Chart Watch

Week Ending Nov. 15, 2009: The Hair Band That Lasted

Chart Watch

Bon Jovi lands its second straight #1 album with The Circle. The band also debuted at #1 in June 2007 with Lost Highway. This is the second time that Bon Jovi has had back-to-back #1 albums. It also topped The Billboard 200 in the late '80s with the back-to-back blockbusters Slippery When Wet and New Jersey. Bon Jovi became superstars in the heyday of "hair bands," which was roughly 1984 to 1991. Most of these acts fell out of favor long ago, but Bon Jovi just keeps on chugging. The Circle is the band's 10th top 10 album (not counting a 1990 solo album by Jon Bon Jovi).

Other acts that transcended the "hair band" era include Motley Crue, which debuted at #4 with last year's Saints Of Los Angeles, and Van Halen, which hit #3 with a 2004 greatest hits set, The Best Of Both Worlds.

The list of acts that didn't sustain for long includes Quiet Riot, which never returned to the top 10 after its 1983 debut Metal Health hit  #1; Twisted Sister, which never returned to the top 40 after 1984's Stay Hungry; Ratt, which last made the top 10 with 1985's Invasion Of Your Privacy; Europe, which never returned to the top 10 after its 1986 debut The Final Countdown; Dokken, which released its one and only top 20 album, Back For The Attack, in 1987; Poison and Warrant, which last went top 10 in 1990; and Skid Row, which never returned to the top 10 after its 1991 hit Slave To The Grind became the first album of the Nielsen/SoundScan era to debut at #1.

The only physical version of The Circle that was available last week was a CD/DVD combo which features the documentary "When We Were Beautiful," which premiered on Showtime on Oct. 24. A CD-only version of the album will be released on Nov. 23.

While Bon Jovi has back-to-back #1 albums for the first time in more than 20 years, it's not quite the same as it was back then. Slippery When Wet and New Jersey generated a combined total of eight top 10 singles, including four that went all the way to #1. The biggest hit from Lost Highway was "(You Want To) Make A Memory," which peaked at #27 on the Hot 100. But success on a more modest scale beats the hell out of fading away, like so many of the band's '80s contemporaries did.

The Circle hit #1 in Japan last week. It's the eighth album to reach #1 in both of the world's top two markets (the U.S. and Japan) in the past five years. The others: Lost Highway, Destiny's Child's #1's, 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 Michael Jackson's This Is It. The bottom-line: American music, especially pop, rock and R&B, travels around the world.

Andrea Bocelli's My Christmas jumps from #3 to #2. This matches the peak position of Celine Dion's 1998 holiday album, These Are Special Times, which featured a duet version by Dion and Bocelli of "The Prayer." David Foster, a 15-time Grammy winner, co-wrote that song and co-produced that recording. He also produced Bocelli's current album and co-produced Michael Buble's Crazy Love, which remains in the top 10 for the sixth week.

After three weeks, Michael Jackson's Michael Jackson's This Is It has sold 687,000 copies, which puts it at #29 for the year to date. Jackson has three other albums in the top 30 for the year to date. Number Ones is #2, Thriller is #11 and The Essential Michael Jackson is #12. Jackson is vying to become the first artist to wind up with four of the year's top 20 albums since the Nielsen/SoundScan era began in 1991. Garth Brooks had four of the top 30 in 1992 with Ropin' The Wind, The Chase, No Fences and Beyond The Season.

Taylor Swift's Fearless has been a best-seller all year long, so it may surprise you to learn that it took until this week for the album to sell more copies in 2009 than it did in 2008. The album sold a quick 2,112,000 copies in the last seven weeks of 2008. As of this week, the 46th chart week of the year, it has sold 2,190,000 copies in 2009. How can this be? Superstar albums sell best in their first weeks of release and especially when those weeks coincide with the lucrative holiday sales season.

Fearless continues to topple records on The Billboard 200. The album logs its 44th week in the top 10. That matches the top 10 longevity of Santana's 1999 comeback album, Supernatural. Swift won four awards, including Album of the Year, at last week's Country Music Assn. Awards.

Owl City's "Fireflies" tops Hot Digital Songs for the fourth straight week. The song sold 181,000 downloads this week, bringing its 15-week total to 1,428,000. His album, Ocean Eyes, is a more modest hit. It has sold 271,000 copies...Iyaz's "Replay," which dips from #2 to #3 on Hot Digital Songs, tops the 1 million mark in paid downloads this week.

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

1. Bon Jovi, The Circle, 163,000. This new entry is the band's fourth consecutive regular studio album to debut at #1 or #2. More than a third of the copies (59,000) were sold digitally, making it the week's #1 Digital Album. "We Weren't Born To Follow" re-enters Hot Digital Songs at #73.

2. Andrea Bocelli, My Christmas, 136,000. The album jumps from #3 to #2 in its second week. It's the highest-charting holiday album since Josh Groban's Noel logged its fifth week at #1 in December 2007.

3. Carrie Underwood, Play On, 128,000. The album drops from #1 to #3 in its second week. It's #1 on the country chart for the second week. "Cowboy Casanova" rebounds from #19 to #14 on Hot Digital Songs.

4. Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson's This Is It, 117,000. The former #1 album drops from #2 to #4 in its third week. Seven songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Thriller," which drops from #74 to #118.

5. Taylor Swift, Fearless, 91,000. The former #1 album inches up from #6 to #5 in its 53rd week. This is its 44th week in the top 10. Nine songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "You Belong With Me," which rebounds from #26 to #22.

