Chart Watch

Week Ending May 24, 2009: The Kris/Adam Duel Moves To The Charts

Chart Watch

American Idol Season 8 winner Kris Allen sold more downloads this past week than runner-up Adam Lambert did, but far fewer than David Cook did in the week after he was announced as the Season 7 winner. Allen's 11 entries on the Hot Digital Songs chart sold a combined total of 479,000 downloads. Lambert's 15 entries on that chart sold a combined total of 390,000. But both tallies are dwarfed by Cook, whose 17 chart entries sold a combined 943,000 downloads in his post-victory week last year. (One reason for the discrepancy: There are other purchasing options this year, including the iTunes Pass and digital albums.)

The order of finish was reversed on The Billboard 200 album chart, where Lambert's Season 8 Favorite Performances debuts at #33, while Allen's edition of the digital-only title arrives at #50. As every Idol watcher knows, the contestants' weekly performances are immediately available for download on iTunes. But the show shields download information until a winner is announced, to avoid revealing the building popularity of the key contestants. As of this week's charts, the Idol contestants' hits and misses are out in the open, the same as any other artist. So let's dig in...

Allen's top downloads are his widely-panned coronation song, "No Boundaries," which ranks #4 on Hot Digital Songs; his masterful interpretation of Kanye West's "Heartless," which ranks #5; and his cover of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine," which ranks #17. Lambert's top songs are his hypnotic version of Tears for Fears' "Mad World," which ranks #7; his reading of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come," which ranks #32; and his take on "No Boundaries," which ranks #43. Though Allen didn't do as well as Season 7 winner David Cook, Lambert did better than Season 7 runner-up David Archuleta. As noted, Lambert's 15 charted songs sold a combined 390,000 downloads. Archie's 12 charted songs sold a combined 301,000. "No Boundaries" was no match for Cook's coronation song, "The Time Of My Life." Cook's song sold 236,000 downloads one year ago. Allen's rendition of "No Boundaries" sold 134,000. Lambert's take on the song sold 36,000.

Danny Gokey, who finished third this season, puts two songs on Hot Digital Songs, topped by his cover of Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful," which bows at #110. Fourth-place Allison Iraheta's cover of Janis Joplin's "Cry Baby" ranks #191. In addition, 11 songs by Idol contestants from past seasons are listed on this week's Hot Digital Songs chart. All told, Idol contestants hold down 40 of this week's top 200 spots. That's an impressive sign of how potent this show has been in setting the commercial agenda for pop music in the past decade.

On to other chart news: Eminem's Relapse enters The Billboard 200 at #1 with sales of 608,000. That's the heftiest weekly tally since AC/DC's Black Ice opened with sales of 784,000 in October. It's the fattest total for a rap album since Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III bowed with 1,006,000 in June. Relapse got off to a faster start than Eminem's 2005 greatest hits album, Curtain Call: The Hits, which started with sales of 441,000. But it fell short of his last studio album, Encore, which bowed with sales of 711,000 in 2004. This is the rap icon and provocateur's fifth consecutive #1 album; his sixth in a row to reach the top two. Nearly 119,000 copies of Relapse were sold digitally. That's the second biggest total of the year, after U2's No Line On The Horizon, which sold 155,000 digital copies in its first week in March. (It's the biggest tally for a rap album since Kanye West's Graduation bowed with sales of 133,000 digital copies in 2007.) Relapse also debuts at #1 this week in the U.K. It's Eminem's fifth straight #1 album in the U.K.

Eminem has sold 33,951,000 albums since the start of his career in 1999. This puts him at #10 on Nielsen/SoundScan's running list of artists who have sold the most albums in its history (which dates to 1991). Eminem just this week surges ahead of Shania Twain, U2 and Kenny G on this list.

