Chart Watch

Week Ending Nov. 14, 2010: This Year’s “Gift” Is Smaller

Chart Watch

Susan Boyle's The Gift enters The Billboard 200 at #1, but its first-week sales tally (318,000) is less than half of that achieved by her phenomenal 2009 debut, I Dreamed A Dream, which started with sales of 701,000. Of course, that album was released when Boyle's irresistable back story was fresh. It probably wasn't fair to expect this album to get off to as fast a start.

The Gift sold less than one-third as many copies as Taylor Swift's Speak Now sold (1,047,000) two weeks ago when it debuted at #1. It even sold slightly less than Speak Now sold in its second week (320,000). Of course, Swift's fans are younger and, as such, more inclined to snap up an album in its first or second week.

Also, being primarily a Christmas album, The Gift may well build as we get closer to the holidays. A lot of people don't like to even think about Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. The album will probably stay at #1 next week with sales in the range of 300K. In fact, it sets a few records this week for Christmas albums.

It marks the first time that a female artist has ever topped the Billboard chart with a holiday album. (Several women came close. Amy Grant's 1992 album Home For Christmas and Celine Dion's 1998 release These Are Special Times both reached #2. Mariah Carey's 1994 smash Merry Christmas hit #3.)

The Gift also sets a record for the biggest first-week sales tally by a Christmas album in the Nielsen/SoundScan era. It tops Clay Aiken's 2004 album Merry Christmas With Love, which sold 270,000 copies in its first week. Boyle and Aiken have a lot in common. Both artists rose to fame on reality television shows that they didn't win. (Boyle was runner-up to Diversity on Britain's Got Talent. Aiken came in second to Ruben Studdard on American Idol.) Both artists released a Christmas album as the follow-up to their chart-topping studio debut releases.  And, not to be indelicate, both artists compensated for plain looks and an initially awkward manner with dazzling vocal ability.

Boyle is the first artist (of either gender) to debut at #1 with a holiday album since Perry Como achieved the feat in November 1946 with Merry Christmas Music. (Things were a little different back then. The chart was just a top five listing, versus 200 positions today. Como's album consisted of four 78 rpm discs, compared to today's mix of CDs and digital downloads. But some things stay the same. Both albums include the traditional Christmas song "O Come, All Ye Faithful.")

The Gift is the first holiday album to top The Billboard 200 since Josh Groban's Noel ruled for five weeks in 2007. The Gift also enters the U.K. chart at #1. It's the first holiday album ever to reach the top spot in both countries.

The opening track on The Gift is a cover version of Lou Reed's "Perfect Day." The song originated on Reed's 1972 album Transformer (which also spawned his surprise hit "Walk On The Wild Side"). This echoes the eclectic approach of Boyle's first album, which contained a cover of the Rolling Stones' 1971 hit "Wild Horses."

The Glee version of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" enters Hot Digital Songs at #1. It's the first Glee rendition to top that chart. It surpasses Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," which debuted and peaked at #2 in May 2009. "Teenage Dream" sold 214K downloads, which tops the 177K that "Don't Stop Believin'" sold in its first week. New cast member Darren Criss sang lead on the Glee version, which hits #1 just 10 weeks after Perry's original version spent its second week in the top spot.

There's been a shift in the most successful Glee renditions. The first five to make the top 10 on Hot Digital Songs were remakes of songs from the '70s and '80s ("Don't Stop Believin'," Queen's "Somebody To Love," Madonna's "Like A Prayer," Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" and Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl"). The last four have been remakes of songs from the last 10 years and mostly the last couple of years (Lady Gaga's "Poker Face," Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' "Empire State Of Mind," Britney Spears' "Toxic" and now "Teenage Dream").

Three other Glee renditions enter Hot Digital Songs inside the top 40 this week. "Start Me Up"/"Livin' On A Prayer" bows at #15, "Stop! In The Name Of Love"/"Free Your Mind" bows at #22 and "One Love"/"People Get Ready" starts at #24.

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The Black Eyed Peas' "Time (The Dirty Bit)" enters Hot Digital Songs at #3, with first-week sales of 170K. It's the first single from the group's upcoming album, The Beginning, which is due Nov. 26. The hit samples the 1987 smash "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life," by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. ("Boom Boom Pow," the first song from the Peas' last album, got off to a much faster start. It sold 465K downloads in its first week in April 2009, to debut at #1.)

Taylor Swift's Speak Now dips to #2 on The Billboard 200 after two weeks on top. The album is already the #4 best-seller of 2010. This is almost certain to be the third year in a row that Swift ranks in the year-end top three. Fearless was #3 for 2008 and #1 for 2009. This would make Swift the first artist in Nielsen/SoundScan history to have an album rank among the top three of the year three years running. Only one other artist has made the top three on the year-end chart three times, even non-consecutively. Eminem finished in the top three in 2000, 2002 and 2004.

