Chart Watch

Week Ending May 29, 2011. Albums: Gaga Goes On Sale

Chart Watch

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Lady Gaga's Born This Way sold 1,108,000 copies in its first week, which is the biggest one-week sales tally since 50 Cent's The Massacre sold 1,141,000 copies in its first week in March 2005. Gaga's monster total is the second biggest one-week tally ever for an album by a female artist. It's topped only by Britney Spears' sophomore album Oops!...I Did It Again, which sold 1,319,000 copies in its first week in May 2000.

This is the 10th fattest one-week sales total in Nielsen/SoundScan history, which stretches back a little more than 20 years.

Digital accounted for 60% of the first-week sales for Born This Way. The album sold 662,000 digital copies, which smashes Coldplay's record for the greatest digital sales by an album in one week in history. Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends sold 288K digital copies in its first week in June 2008.

Born This Way is already the eighth best-selling album in digital history. Gaga has two of the all-time top 10. The Fame is #2, with digital sales to date of 961K. Taylor Swift is the only other artist with two of the all-time top 10 digital albums. Fearless is #6. Speak Now is #10.

The strong digital showing for Born This Way is no surprise given Amazon's price-busting 99-cent sale on the album on Monday and Thursday of last week. (Billboard estimates that that Amazon's 99-cent offering accounts for 440K of the 662K digital total.) Does selling the album for roughly the cost of a newspaper or a can of Coke diminish the achievement? It does, but then again, if people don't want something, you can't give it away.

Gaga's 2008 debut album, The Fame, took 35 weeks to sell as many copies as Born This Way sold in its first week. Her 2010 EP The Fame Monster took 28 weeks to hit this number. (Both of those albums move up the chart this week. The Fame leaps from #36 to #16, its highest ranking since August. The Fame Monster vaults from #179 to #87.)

Born This Way also debuts at #1 in Japan and the U.K. It's the sixth album since 2004 to reach #1 in the U.S., Japan and the U.K. It follows Avril Lavigne's The Best Damn Thing, Linkin Park's Minutes To Midnight, Madonna's Hard Candy, Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown, and Michael Jackson's This Is It.

Born This Way is Gaga's second #1 album in the U.K. The Fame topped the U.K. chart for seven weeks. Born This Way sold 215K copies in the U.K. this week, which is the biggest first-week total of the year, according to the Official Charts Co. It's more than the rest of the top 10 combined.

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Brad Paisley's This Is Country Music enters The Billboard 200 at #2. This is Paisley's third album to reach #2. It follows Time Well Wasted and American Saturday Night. The country superstar has yet to land a #1 album, but he is a patient man. He was nominated for Entertainer of the Year at the Country Music Awards five years in a row and lost every time. He finally won in October on his sixth try.

This Is Country Music is #1 on Top Country Albums. It's Paisley's sixth #1 on that chart.

Adele's 21 slips to #3. The album has ranked in the top three for each of its first 14 weeks. This is the best showing by any album since Alicia Keys' As I Am ranked in the top three for each of its first 15 weeks in 2007-2008. Will Adele equal or surpass Keys' tally? Stay tuned.

21 sold 39,000 digital copies this week, which brings its digital total to 842,000. This enables it to pull ahead of Coldplay's Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends as the best-selling album in digital history by an act that hails from outside the U.S. Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More also pulls ahead of Viva La Vida in total sales this week. It sold 14K copies this week, which brings its total to 817K copies to date. Coldplay's album has sold 806K digital copies.

Glee, The Music: Season Two Volume 6 debuts at #4. This is the 11th consecutive Glee album or EP to debut in the top 10. It's also #1 on the Soundtrack Albums chart, displacing Lemonade Mouth.

An eponymous album by the boy band collective NKOTBSB debuts at #7. New Kids on the Block had four top 10 albums from 1989 to 2008. Backstreet Boys had seven in a row from 1997 to 2009.

Scotty McCreery's "I Love You This Big," the first single by the Season 10 winner of American Idol, enters Hot Digital Songs at #3. Will it debut in the top 10 on the Hot 100? You'll find out when we post Chart Watch: Songs later today. In the meantime, I'll have more on McCreery and Idol runner-up Lauren Alaina after the top 10 list. Their American Idol Season 10 collections both enter The Billboard 200 this week.

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

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1. Lady Gaga, Born This Way, 1,108,000. This new entry is Gaga's fourth top 10 album, following The Fame, The Fame Monster and The Remix. Eight songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "The Edge Of Glory," which jumps from #14 to #4.

2. Brad Paisley, This Is Country Music, 153,000. This new entry is Paisley's sixth top 10 album in a row (discounting a 2006 Christmas album). "Old Alabama," featuring Alabama, drops from #59 to #68 on Hot Digital Songs.

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3. Adele, 21, 126,000. The former #1 album drops to #3 in its 14th week. It has been in the top three the entire time. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Rolling In The Deep," which logs its fourth week at #1.

