Chart Watch: The Black Keys Beat Michael Jackson

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Michael Jackson loved the charts, so he would have been disappointed by this week's news. Xscape, a collection of previously unreleased tracks which he recorded between 1983 and 1999, just missed becoming his seventh #1 album. The album enters The Billboard 200 at #2, behind The Black Keys's Turn Blue. Jackson's album sold 157K copies. If it had sold just 7K more copies, it would have debuted at #1 and Turn Blue would have had to settle for the runner-up slot.

Turn Blue had a big lead in digital sales (95K, compared to 54K for Xscape), but Jackson's album sold more physical copies (103K, compared to 69K). How to explain this? A lot of Jackson's fans wanted the CD for a keepsake.

At first it looked like Xscape would come out on top, but Nielsen SoundScan and Billboard didn't count nearly 9K copies of CDs that were given away with the purchase of a ticket or T-shirt at Jackson's Cirque Du Soleil show in Las Vegas. (Chart policy is that consumers have to actively choose to buy an album. They can't just get it with bundled with something else.)

Turn Blue is the Black Keys's first #1 album, following two near-misses. Brothers peaked at #3. El Camino reached #2. The Black Keys are the first rock band to top The Billboard 200 since Arcade Fire scored in November with Reflektor. (I have more on the duo below.)

Jackson's showing improves on that of his first posthumous set of new material, Michael, which debuted and peaked at #3 in December 2010. Xscape has something going for it that Michael didn't: a hit single. "Love Never Felt So Good," a duet with Justin Timberlake, has climbed as high as #20 on the Hot 100. "Hold My Hand," with Akon, the lead single from Michael, peaked at #39.

Xscape enters the U.K.'s Official Albums Chart at #1. It's Jackson's 10th #1 album in that country.

Jackson's 2003 compilation Number Ones rebounds from #106 to #28 in its 176th week on The Billboard 200. The album returns to #1 on Top Catalog Albums. This is its 29th week on top of that chart.

Two other Jackson albums are streaking back up The Billboard 200. His 2005 compilation The Essential Michael Jackson rebounds from #75 to #67. His 1982 opus Thriller rebounds from #127 to #70.

The Essential Michael Jackson tops the 500K mark in U.S. digital sales this week. It's Jackson's best-selling digital album. Thriller is in second place with sales of 430K digital copies.

Jackson has sold 34,723,000 albums in the U.S. since January 1991. That puts him in 14th place on Nielsen SoundScan's running list of the best-selling artists in its history. He's sandwiched between two hit-makers of comparable sales but lesser stature: Kenny G and Shania Twain. In the week before he died in June 2009, Jackson ranked #47 on this running list. He had sales, to that point, of 21,737,000 albums.

The Black Keys are among the most successful bands in rock. Each of the duo's six charted albums has climbed higher than the one before it. Each of their two most recent albums sold more than 1.3 million copies and won a Grammy. Brothers was voted Best Alternative Music Album of 2010. El Camino won as Best Rock Album of 2012.

Turn Blue also enters Top Digital Albums at #1. It's the duo's second #1 album in a row on this chart.

Trivia time: The Black Keys is the fourth group whose name begins with the word “Black” to reach #1 on The Billboard 200. It follows the Black Crowes, the Black Eyed Peas and Black Sabbath. (No “White” groups have reached #1, though two have reached #2: Whitesnake and the White Stripes.)

Frozen drops from #2 to #4. This is the album's 21st week in the top five. That's the longest run in the top five for a soundtrack from a theatrically-released movie since The Lion King (another Disney property) had 23 non-consecutive weeks in the top five in 1994-1995. Frozen is #1 on Top Soundtracks for the 25th week. In Japan, the album is #1 for the fourth week (under the title Anna And The Snow Queen.)

Rascal Flatts's ninth studio album, Rewind, debuts at #5. It's the trio's ninth top 10 album. The album enters Top Country Albums at #1, displacing Hunter Hayes's Storyline. It's the trio's eighth #1 country album.

