Week Ending Feb. 5, 2012. Albums: Getting The Last Laugh?

Three weeks after making one of the most disparaged musical performances in Saturday Night Live history, Lana Del Rey enters The Billboard 200 at #2 with her first full-length album, BornTo Die. The album does even better in the U.K., where it opens at #1.

Del Rey performed two songs on SNL on Jan. 14. Brian Williams, the anchor of NBC Nightly News, called Del Rey's performance "one of the worst outings in SNL history." (Remember when they covered actual news on the news?) On Saturday, Kristen Wiig parodied Del Rey on a Weekend Update sketch.

Sometimes, controversies and setbacks strengthen the bond between an artist and their strongest supporters. It will be interesting to see what happens next in this drama.

Not surprisingly, the album was a big digital seller. It sold 57K digital copies (out of a total of 77K), which put it #1 on Top Digital Albums. Del Rey's song "Video Games" has sold 154K copies in five weeks.


21 holds at #1 for the 19th week. This is the longest run at #1 by any album since Whitney Houston'sThe Bodyguard soundtrack ruled for 20 weeks in 1992-1993. It's the longest run for a regular studio album since M.C. Hammer'sPlease Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em held the top spot for 21 weeks in 1990.

This is the sixth consecutive week at #1 for 21. That's the longest continuous streak that the album has held the top spot, surpassing the album's five-consecutive-week run at #1 in April and May. Moreover, this is the first time that any album has held the top spot for six straight weeks since Susan Boyle's I Dreamed A Dream was #1 in its first six weeks in 2009.

Billboard's Keith Caulfield adds that this is the 35th week that U.S. sales of 21 have topped 100,000. 21 is the first album to amass that many weeks with sales of 100K since Creed's Human Clay, which topped 100K in weekly sales 49 times, ending in January 2001. (Wanna know the album that amassed the most weeks with sales of 100K since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard in 1991? It's Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill, with 64 weeks of 100K sales from 1995 into 1997.)

It's not every day that a 77-year old singer/songwriter lands a top 10 album, much less his first top 10 album, but that's what we have this week as Leonard Cohen'sOld Ideas debuts at #3. Cohen hadn't even come close to the top 10 before this. His previous highest-charting album was Songs From A Room, which reached #63 in 1969. The Canadian singer/songwriter, poet and novelist first charted in 1968 with Songs Of Leonard Cohen, which reached #83.

Cohen is probably best known as the writer of the modern standard "Hallelujah," which Jeff Buckley recorded in 1995. The song been performed in recent years by everyone from Justin Timberlake & Matt Morris featuring Charlie Sexton (on the Hope For Haiti Now telethon) to Lee DeWyze (en route to his American Idol victory).

Cohen's other most famous songs include "Suzanne," "Bird On A Wire" and "Famous Blue Raincoat." Cohen has been the subject of several tribute albums, including Jennifer Warnes' 1987 album Famous Blue Raincoat and the 1995 Various Artists collection Tower Of Song—The Songs Of Leonard Cohen. Don Henley, Bono and Elton John are featured on the latter album.

Cohen was featured on Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters, which won a Grammy as Album of the Year for 2007.

This is the second time in four months that a veteran artist finally landed his first top 10 album after decades in the business. Tom Waits' Bad As Me debuted at #6 in October, becoming the first top 10 (or even top 20) album of Waits' 36-year chart career.

Cohen isn't the oldest artist to land a top 10 album. Tony Bennett, whose Duets II debuted at #1 in September, is 85.

Five of the albums that debuted in the top 10 last week fell out of the top 10 this week. That's not unusual. Most albums don't "stick." So it's worth noting that Drake's Take Care has remained in the top 10 for 11 consecutive weeks, which is its entire run. (The album rebounds from #9 to #6 this week.) The album has sold a healthy 1,406,000 copies. It's sure to top Drake's previous album, Thank Me Later, which has sold 1,551,000 copies. (His 2009 EP, So Far Gone, has sold 639,000 copies.) Why has Drake's album shown staying power when most albums these days fade quickly? Why has his career remained on an upward trajectory? Talent, adaptability, connections (he has been featured on two top 10 hits by Lil Wayne and one each by Rihanna and DJ Khaled.) Whatever the combination of reasons, it's nice to know that the system can still work.

Fred Hammond

lands his first top 10 album as God, Love And Romance debuts at #8. Hammond's previous highest-charting album was Love Unstoppable, which reached #25 in 2009. Hammond is the second former member of the gospel group Commissioned to land a top 10 album on The Billboard 200. He follows Marvin Sapp, whose Here I Am debuted and peaked at #2 in March 2010. Hammond first charted under his own name in 1998 with Pages Of Life—Chapters I & II, a collaboration with Radical For Christ. Hammond's 2007 album Free To Worship won a Grammy as Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album. (Both Hammond and Sapp are featured on WOW Gospel 2012, which debuts at #25 this week.)


