Chart Watch

Week Ending Oct. 31, 2010: A Cool Million For Swift

Chart Watch

Taylor Swift's Speak Now sold 1,047,000 copies in its first week. That's the biggest one-week sales tally in more than 5-1/2 years, since 50 Cent's The Massacre sold 1,141,000 copies in its first week in March 2005.

Speak Now registered the second biggest one-week tally in the Nielsen/SoundScan era for an album by a female solo artist. It trails Britney Spears' Oops!...I Did It Again, which sold 1,319,000 copies in its first week in May 2000. Speak Now also posted the second biggest one-week tally for a country album. It trails Garth Brooks' Double Live, which sold 1,085,000 copies in its first week in November 1998.

Speak Now set a new record for the biggest one-week sales tally for an album by a female country artist. The old record was held by Shania Twain's Up!, which sold 874,000 copies in its first week in November 2002.

This is by far Swift's biggest sales week to date. Fearless opened with sales of 592,000 copies in November 2008. Taylor Swift started with sales of 39,000 in October 2006. Fearless took three weeks to top the 1 million mark in sales. Taylor Swift took 38 weeks.

After just one week of sales, Speak Now is already the eighth best-selling album so far this year. It sold more copies in one week than Ke$ha's Animal (993K) and Lil Wayne's Rebirth (683K) have sold all year.

Since Nielsen/SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard in 1991, only 13 albums have sold more copies in any one week. Swift's strong showing is all the more impressive because the environment for album sales is much worse than it was a decade ago, when many of these other albums were released.

What do this week's chart results tell us about the vitality of the music industry? There are two ways to look at it. On the plus side, all the pundits who have pronouncing the album dead for the past few years will be forced to admit that phenomenal sales are still possible. On the down side, Swift's album sold more copies than the next 61 albums on this week's Billboard 200 combined. (That may be the most depressing sentence I have ever written.)

The sales total for Speak Now includes 278,000 digital copies. Only one album has ever sold more digital copies in one week. Coldplay's Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends sold 288,000 digital copies upon its release in June 2008. This of course means that Speak Now sets a new one-week digital sales record for an album by a female artist and for an album by a country artist. Who held these records previously? Swift, with Fearless, which sold 129,000 digital copies in its first week.

It goes without saying that Speak Now enters The Billboard 200 at #1. Country music has accounted for five of the last six #1 albums on that chart. Swift was preceded at #1 by Zac Brown Band, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith and Sugarland. (If Darius Rucker had sold 25,000 more albums two weeks ago, he would have overtaken Lil Wayne and ranked #1. If he had, country would have accounted for the last six consecutive #1 albums.)

Speak Now also enters Top Country Albums at #1. Fearless topped that chart for 35 weeks. Taylor Swift topped it for 24 weeks.

Swift's 2007 holiday EP, Sounds Of The Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection, re-enters The Billboard 200 at #29. It's the week's #1 holiday album and the week's #1 catalog album.

Eminem's Recovery had held the one-week sales record for 2010, with first-week sales of 741,000 in June. Recovery remains the overall sales leader for 2010, with sales of 2,899,000. Will Speak Now be able to overtake Recovery before the end of the year? Place your bets. Swift and Eminem are both vying to become the first artist in Nielsen/SoundScan history to have the year's top-selling album twice. Eminem previously led the field in 2002 with The Eminem Show. Swift was on top last year with Fearless.

This week's surge brings Swift's career album sales to 13,036,000. This puts her ahead of such longer-established acts as John Mayer, Michael Buble and Carrie Underwood.

Shameless Plug: Today, I'm also posting a Chart Watch Extra in which I list the 20 albums that have sold the most copies in one week in the Nielsen/SoundScan era. Backstreet Boys, Garth Brooks, Eminem and *NSYNC all have more than one album on the list. Which is the only act with three of the top 20 one-week sales tallies? Guess and then check out the Chart Watch Extra (here's a link).

Ke$ha's "We R Who We R" enters both the Hot 100 and Hot Digital Songs at #1. It sold 280K copies in its first week. Ke$ha's breakthrough smash, "TiK ToK," topped Hot Digital Songs for six weeks in December and January. But it took 13 weeks to reach #1.

