Chart Watch

Week Ending Nov. 28, 2010: The King And Queen Of Hip-Hop

Chart Watch

Americans enjoyed turkey on Thursday and picked up some hip-hop on Black Friday. Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy enters The Billboard 200 at #1 with sales of 496K. Even more impressive, Nicki Minaj's debut album, Pink Friday, bows at #2 with sales of 375K. That's the biggest one-week sales total for an album by a female hip hop artist since Lauryn Hill's solo debut The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill launched with sales of 423,000 in August 1998. The key difference: Hill's solo debut was preceded by a chart-topping album with The Fugees.

The two artists guest on each other's albums. West joins Minaj on "Blazin'" from her album. Minaj is among the guest artists on "Monster" from West's album.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is West's first album since his 2009 diss of Taylor Swift triggered controversy and backlash. (Perhaps you heard about it.) It sold better in its first week than West's 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak, which sold 450K. How to explain this? Two words: Controversy sells. But it goes beyond that. The album has received strong reviews. 808s & Heartbreak, with its emphasis on drum machines and electro sounds, was an experiment, so there was a pent-up desire for this return-to-form. More than a year has gone by since the VMAs incident, which has allowed time for the backlash to abate. And while few would endorse West's behavior that night, West's fans, at least, think the incident was blown out of proportion.

All five of West's albums have registered first-week sales of 400K or more. West's 2004 debut album The College Dropout, opened (and peaked) at #2 with first-week sales of 441K. His 2005 album Late Registration started with sales of 860,000. His 2007 album Graduation opened with sales of 957,000. West's last four albums have started at #1.

Pop Quiz: What album had the fire-power to keep The College Dropout out of the top spot? Answer below.

This week marks the first time in more than three years that two albums have debuted with sales of 375K or more. West was also in the mix the last time it happened. In September 2007, West's Graduation started with 957K, 50 Cent's Curtis opened with 691K and Kenny Chesney's Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates started with 387K.

So far this year, only three albums have sold more copies in one week than West's new album just did. Taylor Swift's Speak Now sold 1,047,000 copies in its first week last month. Eminem's Recovery sold 741,000 copies in its first week in June. Sade's Soldier Of Love sold 502,000 copies in its first week in February. The next album in line in terms of the biggest one-week sales in 2010 is Lady Antebellum's Need You Now (481K). These five albums have something in common. They all sold more copies in their opening weeks than the acts' previous studio albums did. That's remarkable given the downward sales drift in recent years.

Quiz Answer: Norah Jones' sophomore album Feels Like Home kept West's debut locked in the #2 spot for three weeks running.

West's album sold 224K digital copies this week, which is 45% of its total. Only three albums have ever sold as many digital copies in one week: Coldplay's Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends (288K), Taylor Swift's Speak Now (278) and Eminem's Recovery (255K). West has always been a digital star. Graduation sold 133K digital copies in its first week in September 2007, which set a new one-week digital sales record.

If West hadn't dropped My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, female solo artists would have locked up the entire top five on The Billboard 200 for the second time this year. In addition to Minaj's Pink Friday debuting at #2, Susan Boyle's The Gift drops from #1 to #3, Taylor Swift's Speak Now rebounds from #9 to #4 (in the wake of her Thanksgiving night TV special), Jackie Evancho's O Holy Night drops from #2 to #5, and Rihanna's Loud drops from #3 to #6. That's a diverse group of women, in terms of both age and genre.

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Katy Perry's excellent "Firework" jumps from #4 to #1 on Hot Digital Songs. The song sold 232,000 copies this week. It's Perry's third song to reach the summit this year. "California Gurls" (featuring Snoop Dogg) spent five weeks on top. "Teenage Dream" spent two. In 2008, Perry's first hit, "I Kissed A Girl," spent six weeks in the lead.

Female artists with sassy singles hold down the top three spots on Hot Digital Songs. P!nk's "Raise Your Glass" jumps from #5 to #2 (it sold 209K copies). Ke$ha's "We R Who We R" holds at #3 (it sold 185K). Both of the latter songs top the 1 million mark in paid downloads this week. Ke$ha's song sold 1 million copies in just five weeks, the fastest that any song has reached the milestone since "Love The Way You Lie" by Eminem featuring Rihanna did it in just four weeks in July.

A friend suggested that the top three songs are somewhat interchangeable; that unless you're really plugged in to pop radio, you couldn't tell which was P!nk and which was Katy Perry. Certainly they're all bold and uptempo, but that's just the sound of pop music today.

