Chart Watch

Week Ending Oct. 4, 2009: A Debut Like Buttah

Chart Watch

Barbra Streisand's Love Is The Answer enters The Billboard 200 at #1, edging out Paramore's Brand New Eyes, which bows at #2. The two albums were separated by fewer than 5,000 copies, which means that Streisand's uncharacteristic promotional hustle probably made the difference. She appeared on Oprah, CBS's Sunday Morning and NBC's Today. This was the closest race for #1 by two debuting albums since April, when Keith Urban's Defying Gravity beat out Prince/Bria Valente's Lotus Flow3r/MPLSoUND/Elix3r by a little more than 3,000 units.

By hitting #1, Streisand sets all kinds of records. The diva has had at least one #1 album in each of the last five decades. No other individual artist equals this feat, though John Lennon and Paul McCartney manage it if you combine albums by The Beatles with their individual work. (The Beatles didn't have a #1 album in the '80s, but Lennon and McCartney did on their own.)

Streisand, who is 67 and six months, is the second oldest artist ever to have a #1 album on The Billboard 200. Bob Dylan scored in May, a week before he turned 68, with Together Through Life. Streisand's one-time duet partner Neil Diamond is the third-oldest artist to land a #1 album. He was 67 and four months in May 2008 when he scored with Home Before Dark.

Love Is The Answer is Streisand's ninth #1 album, a total equaled by only five other artists in chart history. The Beatles lead the pack with 19 #1 albums, followed by Jay-Z with 11, Elvis Presley with 10, and The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen, who also have nine.

Streisand scored her first #1 album, People, in October 1964. This gives her a nearly 45 year span of #1 albums. Only one artist in chart history, Elvis Presley, has had a longer span of #1 albums. The King first topped the chart with Elvis Presley in May 1956 and scored most recently in October 2002 with Elv1s: 30 #1 Hits, giving him a span of nearly 46 years and six months.

Shameless Plug: On Friday, I'll have a Chart Watch Extra in which I count down all acts whose #1 albums span 20 years or more. I've given you the top two, but who are the other acts who made the list? Check back Friday and see.

While the overall race between Streisand and Paramore was close, it was a runaway in the digital realm, with Paramore on top. Brand New Eyes sold nearly 73,000 digital copies (out of a total of 175,000), which made it the week's #1 Digital Album. Love Is The Answer sold a mere 8,000 digital copies (out of 180,000). Streisand's fans are old-school and want to have it and hold it, thank you very much.

Brand New Eyes is Paramore's biggest hit to date. The group's last album, RIOT!, debuted at #20 in June 2007 and later peaked at #15. The album spawned the top 40 hit "Misery Business." Paramore is fronted by 20-year old Hayley Williams. (As it happens, Streisand was 20 when she first hit The Billboard 200 in July 1962 as part of the Broadway cast album to I Can Get It For You Wholesale.)

Paramore also bested Streisand in the U.K. Brand New Eyes debuts at #1 in the U.K. Love Is The Answer opens at #4 there. This is Paramore's first British #1. Streisand has topped the chart five times there, most recently with 2002's The Essential Barbra Streisand.

As for the other superstar divas, Mariah Carey's Memoirs Of A Perfect Angel debuts at #3, and Madonna's Celebration bows at #7.

Streisand, Madonna and Carey are the three female artists with the most #1 albums in chart history (nine, seven and six, respectively). They are also the three female artists with the most top 10 albums. Love Is The Answer is Streisand's 30th album to make the top 10. Celebration is Madonna's 18th. Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel is Carey's 15th.

Among all artists, Streisand is now in a tie for third place (with the Beatles) for most top 10 albums since Billboard introduced its album chart in March 1945. Frank Sinatra has had 40. The Rolling Stones have had 36.

Diana Krall, who had a #3 album in April with Quiet Nights, produced Streisand's album. This isn't the first time that Streisand has had a hit album that was produced by a successful artist. Barry Gibb co-produced her 1980 blockbuster Guilty and produced the 2005 sequel, Guilty Pleasures.

(The title, Love Is The Answer, is drawn from the song "Make Someone Happy." The warm ballad, which was written for the Broadway musical Do Re Mi, was a Grammy finalist for Song of the Year in 1961.)

Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel is Carey's 10th regular studio album. All have reached #4 or higher on The Billboard 200. Still, Carey is bound to be disappointed by this debut. Her last two studio albums, The Emancipation Of Mimi and E=MC2, both debuted at #1, with first-week sales of more than 400,000 copies. The new album starts with sales of 168,000.

Three rock or hard-rock bands enter the top 10 this week opposite all the divas. In addition to Paramore, we have Breaking Benjamin at #4 and Alice In Chains at #5. Alice In Chains' album, Black Gives Way To Blue, deserves special mention. It's the group's first studio album in nearly 14 years. It's also the group's first release with new lead singer William DuVall, who replaced original front-man Layne Staley in 2006. (Staley died of a drug overdose in 2002).

Eight albums debut in the top 10 this week, a new record. Sales were brisk this week. The week's #9 album (Selena Gomez & the Scene's Kiss & Tell) sold 66,000 copies. That's more than the #1 album (Taylor Swift's Fearless) sold in three different weeks back in January and February.

Miley Cyrus' "Party In The U.S.A." was the best-selling digital song in the country for the sixth week. The tune sold 177,000 downloads, lifting its eight-week total over the 1.5 million mark. It's the first song by a female solo artist to top the Digital Songs chart for six weeks since Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" in June and July 2008. "Party" hasn't had nearly as much cultural impact as the Perry hit, but there you are. (Cyrus also has the week's #1 theatrical movie soundtrack, Hannah Montana: The Movie, for the 26th time in the past 28 weeks.)

"Down" by Jay Sean featuring Lil Wayne moves up to #1 on the Hot 100, ending the Black Eyed Peas' incredible, 26-week streak at #1. Lil Wayne topped the chart for five weeks in 2008 with "Lollipop" (featuring Static Major).

And you had to know I'd work this in somehow: Paramore's new album has a butterfly on the cover. Mariah Carey and Barbra Streisand both had hit albums titled Butterfly. (Actually, the band has more in common with Heart, which had a hit album titled Dog & Butterfly.)

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

1. Barbra Streisand, Love Is The Answer, 180,000. This new entry beat initial sales projections. The advance word was that it would probably debut at #3 with sales in the range of 155,000. Sales through Starbucks, QVC and Streisand's own website added to the total.

2. Paramore, Brand New Eyes, 175,000. This new entry is the group's first top 10 album. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Careful," which debuts at #38.

3. Mariah Carey, Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel, 168,000. This new entry is Carey's 11th album to reach the top three. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Obsessed," which jumps from #14 to #9.

4. Breaking Benjamin, Dear Agony, 134,000. This new entry is the group's second top five album in a row. Phobia hit #2 in 2006. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "I Will Not Bow," which drops from #52 to #75.

5. Alice In Chains, Black Gives Way To Blue, 126,000. This new entry is the group's fifth top 10 album; its highest-charting release since MTV Unplugged hit #3 in 1996. "Check My Brain" dips from #171 to #173 on Hot Digital Songs.

6. Jay-Z, The Blueprint 3, 89,000. The former #1 album slips from #2 to #6 in its fourth week. Two songs from the album are listed in the top 10 on Hot Digital Songs. "Run This Town" (featuring Rihanna and Kanye West) dips from #6 to #7. "Empire State Of Mind" (with Alicia Keys) dips from #7 to #8.

7. Madonna, Celebration, 72,000.  This new entry is Madonna's fourth greatest hits album to reach the top 10, following The Immaculate Collection, the ballad compilation Something To Remember and GHV2: Greatest Hits Volume 2.  "Revolver" enters Hot Digital Songs at #114.

8. Miranda Lambert, Revolution, 66,000. This new entry is the country singer's second top 10 album in a row. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend debuted at #6 in May 2007. The new album also enters Top Country Albums at #1, dislodging Taylor Swift's Fearless from the top spot. "White Liar" enters Hot Digital Songs at #105.

9. Selena Gomez & the Scene, Kiss & Tell, 66,000. This new entry is the first album by the star of the Disney Channel's The Wizards Of Waverly Place. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Falling Down," which leaps from #59 to #41.