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Willow enters Hot Digital Songs at #4 with "Whip My Hair." It also vaults from #78 to #11 on the Hot 100. The 10-year old is the daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. Willow is the second offspring of the Smiths to land a top 40 hit on the Hot 100. Her older brother Jaden Smith was featured on Justin Bieber's "Never Say Never," which peaked at #33 in June. Jaden was 11 at the time. He is now 12. Will Smith first cracked the top 40 in June 1988 with D.J. Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince's witty "Parents Just Don't Understand." Smith was 19 at the time. (Compared to his kids, he was kind of a slacker.)

Glee: The Rocky Horror Glee Show dips from #6 to #7 on The Billboard 200, in the wake of the airing of the episode. Unless the EP turns around, it will become the first Glee album or EP to fail to reach the top five. There may be some Glee oversaturation (six albums or EPs in one year is a lot). It's also possible that Rocky Horror simply isn't as mainstream as Madonna and Journey, the focal points of the two previous Glee EPs.

That said, the soundtrack to the 1978 movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show re-enters The Billboard 200 at #55. This nearly equals the highest position (#49) it has reached to date. It's the week's highest-ranking soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie. (The Rocky Horror Glee Show is the week's #1 TV soundtrack. This is the first time that one property has been out front in both film and TV soundtracks in the same week since the summer of 2009, when Hannah Montana: The Movie and Hannah Montana 3 led the way for six weeks.)

Michael Buble's Hollywood: The Deluxe debuts at #10. The eight songs on the EP are also included in the Hollywood Edition of his former #1 album Crazy Love, which vaults from #115 to #27 on The Billboard 200. Crazy Love has sold 1,844,000 copies to date. It is likely to become Buble's fourth consecutive fourth studio album to top the 2 million mark.

Crazy Love could bring Buble his third Grammy in four years for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. He won the award in 2008 for Call Me Irresponsible and last year for his live album Michael Buble Meets Madison Square Garden. But Buble has strong competition in the form of Barbra Streisand's #1 album Love Is The Answer. Streisand has won eight Grammys, but she has yet to win in the Traditional Pop category, a genre she dominated in the '60s with her recordings of such vintage songs as "Happy Days Are Here Again" and "My Man." Who will prevail in this epic, intergenerational Grammy showdown? Stay tuned.

"California Gurls" by Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg tops the 4 million mark in paid downloads this week. It took 25 weeks to reach this plateau. Only two songs in digital history have gotten there faster. The Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow" took 23 weeks to top 4 million in paid downloads. Ke$ha's "TiK ToK" took 24 weeks. This is Perry's second song to cross this threshold. "Hot N Cold" is up to 4,597,000.

Eminem's "Not Afraid" tops the 3 million mark in paid downloads. It's Eminem's fourth hit to reach this plateau, following "Love The Way You Lie" (with Rihanna, 3,763,000), "Lose Yourself" (3,055,000) and Akon's "Smack That" (3,015,000). All four of these songs have topped the 3 million mark in the past two months. (When it rains, it pours.)

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Bruno Mars' "Just The Way You Are" tops the 2 million mark this week. It's Mars' third song to reach this plateau, following B.o.B's "Nothin' On You" (2,572,000) and Travie McCoy's "Billionaire" (2,558,000). "Just The Way You Are" reached the 2 million mark in 15 weeks, faster than either of these two other hits. "Nothin' On You" took 18 weeks. "Billionaire" took 19.

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Nicki Minaj is featured on two of the top 10 songs on Hot Digital Songs, as calculated by Nielsen/SoundScan. Here they are. Ke$ha's "We R Who We R" debuts at #1 (280K). Far*East Movement featuring Cataracs & Dev's "Like A G6" dips from #1 to #2 (178K). Rihanna's "Only Girl (In The World)" holds at #3 for the second week (142K). Willow's "Whip My Hair" debuts at #4 (137K). Nelly's "Just A Dream" dips from #4 to #5 (133K). Trey Songz featuring Nicki Minaj's "Bottoms Up" holds at #6 for the second week (122K). Bruno Mars' "Just The Way You Are" drops from #5 to #7 (118K). Taylor Swift's "Sparks Fly" debuts at #8 (113K). P!nk's "Raise Your Glass" drops from #7 to #9 (104K). Kanye West featuring Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Bon Iver & Nicki Minaj's "Monster" vaults from #69 to #10 (97K).