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Bruno Mars' "Grenade" jumps from #13 to #6 on Hot Digital Songs (it sold 164K copies). It joins "Just The Way You Are," which rebounds from #14 to #8 after being sung on Glee (it sold 126K). The lyric to "Grenade" ("I'd catch a grenade for ya/throw my hand on a blade for ya") isn't exactly Grade A material, and I wasn't sure about this one the first time I heard it, but it has grown on me. I think Mr. Mars has the sincerity and believability to sell anything.

Rihanna is the only other artist with two songs in this week's top 10. "What's My Name" (featuring Drake) jumps from #6 to #5 (it sold 165K). "Only Girl In The World" jumps from #9 to #7 (it sold 127K).

Here's rest of the top 10 on Hot Digital Songs. The Black Eyed Peas' "The Time ( Dirty Bit)" jumps from #8 to #4 (180K). Far*East Movement featuring Cataracs & Dev's "Like A G6" rebounds from #10 to #9 (120K). Cee Lo Green's "F*** You (Forget You)" drops from #2 to #10 (114K).

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Enrique Iglesias' "Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)" is the top new entry on Hot Digital Songs at #13. It sold 97K, a tally that combines both this "clean" version and its explicit version. See if you can guess the title of that one. You got it. See what you started, Cee Lo Green? (I'm already tired of this trend.)

The Glee cast's "Forget You" (featuring Gwyneth Paltrow), which topped Hot Digital Songs last week, drops to #16. This is the second week in a row that a Glee song has plummeted from #1 clear out of the top 10. Last week, Darren Criss' cover of "Teenage Dream" dropped from #1 to #19. This week, it tumbles further, to #48. Without radio to sustain these songs, they burn brightly and then fade quickly.

Three holiday albums are listed in the top 10 for the second week in a row. We have Susan Boyle's The Gift, Jackie Evancho's O Holy Night and Glee: The Music: The Christmas Album. When's the last time this happened? You have to scroll back to December 1992, when four holiday albums were stuffed into the stocking that is the top 10: Amy Grant's Home For Christmas was #7, A Very Special Christmas 2 was #8, Neil Diamond's The Christmas Album was #9 and Garth Brooks' Beyond The Season was #10. Hat tip: Keith Caulfield.

Shameless Plug: On Friday, I'll have a Chart Watch Extra in which I count down the 30 best-selling Christmas songs in digital history. Bing Crosby and Nat "King" Cole are on the list of course, but so are many newer favorites. Will your favorite Christmas song there? Check back on Friday and see.


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


1. Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, 496,000. This new entry is West's fourth consecutive #1 album. Six songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Runaway" (featuring Pusha T), which jumps from #53 to #34.

2. Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday, 375,000. This new entry is Minaj's debut album. Seven songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Right Thru Me," which dips from #34 to #38.

3. Susan Boyle, The Gift, 263,000. The former #1 album drops from #1 to #3 in its third week. And the album may well return to #1 next week. The album is already #13 for the year-to-date. This will probably be the second year in a row that Boyle has finished in the year-end top 10.

4. Taylor Swift, Speak Now, 241,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #9 to #4 in its fifth week. It regains the #1 spot on the country chart from Rascal Flatts' Nothing Like This. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Back To December" jumps from #74 to #39. "Mine" jumps from #56 to #51.

5. Jackie Evancho, O Holy Night, 142,000. The EP/DVD combo drops from #2 to #5 in its second week. The release has sold 377K in its first two weeks.

6. Rihanna, Loud, 141,000. The album drops from #3 to #6 in its second week. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "What's My Name?" (featuring Drake), which rebounds from #6 to #5.

7. Justin Bieber, My Worlds Acoustic, 115,000. This new entry, a Wal-Mart and Sam's Club exclusive, is Bieber's third top 10 album. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Baby" rebounds from #180 to #115. "Never Say Never" (featuring Jaden Smith) re-enters at #168.

8. My Chemical Romance, Danger Days The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys, 112,000. This new entry is the band's second regular studio album in a row to crack the top 10. The Black Parade debuted and peaked at #2 in October 2006. "Sing" enters Hot Digital Songs at #146.

9. Ne-Yo, Libra Scale, 112,000. This new entry is Ne-Yo's fourth album in a row to reach the top 10. His last album, Year Of The Gentleman, debuted and peaked at #2 in September 2008.

10. Various Artists, Glee, The Music: The Christmas Album, 108,000. The album dips from #8 to #10 in its second week. It's the #1 soundtrack for the second week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "O Holy Night" dips from #116 to #125. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" drops from #179 to #189.


Five albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Josh Groban's Illuminations drops from #4 to #12, Kid Rock's Born Free drops from #5 to #11, Rascal Flatts' Nothing Like This drops from #6 to #13, Keith Urban's Get Closer drops from #7 to #14 and Nelly's 5.0 plummets from #10 to #39.

