Chart Watch

Week Ending Sept. 19, 2010: “It Goes On And On And On And On”

Chart Watch

Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" tops the 4 million mark in paid downloads this week. The song was first released way back in 1981, when Madonna and Whitney Houston were still unknowns and Justin Timberlake and Beyonce were still in diapers. No other song that was first released before 2000 has topped the 3 million mark in paid downloads, much less 4 million.

"Don't Stop Believin" received a big boost from its use in the final episode of The Sopranos, which aired in June 2007. (The usage also did wonders for the song's "coolness" factor.)

The song received another boost from its use in the first episode of Glee, which aired in May 2009. It was featured again in the last episode of the first season, which aired three months ago. The two Glee versions have sold a combined total of 973,000 copies (which, of course, are not counted toward Journey's 4 million tally).

Journey's recording of "Don't Stop Believin'" hit the 1 million mark in paid downloads in August 2007. It reached 2 million in October 2008. It hit 3 million in August 2009. When will it reach 5 million? Place your bets.

"Don't Stop Believin'" is to digital songs what Bob Marley & the Wailers' Legend is to albums. Both are perennial best-sellers that have become music industry phenomena. That 1984 compilation has sold 10,349,000 copies since Nielsen/SoundScan started tracking sales in 1991. (It sold millions more before that.) Both Journey's song and Marley's album are slowly but surely climbing the all-time best-seller lists. "Don't Stop Believin'" is the 21st best-selling song in digital history. It is just 2,197,000 copies behind the all-time digital song champ, the Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling."

Given all this, you might assume that "Don't Stop Believin'" was a #1 hit when it was first released in 1981. Far from it. It peaked at #9. Sixty-four songs that year climbed higher on the Hot 100.

"Don't Stop Believin'" peaked on the Hot 100 in the week ending Dec. 19, 1981. It has sold more than twice as many digital copies as all the other songs that were in the top 10 that week combined. The #1 song that week, Olivia Newton-John's "Physical," has sold 152,000 digital copies, not bad, but a far cry from the total of 4,013,000 for "Don't Stop Believin.'"

Shameless Plug: On Friday, I'll have a list of the top 40 oldies (songs released before January 2000), with the most paid downloads as of this very week. I've given you #1, but I have 39 more songs to run down. A few teases: The #2 song is by an artist who never had a Hot 100 hit. Three of the songs are by one band. Three of the songs are from one album. All will be revealed on Friday.

Linkin Park's A Thousand Suns enters The Billboard 200 at #1 with sales of 241,000. This is less than half of the first-week total of the band's last studio album, Minutes To Midnight, which bowed in the top spot in May 2007 with sales of 623,000.

The trend-line is moving in the opposite direction for R&B star Trey Songz, who debuts at #2 with Passion, Pain & Pleasure. The album sold 240,000 copies, nearly twice the first-week tally of Songz' last album, Ready, which bowed in September 2009 with 131,000. (If Songz had sold just 2,000 more copies this week, he would have upset Linkin Park and grabbed the #1 spot.)

Let's dig a little deeper into that first-week total for Linkin Park's album. It's the eighth biggest first-week total so far in 2010, and the biggest by a rock band. Still, the number is a big disappointment. The band's 2003 album, Meteora, posted first-week sales of 810,000, which was the second biggest first-week tally that year (behind only 50 Cent's Get Rich Or Die Tryin'). The 623,000 start for Minutes To Midnight constituted the sixth biggest first-week tally of 2007.

Linkin Park's album debuts at #2 in both Japan and the U.K., so it came close to a rare sweep of the #1 spot in the world's top three music markets. The album sold 90,000 digital copies in the U.S. It's #1 on the Digital Albums chart.

Rihanna's "Only Girl (In The World)" enters Hot Digital Songs at #1 with first-week sales of 249,000 copies. It's Rihanna's eighth #1 on that chart. The #1 debut makes up for the fact that Rihanna's smash "Rude Boy" never quite reached the top spot on the digital chart. (It did, however, log five weeks at #1 on the Hot 100, which is a blend of digital sales and radio airplay.) "Only Girl (In The World)" vaults from #75 to #3 on the Hot 100.

Bruno Mars' "Just The Way You Are" dips from #1 to #2 on Hot Digital Songs. It sold 194,000 copies this week, bringing its nine-week total to 1,151,000. It moves up from #3 to #1 on the Hot 100. It's Mars' second #1 of the year, following B.o.B's "Nothin' On You," on which he was featured. You may have read the news item that Mars was arrested in Las Vegas on Sunday on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance. Not a great way to kick off a week in which you land your first #1 hit.

