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Chart Watch: Will Pharrell Be “Happy” With 112K?

Paul Grein
Chart Watch
March 12, 2014

Pharrell Williams turned this year's Academy Awards into the world's biggest album-release party. His first solo album in nearly eight years, "G I R L," was released the day after the Oscars, where he performed his feel-good smash "Happy" as a big production number. So wouldn't you expect "G I R L" to sell more than 112K copies in its first week?

It's a given that most albums don't sell like they used to. But some still do, as such varied stars as Luke Bryan, Eminem and Beyonce have proved in recent months. If anybody could defy downward sales trends you would think it would be Pharrell. He was featured on two of last year's biggest hits, Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" and Daft Punk's "Get Lucky." His own smash "Happy" is second only to "Dark Horse" by Katy Perry featuring Juicy J as this year's best-selling hit. (It will pull ahead next week).

What's more, Pharrell has attained a level of fame that goes beyond mere sales numbers. The director of the Oscar telecast cut to him for reaction shots as often as he did the biggest movie stars. Williams' hat got more attention at the Grammys than most of the winners did.

Even with all that going for it, "G I R L" enters The Billboard 200 at #2, behind Rick Ross's "Mastermind." Ross doesn't have one-tenth of Williams' media profile, but he sells a lot of albums. This is his fifth #1 album out of his six studio releases.

For the record, "G I R L" surpasses the #3 debut of Williams's first solo album, "In My Mind," back in July 2006. Williams also reached the top 10 with two NERD albums that he recorded with Chad Hugo: "Fly Or Die" (#6 in 2004) and "Seeing Sounds" (#7 in 2008).

And "G I R L" exceeded initial industry projections, which had the album starting with sales of 85K.

"Happy" sold 490K copies in the U.S. this week. It's only the third song in digital history to top 400K in weekly sales three times. It follows "Blurred Lines" (which did it four times) and "Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye featuring Kimbra. Both of those songs wound up as the best-sellers of their respective years. Will "Happy" follow suit? Stay tuned.

"G I R L" enters the U.K.'s Official Albums Chart at #1. "Happy" has spent four weeks at #1 on the U.K.'s Official Singles Chart.

Rick Ross's "Mastermind" is the second rap album in a row to hold down the #1 spot (following ScHoolboy Q's "Oxymoron"). This marks the first time that rap albums have appeared at #1 in back-to-back weeks since last summer, when albums by Kanye West, Wale, J. Cole and Jay Z held the #1 spot in succession.

"Mastermind" sold 179K copies. That tally includes 101K digital copies, which also puts the album at #1 on Top Digital Albums.

With five #1 albums on The Billboard 200, Ross is the second most successful chart-topper who was born in Mississippi. He trails only Elvis Presley, who had 10 #1 albums.

And this just doesn't seem right, but here it is: Ross has now had one more #1 album than Diana Ross. The legendary singer had four #1 albums—three with the Supremes and one on her own.

The "Frozen" soundtrack dips from #2 to #3. The album has appeared in the top five for 11 consecutive weeks. It's the first soundtrack from a theatrically-released movie to spend 11 weeks in the top five since "p8 Mile" in 2002-2003. Both of these albums spawned Oscar-winners for Original Song.

"Frozen" is #1 on Top Soundtracks for the 15th week. The movie was in the top 10 at the box-office for the 15th weekend.

"Frozen" features the voice of Broadway star Idina Menzel. Lea Michele, who debuts at #4 with "Louder," is also a Broadway veteran. She appeared in "Spring Awakening" from 2006 to 2008.

Michele is the first cast member from "Glee" to land a top 10 album on her/his own. An eponymous album by Matthew Morrison debuted and peaked at #23 in May 2011. ("Glee: The Quarterback," an EP dedicated to Michelle's boyfriend Cory Monteith, debuted and peaked at #7 in October, three months after his death.)

The Glee Cast has amassed 15 top 10 albums or EPs and has received three Grammy nominations. In addition, Michele received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in 2010.

