Chart Watch Extra: Unplugged And Charted
Florence + the Machine's MTV Unplugged enters the current Billboard 200 at #51. It's the highest-charting Unplugged album in a little more than five years, since Korn's MTV Unplugged hit #9 in March 2007.
Thirty-two artists have charted with Unplugged albums in the past 21 years. They're a surprisingly diverse bunch. In addition to the pop and rock artists who are most often associated with the series, Latin, R&B, hip-hop, traditional pop and Contemporary Christian artists are also represented. (Two Various Artists albums have also charted.)
Three Unplugged albums have reached #1: Eric Clapton's Unplugged, Nirvana's MTV Unplugged In New York and Alicia Keys' Unplugged. Two have walked off with Grammys for Album of the Year: Clapton's Unplugged and Tony Bennett's MTV Unplugged.
The Clapton and Nirvana albums are also the best-sellers, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Clapton's Unplugged has sold 7,617,000 copies. Nirvana's MTV Unplugged In New York has sold 4,817,000 copies.
Three of the chart entries are EPs: Mariah Carey's MTV Unplugged EP, Maxwell's MTV Unplugged and Katy Perry's MTV Unplugged. At the other extreme is Lauryn Hill's MTV Unplugged No. 2.0, the only double-disk Unplugged album to make the chart.
Here are the 32 Unplugged albums or EPs that have reached The Billboard 200. They're ranked by the highest position they attained. I also show the number of weeks they remained on the chart and the month and year they entered the chart.
1. Eric Clapton, Unplugged, #1, 137 weeks. Clapton's album spent three weeks at #1. It was recorded on March 12, 1992, less than a year after the death of Clapton's four-year-old son, Conor. That tragedy led Clapton to co-write the haunting "Tears In Heaven." The studio version of that song became a #2 smash. Unplugged included live versions of that song and "Layla," Clapton's 1971 classic with Derek and the Dominos. Charted: September 1992.
2. Nirvana, MTV Unplugged In New York, #1, 81 weeks. This album, which was recorded on Nov. 18, 1993, won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance. It was the band's first release following Kurt Cobain's suicide in April 1994. "About A Girl" and "The Man Who Sold The World" cracked the Hot 100 Airplay chart. Charted: November 1994.
3. Alicia Keys, Unplugged, #1, 22 weeks. This is the highest-charting Unplugged album by an R&B artist. "Unbreakable" reached #34 on the Hot 100. Charted: October 2005.