6. Various Artists, NOW 32, 68,000. The compilation dips from #5 to #6 in its second week. It has sold 170,000 copies in its first two weeks. All but five regular NOW installments sold more than that in their first week.

7. Michael Buble, Crazy Love, 58,000. The former #1 album holds at #8 in its sixth week. This tops Call Me Irresponsible, which logged five weeks in the top 10. "Haven't Met You Yet" rebounds from #104 to #68 on Hot Digital Songs.

8. Flyleaf, Memento Mori..., 56,000. This new entry is the Texas-based band's sophomore album. Its 2006 debut, Flyleaf, peaked at #57. The album never sold more than 22,000 copies in any one week. But it stayed on the chart for 133 weeks and has sold an impressive 1,246,000 copies.

9. Various Artists, Glee: The Music, Volume 1, 56,000. The compilation drops from #4 to #9 in its second week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Defying Gravity" (from Wicked), which leaps from #53 to #15.

10. Various Artists, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, 53,000. The soundtrack holds at #10 for the second week. This is its fifth week in the top 10. The movie opens this weekend. (Perhaps you've heard.)

Two albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Weezer's Raditude dives from #7 to #32. Sting's If On A Winter's Night drops from #9 to #12.

Casting Crowns' 2008 holiday album Peace On Earth jumps to #1 on the Catalog Albums chart, displacing Jackson's Number Ones, which had held the top spot for 18 of the past 20 weeks. Peace On Earth sold 48,000 copies this week and would have jumped from #20 to #11 on The Billboard 200 if catalog albums were eligible to compete on the big chart. (They will be eligible starting next week, as you probably know by now. If you missed the news, here's a link to a Chart Watch Extra which gives all the details.)

Lady Antebellum's Lady Antebellum rebounds from #24 to #11 in the wake of the Country Music Assn. Awards telecast. (The trio won for Single of the Year and wrestled the award for Vocal Group of the Year away from Rascal Flatts, which had won it six years in a row.) This is the album's highest ranking since it debuted at #4 in April 2008. The group's current hit, "Need You Now," leaps from #20 to #2 on Hot Digital Songs. Several other country albums also move up smartly in the wake of the CMAs. The Zac Brown Band's The Foundation jumps from #22 to #15. Darius Rucker's Learn To Live leaps from #44 to #27.

Pop Quiz: Only three people have ever won both the Grammy for Best New Artist and the CMA award for the year's top newcomer (it used to be called the Horizon Award and is now called New Artist of the Year). Name them. (It's a little tricky.) Answer below.

Switchfoot's Hello Hurricane debuts at #13. This is the Christian rock band's fourth top 20 album...Dashboard Confessional's Alter The Ending bows at #19. This is the rock trio's fourth top 20 album. "Belle Of The Boulevard" enters Hot Digital Songs at #131.

Wale's Attention Deficit bows at #21. I forget what I was going to say about that.

Britney Spears' The Singles Collection opens at #22. The sub-par showing is due to two factors.  This is Spears' second compilation (2004's Greatest Hits: My Prerogative reached #4). And greatest hits sets simply don't mean as much in the iTunes era. "3," the album's new song, rebounds from #8 to #7 on Hot Digital Songs. It'll top the 1 million mark in paid downloads next week.

AC/DC's Backtracks opens at #39. This 2-CD/DVD package is the band's first multi-disk set to reach the top 40.

Jonas Brothers' Walmart Soundcheck Live debuts at #139. It's not exactly Judy At Carnegie Hall, but what are you going to do?

Robbie Williams' Reality Killed The Video Star debuts at #160. (It bows at #2 in the U.K., behind JLS' JLS.) The title is a riff on the Buggles' 1979 hit, "Video Killed The Radio Star." Trevor Horn, who produced the Buggles' top 40 hit (which, famously, was the first video ever played on MTV), also produced Williams' album.

(If the aforementioned chart policy change had happened this week instead of next, Williams' album wouldn't have made The Billboard 200. That's because 44 catalog albums sold well enough to make the big chart this week, but were excluded because of their age. If they'd all come on this week, Williams would have missed the cut. That's unfortunate, but it's a price worth paying to have a chart that's more credible and real.)

Heads Up: Five artists who hit #1 or #2 with their last studio albums will debut next week, so somebody's bound to get hurt. Those five artists and their new albums are John Mayer's Battle Studies, Norah Jones' The Fall, 50 Cent's Before I Self Destruct, Leona Lewis' Echo and Janet Jackson's Number Ones. We'll also see the eponymous debut by American Idol champ Kris Allen. Also in the mix: Justin Bieber's My World, OneRepublic's Waking Up, Them Crooked Vulture's Them Crooked Vultures, Motley Crue's Greatest Hits, Fall Out Boy's Believers Never Die-Greatest Hits, Pretty Ricky's Pretty Ricky, Paul McCartney's Good Evening New York City and Queen's Absolute Greatest.

Quiz Answer: Carrie Underwood, LeAnn Rimes and Darius Rucker. Rucker is the tricky one. He won a Grammy as Best New Artist of 1995 as part of Hootie & the Blowfish (beating Alanis Morissette and future country titan Shania Twain) and won a CMA Award as New Artist of the Year last week.

2012, the end-of-the-world epic starring John Cusack and Amanda Peet, grossed more than $65 million in its opening weekend at the box-office. The soundtrack album, not so much. The album, featuring an instrumental score by Harold Kloser and Thomas Wander and vocal tracks by Adam Lambert and Filter, sold just 1,000 copies last week.

Shameless Plug: If you love movie music, I think you'll enjoy a Chart Watch Extra I have set for this coming Monday. (You may want to brush up on movie tag lines. There will be a quiz.)

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