copies in its first week as Monae's 2008 debut, Metropolis: The Chase Suite, which debuted and peaked at #118...Talib Kweli + Hi Tek's reunion collabo, Revolutions Per Minute, bows at #18. This is a tad lower than the pair's first collabo, Reflection Eternal, which reached #17 in 2000.

"Nothin' On You" by B.o.B featuring Bruno Mars moves up to #1 in the U.K. this week, a few weeks after reaching #1 on the Hot 100. It is the 196th "transatlantic #1 hit" since 1952.

Jay-Z's current album, The Blueprint 3, is the first of his long career to spawn three top 10 hits on the Hot 100. "Run This Town" (with Rihanna and Kanye West) hit #2. "Empire State Of Mind" (with Alicia Keys) logged five weeks at #1. "Mr. Carter" (with Mr. Hudson) reached #10 two weeks ago. Two previous Jay-Z albums, The Blueprint 2 and The Black Album, each spawned two top 10 hits. The Blueprint 3 has sold 1,748,000 copies, making it Jay-Z's best-selling solo release since The Black Album.

Song Scorecard: Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" tops the 3 million mark in paid downloads. It's only the fourth country song to hit this level, following Taylor Swift's "Love Story" (4,558,000), Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" (3,618,000) and Swift's "You Belong With Me" (3,240,000).

Jason Derulo lands his second 2 million seller in a row with "In My Head." Derulo's previous hit, "Whatcha Say," is up to 3,253,000...As noted above, Keri Hilson's "Knock You Down" (featuring Kanye West and Ne-Yo) tops the 2 million mark. Hilson first gained recognition as the featured artist on Timbaland's "The Way I Are," which has sold 2,782,000 digital copies.

Shrek Forever After, the fourth installment in the series, was #1 at the box-office over the weekend. The first three movies in the series all ranked among the top three box-office hits of the year. An album of the movie's score by composer Harry Gregson-Williams just came out. A pop soundtrack is due next month.

R.I.P. Less than two years ago, Slipknot landed its first #1 album, All Hope Is Gone. On Monday, bassist Paul Gray, who co-founded the band in 1995, was found dead in an Iowa hotel room. Toxicology results are pending. He was 38.

Heads Up: Stone Temple Pilots' first studio album in nearly nine years, Stone Temple Pilots, will vie with Glee for the #1 spot next week. Also due: the Sex and the City 2 soundtrack, Marc Anthony's Iconos, Widespread Panic's Dirty Side Down, Rihanna's Rated R: Remixed, Cam'ron's Cam'ron & The U.N. Present: Heat In Here, Vol. 1 and Leela James' My Soul. Due in two weeks: the latest from Jack Johnson, whose last two albums have debuted at #1.

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