Returning to The Billboard 200, Eminem's Recovery dips from #2 to #3. The album has ranked in the top three for each of its first 13 weeks. This is the best showing by any album since Alicia Keys' As I Am ranked in the top three for each of its first 15 weeks in 2007-2008.

Robert Plant's Band Of Joy debuts at #5. It's Plant's 19th top 10 album (counting 12 albums with Led Zeppelin, two with fellow Led Zep alum Jimmy Page and one with Alison Krauss). Led Zeppelin cracked the top 10 with its first album, Led Zeppelin, in May 1969, giving Plant a more than 41 year span of top 10 albums. How long ago was that? The cast album from Hair was #1. Also in the top 10: albums by Tom Jones, Donovan and Iron Butterfly.

Weezer's Hurley debuts at #6. It's the band's sixth regular studio album in a row to make the top 10. Weezer has had only one top 10 single on the Hot 100, "Beverly Hills." Front-man Rivers Cuomo has also had one top 10 single on his own, B.o.B's "Magic," on which he was featured.

Brandon Flowers' Flamingo debuts at #8. It's the solo debut album by the Killers' front-man. The Killers have made the top 10 with three albums, Hot Fuss, Sam's Town and Day & Age. Flamingo was #1 in the U.K. last week.

Justin Bieber's My World 2.0 winds up six solid months in the top 10. It's the first album to spend its first 26 weeks in the top 10 since Eminem's The Eminem Show in 2002. This means it has surpassed the initial top 10 runs by such powerhouse albums as Taylor Swift's Fearless (19 weeks), Mariah Carey's The Emancipation Of Mimi (23 weeks) and Usher's Confessions (23 weeks). (All of those albums later returned to the top 10 to add to their totals, but I'm talking about the albums' initial, unbroken runs in the top 10.)

Here's the top 10 on Hot Digital Songs, as calculated by Nielsen/SoundScan. Rihanna's "Only Girl (In The World)" debuts at #1 (249K). Bruno Mars' "Just The Way You Are" dips from #1 to #2 (194K). Usher featuring Pitbull's "DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love" jumps from #7 to #3 (171K). Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" drops from #2 to #4 (164K). Nelly's "Just A Dream" dips from #4 to #5 (155K). Eminem featuring Rihanna's "Love The Way You Lie" dips from #5 to #6 (148K). Far East Movement featuring Catar's "Like A G6" jumps from #12 to #7 (137K). Flo Rida featuring David Guetta's "Club Can't Handle Me" holds at #8 (132K). Taio Cruz's "Dynamite" drops from #3 to #9 (131K). Enrique Iglesias featuring Pitbull's "I Like It" drops from #6 to #10 (123K).

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

1. Linkin Park, A Thousand Suns, 241,000. This new entry is the band's fourth album to debut at #1, following Meteora, Collision Course (a 2004 collabo with Jay-Z) and Minutes To Midnight. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Catalyst," which vaults from #58 to #16.

2. Trey Songz, Passion, Pain & Pleasure, 240,000. This new entry is the second top five album in a row for the R&B singer. Ready debuted at #3 in September 2009. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Bottoms Up" (featuring Nicki Minaj), which jumps from #16 to #14.

3. Eminem, Recovery, 89,000. The former #1 album dips from #2 to #3 in its 13th week. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Love The Way You Lie" (featuring Rihanna), which dips from #5 to #6.

4. Jamey Johnson, The Guitar Song, 63,000. This new entry is Johnson's first top 10 album. That Lonesome Song hit #28 in 2008. The album enters Top Country Albums at #1. It's Johnson's first #1 on that chart.

5. Robert Plant, Band Of Joy, 49,000. This new entry is Plant's 19th top 10 album (counting Led Zeppelin and collabos). It's his first strictly solo album to crack the top five since his solo debut, Pictures At Eleven, which scored in August and September 1982.

6. Weezer, Hurley, 45,000. This new entry is the band's sixth regular studio album in a row to make the top 10. "Memories" enters Hot Digital Songs at #137.

7. Various Artists, Now 35, 41,000. The album drops from #3 to #7 in its third week. The compilation has sold 210,000 copies in its first three weeks.

