Chart Watch

Week Of Dec. 31, 2007: Blige Takes The Week (Groban Wins The Year)

Chart Watch

Mary J. Blige's Growing Pains becomes the final #1 album of 2007 on Nielsen/SoundScan's listing of the top-selling albums in the U.S. It dethrones Josh Groban's Noel, which falls to #3, but not before officially becoming the #1 album of the year. Alicia Keys' As I Am moves back up a notch to #2, just a beat behind Blige. This is the first time that African American women have held down the top two spots since July 2003, when Ashanti's Chapter II and Beyonce's Dangerously In Love scored for two weeks running.

I'll have more on the final weekly chart of 2007 later in this column, but first let's recap the best-selling albums of 2007.

1. Josh Groban, Noel, 3,699,000. This is the first holiday album to rank as the year's top-seller in the SoundScan era (which dates to 1991). It broke Kenny G's 1994 record for the greatest sales by a holiday album in a calendar year. The album entered the SoundScan chart later in the year (Oct. 14) than any other that went on to become the year's #1. The album had the biggest sales margin over the #2 album since Usher blew away the competition three years ago. On the down side, this is the lowest sales total for the #1 album of the year in the SoundScan era. With the same total, Noel would have ranked #2 for 2006--and #14 for 2000.

2. High School Musical 2 soundtrack, 2,957,000. The first HSM soundtrack was the #1 album of 2006. This sequel nearly made it two in a row for the Disney Channel franchise. The album includes "What Time Is It," which was the year's best-selling single (as opposed to the biggest radio hit). It's the first time in six years that the singles sales title hasn't gone to the debut release by an American Idol finalist.

3. Eagles, Long Road Out Of Eden, 2,608,000. This album, the Eagles' first new studio release since 1979, is the highest-ranking rock album and the highest-ranking album by a group. This is the highest on the year-end chart that a double-disk album has placed in the SoundScan era. It's also the highest that an album by a veteran act (defined as an act that has been around for 20 years or more) has placed. The out-of-the-box success of the album, sold exclusively through Wal-Mart, prompted Billboard and SoundScan to end their policy of excluding "exclusives" from the pop album chart.

4. Alicia Keys, As I Am, 2,543,000. This is the year's top R&B album and the top album by a female artist. Impressively, it achieved these sales in just seven weeks. The last album to come out this late in the year and still make the year's top five was Eminem's Encore in 2004. This is the highest that Keys has appeared on a year-end ranking. Her debut, Songs In A Minor, was the #6 album of 2001. As I Am spawned the #1 single, "No One."

5. Daughtry, Daughtry, 2,497,000. This was the #1 album for the year-to-date for more than six months. It lost that title in November, but it still finishes as the year's top debut album. This is the third year in a row that an American Idol contestant has had one of the top five albums of the year. Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway was #3 for 2005. Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts was #3 last year.

6. Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus soundtrack, 2,487,000. This finishes higher than the first Hannah Montana soundtrack did last year, when it ranked #8 for the year. But Miley's father, Billy Ray, still has family bragging rights. His debut, Some Gave All, was the #1 album of 1992. This is one of two double-disk albums in the top 10 (along with the Eagles' collection). It's the first time in the SoundScan era that two double-disk albums have made the year's top 10.

7. Linkin Park, Minutes To Midnight, 2,099,000. This was Linkin Park's third regular studio album and its third to appear in a year-end top 10. The band's debut album, Hybrid Theory, was #1 for 2001. Meteora was #3 for 2003. Linkin Park is the only rock act to place an album in the year-end top 10 three times since 1992, the first full year that SoundScan monitored U.S. album sales.

8. Fergie, The Dutchess, 2,064,000. This is the year's highest-ranking solo debut album. With her group the Black Eyed Peas, Fergie had the #5 album of 2005, Monkey Business. The Dutchess is the fourth solo debut release to rank among the top 10 albums of the year. It follows star-making albums by Will Smith, Beyonce and Gwen Stefani. The Dutchess spawned an impressive three #1 singles--"London Bridge," "Glamorous" and "Big Girls Don't Cry."

9.Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift, 1,951,000. Swift's debut release was the year's top "pure" country album. The Eagles' album is a pop/rock/country hybrid which I'm classifying as rock. Swift won the Country Music Assn. Award's Horizon Award and is nominated for a Grammy as Best New Artist.