Sorry For Party Rocking rebounds from #18 to #9 in the immediate wake of the duo's cameo performance in Madonna's half-time show at the Super Bowl. And where is the headliner? Madonna's 2009 greatest hits compilation Celebration re-enters the chart at #24. Let's see what happens to it next week.

Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" holds at #1 on Hot Digital Songs. Will it move up to the top spot on the Hot 100? You'll find out later today when we post Chart Watch: Songs.

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

1. Adele, 21, 122,000. The album logs its 19th week at #1. This is its 50th week in the top 10. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Set Fire To The Rain," which holds at #2.

2. Lana Del Rey, Born To Die, 77,000. This new entry is Del Rey's first top 10 album. "Video Games" vaults from #156 to #87 on Hot Digital Songs.

3. Leonard Cohen, Old Ideas, 41,000. This new entry is Cohen's first top 10 album.

4. Various Artists, 2012 Grammy Nominees, 34,000. The album holds at #4 in its second week.

5. Kidz Bop Kids, Kidz Bop 21, 30,000. The album rebounds from #6 to #5 in its third week. It has been in the top 10 the entire time.

6. Drake, Take Care, 30,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #9 to #6 in its 12th week. It has been in the top 10 the entire time. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by the excellent "Take Care" (featuring Rihanna), which jumps from #26 to #20.

7. Tim McGraw, Emotional Traffic, 29,000. The album drops from #2 to #7 in its second week. It's #1 on Top Country Albums for the second week. "Better Than I Used To Be" drops from #68 to #81 on Hot Digital Songs.

8. Fred Hammond, God, Love And Romance, 26,000. This new entry is Hammond's first top 10 album. It's Hammond's seventh album to reach #1 on the Top Gospel Albums chart.

9. LMFAO, Sorry For Party Rocking, 22,000. The album rebounds from #18 to #9 in its 33rd week. This is its third week in the top 10. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Sexy And I Know It," which dips from #8 to #9.

10. Rihanna, Talk That Talk, 22,000. The album rebounds from #16 to #10 in its 11th week. This is its eighth week in the top 10. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "We Found Love" (featuring Calvin Harris), which drops from #7 to #12.

Five albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Lamb Of God's Resolution dives from #3 to #27, Ingrid Michaelson's Human Again plummets from #5 to #57, Kellie Pickler's 100 Proof dives from #7 to #39, Seal's Soul II drops from #8 to #16, and Kari Jobe's Where I Find You plummets from #10 to #58.

Adele's 2008 album 19 holds at #19. It's #1 on Top Catalog Albums for the 34th week. Will the album return to the top 10 in the wake of her expected Grammy sweep? (And, if so, how high will it go?) Place your bets.

The Fresh Beat Band TV soundtrack debuts at #21. It's the week's #1 soundtrack. The series debuted on Nickelodeon in August 2009….Drive by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross re-enters the chart at #50. It's the #1 soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie for the fourth week. It achieved that distinction for three weeks in September and October. The score was, surprisingly, passed over for an Oscar nomination. The pair's previous score, for The Social Network, won an Oscar last year.

James Taylor's Greatest Hits this week tops the 7 million mark in sales since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard. That sales figure, impressive as it is, doesn't count the album's first 14 years of sales. The collection was first released in November 1976, as Taylor was leaving one record company (Warner Bros.) for another (Columbia). This album includes the songs that made Taylor an icon and put him on the cover of TIME in March 1971, two weeks before his 23rd birthday. Among them: "Fire And Rain," "Carolina In My Mind" and "You've Got A Friend."

Adele's Live At The Royal Albert Hall is #1 on Top Music Videos for the 10th straight week. The DVD sold 19K copies, bringing its total to 547K.

Chronicle was #1 at the box-office over the weekend.

Coming Attractions: Van Halen's A Different Kind Of Truth will vie with Adele's album for the #1 spot next week. Three other albums appear headed for top 10 debuts: Now 41, The Fray's Scars & Stories, Paul McCartney's Kisses On The Bottom and Dierks Bentley's Home.

Shameless Grammy Plug I: When LL Cool J hits the Grammy stage on Feb. 12, it will mark the first time the Grammys have had a host since Queen Latifah hosted the show in 2005. I wrote a blog for the "And The Winner Is" folder about the 10 men and four women who have hosted the live Grammy telecast since it originated in 1971. They include a 16-time Grammy winner (Paul Simon), a superstar who won a Grammy on the same night that he hosted (Kenny Rogers), an artist who won his first Grammy only after his death (John Denver) and four future Oscar hosts (Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Ellen DeGeneres and Jon Stewart). If you missed it, here's a link.

Shameless Grammy Plug II: Think you're a Grammy expert? Care to put your knowledge to the test? I posted a quiz for you to see how much you know about Grammy lore. It's 20 quick questions, all multiple choice. If you missed it, here's a link.