Chart Watch

Week Ending Oct.5, 2008: T.I. Breaks T.I.’s Record

Chart Watch

T.I.'s new hit "Live Your Life" (featuring Rihanna) vaults from #80 to #1 on Billboard's Hot 100, setting a new record for the biggest jump into the top spot in the chart's 50-year history. The old record, set just six weeks ago, was by the rapper's previous release, "Whatever You Like," which surged from #71 to #1. "Live Your Life" sold 335,000 downloads this week to also debut at #1 on the Hot Digital Songs chart. That's the largest weekly tally of 2008. In the history of downloading, only "Low" by Flo Rida featuring T-Pain has sold more downloads in a week. It sold 467,000 in the week after Christmas, when "Low" was in its ninth week. So "Live Your Life" sets a record for the most paid downloads by a debuting single. (Mariah Carey had held the first-week record when "Touch My Body" opened with sales of 286,000 downloads in March.)

"Live Your Life" bumps "Whatever You Like" out of the top spot on both the Hot 100 and Hot Digital Songs. T.I. is the first artist to replace himself at #1 on the Hot 100 since July 2004, when Usher followed "Burn" with "Confessions Part II." (Usher is featured on "My Life Your Entertainment," a track from T.I.'s new album.) T.I. is the first artist to replace himself at #1 on Hot Digital Songs since December 2005, when Mariah Carey  followed "All I Want For Christmas Is You" with "Don't Forget About Us."

T.I.'s new album, Paper Trail, debuts at #1 on The Billboard 200 with sales of 568,000. That constitutes the third biggest debut of the year, behind only Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III and Coldplay's Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends. Paper Trail sold more copies this week than the next four albums on the chart combined. And those four albums are all high-powered releases: Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson's long-awaited debut; blue-eyed-soul smoothie Robin Thicke's follow-up to an album that sold more than 1.5 million copies; an album of covers by boomer icon James Taylor; and a smash album by Metallica.

Paper Trail is T.I.'s third consecutive album to debut at #1 with a first-week tally in excess of 450,000. King bowed at #1 in April 2006 with sales of 522,000. T.I. Vs. T.I.P. started on top in July 2007 with sales of 468,000. Mariah Carey, a major star for 18 years, has never had a first week tally as potent as any of T.I.'s last three albums (though her current album, E=MC2, came close.) At some point, T.I.'s fame will catch up with his record sales.

It's telling that two of the three albums with the biggest first-week tallies so far this year are rap. What's more, both Lil Wayne and T.I. debuted with the biggest first-week totals of their careers. If albums are becoming "relics of the past," evidently nobody sent T.I. the memo. This big debut proves that when artists put out something that fans want, fans will buy it. And that's true whether we're talking about T.I. or Metallica, whose Death Magnetic this week becomes the 12th album to top the million mark in 2008.

T.I. has two other entries on The Billboard 200. King Of Oneself, a Best Buy-exclusive EP, bows at #128. T.I. Vs. T.I.P. re-enters the chart at #200. It has sold 1,309,000 copies to date. How long will it take Paper Trail to equal that tally? Place your bets.

Jennifer Hudson debuts at #2 with her debut album, Jennifer Hudson. Hudson was part of the ensemble on the Dreamgirls soundtrack, which logged two weeks at #1 in January 2007. (She also sang a song on the Sex And The City soundtrack, which hit #2 in June.) Hudson, who won an Oscar for her performance in Dreamgirls, is the first artist to follow an Academy Award with a chart-busting album since Jamie Foxx, who debuted at #1 with Unpredictable two years after he was named Best Actor for Ray. That movie, of course, was about R&B legend Ray Charles. Dreamgirls tells the story of a fictional group with more than a passing resemblance to another icon of '60s pop, Diana Ross & the Supremes.

Hudson had first-week sales of 217,000. That's the biggest first-week sales tally for a debut album since Taylor Hicks' Taylor Hicks started in December 2006 with sales of 298,000. (I'm not counting Hannah Montana 2/Meet Miley Cyrus as a debut album, on the grounds that it was half franchise soundtrack/half debut.) Hudson and Hicks were both contestants on American Idol. Hudson finished seventh on Season 3. Hicks won Season 5. Hudson has climbed higher on the chart than any of the contestants who finished ahead of her on Idol. Fantasia, who won Season 3, peaked at #8 with her debut album, Free Yourself. (The two women sing a duet, "I'm His Only Woman," on Hudson's album.)

