Chart Watch

Week Ending May 30, 2010: A So-So Showing For Idol

Chart Watch

American Idol's Season 9 winner Lee DeWyze edged out runner-up Crystal Bowersox as their rivalry moves from the Idol stage to the pop charts. DeWyze placed five songs on the Hot Digital Songs chart. Bowersox scored with three. (Their duet version of "Falling Slowly" also charted, giving them a combined total of nine charted songs.)

If those numbers sound a little light, they are. Last year, winner Kris Allen and runner-up Adam Lambert put a combined 26 songs on Hot Digital Songs in the week their rivalry came to an end. Two years ago, winner David Cook and runner-up David Archuleta put a combined 29 songs on the chart.

DeWyze debuts at #12 with his version of U2's "Beautiful Day," at #20 with Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," at #61 with Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer," at #76 with R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" and at #121 with Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man." Bowersox bows at #32 with her version of Patty Griffin's "Up To The Mountain (MLK Song)," at #113 with Alannah Myles' "Black Velvet" and at #117 with Kris Kristofferson's "Me And Bobby McGee." The pair's duet version of the Oscar-winning "Falling Slowly" bows at #38.

This is the first time in four years that none of the Idol contestants cracked the top 10 on Hot Digital Songs in the week after the winner was crowned. This last happened in June 2006 when Taylor Hicks' "Do I Make You Proud" debuted at #18. In May 2007, Jordin Sparks' "This Is My Now" bowed at #9. In May 2008, David Cook put three songs in the top 10, topped by "The Time Of My Life" at #1. In May 2009, Kris Allen had two songs in the top 10, topped by "No Boundaries" at #4. Adam Lambert had one, a cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World," at #7.

In fairness to DeWyze, this was the first time in Idol history that the winner wasn't given a new "coronation song." "Beautiful Day" is a marvelous song, but, as they say, it's been done. U2's 2000 version won Grammys as Record and Song of the Year. It has sold 1,366,000 digital copies. American Idol has been slipping a bit in the ratings and in the buzz battle with such newer shows as Glee. You would think they would respond to the slippage by trying harder, not by seeming to take the easy way out.

Some of you have questioned why the Idol contestants' songs haven't been listed on the Hot Digital Songs chart all along. The reason is obvious: If one contestant consistently led the field, you would know the probable outcome weeks ahead of the show's finale. American Idol is first and foremost a television show. Fox and the producers have a huge stake in not giving away the ending.

The last week of Idol also gave a big boost to a few other songs. Carrie Underwood's "Undo It" vaulted from #61 to #18. Will Young's "Leave Right Now" re-enters at #50. Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" debuts at #82. The song was performed on the show by third-place finisher Casey James and Poison's Bret Michaels.

While Idol's ratings have dropped this season, it still finished the season as the #1 series on television, according to the A.C. Nielsen ratings. This was the sixth year in a row it has finished #1. It's the first series in TV history to rank #1 for the season six times (consecutively or not). All In The Family and The Cosby Show were each #1 for five straight seasons. Keep this in mind the next time you read a story pointing out Idol's ratings slippage. It's inevitable for an aging series. The bigger story is that the show has stayed on top this long.

Here's another sign that Glee has surpassed Idol as the key music show on TV. In what was for Glee a routine week, it put more songs on Hot Digital Songs than Idol did in this special week where their songs from the season are released for the first time. There are 11 Glee songs on this week's chart, topped by the cast's version of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" (featuring Idina Menzel), which debuts at #9. It's the sixth Glee song to make the top 10 on Hot Digital Songs; the third in the past four weeks.

Katy Perry's "California Gurls" (featuring Snoop Dogg) returns to #1 on Hot Digital Songs in its third week. It sold 269,000 copies this week, bringing its three-week total to 793,000. The summer pop confection returns to #2 on the Hot 100, after slipping to #3 last week. "OMG" by Usher featuring will.i.am holds at #1 for the fourth week. It's Usher's longest-running #1 hit since "My Boo," his 2004 collabo with Alicia Keys, which logged six weeks on top.

Glee: The Music, Vol. 3, Showstoppers holds at #1 on The Billboard 200 for the second week. It's the first TV soundtrack to log two or more weeks at #1 since High School Musical 2 had four weeks on top in 2007.