10. Pearl Jam, Backspacer, 58,000. The album drops from #1 to #10 in its second week. It's the biggest tumble from the top spot since Sugarland's Live On The Inside fell from #1 to #11 in August. "The Fixer" drops from #40 to #60 on Hot Digital Songs.

Eight albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Three Days Grace's Life Starts Now falls from #3 to #17, Whitney Houston's I Look To You drops from #4 to #13, Miley Cyrus' The Time Of Our Lives drops from #5 to #11, Brand New's Daisy plummets from #6 to #44, Five Finger Death Punch's War Is The Answer drops from #7 to #30, Harry Connick Jr.'s Your Songs falls from #8 to #14, Drake's So Far Gone falls from #9 to #20, and Muse's The Resistance falls from #10 to #25.

For the first time in 15 weeks, no catalog albums rank among the 10 best-selling albums in the country. Thus, the top 10 on The Billboard 200 contains all 10 of the best-selling albums. Imagine that! The top catalog title, Michael Jackson's Number Ones, sold 32,000 copies this week and would have ranked #19 on the big chart if catalog albums were eligible to compete there.

AFI's Crash Love bows at #12. The band's last two studio albums made the top 10.  Sing The Sorrow reached #5 in 2003. Decemberunderground hit #1 in 2006.

Dethklok's Dethalbum II bows at #15. This beats the initial Dethalbum, which debuted (and peaked) at #21 in September 2007. Dethklok is the death metal band in Metalocalypse, an animated cartoon series on the Adult Swim TV network.

Avett Brothers' I And Love And You opens at #16. The Americana/roots-rock group features brothers Seth and Scott Avett. This is by far the group's highest-charting album to date. Second Gleam reached #82 in July 2008. Rick Rubin produced the new album.

Lynyrd Skynyrd's God & Guns bows at #18. This is the Southern rock band's ninth top 20 album. The band had seven consecutive top 20 albums in the '70s and returned to the top 20 in 2003 with Thyrty-The 30th Anniversary Collection. Kid Rock's 2008 smash "All Summer Long," which featured a good chunk of Lynyrd Skynyrd's anthem "Sweet Home Alabama," doubtless introduced the band to a new generation of fans.

Jordin Sparks has a double dose of good news this week. Her current hit, "Battlefield," tops the 1 million mark in paid downloads, and her 2007 hit, "Tattoo," tops the 2 million mark. "Tattoo" is Sparks' second song to top the 2 million download mark, following "No Air," her 2008 collaboration with Chris Brown. Jordin is only the second American Idol alumnus to top the 2 million mark in paid downloads with two songs. Kelly Clarkson was the first to do it. Carrie Underwood and Daughtry each have one song above 2 million.

"American Boy" by Estelle featuring Kanye West tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads this week. The zesty tune was a Grammy nominee for Song of the Year earlier this year. "It's a happy song," Estelle told Paul Zollo in his annual roundup of the Song of the Year nominees for the Grammy program book. "It brings you back to like a 1970s roller-skating vibe; to being a kid." West has topped the 2 million mark in paid downloads with four of his own hits, "Stronger," "Heartless," "Love Lockdown" and "Gold Digger" (featuring Jamie Foxx).

Eleven songs from Glee are listed on Hot Digital Songs. This week's highest-ranking Glee entry is their rendition of Queen's 1976 hit "Somebody To Love" at #10. Who knew Glee would become such a phenomenon?

Heads Up: Michael Buble will storm next week's chart with Crazy Love, his bid to broaden his appeal beyond the modern-day Sinatra image he had honed. Buble's last studio album, Call Me Irresponsible, hit #1. (So the old image was working pretty well.) Two other artists who have had #1 albums are due next week. Toby Keith will be back with American Ride; Backstreet Boys with This Is Us. Also due: Tokio Hotel's Humanoid, Kiss' Sonic Boom (a Wal-Mart exclusive), Relient K's Forget And Not Slow Down, Air's Love 2, Brandi Carlile's Give Up The Ghost, Bebe & Cece Winans' Still and Fat Joe's Jealous Ones Still Envy. There will also be two holiday albums:  Now That's What I Call A Country Christmas and the Irish Tenors' Christmas.

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