10. Kanye West, Graduation, 1,892,000. This album, which debuted in September with the biggest one-week sales total of the past two years, was the year's top rap album. West's previous album, Late Registration, was the #9 album of 2005. Graduation spawned the #1 smash, "Stronger." (And what of 50 Cent's Curtis, which lost a heavily publicized September sales showdown with West? It finished #28 for the year, with sales of 1,225,000.)

11. Nickelback, All The Right Reasons, 1,848,000. This remarkably steady seller is the first album in the SoundScan era to rank among the year's top 15 for three years running. It was #14 for 2005 and #4 for 2006.

12. Carrie Underwood, Carnival Ride, 1,694,000. Underwood is the only artist with two albums in the year-end top 20. This sophomore effort is joined by her 2005 debut, Some Hearts, which is #17 for the year. The last act to have two albums among the year's top 20 was the Dixie Chicks in 1999. (Eminem nearly qualified in 2002, but the 8 Mile soundtrack was credited to various artists.)

 

Here are other notable albums on the year-end chart.

22. Garth Brooks, The Ultimate Hits, 1,334,000. This album, which consists of two CDs and a DVD, sold well enough to establish the DVD component as the year's top music video release. It registered the highest yearly sales total of a music video release in SoundScan history, topping the Jay Z/Linkin Park collaboration Collision Course, a similar CD/DVD package, which sold 1,210,000 copies in 2004.

23. Michael Buble, Call Me Irresponsible, 1,287,000. This was the year's top jazz-shaded pop album. Buble, you may be surprised to learn, is the only artist with four titles on the year-end top 200 chart. He's also listed with two previous studio albums and his Let It Snow! EP. Groban, Rascal Flatts and Tim McGraw are next in line with three each.

25. Various Artists, Now 26, 1,252,000. This was the highest-ranking compilation album of the year. Not bad, but in each of the previous six years, at least one title in the long-running Now series made the year's top 15. Now that's what I call an aging franchise.

45. Hairspray soundtrack, 922,000. This was the year's top movie soundtrack. It's the second time in the SoundScan era that the year's top movie soundtrack has come from the movie version of a Broadway musical. Chicago achieved the feat in 2003. (Zac Efron, of course, is featured on both Hairspray and HSM2, the year's #1 TV soundtrack.)

67. Robert Plant/Alison Krauss, Raising Sand, 647,000. This was the year's most successful artist collaboration. Both artists have compilations of their most prized work in the top 100. Mothership, Plant's two-CD with DVD opus with Led Zeppelin, ranks #66. Krauss' A Hundred Miles Or More: A Collection ranks #95.

121. Pink Floyd, The Dark Side Of The Moon, 405,000. This classic album, first released in the spring of 1973, is the most consistent "deep catalog" title--and just about the closest thing to printing money--the music industry has ever known. The album has appeared on the year-end chart every year since 1992, the first full year of SoundScan monitoring. Other deep catalog titles on this year's chart: Journey's Greatest Hits (1988) at #153; AC/DC's Back In Black (1980) at #177; Bob Marley & The Wailers' Legend (1984) at #182; Queen's Greatest Hits (1981) at #184; and Creedence Clearwater Revival's Chronicle (The 20 Greatest Hits) (1976) at #195.

It was just two weeks ago that Noel pushed ahead of High School Musical 2 on the year-to-date sales chart. This is the second time in three years that the #1 album of the year was decided in the last few weeks of the year. In 2005, Mariah Carey's The Emancipation Of Mimi elbowed past 50 Cent's The Massacre in the second to last week of the year.

Several of the biggest albums of 2007 owe their success to television. HSM2 and Hannah Montana have aired countless times on the Disney Channel. Noel was boosted by a heavy slate of TV appearances, including multiple trips to Oprah. Daughtry's fame stems from his stint on American Idol. The Eagles' collection was boosted by a 60 Minutes profile and the band's performance on the Country Music Assn. Awards.

The downward trend in CD sales continued in 2007. Just one title topped the 3 million mark last year, the lowest tally in the SoundScan era. Three CDs made it to 3 million in 2006, and five made it the year before that. A total of 39 albums sold 1 million copies or more last year, down from 52 the year before. A total of 96 albums hit the 500,000 mark during 2007, down from 134 in 2006. The one figure that went up was the total number of 2 million sellers. There were eight last year, compared with seven in 2006.

 

Now, let's look at the final weekly chart of 2007. Here's the top 10:

1. Mary J. Blige, Growing Pains, 204,000. This is Blige's fourth album--and her third studio album in a row--to reach #1. Blige first hit the top spot in 1997 with Share My World and returned to #1 with Love & Life in 2003 and The Breakthrough in 2005. Two songs from the album are on the current pop chart--"Just Fine" and "Work That." In just two weeks, the album has sold 835,000 copies-enough to make it the 53rd best-selling album of the year.