Ke$ha's Cannibal bows at a so-so #15. The EP is Ke$ha's first release since the full-length Animal, which debuted at #1 in January. Cannibal debuts a little lower than Michael Buble's recent Hollywood-The Deluxe EP, which debuted and peaked at #10. The gold standard in this category is Lady Gaga's The Fame Monster EP, which spent its first 20 weeks in the top 20. It has sold 1,349,000 copies to date.

The soundtrack to the movie musical Burlesque debuts at #18. It's the highest-charting soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie since The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which hit #2 in June. Christina Aguilera's "Show Me How You Burlesque" enters Hot Digital Songs at #42. Cher landed her first top 10 album (as half of Sonny & Cher) in September 1965, a little more than 15 years before Aguilera was born.

Chris Tomlin's 2009 album Glory In The Highest: Christmas Songs Of Worship jumps from #20 to #19. It's #1 on the Catalog Albums chart for the third straight week.

Jay-Z's The Hits Collection-Volume One bows at #43. This is Jay-Z's first hits compilation in a 14-year career, though he released a live album, Unplugged, in 2001. How can you amass 11 #1 albums (a total topped in the rock era only by the Beatles) and then open this poorly with your first hits compilation? Submit your theories below.

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Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine: 2010 Remastered bows at #78. That's nearly as high as the album peaked after it was originally released in 1990. The album peaked at #75 back then (though it remained on the chart for more than two years). The album logged 14 weeks at #1 on Top Catalog Albums chart from September 1994 to April 1995.

The soundtrack to Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 drops off The Billboard 200 after entering last week at #74. That's depressing. Here's why: The movie was #1 at the box-office for the second weekend in a row. It was the first Potter movie to log a second weekend atop the box-office chart since Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire five years ago.

Taylor Swift this week becomes the only artist with two of the 10 best-selling digital albums of all time. Speak Now jumps to #10 on that list, joining Fearless, which is #4. Speak Now has sold 409,000 digital copies. Fearless has sold 686,000. Swift is also the only artist with three of the 30 best-selling digital albums of all time. Taylor Swift is #30, with digital sales of 339,000.

The Beatles have 12 songs on Hot Digital Songs this week (down from 47 last week). Here are the five that have sold the most after two weeks (with their two-week sales totals): "Let It Be" (95K), "Here Comes The Sun" (78K), "In My Life" (76K), "Yesterday" (55K) and "Hey Jude" (55K).

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Michael Jackson's "Hold My Hand" (featuring Akon) vaults from #98 to #35 in its second week on Hot Digital Songs. Akon was featured on Jackson's 2008 remix of "Wanna Be Startin' Something." Both of these records have made the Hot 100. Akon is one of only two artists to be billed on with two charted collabos with Jackson. The other is Paul McCartney.

Also, Jackson's 1983 classic "Billie Jean" tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads this week. It's Jackson's second song to top the 2 million mark, following "Thriller" (2,539,000). Jackson is only the second artist to top the 2 million mark in paid downloads with two songs that were released in the '70s or '80s. The other is Queen, which has scored with "Bohemian Rhapsody" (2,233,000) and "We Will Rock You" (2,013,000). Jackson and Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, had a lot in common. Both were dynamic live performers who brought old-fashioned values of showmanship into the modern era. Both died decades too young. Jackson was 50 when he died last year. Mercury was 45 when he died in 1991.

Song Scorecard: The Band Perry's "If I Die Young" tops the 1 million mark in paid downloads this week.

Now 36 last week became the first regular Now volume since the first one (in January 1999) to slip out of the top 10 after just one week. But the series is still going strong in the U.K., where it originated. Now That's What I Call Music 77 sold 334,000 copies in the U.K. last week, more than any other album, according to the Official Charts Company. But you won't find it on the U.K. chart, where Take That's Progress holds at #1 with sales of 208K. Say what? That's because compilation albums are relegated to a separate chart in the U.K.

Shameless Plug II: The Grammy nominations will be announced tonight. I predict big things for Eminem and Lady Antebellum. If you missed my annual forecast of the nominations in the key categories, here's a link.

Heads Up: The Black Eyed Peas' The Beginning and Glee: The Music, Volume 4 are expected to the top debuts on next week's chart, in the 125K range. Also look for potent debuts by Jazmine Sullivan's Love Me Back, Chrisette Michele's Let Freedom Reign and Eric Benet's Lost In Time.  Also due: Tim McGraw's Number One Hits, El DeBarge's Second Chance, Ronald Isley's Mr. I, Flo Rida's Only One Flo (Part 1),  Soulja Boy Tell 'Em's The DeAndre Way, Miguel's All I Want Is You and Slim Thug's The Thug Show, Part 1.

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