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

1. Taylor Swift, Speak Now, 1,047,000. This new entry is Swift's second studio album in a row to reach #1. It's her fourth top 10 album. Ten songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Sparks Fly," which debuts at #8.

2. Sugarland, The Incredible Machine, 89,000. The former #1 album dips from #1 to #2 in its second week. "Stuck Like Glue" drops from #28 to #37 on Hot Digital Songs.

3. Kings Of Leon, Come Around Sundown, 67,000. The album dips from #2 to #3 in its second week. It holds at #1 in the U.K. for the second week. "The End" drops from #43 to #147 on Hot Digital Songs.

4. Lil Wayne, I Am Not A Human Being, 43,000. The former #1 album inches up from #5 to #4 in its fifth week. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Right Above It" (featuring Drake), which drops from #26 to #32.

5. Eminem, Recovery, 38,000. The former #1 album jumps from #8 to #5 in its 19th week. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Love The Way You Lie" (featuring Rihanna), which drops from #15 to #23.

6. Elton John/Leon Russell, The Union, 37,000. The album drops from #3 to #6 in its second week. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

7. Various Artists, Glee: The Rocky Horror Glee Show, 31,000. The EP dips from #6 to #7 in its second week. It's the top soundtrack for the second week. Five of the EP's seven songs are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Time Warp," which vaults from #121 to #56.

8. Rod Stewart, Fly Me To The Moon...The Great American Songbook Volume V, 30,000. The album drops from #4 to #8 in its second week. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs.

9. Darius Rucker, Charleston, S.C. 1966, 27,000. The album rebounds from #10 to #9 in its third week. "Come Back Song" drops from #76 to #108 on Hot Digital Songs.

10. Michael Buble, Hollywood: The Deluxe, 26,000. This new entry is Buble's fourth top 10 album. Two songs from the EP are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Hollywood" debuts at #92. "Best Of Me" debuts at #166.

Two albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Shakira's Sale El Sol drops from #7 to #16. Third Day's Move drops from #9 to #23.

Blues legend Buddy Guy lands the highest-charting album of his long career as Living Proof enters The Billboard 200 at #46. Guy's previous highest-charting album was 2008's Skin Deep, which hit #68. Guy, 74, first charted in 1991 with Damn Right, I've Got The Blues.

The Country Strong soundtrack debuts at #73. Gwyneth Paltrow, who stars in the movie as a fallen country star, performs four songs on the soundtrack. Paltrow is already a chart veteran. She and Huey Lewis topped the adult contemporary chart in 2000 with a remake of Smokey Robinson's 1980 hit "Cruisin." The song was from the movie Duets, in which they costarred.

For the first time since in at least seven years, Michael Jackson's "Thriller" was not the Halloween song with the most paid downloads. It fell behind "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers. Both songs sold 45K downloads during the week that ended Oct. 31. But "Monster Mash" was ahead by a (black cat's) whisker. These two hits were followed by the usual Halloween suspects, as well as Donovan's "Season Of The Witch," which sold 9K downloads. (That 1966 song is featured in a commercial for Windows, which also goosed sales.)

Song Scorecard: Coldplay's 2003 hit "Clocks" tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads this week. The hit won a Grammy as Record of the Year. Is this the first time that a group's hit has topped the 2 million mark the very same week that the front-man's movie-star wife has charted with the soundtrack to her latest movie? You know, I think it is.

Saw 3D was #1 at the box-office over the weekend. It's the seventh installment in the horror movie series. Don't you people ever get enough? The soundtrack, which features such rock acts as Saving Abel, Hinder and Krokus, sold fewer than 1,000 copies, too few to make The Billboard 200.

Coming Attractions: Look for Swift to hold on to #1 next week. Jason Aldean's My Kinda Party will probably open at #2, with sales in the range of 175,000. Also headed for top 10 debuts: Mariah Carey's Merry Christmas II You and Neil Diamond's Dreams, and possibly  Matt & Kim's Sidewalks and Brad Paisley's Hits Alive. Other albums that will chart:  N.E.R.D.'s Nothing, Good Charlotte's CardiologyElvis Costello's National Ransom, Paul McCartney's Band On The Run deluxe reissue, and Escape The Fate's Escape The Fate.

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