Kid Cudi's Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager debuts at #3. This is Kid's second top five album in a row. Man On The Moon: The End Of Day bowed at #4 in September 2009. The new album sold 91,000 digital copies this week (54% of its total), which makes it the week's #1 Digital Album.

Reba this week ties LeAnn Rimes as the female country artist with the most top 10 albums in the history of The Billboard 200. All The Women I Am debuts at #7, becoming Reba's eighth top 10 album. Rimes amassed eight top 10 albums between 1996 and 2007. Reba was already a budding country star by 1982, the year Rimes was born. Reba landed her first top 10 country hit, "(You Lift Me) Up To Heaven," in 1980.


Pop Quiz: Name the female country artist who is third in line with five top 10 albums. The answer may surprise you. It did me.

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Reba's fine cover version of Beyonce's "If I Were A Boy" enters Hot Digital Songs at #149. Beyonce's original version topped the digital chart for two weeks in the fall of 2008. There's a long history of country artists covering hits by R&B artists (though both Reba and Beyonce reach far beyond those labels). Barbara Mandrell landed her only top 40 hit on the Hot 100 in 1980 with a cover of Luther Ingram's smoldering "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right."

It sometimes seems as though album and individual song buyers are in different universes. That's especially true this week, when no artists appear in the top 10 on both lists.

Here's the top 10 on Hot Digital Songs, as calculated by Nielsen/SoundScan. The Glee version of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" debuts at #1 (214K). Ke$ha's "We R Who We R" holds at #2 for the second week (191K). The Black Eyed Peas' "Time (The Dirty Bit)" debuts at #3 (170K). Katy Perry's "Firework" jumps from #6 to #4 (161K). P!nk's "Raise Your Glass" dips from #4 to #5 (160K). Rihanna's "What's My Name?" drops from #1 to #6 (152K). Far*East Movement featuring Cataracs & Dev's "Like A G6" drops from #3 to #7 (142K). Rihanna's "Only Girl (In The World)" drops from #5 to #8 (129K). Nelly's "Just A Dream" drops from #7 to #9 (124K). Trey Songz featuring Nicki Minaj's "Bottoms Up" dips from #9 to #10 (103K).

Two of these songs achieve other distinctions this week. "Like A G6" tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads. It also regains the top spot on the Hot 100, displacing "What's My Name?," which drops from #1 to #7. "Only Girl (In The World)" (which jumps to a new high of #2 on the Hot 100) holds at #1 in the U.K. for the second week.

Quiz Answer: Martina McBride is the female country artist who is third in line with five top 10 albums. Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Wynonna and Taylor Swift have each notched four. (I'm not counting Linda Ronstadt, who has had 10 top 10 albums, or Olivia Newton-John, who has had five. They both had some country success back in the day, but they're primarily pop singers.)


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

1. Susan Boyle, The Gift, 318,000. This new entry is Boyle's second #1 album in a row. This is the sixth biggest first-week sales tally of 2010, trailing albums by Taylor Swift, Eminem, Sade, Lady Antebellum, Drake and Usher.

2. Taylor Swift, Speak Now, 212,000. The former #1 album dips to #2 in its third week. It's #1 country for the third week. Five songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Mine," which drops from #29 to #42.

3. Kid Cudi, Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager, 169,000. This new entry is Kid's second top five album in a row. Seven songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Marijuana," which debuts at #29.

4. Various Artists, Now 36, 89,000. This new entry is the 34th album in the series to debut in the top five. But this is the third lowest first-week sales tally for a regular Now volume.

5. Bon Jovi, Greatest Hits, 88,000. This new entry is the band's 11th top 10 album (not counting a soundtrack credited to a solo Jon Bon Jovi). This is the band's second hits album. Its first, Cross Road, peaked at #8 in 1994. "Livin' On A Prayer" re-enters Hot Digital Songs at #137.

6. Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party, 81,000. The album drops from #2 to #6 in its second week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Don't You Wanna Stay" (featuring Kelly Clarkson) jumps from #58 to #32. "My Kinda Party" drops from #49 to #55.

7. Reba McEntire, All The Women I Am, 64,000. This new entry is McEntire's eighth top 10 album. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Turn On The Radio" vaults from #182 to #111. "If I Were A Boy" debuts at #149.

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8. Sugarland, The Incredible Machine, 60,000. The former #1 album drops from #3 to #8 in its fourth week. "Stuck Like Glue" jumps from #31 to #13 on Hot Digital Songs.

9. Cee Lo Green, The Lady Killer, 41,000. This new entry is Cee-Lo's first top 10 album as a solo artist. He previously made the grade with one album each by Goodie Mob and Gnarls Barkley. "F*** You (Forget You)" rebounds from #16 to #12 on Hot Digital Songs.