8. Brandon Flowers, Flamingo, 41,000. This new entry is the solo debut album by the Killers' front-man. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Crossfire," which re-enters at #118.

9. Katy Perry, Teenage Dream, 40,000. The former #1 album drops from #4 to #9 in its fourth week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Teenage Dream," which drops from #2 to #4.

10. Justin Bieber, My World 2.0., 36,000. The former #1 album drops from #8 to #10 in its 26th week. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Baby" (featuring Ludacris), which rebounds from #79 to #55.

Sara Bareilles' Kaleidoscope Heart drops from #1 to #12. That's the biggest tumble from the top spot since B.o.B's B.o.B Presents The Adventures Of Bobby Ray made the same drop in May. Five other albums fall out of the top 10 this week. Disturbed's Asylum drops from #5 to #11, Stone Sour's Audio Secrecy drops from #6 to #19, Interpol's Interpol dives from #7 to #35, Anberlin's Dark Is The Way. Light... plummets from #9 to #62, and Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam drops from #10 to #23.

Florence & The Machine's Lungs vaults from #44 to #14 in its 16th week. The album ranked a lowly #100 two weeks ago, but got a big boost from the group's buzzed-about performance of "Dog Days Are Over" on the VMAs. "Dog Days Are Over" is also on the move. The song jumps from #52 to #12 on Hot Digital Songs. Two weeks ago, it was #198. Lungs topped the British album chart for two weeks in January.

Now That's What I Call Country Vol. 3 debuts at #22. The first two volumes both made the top 10. The dip reflects a general downward drift of the Now franchise. America's music fans are just a little Now'd out. Incidentally, country is the second genre to merit three or more Now volumes. There have been four Now Latino volumes.

John Lennon's Remember debuts at #44. The album, which was first released in 2007, is #1 on this week's Catalog Albums chart. The album is on Starbucks' Hear Music label. Lennon first cracked the top 40 as a solo artist in January 1970 with The Plastic Ono Band-Live Peace In Toronto 1969.

The Script's second album, Science & Faith, enters the U.K. chart at #1, according to the Official Charts Company. The Dublin trio also debuted at #1 in the U.K. with its eponymous 2008 debut album. That album has sold 298,000 copies in the U.S. and has spawned a major hit, the first-rate "Breakeven," which has sold 1,797,000 digital copies.

Song Scorecard: "I Like It" by Enrique Iglesias featuring Pitbull tops the 2 million mark in paid downloads in its 20th week. It's Pitbull's second song to reach this level, following his own hit "I Know You Want Me," which is up to 2,476,000...Jason DeRulo's "Ridin' Solo" and Mike Posner's "Cooler Than Me" also top the 2 million mark in paid downloads. "Ridin' Solo" took 29 weeks to reach this threshold. "Cooler Than Me" did it in 22 weeks. DeRulo's earlier smash "Whatcha Say" has sold 3,383,000 copies.

The aforementioned Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam (which drops from #10 to #23 on The Billboard 200) is the #1 soundtrack for the sixth straight week. The #1 soundtrack to a theatrically released movie is AC/DC's Iron Man 2, which drops from #117 to #146. That's the lowest that the week's top soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie has placed on The Billboard 200 since April 1983, when Flashdance held that distinction the week it debuted at #166. This is not happy news.

The Town, Ben Affleck's second movie as a director, was #1 at the box-office over the weekend. (Good movie.) The soundtrack, featuring a score by Harry Gregson-Williams and David Buckley, was just released.

Leonard Skinner, the Florida gym teacher who gained rock immortality when former students named their band Lynyrd Skynyrd, died on Monday. The band's first album, Lynyrd Skynyrd (pronounced leh-nerd skin-nerd), hit the charts in September 1973. It contained the classic "Free Bird." The band's second album, Second Helping, spawned another classic, "Sweet Home Alabama." Do these songs rank among the top 40 oldies with the most digital sales? They do, as you will see on Friday. (Now you know three of the 40. No problem. I have 37 more.)

Heads Up: We'll have another down-to-the-wire contest for the #1 spot next week: Maroon5's Hands All Over is vying with Zac Brown Band's You Get What You Give. Both albums will sell in the range of 150,000 copies. Also likely to debut in the top 10: Santana's Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time, Selena Gomez & the Scene's A Year Without Rain, John Legend & the Roots' Wake Up! and  Billy Currington's Enjoy Yourself. Also due: Serj Tankian's Imperfect Harmonies and  My Darkest Days' My Darkest Days.

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