Dolly Parton's 42nd solo studio album, Blue Smoke, debuts at #6. It's her second top 10 album; her first on her own. Her only previous top 10 album was Trio, which she recorded in 1987 with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris. That album also peaked at #6. Blue Smoke enters Top Country Albums at #2. Parton first cracked the top 10 on that chart in 1968 with Just Between You And Me, a collabo with Porter Wagoner. She first made it on her own the following year with My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy.

Contemporary Christian star Michael W. Smith finally lands his first top 10 album in a career that dates back to 1983. Sovereign, his 16th studio album, debuts at #10.

"Problem" by Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea holds at #1 on Top Digital Songs for the third week (248K). It's the first song to spend its first three weeks at #1 since Katy Perry's "Roar" spent its first four weeks on top last summer. Will "Problem" be able to dethrone John Legend's "All Of Me" on the Hot 100? You'll find out later today when we post my first of two Chart Watch Songs blogs.

Here's a recap of this week's top 10 albums.

The Top Five: The Black Keys'sTurn Blue debuts at #1 (164K). It's the band's third top 10 album …Michael Jackson's Xscape debuts at #2 (157K). It's his 16th top 10 album (counting six albums he recorded with his brothers)…Now 50 drops from #1 to #3 in its second week (82K)… The Frozen soundtrack drops from #2 to #4 in its 25th week (73K). This is its 23rd week in the top 10 … Rascal Flatts's Rewind debuts at #5 (61K). It's the trio's ninth top 10 album.

The Second Five: Dolly Parton's Blue Smoke debuts at #6 (37K). It's her second top 10 album Tori Amos's Unrepentant Geraldines debuts at #7 (20K). It's her eighth top 10 album … Sarah McLachlan's Shine On drops from #4 to #8 in its second week (18K) ... Hunter Hayes's Storyline drops from #3 to #9 in its second week (16K) … … Michael W. Smith's Sovereign debuts at #10 (16K). It's his first top 10 album.

Six albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Tech N9ne Collabos's Strangeulation drops from #5 to #33. Pharrell Williams'sG I R L drops from #6 to #13. Luke Bryan's Crash My Party drops from #7 to #12. Atmosphere's Southsiders plummets from #8 to #51. Santana's Corazon drops from #9 to #17. Lorde's Pure Heroine drops from #10 to #19.

Chromeo's fourth studio album, White Women, debuts at #11. It's the highest-charting album to date for the Canadian electro-funk duo … Demi Lovato's Demi re-enters the chart at #18, fueled by a $4.99 sale in the iTunes store. The album debuted and peaked at #3 one year ago this week.

The Broadway cast album to Beautiful—The Carole King Musical debuts at #60. The show is nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. They'll be presented on June 8 … The Godzilla soundtrack, featuring a score by Alexandre Desplat, debuts at #169. The movie was #1 at the box-office over the weekend.

Norah Jones's 2002 album Come Away With Me this week becomes the 11th album to sell 11 million copies since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking music sales in 1991. It's the fourth album by a female solo artist to hit this threshold, following Shania Twain's Come On Over (15,566,000), Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill (14,927,000) and the Whitney Houston-dominated The Bodyguard soundtrack (12,116,000).

Barry Manilow's Live From Paris Las Vegas enters Top Music Videos at #1, displacing Metallica's "Through The Never." Manilow first topped this chart in June 1990 with Live On Broadway.

Coming Attractions: Look for Coldplay's Ghost Stories to debut at #1 next week with first-week sales in the 340K range. Country star Brantley Gilbert's Just As I Am will debut at #2 (180K). Phillip Phillips's Behind The Light and The Fault In Our Stars soundtrack will probably debut right around #7 and #8, with sales of 35K and 28K, respectively. Also due: The Roots's …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin (15K).