Hudson is also higher on the chart than Jennifer Holliday, who originated the Effie White role on Broadway, ever climbed. Holliday's highest-charting album was her first, Feel My Soul, which peaked at #31 in 1983.

Christmas In October: Remember the quaint idea of waiting until after Thanksgiving to start thinking about Christmas? Or at least Halloween? Times have changed. It's not even Columbus Day and we already have two Christmas albums in the top 50. Disney's Nightmare Revisited, consisting of such acts as Marilyn Manson and the All-American Rejects singing songs from Tim Burton's 1993 cult classic The Nightmare Before Christmas, debuts at #31. Faith Hill's more traditional Joy To The World bows at #51. The albums enter the chart one week earlier in the year than Josh Groban's Noel did last year. Noel entered the Nielsen/SoundScan chart (at #10) on October 14, 2007.

Garth Brooks started this trend to early holiday releases when he issued Beyond The Season in late August 1992. It entered the Nielsen/SoundScan chart on September 6. Brooks' strategy worked: Beyond The Season became the #1 holiday album of 1992. Two subsequent early releases likewise became the #1 holiday albums of their years. Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas In The Aire hit the chart on Sept. 17, 1995. Michael Bolton's This Is The Time--The Christmas Album charted on Oct. 6, 1996.

Noel stunned the industry last year when it became the #1 best-seller of the year--a first for a holiday album. The album sold 3,699,000 copies in just 12 weeks. Hill was a guest star on Noel, singing "The First Noel."

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

1. T.I., Paper Trail, 568,000. This is the rapper's fifth album in a row to make the top 10. He first broke into the top 10 with Trap Muzik in 2003 and kept up the pace with Urban Legend in 2004 before stepping up to #1 with his last three albums. More than 68,000 copies of the album were sold digitally, making this the week's #1 Digital Album. Eight songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Live Your Life" (featuring Rhianna) at #1.

2. Jennifer Hudson, Jennifer Hudson, 217,000. Earlier, I told you that this is the heftiest first-week number for a debut album since Taylor Hicks. You may be wondering about Leona Lewis' Spirit. That opened at #1 in April, but with a smaller total (205,000). This is the second week in a row that a debut album has started at #2. Demi Lovato started at #2 last week, albeit with a first-week tally that is less than half of Hudson's. Two songs from Hudson's album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Spotlight" at #38.

3. Robin Thicke, Something Else, 137,000. This new entry is Thicke's highest-charting album. The Evolution Of Robin Thicke peaked at #5 in its 22nd week on the chart in March 2007. (It debuted at #45 in October 2006, with first-week sales of 20,000, about one-seventh of the current album's opening tally.)  Thicke was known as just Thicke when he first charted in 2003 with A Beautiful World. "Magic" vaults to #89 on Hot Digital Songs.

4. James Taylor, Covers, 95,000. This is Taylor's sixth top five album and his first since October Road in 2002. Taylor first made the top five with Sweet Baby James in October 1970, which gives him a 38-year span of top five albums. It's ironic that this legendary singer-songwriter, who (along with Carole King) defined the singer-songwriter era of the early '70s, is scoring big with an album of covers. (Come to think of it, four of Taylor's five top 10 singles were written by other people.) The album is being sold at Starbucks and through QVC in addition to all the usual outlets.

5. Metallica, Death Magnetic, 86,000. The album slips to #5 after logging three straight weeks on top. This brings sales of this album to 1,045,000, making it the #9 album for the year to date. If the album maintains this pace, this will be the third year since 1992 that Metallica has had an album in the year-end top 10. Metallica was #9 for 1992. Load was #7 for 1996. "The Day That Never Comes" dips to #106 on Hot Digital Songs.

6. Ne-Yo, Year Of The Gentleman, 70,000. The album slips from #3 to #6 in its third week. Two songs from the album are listed in the top 40 on Hot Digital Songs. This is the first week that "Miss Independent" (at #26) has ranked higher than "Closer" (at #31).

