Chart Watch

Week Ending Nov. 23, 2008: Beyonce’s Destiny–To Be Bigger On Her Own

Chart Watch

It's said that every U.S. Senator looks in the mirror and sees a future President. In much the same way, every group member sees an eventual solo superstar. For a lucky few, that dream comes true. For even fewer, the solo career exceeds the group's achievements.

Beyonce joins the short list of one-time members of major groups who have done even better on their own. I Am...Sasha Fierce this week becomes her third consecutive studio album to debut at #1. Dangerously In Love and B'Day also opened in the top spot. Beyonce has now had more #1 albums on her own than she did with Destiny's Child. That group notched two #1 albums--Survivor in 2001 and #1's in 2005.

Beyonce also has the top two songs this week on Hot Digital Songs. The sassy "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" debuts at #1, dethroning her striking ballad "If I Were A Boy," which slips to #2. Beyonce has had five #1 hits on this chart, putting her in a tie with Rihanna for the most #1 digital hits ever by a lead artist.

"Single Ladies" zooms from #28 to #2 on the Hot 100, while "If I Were A Boy" holds at #3 for the second week. (T.I. is on top for the fifth week with "Live Your Life," featuring Rihanna). If "Single Ladies" hits the top spot next week, which seems likely, Beyonce will have amassed more #1 hits under her own name than she did with Destiny's Child. This would give her five #1 hit as a solo performer, following "Crazy In Love" (with Jay-Z), "Baby Boy" (with Sean Paul), "Check On It" (with Bun B and Slim Thug) and "Irreplaceable." Destiny's Child had four #1 hits: "Bills, Bills, Bills," "Say My Name," "Independent Women Part 1," and "Bootylicious."

It's rare for a former group member to notch more #1 hits on their own than they did with the group that made them famous. Michael Jackson did it, landing 13 #1 hits on his own after scoring four with the Jackson 5. George Michael, Phil Collins and Lionel Richie also landed more #1 hits on their own than they did with their groups, Wham!, Genesis and the Commodores, respectively.

Beyonce has also won more Grammys on her own (seven) than she did with Destiny's Child (three).

I Am...Sasha Fierce debuts at #1 with first-week sales of 482,000. This is the biggest opening for a two-CD set since Eagles' Long Road Out Of Eden bowed with sales of 711,000 a year ago. As Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times observed in a profile of Beyonce, this is the latest example of a hit album that consists of two conceptually different disks bundled together as one release.(The I Am disk consists of neo-soul ballads, while Sasha Fierce focuses on dance grooves.) This double-faceted collection follows OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below from 2003 and Justin Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds from 2006.

I Am...Sasha Fierce posted the second biggest opening of 2008 by a female artist. Beyonce trails Taylor Swift, who debuted last week with sales of 592,000, but is ahead of Mariah Carey, who opened in April with sales of 463,000. But in at least one respect, this debut number has to be a disappointment: Beyonce's last album, B'Day, opened with sales of 541,000 in September 2006.

Nickelback's Dark Horse finished #2 with first-week sales of 326,000 copies, which is slightly more than its last album managed. All The Right Reasons debuted at #1 in October 2005 with sales of 325,000. It has sold 6,967,000 copies (the greatest total of any album since Usher's Confessions, which was released in March 2004). All The Right Reasons has sold more than twice as many copies as Beyonce's last album, B'Day, so you may wonder how it is that Beyonce got off to a faster start this time around. (Something tells me that Nickelback and its management are probably wondering that same thing.) Nickelback simply couldn't compete with Beyonce's star power and high media profile, which included features in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times and a performance on Saturday Night Live.

David Cook's David Cook and Taylor Swift's Fearless also topped the 200,000 mark in sales this week. It's the first time that each of the top four albums has sold more than 200,000 copies since the week before Christmas last year, when the top seven albums all topped 200K. While Cook finished third on the big chart, he ranks #1 on this week's Digital Albums chart. David Cook sold 59,000 copies in the digital sphere, compared to 54,000 for Beyonce and 53,000 for Nickelback. This is the first week in digital history that three albums have sold 50,000 or more copies in one week.