Glee holds the top spot with sales of 63,000 copies. This is the eighth week in a row that the #1 album has sold fewer than 150,000 copies. This is the longest run of #1 albums that sold fewer than 150K since the spring of 1995, when there was an 11-week stretch of #1 albums that fell below that sales threshold. But the current tepid streak will end next week with the arrival of Jack Johnson's To The Sea, which is expected to sell in the range of 250,000 copies. (The fate of an entire industry rests on Johnson's tanned shoulders. Good thing he's such a mellow dude.)

Stone Temple Pilots' Stone Temple Pilots debuts at #2. This is the band's first studio album in nearly nine years. All six of the band's studio albums have made the top 10, dating back to 1992's Core. The new album sold 62,000 copies in its first week. The band's last studio album, Shangri-La Dee Da, sold 98,000 copies in its first week in June 2001, when it debuted at #9.

Lady Antebellum's Need You Now rebounds from #6 to #4. It also logs its 18th week at #1 on Top Country Albums. It's the first album to spend its first 18 weeks at #1 on the country chart since Billy Ray Cyrus' Some Gave All in 1992.

Lady Gaga's The Fame rebounds from #12 to #6 in the wake of a Glee episode which featured two of her songs ("Bad Romance" and "Poker Face"). The Fame has sold 3,398,000 copies, more than any other album in this week's top 30. (This tally for The Fame doesn't count The Fame Monster EP, which has sold 1,100,000 copies.)

This week, The Fame tops the 1 million mark in 2010 sales. It's the first album that was released prior to 2010 to sell 1 million copies in 2010. The album was released in October 2008. You might think that an album this successful would have to have debuted at #1, or very close to it. Actually, it entered the chart at #17 (for the week ending Nov. 2, 2008). It was that week's ninth highest new entry. It has outsold that week's highest new entry, Pink's Funhouse, nearly two to one. Funhouse has sold 1,704,000 copies as of this week.

This is the 45th week in the top 10 for The Fame, which peaked at #2. Since 1963, only four other albums that failed to reach #1 have logged as many as 45 weeks in the top 10. Shania Twain's Come On Over is the leader with 53 weeks, followed by Wilson Phillips' Wilson Phillips (52 weeks), Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (49 weeks) and Backstreet Boys' Backstreet Boys (also 45 weeks). But then you already knew that if you read my recent Chart Watch Extra, "Always A Bridesmaid..." If you missed it, here's a link.

We Meet Again: There are two albums in the top 10 by artists whose careers date back to the 1960s. The Rolling Stones' Exile On Main St. drops from #2 to #7. Carole King/James Taylor's Live At The Troubadour rebounds from #11 to #9. This isn't the first time that King and the Stones have appeared in the top 10 together. Tapestry knocked Sticky Fingers out of the #1 spot in June 1971. (They met in the top 10 a few more times in the '70s, too.)

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

1. Various Artists, Glee: The Music, Vol. 3, Showstoppers, 63,000. The album holds at #1 in its second week. Nearly 22,000 copies were sold digitally, making it the week's #1 Digital Album. Seven songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Poker Face," which vaults from #66 to #9.

2. Stone Temple Pilots, Stone Temple Pilots, 62,000. This new entry is the band's sixth consecutive studio album to reach the top 10. This is its highest-charting album since Purple had three weeks on top in 1994. "Between The Lines" enters Hot Digital Songs at #187.

3. Justin Bieber, My World 2.0, 50,000. The former #1 album inches up from #4 to #3 in its 10th week. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Eenie Meenie" (a duet with Sean Kingston), which dips from #17 to #19.

4. Lady Antebellum, Need You Now, 46,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #6 to #4 in its 18th week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Need You Now" dips from #20 to #23. "American Honey" dips from #54 to #55.

5. Usher, Raymond V Raymond, 35,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #8 to #5 in its ninth week. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "OMG" (featuring will.i.am), which dips from #1 to #3.

6. Lady Gaga, The Fame, 31,000. The album rebounds from #12 to #6 in its 83rd week. This is its 45th week in the top 10. Six songs from the expanded version of the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Alejandro," which holds at #6.