Eminem has sold 31,127,000 albums since January 2000, which lengthens his lead as the artist who has sold the most albums in this decade. On Friday, I'll have a Chart Watch Extra in which I look at the 20 acts that have sold the most albums since January 2000. You'll be surprised by some of the artists who made the list--and some of the artists who didn't. Neither of the top two album-sellers from the 1990s, Garth Brooks and Mariah Carey, rank among the top 20 album-sellers for this decade. Meanwhile the act at #2 since January 2000 is a big surprise. (At least it was to me.) Circle back on Friday and find out where you favorites rank.

Dane Cook's ISolated INcident bows at #4. This is Cook's third album in a row to make the top 15. Retaliation debuted and peaked at #4 in July 2005. Rough Around The Edges: Live From Madison Square Garden Cook debuted and peaked at #11 in November 2007. Cook is the first comedy act to have three consecutive top 15 albums since the stoner duo Cheech & Chong scored from 1972-1974 with Big Bambu, Los Cochinos and Cheech & Chong's Wedding Album, all of which reached the top five. ISolated INcident is Cook's second studio album in a row to reach the top 10. Cook is the first comedian have back-to-back top 10 studio releases since Steve Martin scored in 1977-1978 with Let's Get Small and A Wild And Crazy Guy. Martin was arguably the first comedian to have the high-wattage appeal of a rock star. Cook has taken that same basic concept and put it on steroids.

This is also a big week for Lady GaGa. "Just Dance" (featuring Colby O'Donis) becomes only the fifth song to reach the 4 million mark in paid downloads. And her follow-up smash, "Poker Face," tops the 3 million mark this week. Only two other female solo artists, Katy Perry and Rihanna, have had two songs top the 3 million mark. Lady GaGa's album The Fame logs its 14th week in the top 10 on The Billboard 200. Lady GaGa is so much in the Madonna mold in sound and style, it made me wonder: What was Madonna's last album to log 14 weeks in the top 10? Answer below.

Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow" tops the Hot Digital Songs chart for the eighth straight week. It's the first song to spend its first eight weeks at #1 on this chart since "Candy Shop" by 50 Cent featuring Olivia in early 2005. "Boom Boom" sold 240,000 copies this week, bringing its eight-week total to 2,161,000. "My Humps," the Peas' only other song to top the 2 million mark in paid downloads, took nearly two years to achieve the feat.

Quiz Answer: The last Madonna album to log 14 or more weeks in the top 10 was Like A Prayer, which had 16 weeks in the top 10 in 1989. Madonna's album with the longest run in the top 10 was Like A Virgin, which held on for 33 weeks in 1984-'85. Will Lady GaGa ever come close to equaling Madonna's accomplishments? Only time will tell, but that's an awfully big bustier to fill. So to speak...

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

1. Eminem, Relapse, 608,000. This new entry is Eminem's sixth consecutive album to debut at #1 or #2. Six songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "We Made You," which falls to #42.

2. Green Day, 21st Century Breakdown, 166,000. The album slips from #1 to #2 in its second week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Know Your Enemy," which dips to #25.

3. Kenny Chesney, Greatest Hits II, 89,000. This new, CD-only entry is Chesney's eighth top 10 album. Chesney's first greatest hits album, in 2000, peaked at #13. This is the week's #1 country album, replacing Hannah Montana: The Movie. (Country purists feel better already.)

4. Dane Cook, ISolated INcident, 61,000. This new entry is Cook's second studio album in a row to debut in the top five. He's the first comedy artist to reach the top five with back-to-back studio albums since Cheech & Chong scored with three in a row in the '70s. Comedy Central aired Cook's special of the same name on May 17.

5. Busta Rhymes, Back On My B.S., 59,000. This new entry is Busta Rhymes' sixth top 10 album. His highest-charting album was The Big Bang, which opened at #1 in 2006. "Respect My Conglomerate" (featuring Young Jeezy) enters Hot Digital Songs at #119.

6. Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana, Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack, 58,000. The former #1 album slips from #2 to #6. This is its ninth week in the top 10. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "The Climb," which dips to #20.

7. Method Man and Redman, Blackout! 2, 57,000. This new entry is a sequel to the pair's first Blackout! album, which debuted and peaked at #3 in 1999. This is the sixth top 10 album for Method Man; the third for Redman.

8. Lady GaGa, The Fame, 45,000. The album slips from #4 to #8. This is its 14th week in the top 10. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Poker Face," which falls to #9.

9. Tori Amos, Abnormally Attracted To Sin, 41,000. This new entry is Amos' seventh top 10 album. Her highest-charting album was Boys For Pele, which debuted and peaked at #2 in 1996.

10. Kate Voegele, A Fine Mess, 37,000. This new entry is the first top 10 album for the singer/actress, who has a recurring role on TV's One Tree Hill. Voegele's debut, Don't Look Away, was a sleeper hit. It peaked at #27 in March 2008, 10 months after its release. Most of the copies of the new album (22,000) were sold digitally. "Forever And Almost Always" enters Hot Digital Songs at #105.

Seven albums (including five that reached #1) drop out of the top 10 this week. Cam'Ron's Crime Pays plummets from #3 to #35, Rascal Flatts' Unstoppable sinks from #5 to #12, Bob Dylan's Together Through Life falls from #6 to #17, Taylor Swift's Fearless dips from #7 to #11, Chrisette Michele's Epiphany falls from #8 to #20, Rick Ross' Deeper Than Rap drops from #9 to #22, and Ciara's Fantasy Ride falls from #10 to #34.

Mat Kearney's City Of Black And White bows at #13. This represents a breakthrough for the Contemporary Christian artist, whose previous studio album, Nothing Left To Lose, peaked at #118 in 2006. "Closer To Love" enters Hot Digital Songs at #185.

Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood's Live At Madison Square Garden bows at #14. These two veterans first cracked The Billboard 200 within two months of each other in the spring of 1967. This is Clapton's third collaboration to chart in the past decade, following albums with B.B. King and J.J. Cale. It's Winwood's first collaboration to chart since a 1976 album with Stomu Yamashta and Michael Shrieve. A wide range of artists have recorded live albums at Madison Square Garden, including Dane Cook, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Grateful Dead, Phish and Toscanini. The most famous album recorded at the Garden didn't have the venue in the title. That's George Harrison & Friends' 1971 blockbuster, The Concert For Bangla Desh.

Fox's fall series Glee, which had a preview last week after American Idol, makes a strong showing. The cast's version of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" sold 177,000 downloads to enter Hot Digital Songs at #2. Their rendition of Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" bows at #74. Journey's original recording of "Don't Stop Believin'" has sold more downloads than any other oldie in history. It sold another 42,000 copies this week, bringing its total to 2,711,000...With that boost, Journey's Greatest Hits returns to #1 on the Catalog Albums chart. This is the album's fourth week on top of the list. The album sold 7,000 copies this week and would have ranked #76 on the big chart if older, catalog albums were eligible to compete there. Alas, this is the lowest weekly sales tally for a #1 Catalog Album since at least 1994.

There are three versions of Kanye West's "Heartless" listed on this week's Hot Digital Songs chart. West's 2008 original ranks #53, The Fray's cover is #115 and Kris Allen's Idol version ranks #5. West's original has sold 2,996,000 downloads. Next week it will become his second song to top the 3 million mark in paid downloads. His 2007 smash "Stronger" is currently at 3,613,000.

Small World: Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown enters the Japanese album chart at #1, displacing Carpenters' 40/40: The Best Selection. It's the first time that American acts have had back-to-back #1 albums in the world's #2 music market in more than five years.

Heads Up: Look for Marilyn Manson's The High End Of Low and Wisin Y Yandel's La Revolucion to make potent debuts on next week's chart. Also due: Mandy Moore' s Amanda Leigh.

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