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

1. Beyonce, I Am...Sasha Fierce, 482,000. This new entry registered the seventh biggest first-week sales tally of 2008, following albums by Lil Wayne, AC/DC, Coldplay, Taylor Swift, T.I. and Jonas Brothers.  I Am...Sasha Fierce is the 10th album so far this year to debut with first-week sales of 400,000 or more copies. Seven songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

2. Nickelback, Dark Horse, 326,000. This new entry is the Canadian band's fourth straight top 10 album. It follows Silver Side Up, The Long Road and All The Right Reasons. But just 5% of the fans who bought the band's last album felt compelled to buy the follow-up in its first week of release. (See details above.) Seven songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Gotta Be Somebody," which dips a notch to #16.

3. David Cook, David Cook, 280,000. This is the biggest first-week tally for a debut album by an American Idol finalist since Taylor Hicks' Taylor Hicks arrived with sales of 298,000 in December 2006. Hicks won Season 5. Cook won Season 7. Cook debuts with a higher first-week sales tally, but a lower chart position, than runner-up David Archuleta managed last week. Archie debuted at #2 with sales of 183,000. Four songs from Cook's album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Declaration," which debuts at #75.

4. Taylor Swift, Fearless, 217,000. The album drops from #1 to #4 in its second week. It has sold 810,000 copies, which puts it at #23 for the year-to-date. Swift's eponymous debut is #7 for the year to date. Nine songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Love Story," which jumps to #10.

5. Il Divo, The Promise, 162,000. This new entry is the quartet's fourth consecutive top 10 album, discounting a Christmas album that peaked at #14. Three of those four albums have made the top five. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. This is the second top five album of 2008 to feature ABBA's 1981 hit, "The Winner Takes It All." Meryl Streep sang the song on the Mamma Mia! soundtrack.

6. Various Artists, Twilight soundtrack, 125,000. The soundtrack dips from #5 to #6 in its third week. The movie was #1 at the box-office in its opening weekend, grossing $70.55 million. The L.A. Times reports that it was the fourth biggest November opening weekend of all time. (I'll take their word for it.) Paramore's "Decode" jumps to #23 on Hot Digital Songs.

7. Various Artists, Now 29, 115,000. The compilation drops from #3 to #7 in its second week. With slumping numbers like this, it may be time for the franchise to change its name from Now to Then.

8. Various Artists, High School Musical 3 soundtrack, 86,000. The soundtrack dips from #7 to #8 in its fifth week. This is the first time it has ranked ahead of AC/DC's Black Ice, which was released the same week. The movie was #7 at the box-office in its fifth weekend. It has grossed $88.82 million to date. "Now Or Never" drops to #195 on Hot Digital Songs.

9. Enya, And Winter Came, 83,000. The album dips from #8 to #9 in its second week. It holds at #1 on the Holiday Albums chart for the second week. This week, it pushes ahead of Faith Hill's Joy To The World as the #1 selling holiday album released in 2008. (They both trail a 2007 holdover, Josh Groban's Noel, as the top-selling holiday album for the year-to-date.) "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" dips a notch to #95 on Hot Digital Songs.

10. AC/DC, Black Ice, 73,000. The album drops from #6 to #10 in its fifth week. It holds at #5 on the year-to-date chart. (Metallica's Death Magnetic inches up to #6 on the year-to-date chart, giving hard rock bands two of the top six spots.) AC/DC are digital hold-outs, so no songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

GH RIP: Christina Aguilera's Keeps Getting' Better: A Decade Of Hits drops from #9 to #23 in its second week. This is the third greatest hit set by a multi-platinum act in the past six weeks to fall short of expectations. Sarah McLachlan's Closer: The Best Of Sarah McLachlan peaked at #11 in October. Rascal Flatts' Greatest Hits Volume 1 logged just two weeks in the top 10 earlier this month. A decade or two ago, all three of these albums would have vied for #1. But in an iTunes culture, the greatest hits set doesn't mean as much. (This is good news for Elton John and Johnny Mathis, whose records will now almost certainly never be topped. Elton John--Greatest Hits spent a record 10 weeks at #1. Johnny's Greatest Hits spent a record 490 weeks on the chart.)

