Chart Watch

Week Ending Oct. 25, 2009: Taking A Second Bite Out Of #1

Chart Watch

The soundtrack to The Twilight Saga: New Moon moves up to #1, less than a year after the initial Twilight soundtrack debuted in the top spot. This marks the first time that both a theatrically-released movie and a sequel to that movie have spawned #1 soundtracks. (Among made-for-TV movies, High School Musical and its sequel, High School Musical 2, both spawned #1 soundtracks.)

There have been four cases where a theatrical movie soundtrack hit #1 and the soundtrack to a sequel made the top 10. This happened with Saturday Night Fever, Beverly Hills Cop, Batman and The Crow.

One other soundtrack to a sequel reached #1, but in that case the soundtrack to the original movie fell short of the top spot. Bad Boys II topped The Billboard 200 for four weeks in 2003. The first Bad Boys soundtrack hit #26 in 1995.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon debuted at #2 last week, based on just three days of sales. It's the second soundtrack to reach #1 this year, following Hannah Montana: The Movie. Three soundtracks rang the bell in 2008: Juno, Mamma Mia! and Twilight.

The New Moon soundtrack was released more than a month before the movie, starring Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, which is set to premiere on Nov. 20. The last soundtrack to reach #1 this far in front of the movie's release was 1994's Murder Was The Case, which was topped the chart four months before the Snoop Dogg movie opened. The initial Twilight soundtrack was released about two weeks before that movie's Nov. 21, 2008 launch.

Both Twilight soundtracks are rock-oriented. Death Cab For Cutie has the lead single from the new album. Paramore had the lead hit ("Decode") from the first album.

Shameless Plug: On Friday, I'll have a Chart Watch Extra in which I list all 20 rock soundtracks that have reached #1 on The Billboard 200. The first was Elvis Presley's Loving You in 1957. The last two are Twilight and The Twilight Saga: New Moon. What are the other 17? Check back on Friday and see.

Lady Gaga this week becomes the first artist to have four songs top the 1 million mark in paid downloads in 2009. "Paparazzi" follows "Just Dance" (featuring Colby O'Donis), "Poker Face" and "Lovegame." Those four songs have sold a combined total of 9,711,000 downloads just this year. (Kanye West is in second place, with three songs above the 1 million mark in paid downloads in 2009. There was his own smash "Heartless" plus his featured roles on "Knock You Down" and "Run This Town.")

Owl City's "Fireflies" jumps to #1 in its 10th week on the Hot 100. It also climbs to #1 in its 12th week on Hot Digital Songs. The song sold 196,000 copies this week, upping its total to 878,000. "Fireflies" took longer to reach #1 on Hot Digital Songs than any song since Lady Gaga's "Poker Face," which rang the bell in its 19th week in March.

It's a similar story on the album chart. Owl City's Ocean Eyes finally cracks the top 10 in its 15th week on the chart. Most albums that make the top 10 these days debut in the top 10. This is the first top 10 album to have climbed through the ranks to get to the top 10 since the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack, which cracked the top 10 in its 10th week in March. The last album to take as long as Ocean Eyes to finally reach the top 10 was Lady Gaga's The Fame, which cracked the top 10 in its 17th week in February.

From its name, Owl City sounds like a group, but it's actually just singer/songwriter Adam Young. It's a little bit like the Blue Ridge Rangers (John Fogerty), Nine Inch Nails (Trent Reznor) and New Radicals (Gregg Alexander). These musician types! I guess they just like to keep us on our toes.

Tim McGraw won't know whether to be happy or depressed when he gets this week's chart numbers. Southern Voice enters The Billboard 200 at #2. It's the country star's seventh consecutive studio album to reach #1 or #2 on the big chart, which is everything from 1997's Everywhere on. The album is his 12th #1 on Top Country Albums.

What's the problem, then? Southern Voice had first-week sales of 137,000, which is way down from his last studio album, Let It Go, which started with sales of 325,000 in April 2007. I think Tim should blame it on the economy and the sluggish market for CDs and go out and celebrate. As they say, let it go.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

As forecast here last week, Taylor Swift's Fearless tops the 4 million mark in sales this week. It's Swift's second studio album in a row to reach this threshold. She's the first act to top the 4 million mark with back-to-back studio albums since Rascal Flatts did it with 2004's Feels Like Today and 2006's Me And My Gang. Is it just a coincidence that both of the last two acts to do this come from the world of country? Hardly. Country sells albums by the truckload. In addition, Fearless logs its 41st week in the top 10. It's the first album to stay there that long since Usher's Confessions in 2004-05.

