Chart Watch

Week Ending Oct. 11, 2009: Oprah Saves The Music Industry

Chart Watch

Oprah Winfrey sells books by the truckload and made an invaluable endorsement in the last Presidential election, but this may be the ultimate sign of her influence: She's boosting music sales in a down market. Four of this week's top 10 albums on The Billboard 200 got a boost from her show. Michael Buble's Crazy Love debuts at #1, while Barbra Streisand's Love Is The Answer, Jay-Z's The Blueprint 3 and Mariah Carey's Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel maintain in the top 10. Buble performed on Oprah on Friday, the day of the album's release. Streisand and Jay-Z shared the hour on Sept. 24. Carey performed on the show on Sept. 18.

Crazy Love is Buble's second studio album in a row to reach #1. Call Me Irresponsible topped the chart in May 2007 and went on to win a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. Crazy Love is Buble's first album to debut at #1. Call Me Irresponsible debuted at #2 and hit the top spot in its second week.

The title track of Crazy Love is a Van Morrison song that first appeared on the singer/songwriter's 1970 album, Moondance. (Buble recorded the splendid title track from Moondance on his 2003 debut, Michael Buble.)

Buble is the second Canadian artist to reach #1 with two albums in the 2000s. He follows Avril Lavigne, who topped The Billboard 200 with Under My Skin in 2004 and The Best Damn Thing in 2007. Five other Canadian acts (Alanis Morissette, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Nickelback and Nelly Furtado) have reached the top spot with one album in this decade. (Celine Dion fans: See The Fine Print, below.)

Buble is trying to change his image. (Go figure. The old one was working pretty well.) The change is most apparent in the cover artwork for his last two albums. Buble looked suave and dapper on the cover of Call Me Irresponsible; like a nightclub singer who had just finished a couple of sets. He's barely recognizable on the cover of Crazy Love. The photo looks like a mug shot. The yellow strips look like crime-scene tape. An image makeover is one thing, but it should seem more natural and organic.

KISS' Sonic Boom debuts at #2, becoming the veteran band's highest-charting album to date. The group's highest-charting album until now was Psycho-Circus, which reached #3 in 1998. The band's highest-charting album during its '70s heyday was Love Gun, which reached #4 in 1977. Kiss first charted in April 1974, when Richard Nixon was President, and when Mr. and Mrs. Buble were just starting to think about having a little crooner.

Sonic Boom is a Wal-Mart exclusive. The giant retailer is clearly courting fans of '70s rock, who presumably stock up on toilet paper and Tide when they're in picking up a CD. Wal-Mart also had an exclusive on the Eagles' Long Road Out Of Eden and AC/DC's Black Ice, both of which debuted at #1, and Journey's Revelation, which opened at #5.

Barbra Streisand's Love Is The Answer drops from #1 to #4 in the U.S., but jumps from #4 to #1 in the U.K. It's the diva's sixth #1 in that country. It's only her second studio album to top the U.K. chart, following 1980's Guilty. (High-profile artists produced both albums. Diana Krall worked with Streisand on Love Is The Answer. Barry Gibb co-produced Guilty.) In addition to these two studio albums, Streisand has also topped the U.K. chart with three compilations and the A Star Is Born soundtrack.

Jay-Z's The Blueprint 3, which rebounds to #5 this week, becomes only the fifth 2009 release to top the 1 million mark in sales. It follows Hannah Montana: The Movie, Eminem's Relapse, the Black Eyed Peas' The E.N.D. and U2's No Line On The Horizon. (Seven other albums that were released in prior years have sold 1 million copies in 2009. Still, the total is awfully slim.)

The Blueprint 3 is Jay-Z's 12th album to top the 1 million mark in sales. Jay-Z has sold 26,945,000 albums, a total topped by only one rapper in history. Eminem has sold 34,956,000 albums.

Backstreet Boys' This Is Us debuts at #9, with first-week sales of 42,000 copies. It's the seventh top 10 album in a row for the veteran boy band. 1,591,000 fans bought the group's Black & Blue in its first week in November 2000. 1,549,000 of those fans didn't get around to picking up this album in its first week, but these 42,000 fans are die-hards. "Straight Through My Heart" enters Hot Digital Songs at #177. If the title sounds faintly reminiscent, there's good reason for that. Three of the group's biggest hits include the word "heart" in the title. Surely you remember "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)," "I'll Never Break Your Heart" and "Shape Of My Heart."