Three other albums drop out of the top 10 this week. David Archuleta's David Archuleta slips from #2 to #11, T-Pain's Thr33 Ringz falls from #4 to #12, and T.I.'s Paper Trail drops from #10 to #14.

Catalog Report: Josh Groban's Noel tops the Catalog Albums chart for the third straight week. It sold 78,000 copies this week and would have ranked #10 on the big chart if older, catalog albums were eligible to compete there. This is the third time a holiday album from a previous holiday season has returned to the top 10 on the "Comprehensive Albums chart" (which lists everything) in a subsequent year. Kenny G's 1994 smash Miracles--The Holiday Album hit #3 on the Comprehensive chart in 1995 and #9 in 1996. Il Divo's 2006 hit The Christmas Collection reached #10 on the Comprehensive chart last year.

Dido's Safe Trip Home bows at #13. This represents a drop-off from the singer's two previous albums. Life For Rent debuted (and peaked) at #4 in 2003.  No Angel peaked at #3 in 2000. Mudvayne's The New Game bows at #15. This is the hard rock band's third studio album in a row to reach the top 20. The End Of All Things To Come hit #17 in 2002.  Lost And Found reached at #2 in 2005...Zac Brown Band's major label debut, Foundation, bows at #17. "Chicken Fried" moves up a notch to #21 in its 10th week on Hot Digital Songs.

Blake Shelton's Startin' Fires bows at #34. This seems destined to become the country star's first album to miss the top 20 since his eponymous 2001 debut peaked at #45. Shelton has climbed as high as #8 twice, with The Dreamer in 2003 and Pure BS last year. (Barbra Streisand is still peeved that she didn't think of that title first.)

Ace Hood's DJ Khaled Presents Ace Hood Gutta debuts at #36. DJ Khaled's debut, Listennn: The Album, hit #12 in June 2006, which means the DJ has gone from newcomer to an established star presenting another newbie in less than 30 months.

Ups & Downs: Comedian Jeff Dunham's Don't Come Home For Christmas vaults from #178 to #69 in its third week. It registered a 239% increase in sales compared to last week, the biggest gain of any non-debuting album. It's this week's #1 Comedy Album. On the down side, David Archuleta's David Archuleta experienced a 64% sales slide in its second week, steeper than any other album in the top 200. It dropped from #2 to #11.

Bad News Watch: We're on track for this being the first year in Nielsen/SoundScan history in which no albums sell 3 million copies during the year. The best-seller so far this year, Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III, has sold 2,695,000 copies. With just five weeks to go, it's unlikely that it can reach the 3 million mark before the year ends.  Nothing else seems in striking range either. Five or more albums topped the 3 million mark in every year from 1992 through 2003. The biggest year was 2000, when 18 albums sold more than 3 million copies during the year. The numbers started to falter in 2004, when just four albums topped the 3 million mark. Last year, just one made it, Josh Groban's Noel. I guess you can't count on a Christmas miracle every year.

Heads Up: Kanye West's 808s & Heartache and Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy are expected to hold down the top two spots on next week's chart. West's last two albums debuted at #1 with sales north of 800,000. This is GN'R's first studio album in nearly 15 years. (So if nothing else, they're well rested.) Ludacris' Theater Of The Mind and The Killers' Day & Age are expected to take the next two spots. Also due: Barry Manilow's The Greatest Songs Of The Eighties, E-40's The Ball Street Journal, Kevin Rudolf's In The City, Paul McCartney's Electric Arguments and Linkin Park's Road To Revolution.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.


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