Week Ending March 17, 2013. Albums: Bon Jovi Bests Bowie

David Bowie’s The Next Day enters The Billboard 200 at #2, becoming the rock icon’s highest-charting album to date. It tops Station To Station, which peaked at #3 in February 1976. Even so, it was no match for Bon Jovi’s What About Now, which debuts at #1. It’s the band’s fifth #1 album.

Bowie is one of the most celebrated artists of the rock era. He made the cover of TIME in 1983, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. Bon Jovi hasn’t received any of those accolades. The band just sells albums (and concert tickets) year in and year out.

What About Now is the band’s third consecutive studio album to hit #1. It follows 2007’s Lost Highway and 2009’s The Circle. This marks the first time that the band has hit #1 with three consecutive studio albums.

Bon Jovi is the third act from New Jersey to amass five or more #1 albums. The band trails Bruce Springsteen, who has had 10 #1 albums between 1980 and 2012, and Frank Sinatra, who had six between 1946 and 1966. Whitney Houston is in fourth place. She had four #1 albums between 1986 and 2009. (Bon Jovi, which demonstrated its state pride by titling its 1988 album New Jersey, is from Sayreville, N.J. Springsteen was born in Freehold, Sinatra in Hoboken and Houston in Newark.)

This marks the second time that Bon Jovi has annoyed rock critics by debuting at #1 ahead of a critically-lauded act. Lost Highway debuted at #1 in June 2007, beating out the White Stripes’ Icky Thump, which debuted and peaked at #2.

Bon Jovi must be glad it released its album when it did. Next week, Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience is a lock to debut at #1 with first-week sales in the 800K range—which would be about eight times what What About Now sold in its first week.

The Next Day is Bowie’s first studio album in nearly 10 years. Bowie first charted in April 1972 with Hunky Dory. He first cracked the top 40 in March 1973 with Space Oddity. He first reached the top 10 in July 1974 with Diamond Dogs.

Assuming this is also its peak, Bowie has now peaked at every position in the top five—except #1. His aforementioned 1976 album Station To Station hit #3, his 1983 album Let’s Dance peaked at #4. His 1974 hit Diamond Dogs reached #5.

The Next Day sold 41K digital copies, which put it at #1 on Top Digital Albums. What About Now sold 34K digital copies, to rank #2. It’s rare that an older act (Bon Jovi first charted in 1984, 12 years after Bowie) sells better in the digital sphere.

The Next Day debuts at #1 on The Official U.K. Album chart. It’s Bowie’s ninth #1 album in his home country; his first since Black Tie White Noise in April 1993. Bowie first topped the U.K. chart in May 1973 with Aladdin Sane, giving him a nearly 40 year span of U.K. #1 albums. (What About Now debuted at #2 in the U.K., which means both countries favored their native born acts.)

Luke Bryan’s Spring Break…Here To Party drops from #1 to #3 in its second week. It’s #1 on Top Country Albums for the second week. Bryan’s previous album, Tailgates & Tanlines, logged four weeks at #1 on the country chart.

Two Various Artists albums debut in this week’s top 10. Passion's Let The Future Begin opens at #4. The live album was recorded at the 2013 Passion Conference, an evangelical gathering, in Atlanta. The album features tracks by such Contemporary Christian stars as Chris Tomlin, Kristian Stanfill and Matt Redman.

The Sound City—Real To Reel soundtrack debuts at #8. Dave Grohl directed the documentary about Sound City, which was a top recording studio in Van Nuys, Calif. for four decades. Dozens of top 10 albums were recorded there, from Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush (1970) to Mastodon’s The Hunter (2011). Grohl also co-wrote all the songs on the album and performs them in collaboration with such stars as Paul McCartney, Stevie Nicks, Trent Reznor and Rick Springfield. The album also debuts at #1 on Top Soundtracks, displacing Pitch Perfect.

Incidentally, this isn’t the first album titled Real To Reel to chart. Tesla took an album with that title to #48 in June 2007.

Sound City—Real To Reel is also #1 on this week’s Top Music Videos chart. The video sold 12K copies this week, which constitutes the biggest one-week total so far this year.

Mindless Behavior’s All Around The World debuts at #6. It’s the R&B teen group’s second top 10 album. #1 Girl reached #7 in 2011.

Eric Clapton’s Old Sock debuts at #7. It’s the rock legend’s 19th top 10 album, counting four albums with Cream, one with Blind Faith and a 2000 collabo with B.B. King. Clapton first reached the top 10 in January 1968 with Cream’s Disraeli Gears. He first made it on his own in June 1972 with History Of Eric Clapton.