Joss Stone's Colour Me Free! debuts at #10. The British pop star is the latest in a long line of international artists to feature the British spelling "Colour" in an album title. Others include Culture Club (1984's Colour By Numbers), Icehouse (1987's Man Of Colours) and Celine Dion (1994's The Colour Of My Love). Occasionally (and curiously), American acts use the British spelling. Two examples: Foo Fighters (1997's The Colour And The Shape) and Carole King (1993's The Colour Of Your Dreams).

Michael Jackson's Number Ones this week becomes the first album to sell 2 million copies in 2009. This is the latest in the year that the first album has topped the 2 million sales threshold (at least in the Nielsen/SoundScan era, which dates to 1991). Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III was the first album to sell 2 million copies in 2008, but it reached that mark in the week ending August 3. Here are other recent albums that were the first in those years to sell 2 million copies and the dates they hit that plateau: In 2007, Daughtry's Daughtry, on Sept. 23. In 2006, High School Musical, on May 21. In 2005, 50 Cent's The Massacre, on March 20. In 2004, Norah Jones' Feels Like Home, on March 14. (The trend line is not encouraging, as they say.)

Feast Or Famine: You know how most of the movies you might actually want to see are jammed into the last six weeks of the year? Inevitably, some quality movies get lost in the shuffle. The same dynamic is at work in the music business.

In one two-week period next month (Nov. 17 and Nov. 24), we'll have new albums from six artists who hit #1 or #2 with their last studio albums (Norah Jones, Leona Lewis, Rihanna, John Mayer, 50 Cent and Casting Crowns) as well as high-profile debuts from TV talent-show discoveries Susan Boyle, Adam Lambert and Kris Allen, and greatest hits sets from Janet Jackson and Fall Out Boy. Fans have only so much time, money and energy. Some of these albums are bound to fall through the cracks. Wouldn't it be great if big-deal releases could be spread more evenly throughout the year-in both industries?

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

1. Various Artists, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, 153,000. The soundtrack moves up to #1 in its second week. It sold 31,000 digital copies, which makes it the #1 Digital Album for the second straight week. Death Cab for Cutie's "Meet Me On The Equinox" jumps from #116 to #106 on Hot Digital Songs.

2. Tim McGraw, Southern Voice, 137,000. This new entry is McGraw's 13th consecutive top 10 album, his entire output since he became a star in 1994. "Southern Voice" debuts at #68 on Hot Digital Songs.

3. Michael Buble, Crazy Love, 102,000. The album slips from #1 to #3 in its third week. Buble's last studio album, Call Me Irresponsible, also spent three weeks in the top three. "Haven't Met You Yet" drops from #40 to #74 on Hot Digital Songs.

4. Jay-Z, The Blueprint 3, 43,000. The former #1 album dips from #3 to #4 in its seventh week. Three songs from the album are featured on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Run This Town" (featuring Rihanna and Kanye West), which dips from #7 to #10.

5. Miley Cyrus, The Time Of Our Lives, 39,000. The EP holds at #5 in its ninth week. This is its eighth week in the top 10. "Party In The U.S.A." rebounds from #3 to #2 on Hot Digital Songs. The song will top the 2 million mark next week.

6. The Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D., 35,000. The former #1 album holds at #6 in its 20th week. This is its 16th week in the top 10. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Meet Me Halfway," which jumps from #5 to #3.

7. Taylor Swift, Fearless, 34,000. The former #1 album holds at #7 in its 50th week. This is its 41st week in the top 10. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "You Belong With Me," which dips from #20 to #22.

8. Owl City, Ocean Eyes, 28,000. This new entry is the act's first top 10 album. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Fireflies," which jumps to #1.