4. Soundtrack, Glee, The Music: Season Two Volume 6, 80,000. This new entry is the 10th Glee volume to debut in the top five. Six songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Light Up The World," which debuts at #17.

5. Various Artists, Maybach Music Group Presents: Self Made: Vol. I, 59,000. This new entry was spearheaded by three-time chart-topper Rick Ross.

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6. Various Artists, Now 38, 45,000. The album drops from #3 to #6 in its fourth week. It has been in the top 10 the entire time. The album has sold 288K copies to date.

7. NKOTBSB, NKOTBSB, 40,000. This new entry is the fifth top 10 album for New Kids on the Block; the eighth for Backstreet Boys.

8. Foster The People, Torches, 33,000. This new entry is the act's debut album. An eponymous EP sold about 1K copies this year. "Pumped Up Kicks" drops from #69 to #73 on Hot Digital Songs.

9. Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party, 33,000. The album drops from #4 to #9 in its 30th week. This is its eighth week in the top 10. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Dirt Road Anthem," which dips from #22 to #23.

10. Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More, 25,000. The album drops from #5 to #10 in its 62nd week. This is its 19th week in the top 10. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "The Cave" drops from #89 to #104. "Little Lion Man" drops from #102 to #126.

Six albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Seether's Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray drops from #2 to #11, Beastie Boys' Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 drops from #6 to #14, The Lonely Island's Turtleneck & Chain drops from #7 to #27, Justin Bieber's Never Say Never: The Remixes drops from #8 to #23, Fleet Foxes' Helplessness Blues drops from #9 to #22 and Il Volo's Il Volo drops from #10 to #15.

Newly-crowned American Idol winner Scotty McCreery debuts at #12 with a digital-only set, American Idol Season 10: Scotty McCreery. A similar set by runner-up Lauren Alaina bows at #42. If McCreery's debut album (due later this year) outsells Alaina's (which seems likely), this will be the first year in which the American Idol winner has outsold the runner-up since 2008, when David Cook bested David Archuleta both in the TV competition and in the album sales race.

The last two years, the debut album by the runner-up has outsold the debut album by the winner. Season 8 runner-up Adam Lambert's For Your Entertainment has sold 817K copies, more than twice as many copies as winner Kris Allen's Kris Allen (328K). Season 9 runner-up Crystal Bowersox's The Farmer's Daughter has sold 197K, substantially more than winner Lee DeWyze's Live It Up (141K). These numbers for Allen, Bowersox and DeWyze are dismal, given Idol's high ratings. Even Lambert's tally is lower than you would expect for someone who created such a stir. Let's hope McCreery and Alaina ring up bigger numbers when their debut albums are released later this year. The fact that these instant collections are charting so high is a positive sign.

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Journey's Eclipse debuts at #13. The album is a Walmart exclusive, as was the band's last release, 2008's Revelation. Eclipse is the band's 20th album to crack The Billboard 200. But here's the odd part: Twelve of those albums have had one-word titles. The band's first album, in 1975, was titled Journey. Their album titles didn't get much wordier after that. They include Next, Infinity, Evolution, Departure, Captured, Escape, Frontiers, Arrival, Generations and Revelation. I guess the band likes to keep it simple.

Adele's 2008 album 19 dips from #16 to #21. It's #1 on Top Catalog Albums for the 13th time in the past 15 weeks...Country Strong drops from #66 to #71. Even with that tepid ranking, it's the top-ranking soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie for the 13th week.

The Hangover Part II was #1 at the box-office over the weekend. The original The Hangover was #1 for two weekends in June 2009. The soundtrack to Part II enters The Billboard 200 at #129. It features tracks by such acts as Danzig and Kanye West, as well as co-star Ed Helms signing Billy Joel's "Allentown" and cameo player Mike Tyson singing Murray Head's "One Night In Bangkok."

AC/DC's Live At River Plate is #1 on the Music Videos chart for the third week in a row. The video sold 6K copies this week, bringing its total to 33K. It's already #6 for the year to date.

R.I.P. Gil Scott-Heron, the singer and poet who, many said, set the template for rap, died last week. Scott-Heron teamed with Brian Jackson for a series of albums, including The First Minute Of A New Day, which cracked the top 30 in 1975. Scott-Heron also appeared on two high-profile protest albums: 1979's No Nukes/The MUSE Concerts For A Non-Nuclear Future and 1985's Sun City by a collective of artists dubbed Artists United Against Apartheid. Scott-Heron was 62.

Coming Attractions: Death Cab for Cutie's Codes And Keys is expected to be next week's top new entry. Eddie Vedder will also debut next week with his first solo studio album, Ukulele Songs, and his music video, Water On The Road: Eddie Vedder Live. Also due: My Morning Jacket's Circuital, Flogging Molly's Speed Of Darkness and Jordan Knight's Unfinished.

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