Britney Spears' "3" enters Hot Digital Songs at #1 with first-week sales of 255,000 downloads. That's the heftiest one-week total by any song in nearly six months. (The Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow" was the last song to top 250K in weekly sales. It achieved the feat in its first three weeks of release in April.) "3" is the pop icon's fourth #1 song on this chart, which dates to 2004. It follows "Gimme More," "Womanizer" and "Circus." "3" will be featured on the upcoming Britney Spears: The Singles Collection.

Twelve songs from Glee are listed on Hot Digital Songs this week. This week's highest-ranking Glee entry is a mash-up of  Bon Jovi's 2000 hit "It's My Life" and Usher's 2004 smash "Confessions Part II," which enters the chart at #12. The album Glee: The Music, Volume 1 is due Nov. 3. Like American Idol, Glee demonstrates music's popularity at the most mass-appeal level.

Three artists in the top 15 on The Billboard 200 don't believe in flooding the market, to say the least. Sonic Boom is KISS' first studio album since 1998. Black Gives Way To Blue is Alice In Chains' first studio release since 1995. Still is BeBe & CeCe Winans' first studio set since 1994. Go to your boss and tell him you'd like to take 10 to 15 years off. See what happens.

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

1. Michael Buble, Crazy Love, 132,000. This new entry is Buble's third top 10 album. Nearly 31,000 copies were sold digitally, making it the week's #1 Digital Album. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Haven't Met You Yet," which debuts at #87.

2. Kiss, Sonic Boom, 108,000. This new entry is the band's eighth top 10 album. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

3. Toby Keith, American Ride, 90,000. This new entry is Keith's 10th top 10 album. This marks an improvement over his 2008 album, That Don't Make Me A Bad Guy, which debuted (and peaked) at #5. This is Keith's eighth #1 country album. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

4. Barbra Streisand, Love Is The Answer, 75,000. The album dips from #1 to #4 in its second week. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

5. Jay-Z, The Blueprint 3, 65,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #6 to #5 in its fifth week. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Run This Town" (featuring Rihanna and Kanye West), which dips from #7 to #8.

6. Luke Bryan, Doin' My Thing, 58,000. This new entry is the country singer's first top 10 album. His 2007 album I'll Stay Me debuted (and peaked) at #24. "Do I" climbs from #76 to #70 on Hot Digital Songs.

7. Mariah Carey, Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel, 54,000. The album dips from #3 to #7 in its second week. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Obsessed," which dips from #9 to #14. "Obsessed" tops the 1 million mark in paid downloads this week.

8. Miley Cyrus, The Times Of Our Life, 47,000. The EP rebounds from #11 to #8 in its seventh week. This is its sixth week in the top 10. "Party In The U.S.A." slips to #2 on Hot Digital Songs after a total of six weeks on top.

9. Backstreet Boys, This Is Us, 42,000. This new entry is the seventh top 10 album out of seven releases for the veteran boy band. "Straight Through My Heart" enters Hot Digital Songs at #177.

10. Breaking Benjamin, Dear Agony, 42,000. The album falls from #4 to #10 in its second week. "I Will Not Bow" dips from #75 to #76 on Hot Digital Songs.

Six albums fall out of the top 10 this week. Paramore's Brand New Eyes drops from #2 to #11, Alice In Chains' Black Gives Way To Blue drops from #5 to #12, Madonna's Celebration drops from #7 to #20, Miranda Lambert's Revolution drops from #8 to #19, Selena Gomez & The Scene's Kiss & Tell dives from #9 to #25, and Pearl Jam's Backspacer drops from #10 to #16.

Albums by two veteran Christian music artists debut in the top 15. BeBe & CeCe Winans' Still opens at #14. This is the highest-charting album to date by the Grammy-winning brother and sister gospel duo. Their previous best was 1991's Different Lifestyles, which hit #74. Relient K's Forget And Not Slow Down opens at #15. It's the Christian rock group's third consecutive full-length album to reach the top 15.