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10. Lil Wayne, I Am Not A Human Being, 35,000. The former #1 album drops from #5 to #10 in its seventh week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Right Above It" (featuring Drake) drops from #30 to #34. "Bill Gates" drops from #137 to #193.

Six albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Mariah Carey's Merry Christmas II You drops from #4 to #12, Kings of Leon's Come Around Sundown drops from #6 to #14, Eminem's Recovery drops from #7 to #11, Neil Diamond's Dreams drops from #8 to #26, Brad Paisley's Hits Alive drops from #9 to #21, and Elton John/Leon Russell's The Union dives from #10 to #32.

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Lady Antebellum's Need You Now rebounds from #23 to #13, though it's A Merry Little Christmas EP drops from #15 to #39. (Go figure.) The trio made history at last week's Country Music Assn. Awards when it became the first act in CMA history to win back-to-back awards for Single Of the Year. Lady A won this year for "Need You Now" and last year for "I Run To You."

Miranda Lambert's Revolution, which won as Album of the Year at the CMA show, rebounds from #41 to #15. This is the album's highest ranking since April, when it rebounded to #13 after it was named Album of the Year at the rival Academy of Country Music Awards show. The album has sold 949,000 copies in 59 weeks.

Alter Bridge's AB III bows at #17. It's the rock band's third top 20 album in a row. The band includes three former members of Creed.

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Chris Tomlin's Glory In The Highest: Christmas Songs Of Worship, which was released last year, jumps from #27 to #19. It's #1 on this week's Catalog Albums chart. This is Tomlin's third album so far this year to top the catalog chart. See The Morning was on top for four weeks in March and April. Hello Love was out front for five weeks in June and July. All of this bodes well for Tomlin's new album And If Our God Is For Us, which will enter the chart next week. John Lennon has also topped the catalog chart with three albums this year, but only if you combine a solo album (Remember) an album with Yoko Ono (Double Fantasy) and a Beatles album (The Beatles/1967-1970).

Dave Matthews Band's Live In New York City debuts at #36. This is Matthews' 13th live album to make The Billboard 200. That's not a record, by the way. The Grateful Dead has charted with 23 live albums. Other acts that have a large number of charted live albums include Phish, with 21, and Pearl Jam, with 19.

Three music legends who have been charting on The Billboard 200 for a combined total of 145 years (!) return to the chart this week. Loretta Lynn & Friends' Coal Miner's Daughter: Tribute bows at #46. Elvis Presley's Viva Elvis debuts at #48. Quincy Jones' Q: Soul Bossa Nostra bows at #86.

Presley first charted in March 1956 with Elvis Presley. Jones first charted in December 1962 with Big Band Bossa Nova. Lynn first charted in March 1967 with You Ain't Woman Enough.

"Coal Miner's Daughter" was a #1 country hit for Lynn in December 1970. It was also the title of a 1980 movie about Lynn that brought Sissy Spacek an Oscar for Best Actress.

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Marie Osmond's I Can Do This debuts at #71. This is Osmond's highest-charting album since her 1973 debut, Paper Roses. Osmond was just 13 when that album was released in September 1973. The title track of that album, a remake of a 1960 hit by Anita Bryant, was a million-seller. Osmond appeared on Oprah last week, talking about her son's suicide.

The Country Strong soundtrack jumps from #123 to #114. It's the week's top soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie. Gwyneth Paltrow (backed by Vince Gill) sang the title song on the CMA broadcast. The song enters Hot Digital Songs at #127. (Hannah Montana Forever, which drops from #26 to #33, is the #1 soundtrack overall for the second week in a row.)

Song Scorecard: Two #1 hits from 2008, P!nk's "So What" and "Lollipop" by Lil Wayne featuring Static Major, top the 4 million mark in paid downloads this week.

Megamind was #1 at the box-office for the second weekend in a row. The soundtrack has yet to show signs of life.

Coming Attractions: Jackie Evancho's O Holy Night is expected to debut at #2 next week, with sales in the range of 280K. Also headed for top 10 debuts (more or less in descending order): Rihanna's Loud, Rascal Flatts' Nothing Like This, Keith Urban's Get Closer, Josh Groban's Illuminations, Kid Rock's Born Free and Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album. Also due: Nelly's 5.0, A Day To Remember's What Separates Me From YouBruce Springsteen's The Promise: The Darkness At The Edge Of Town Story, P!nk's Greatest Hits...So Far!!, Lee DeWyze's Live It UpChris Tomlin's And If Our God Is For Us, Norah Jones' Featuring Norah Jones, Pink Martini's Joy To The WorldCassidy's C.A.S.H. and Annie Lennox's A Christmas Cornucopia.

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