7. The Rolling Stones, Exile On Main St., 27,000. The former #1 album (four weeks on top in 1972) slips from #2 to #7 in its second week back on the chart. It's the #1 Catalog album for the second week.

8. The Black Keys, Brothers, 26,000. The album drops from #3 to #8 in its second week.

9. Carole King/James Taylor, Live At The Troubadour, 26,000. The album rebounds from #11 to #9 in its fourth week. This is its third week in the top 10.

10. Nas & Damian Marley, Distant Relatives, 25,000. The rap-reggae collabo drops from #5 to #10 in its second week.

Three albums dropped out of the top 10 this week. Band Of Horses' Infinite Arms drops from #7 to #23, AC/DC's Iron Man 2 drops from #9 to #14, and LCD Soundsystem's This Is Happening nosedives from #10 to #38.

Marc Anthony's Iconos debuts at #11. This is Anthony's highest-charting Spanish-language album to date. His wife, Jennifer Lopez, has climbed a tad higher with a Spanish-language album. Lopez's Como Ama Una Mujer debuted at #10 in April 2007.

The Sex And The City 2 soundtrack debuts at #13. It's the week's #1 theatrical movie soundtrack, displacing AC/DC's Iron Man 2. The first Sex soundtrack debuted at #2 in June 2008. The album's key track, Alicia Keys' "Rapture," enters Hot Digital Songs at #180.

Hank Williams III's Rebel Within debuts at #20. This new entry is Williams' second top 20 album in a row. Damn Right Rebel Proud hit #18 in October 2008. (I guess he likes the word "rebel.") Williams is a third-generation star. He's the son of country star Hank Williams Jr. and the grandson of the late country legend Hank Williams. Third-generation stars are rare, as you might imagine, but I can think of a couple other examples. Debby Boone is the daughter of '50s star Pat Boone and the granddaughter of country great Red Foley. Gunnar and Matthew Nelson (who comprised the '90s duo Nelson) are the twin sons of the late pop star Rick Nelson and the grandsons of bandleader Ozzie Nelson, who had a run of hits in the 1930s.

"Nothin' On You" by B.o.B featuring Bruno Mars tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads this week. The song is as timeless as a Smokey Robinson love song from the 1960s and as current as this week's chart.

Guns N' Roses' 1988 classic "Sweet Child O' Mine" also tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads this week. It's the seventh pre-1990 song to reach this plateau. It follows Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," Michael Jackson's "Thriller," Survivor's "Eye Of The Tiger," Bon Jovi's "Livin' On A Prayer," Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." It's an extraordinary achievement for songs to connect in a big way in two separate eras.

Shameless Plug: On Friday, I'll have a Chart Watch Extra in which I list the R&B songs that have sold the most copies in the digital era. The #1 title is in the previous paragraph, Michael Jackson's "Thriller." In fact, Jackson makes a clean sweep of the top five. Who else is up there? Check back on Friday, when you'll find out at last. (Hint, hint.)

Shrek Forever After was #1 at the box-office for the second weekend in a row. All four Shrek movies opened at #1 at the box-office, but this is only the second (following Shrek 2) to manage a second week on top. An album featuring Harry Gregson-Williams' score has sold about 2,000 copies. A pop soundtrack is due June 29. (I guess better late than never.)

Heads Up: Jack Johnson's To The Sea is a lock to debut at #1 next week. It will be Johnson's third album in a row to debut in the top spot. Taio Cruz's U.S. debut, Rokstarr, which features his #1 smash "Break Your Heart" (featuring Ludacris), will probably put enter the chart around #10. Also due: Clay Aiken's Tried And True, Hawthorne Heights' Skeletons, Cherryholmes' IV Common Threads and Tift Merritt's See You On The Moon.

Photo Finish: Notice how Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox occupy the top two positions, in that order, on the cover of Idol's recently released Season 9 compilation? It's almost as if the producers knew the likely outcome. Hmmm.

(It's probably just a coincidence. On the Season 8 Idol compilation, third-place finisher Danny Gokey was in the upper left spot. Winner Kris Allen and runner-up Adam Lambert were in the second row.)

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