7. Kid Rock, Rock N Roll Jesus, 56,000. The album concludes one full year on the chart by holding at #7. This is the album's 14th consecutive week in the top 10. In this 14-week period, the album has more than doubled its total sales, from 1,057,000 to 2,142,000. That's not bad for an album that dropped out of the top 10 after just three weeks and fell as low as #82 before coming back to life on the strength of the multi-format smash "All Summer Long." Rock N Roll Jesus is the first album to log 17 total weeks in the top 10 since Taylor Swift's Taylor Swift.

8. Jack's Mannequin, Glass Passenger, 49,000. This is the first top 10 album by the rock band from Orange County, California. The group's only previous album, Everything In Transit, hit #37 in 2005. The group's leader, Andrew McMahon, previously played in the group Something Corporate, which had a #24 album, North, in 2003. Two songs from the new album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Resolution" at #104.

On a much more important note, McMahon recovered from a bout of leukemia to make this comeback.

9. Kellie Pickler, Kellie Pickler, 43,000. Hudson isn't the only former American Idol contestant debuting in this week's top 10. Pickler, who finished sixth in Season 5, lands her second straight top 10 album. Her 2006 debut, Small Town Girl, debuted (and peaked) at #9 in November 2006. Two songs from the new album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Don't You Know You're Beautiful" at #133.

10. Jazmine Sullivan, Fearless, 42,000. The album dips from #6 to #10 in its second week. "Need U Bad" is a former #1 R&B hit, but it isn't much of a crossover hit. It drops to #155 on Hot Digital Songs.

Six albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Demi Lovato's Don't Forget tumbles from #2 to #16, the Pussycat Dolls' Doll Domination drops from #4 to #17, Kings Of Leon's Only By The Night falls from #5 to #20, Joe's Joe Thomas New Man drops from #8 to #21, Young Jeezy's The Recession dips from #9 to #12, and Jonas Brothers' A Little Bit Longer drops from #10 to #15.

Ben Folds lands the highest-charting album of his career as Way To Normal debuts at #11. This edges out Folds' 2005 album, Songs For Silverman, which bowed at #13. "You Don't Know Me" enters Hot Digital Songs at #145. Ben Folds Five debuted in 1997 with the hit album Whatever And Ever Amen and radio hit "Brick."...Anberlin also has its highest-charting album as New Surrender debuts at #13. This is the Christian rock band's second album in a row to debut in the top 20. Cities opened at #19 in February 2007.

Lil Wayne Watch: Tha Carter III, the year's #1 album, dips from #11 to #14. This is the 18th consecutive week that five or more songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. Those five songs have sold a combined total of 5,314,000 downloads. So Lil Wayne has sold more than twice as many individual song downloads from the album than he has copies of the album itself (2,523,000 as of this week).

Grateful Dead's Rocking The Cradle-Egypt 1978 debuts at #35. It's the legendary band's highest-charting album since Hundred Year Hall hit #26 in 1995. That album was recorded in concert in Germany in 1972. The Dead's last newly-recorded top 40 album was Built To Last in 1989.

Catalog Report: I Can Only Imagine: Ultimate Power Anthems Of The Christian Faith returns to #1 on the Catalog Albums chart for a ninth week on top. The Time/Life collection sold 17,000 copies and would have ranked #34 on the big chart if older, catalog albums were eligible to compete there.

Ups & Downs: Joshua Radin's Simple Times re-enters The Billboard 200 at #72. Sales jumped 379% compared to last week, a bigger gain than any other album on the current chart. On the down side, Randy Rogers Band's eponymous album dropped from #29 to #144 in its second week. That's a 73% sales slide, steeper than any other album on the chart.

Heads Up: Two greatest hits albums, Tim McGraw's Greatest Hits 3 and Sarah McLachlan's Closer: The Best Of Sarah McLachlan, are among the top releases due on next week's chart. McGraw's first two volumes of Greatest Hits each made the top five on The Billboard 200. Also due next week: Oasis' Dig Out Your Soul, Jon McLaughlin's OK Now, Bob Dylan's 2-CD set Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8, Marco Antonio Solis' No Molestar, Rise Against's Appeal To Reason and WOW Hits 2009.

Christmas Spirit: Faith Hill seems to really like Christmas. She added exclamation points to three of the song titles on her album: "Joy To The World!," "Oh Holy Night!" and "Silent Night, Holy Night!" Kenny G swiped what may have been a perfect title for Hill when he called his second holiday album, Faith--A Holiday Album. But I'm guessing she would have made it, Faith-A Holiday Album!

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