Mumford & Sons’ Babel drops from #4 to #9. This is its 19th week in the top 10, which equals the mark set by the group’s previous album, Sigh No More. Will Babel surpass its predecessor next week? Stay tuned.

Jimi Hendrix’s People, Hell And Angels drops from #2 to #10 in its second week. This marks the first time that Clapton and Hendrix, two of the most celebrated guitarists in rock history, have appeared in the top 10 together since Oct. 11, 1969, when Clapton was represented by Blind Faith and Best Of Cream and Hendrix was represented by Smash Hits. These legends first appeared in the top 10 together on Feb. 24, 1968 when Clapton was represented by Cream’s Disraeli Gears and Hendrix had both Axis: Bold As Love and Are You Experienced?

Hendrix was born in 1942 in Seattle. Clapton was born in 1945 in Ripley, Surrey, England.

“Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz sold 270K copies, which puts it at #1 on Hot Digital Songs for the 10th straight week. It’s the first song to top the digital sales chart for 10 weeks since the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” in 2009. It’s the first song to remain #1 for 10 consecutive weeks since the Peas’ previous hit, “Boom Boom Pow.” Both of those Peas hits also had long runs at #1 on the Hot 100. “Boom Boom Pow” stayed on top for 12 weeks; “I Gotta Feeling” for 14. But “Thrift Shop” has had just four weeks at #1 on the Hot 100. Will it return to #1 this week or will it rank behind Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” for the fifth straight week? You’ll find out later today when we post Chart Watch: Songs.

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

The Top Five: Bon Jovi’s What About Now debuts at #1 (96K). It’s the band’s 13th top 10 album (counting a solo project by Jon Bon Jovi)…David Bowie’s The Next Day debuts at #2 85K). It’s his seventh top 10 album…Luke Bryan’s Spring Break…Here To Party drops from #1 to #3 in its second week (61K)… Passion's Let The Future Begin debuts at #4 (48K)...Bruno Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox drops from #3 to #5 in its 14th week (43K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time.

The Second Five: Mindless Behavior’s All Around The World debuts at #6 (37K). It’s the boy band’s second top 10 album…Eric Clapton’s Old Sock debuts at #7 (37K). It’s the 19th top 10 album of his career…The Sound City—Real To Reel soundtrack debuts at #8 (37K)… Mumford & Sons’ Babel drops from #4 to #9 its 25th week (31K). This is its 19th week in the top 10… Jimi Hendrix’s People, Hell And Angels drops from #2 to #10 in its second week (30K).

Imagine Dragons’ Night Visions drops from #8 to #12. The album tops the 500K mark in digital sales this week. It’s the 42nd album to sell 500K digital copies. Digital represents the lion’s share of the overall sales for Night Visions. The album has sold 684K total copies to date.

Five other albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ The Heist drops from #5 to #17. Rihanna’s Unapologetic drops from #6 to #13. Florida Georgia Line’s Here’s To The Good Times drops from #7 to #14. Now 45 drops from #9 to #15. The Lumineers’ The Lumineers drops from #10 to #19.

Chicago’s 2002 compilation The Very Best Of: Only The Beginning re-enters the chart at #20. It was one of several albums boosted by a $1.99 one-day sale at Amazon MP3. This represents a new peak for the album, which originally peaked at #38. Chicago first cracked the top 20 in July 1969 with Chicago Transit Authority (which spawned “Beginnings”). This compilation is #1 on Top Catalog Albums, displacing Bruno Mars’ Doo-Wops & Hooligans.

The Amazon MP3 sale boosted several other compilations this week. Rod Stewart’s The Definitive Rod Stewart re-enters at #21, followed by Playlist: The Very Best ’80s Radio Hits at #32, Billy Joel’s The Very Best Of Billy Joel at #34, Simon & Garfunkel’s Simon And Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits at #42, Elvis Presley’s Elvis 75 at #44 and Billboard #1’s: Classic Country at #48.

Two Los Angeles bands achieve sales milestones this week. Linkin Park’s 2003 sophomore album Meteora tops the 6 million mark. It’s the band’s second album to reach this mark. Hybrid Theory has sold 10,063,000 copies…Van Halen tops the 20 million mark in Nielsen SoundScan era sales. The band sold many millions more albums between the release of its debut album in 1978 and the inception of the Nielsen SoundScan era in 1991.

Oz The Great And Powerful was #1 at the box-office for the second straight weekend. I saw it. Not so great. Not so powerful.

Coming Attractions: As noted above, Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience will debut at #1 next week with sales in the 800K range. Kacey Musgraves’ Same Trailer Different Park will open around #4 with sales in the 35K range. Also, look for Les Miserables to have a resurgence, thanks to the release of a deluxe version.