9. Barbra Streisand, Love Is The Answer, 28,000. The former #1 album drops from #4 to #9 in its fourth week. This is Streisand's longest run in the top 10 since Higher Ground had seven weeks in 1997-98. (How about those other superstar divas who debuted the same week? Mariah Carey is #14. Madonna is #47.)

10. Joss Stone, Colour Me Free!, 27,000. This new entry, a Target/iTunes exclusive, is Stone's second top 10 album in a row. Introducing Joss Stone, her third album, debuted at #2 in March 2007. "Free Me" enters Hot Digital Songs at #143.

Three albums drop out of the top 10 this week. The Flaming Lips' Embryonic plummets from #8 to #51, Mario's D.N.A. dives from #9 to #40, and Mariah Carey's Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel drops from #10 to #14. Carey's album logged just three weeks in the top 10. Only one of her regular studio albums has spent so little time in the top 10. That's 2002's Charmbracelet, which spent just one week in the winners circle.

Michael Jackson's Number Ones tops the Catalog Albums chart for the 16th time in the past 18 weeks. The collection sold 26,000 copies this week and would have rebounded from #17 to #11 on The Billboard 200 if catalog albums were eligible to compete there.

The Zac Brown Band's The Foundation jumps from #14 to #11, matching the highest position it has reached to date. The album has been on the chart for 49 weeks without ever making the top 10. But it has sold 1,110,000 copies, which ought to be some consolation. (Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Toes," which jumps to #32.)

Rammstein's Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da debuts at #13. It's the band's highest-charting album to date. Rammstein, which records in its native German, first charted in June 1998. The lead single, "Pussy," has generated buzz because of its explicit music video. (Something tells me the song isn't about cats.)

Two other albums debut in the top 30. Flight of the Conchords' I Told You I Was Freaky opens at #19. The comedy act's Flight Of The Conchords bowed at #3 in April 2008. It has sold 298,000 copies...Lyle Lovett's Natural Forces opens at #29. It's his best showing since 1996's The Road To Ensenada peaked at #24.Lovett has been charting since early 1988. Natural Forces is a Best Buy exclusive.

Song Scorecard: The Lonely Island's "I'm On A Boat" tops the 1 million mark in paid downloads this week. It's rare for a song by a comedy act to hit this level...Pitbull's "Hotel Room Service" also tops the 1 million mark in paid downloads. It's Pitbull's second smash in a row, following "I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)"...And Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" has already sold more downloads (1,006,000) in 2009 than it did in all of 2008 (917,000). I'm starting to think people like that song.

Ten songs from Glee are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by the cast's version of Neil Diamond's 1969 smash "Sweet Caroline," which debuts at #16. The exposure on the show even brought Diamond's original version of the song onto the chart at #124. (Diamond's version has sold 989,000 downloads through the years, not bad for a song that was first a hit 35 years before downloading took off.)

Glee: The Music Volume 1 is set for release on Nov. 3. And, yes, this will indeed be a series. In fact, the second volume is already scheduled for release on Dec. 8, just five weeks after the first. Is this a case of "striking while the iron's hot" or "running a good thing into the ground"? (Maybe a little of both, in the time-honored tradition of the music business.)

U.K. Watch: Alexandra Burke's Overcome debuts at #1 in her native U.K. this week. Burke had last week's #1 British single, "Bad Boys." The track features Flo Rida.

Heads Up: Michael Jackson's This Is It is expected to debut at #1 next week, with sales of 300,000 to 350,000. Creed will release Full Circle, its first studio album in nearly eight years. Rod Stewart will have Soulbook, his sixth album of cover versions since 2002. The first five all reached the top five. Also due: Brian McKnight's Evolution Of A Man, Sting's If On A Winter's Night..., Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Night Castle, Train's Save Me, San Francisco, Joe Nichols' Old Things New, Wolfmother's Cosmic Egg, Tech N9ne's K.O.D. and The Swell Season's Strict Joy.

Boo!: You can tell Halloween is at hand just by checking out Hot Digital Songs. Moving up this week: Michael Jackson's 1984 smash "Thriller" (total paid downloads: 1,963,000), Bobby "Boris" Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers' 1962 perennial "Monster Mash" (261,000) and Ray Parker Jr.'s 1984 smash "Ghostbusters" (278,000). Happy Halloween, everybody.

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