Eli Young Band lands its highest-charting album to date asits fifth studio album,"10,000 Towns," debuts at #5. The band's previous album, "Life At Best," reached #6 in 2011. The new album enters Top Country Albums at #1, displacing Dierks Bentley's"Riser." This is the band's first #1 country album.

Ashanti'sfifth studio album,"Braveheart," debuts at #10. All five albums have made the top 10. Mel Gibson's movie of the same name won an Oscar as Best Picture of 1995. This is the second top 10 album with the same title as an Oscar-winning Best Picture. Dave Matthews Band's "Crash" hit #2 in 1996. (Of course, I'm excluding soundtracks to the movies themselves.)

As noted above, Pharrell Williams's "Happy" sold 490K copies. This is the 13th consecutive week that the song has sold more copies than it did the week before. It's #1 on Hot Digital Songs for the fourth week. Will the smash log its third week at #1 on the Hot 100? You'll find out later today when we post my first of two Songs blogs.

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

The Top Five: Rick Ross's "Mastermind" debuts at #1 (179K). It's his sixth top 10 album … Pharrell Williams's "G I R L" debuts at #2 (112K). It's his second top 10 album as a solo artist … The "Frozen" soundtrack dips from #2 to #3 in its 15th week (100K). This is its 13th week in the top 10 … Lea Michele's "Louder" debuts at #4 (60K). It's her first top 10 album on her own… Eli Young Band's"10,000 Towns" debuts at #5 (36K). It's their second top 10 album.

The Second Five: Beck's"Morning Phase" drops from #3 to #6 in its second week (33K) … Lorde's"Pure Heroine" rebounds from #11 to #7 in its 23rd week (31K). This is its 17th week in the top 10 … ScHoolboy Q's "Oxymoron" drops from #1 to #8 in its second week (30K) … Eric Church's"The Outsiders" drops from #7 to #9 in its fourth week (30K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time … Ashanti's "Braveheart" debuts at #10 (28K). It's her fifth top 10 album.

Six albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Kid Cudi's"Satellite Flight:The Journey To Mother Moon" dives from #4 to #42. Romeo Santos's"Formula, Vol. 2" drops from #5 to #14. Dierks Bentley's "Riser" drops from #6 to #18. The Fray's "Helios" plummets from #8 to #47. "Now 49" drops from #9 to #11. Beyonce's "Beyonce" drops from #10 to #12.

David Nail's third studio album, "I'm A Fire," debuts at #13. It's his highest-charting album to date … American Authors' debut album, "Oh, What A Life," debuts at #15. Their top 30 single "Best Day Of My Life" will top the 1 million mark next week … Drive-By Truckers' 10th studio album,"English Oceans," debuts at #16. It's their first top 20 album.

Thirty Seconds To Mars' "LOVE, LUST, FAITH + DREAMS" re-enters the chart at #25 in the wake of lead singer Jared Leto's Academy Award for "Dallas Buyers Club" and value pricing. The album debuted and peaked at #6 in May 2013. This is its second week in the top 30.

The Notorious B.I.G.'s 2007 compilation "Greatest Hits" re-enters the chart at #54. It vaults from #64 to #1 on Top Catalog Albums. This is its first week on top of that chart. The rapper was shot to death in 1997.

"300: Rise Of An Empire" was #1 at the box-office over the weekend. Junkie XL's soundtrack sold 1K copies, too few to make The Billboard 200.

Bob Dylan's "30th Anniversary Concert Celebration" enters Top Music Videos at #1, with sales of 9K. This was recorded on Oct. 16, 1992 at Madison Square Garden in New York. A double live album from the concert reached #40 in 1993.

Coming Attractions: Luke Bryan's "Spring Break 6...Like We Ain't Ever" is expected to vie for #1 next week. Also due: Aloe Blacc's"Lift Your Spirit," 311's "Stereolithic," "Young Money: Rise Of An Empire," Sara Evans's"Slow Me Down, Ledisi's "The Truth" and the "Divergent" soundtrack.