Roseanne Cash's The List debuts at #22. It's her highest-charting album to date, eclipsing her 1981 breakthrough album, Seven Year Ache, which peaked at #26. The List has an irresistible back story: Cash's father, country music legend Johnny Cash, presented her with a list of 100 essential country songs on her 18th birthday in May 1974. This album features 12 songs from that list. Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and Rufus Wainwright are featured on the album.

"No Air" by Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown tops the 3 million mark in paid downloads this week. It's the first song by an American Idol alum to reach this sales threshold. It's also Brown's first song to hit the 3 million mark.

Pitbull's "I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)" tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads. Pitbull's follow-up, "Hotel Room Service," is closing in on 1 million in paid downloads. It's currently at 958,000.

Jason Derulo's "Whatcha Say" tops the 1 million mark in paid downloads. The song has ranked in the top 10 on Hot Digital Songs for six weeks. It's currently #3.

Michael Jackson's Number Ones is the #1 Catalog Album for the 14th time in the past 16 weeks. The compilation sold 43,000 copies this week and would have rebounded from #19 to #9 on the big chart if catalog albums were eligible to compete there. This is the 16th time in 2009 that the top 10 on The Billboard 200 has excluded one or more of the 10 best-selling albums in the country.

Jackson has three of the 15 best-selling albums so far in 2009. Number Ones is #1, Thriller is #10 and The Essential Michael Jackson is #15.

Thriller recently surpassed Pink Floyd's The Dark Side Of The Moon as the pre-2000 release that has sold best in the digital realm. Thriller has sold 243,000 digital copies. The Dark Side Of The Moon has sold 228,000. The rest of the top five pre-2000 releases in digital sales: Bob Marley & the Wailers' Legend, Journey's Greatest Hits and Creedence Clearwater Revival's Chronicle (The 20 Greatest Hits).

More Digital Data: Kings Of Leon's Only By The Night this week becomes the #3 album in digital history. The album has sold 468,000 digital copies, which puts it behind only Coldplay's Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends (749,000 digital copies) and the Twilight soundtrack (524,000). Taylor Swift's Fearless drops to fourth place, with digital sales of 467,000. John Mayer's Continuum is in fifth place, with 425,000 digital sales.

Note that rock accounts for each of the top three digital albums. Fearless is the top country album and the top album by a solo artist. Continuum is the top pop album and the top album by a male solo artist.

Two weeks ago, Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III surpassed Kanye West's Graduation as the hip-hop album that has sold best in the digital realm. Tha Carter III has sold 327,000 digital copies. Graduation has sold 326,000.

R.I.P. Al Martino had a #1 hit in both the U.S. and the U.K. in 1952 with "Here In My Heart," but he's far better known for his role as Johnny Fontane in 1972's classic The Godfather. The role gave Martino a Hot 100 hit, "Speak Softly Love." Martino died Tuesday. He was 82.

Heads Up: The Twilight Saga: New Moon soundtrack has a good shot at #1 next week. The soundtrack to the initial Twilight debuted at #1 in November. Also due: Mario's D.N.A., Bowling For Soup's Sorry For Partyin', the Flaming Lips' Embryonic, Dead By Sunrise's Out Of Ashes and Five For Fighting's Slice. Also look for three more Christmas albums: Sugarland's Gold and Green, David Archuleta's Christmas From The Heart and Bob Dylan's Christmas In The Heart.

The Fine Print: Celine Dion came awfully close to equaling Avril Lavigne's and Michael Buble's feat of reaching #1 with two albums in the 2000s. A New Day Has Come hit #1 in March 2002. All The Way...A Decade Of Song logged three weeks at #1 in November and December 1999. Its last week at #1 was in the Billboard issue dated Jan. 1, 2000, but I generally go by Nielsen/SoundScan dates, which run 13 days earlier. In any event, it reached #1 in 1999.

Shameless Plug: If you missed my latest Chart Watch Extra, a list of all acts that have had #1 albums spanning 20 years or more, here's a link. Whether your tastes lean to Frank Sinatra or U2, you'll find a favorite artist on this list.

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