2. Alicia Keys, As I Am, 193,000. This is Keys' seventh consecutive week in the top three. "Like You'll Never See Me Again" is the second Top 20 hit from the album, following the #1 "No One."

3. Josh Groban, Noel, 176,000. This is Groban's 12th straight week in the top 10--and probably his last. Kenny G's Miracles--The Holiday Album, the last Christmas album to reach #1, slipped to #2 during Christmas week in 1994 and then fell all the way to #13 and #29 in the next two weeks.

4. Various Artists, Now 26, 98,000. The hit-studded compilation moves up from #6. It has been listed at #3 or #4 for six of its seven chart weeks.

5. Chris Brown, Exclusive, 87,000. Brown returns to the top five for the first time since he debuted at #4 in October. The album has sold 1,051,000 copies, making it the year's 35th best-seller. "With You," Brown's follow-up to the #1 smash "Kiss Kiss," shot into the top 20 on the Hot 100 in just four weeks.

6. Eagles, Long Road Out Of Eden, 85,000. This is the album's ninth straight week at #6 or better. The band's last album, the mostly live Hell Freezes Over, spent its first 29 weeks in the top 10 in 1994-95. But that was, as they say, a different retail environment.

7. Garth Brooks, The Ultimate Hits, 77,000. Brooks rebounds after slipping to #12 last week. Brooks has sold 67.4 million albums in the SoundScan era, more than any other artist.

8.Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift, 77,000. Swift's album holds at #8 for the third straight week-in its 62nd week on the chart. Two songs from the album are currently in the top 30--"Teardrops On My Guitar" and "Our Song."

9. Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus soundtrack, 73,000. This TV soundtrack has logged 17 weeks in the top 10, a total topped by only one album in 2007--Daughtry, with 22 weeks in the top 10 during the year. Cyrus' single "See You Again" is climbing the Hot 100. The 15-year old Cyrus is one of three teenagers in this week's top 10. Brown and Swift are both 18.

10.Colbie Caillat, Coco, 72,000. This is the album's fourth trip into the top 10. It debuted at #5 in July, and jumped back into the winners circle in September and October. The album has sold 1,097,000 copies, putting it at #32 for the year. Caillat's warm single "Bubbly" has been a fixture in the top 10 for 15 weeks.

Two albums drop out of the top 10 to make way for the resurgences by Brooks and Caillat. Carrie Underwood's Carnival Ride falls four notches to #11. High School Musical 2 drops three spots to #12, ending a 16-week stay in the top 10. A Non-Stop Dance Party remix of HSM2 is the top new entry on this week's chart at #68. Fans are wondering if Disney will make a HSM3. If audience interest holds out, we'll be following these kids all the way to the rest home, where they'll stage a peppy showstopper in their walkers and wheelchairs.

Sweeney Todd--The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street vaults from #56 to #23, making it the #1 movie soundtrack. It's the only album in the top 40 to register a sales increase over last week. Its sales jumped 5%. Sweeney Todd originated on Broadway in 1979. In 1985, Barbra Streisand included its best song, "Not While I'm Around," on The Broadway Album, which reached #1 in January 1986.

The Alvin & The Chipmunks soundtrack jumps from #48 to #33. The Chipmunks' phenomenon was born 50 years ago this coming December, when "The Chipmunk Song" entered Billboard's Hot 100 on its way to #1. (A new version entered the chart last week.) The Chipmunks have had a string of chart hits, a prime-time animated TV show, a Saturday morning cartoon series and now a feature film. All of which makes the Ross Bagdasarian creation one of the most lucrative novelty acts in entertainment history.

Radiohead's In Rainbows debuts prematurely at #157, due to street-date violations. The album's official release date was Jan. 1 in North America. The album made headlines in October when the band released it on its website as a download and allowed fans to name their own price for the recording. This commercial release will be an interesting test of how many traditional customers there are who want the actual CD. The album is expected to debut at #1 in Britain this coming week.

He Gets Along: I hope T-Pain's teachers in grade school gave him top marks for "works well with others." He is the featured artist on five of the Hot 100 singles of 2007 in Billboard's year-end issue-more than any other artist. Akon is the second most popular collaborator, with featured billing on three of the year's Hot 100 hits.

Happy New Year, everybody.

 

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