Week Ending April 1, 2012. Albums: Madonna Chases Richie

Paul Grein
Chart Watch (NEW)

Lionel Richie gave Madonna a run for her money on this week's Billboard 200. Madonna came out on top with her new album MDNA, but Richie was a surprisingly strong #2 with Tuskegee, a collection of his greatest hits performed as duets with such country stars as Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts and Shania Twain. The album sold 199K copies, which is Richie's strongest weekly sales tally since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard in 1991. Moreover, it's his highest-charting album since October 1986.

In addition, Tuskegee enters Top Country Albums at #1. Richie is only the fourth African American artist to top that chart, following Charley Pride, who amassed 12 #1 country albums between 1968 and 1980; Ray Charles, who topped the country chart in 1985 with Friendship, which was also a collection of duets; and Darius Rucker, who has had two #1 country albums, in 2008 and 2010.

Richie and Ray Charles are the only artists in chart history to reach #1 on all three of Billboard's key album charts: The overall Billboard 200, Top Country Albums and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (over the course of their careers, not necessarily with the same album). Charles topped the Billboard 200 in 1962 with Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music and in 2005 with Genius Loves Company; the R&B chart in 1966 with Crying Time; and, as noted, the country chart in 1985 with Friendship. Richie topped The Billboard 200 in 1983 with Can't Slow Down and in 1986 with Dancing On The Ceiling; the R&B chart with those two albums and also with four Commodores albums; and the country chart this week with Tuskegee.

Richie and Darius Rucker (who team to sing "Stuck On You" on the new album) also have a lot in common. Both emerged from groups that were rooted in other genres. Commodores originated as an R&B/funk group, though they moved closer to pop as Richie's ballads became the group's key hits. Hootie & the Blowfish were the hottest mainstream pop/rock group of the mid-1990s. Both Richie and Rucker saluted their hometowns in album titles (in a clear effort to underscore their Southern roots). Richie was born in Tuskegee, Ala. in 1949. The title of Rucker's 2010 album, Charleston, S.C. 1966, gives you the particulars on his hometown and birth year.

Incidentally, this isn't Richie's first appearance on Top Country Albums. Can't Slow Down reached #55 in 1984, when one of its key hits, "Stuck On You," reached #24 on Hot Country Songs.

Is it just me or is the cover for Tuskegee reminiscent of the cover for Can't Slow Down? I guess Richie's attitude is, "If this photo session is going to take awhile, I'm going to have a seat." I'm sure Richie would be happy if Tuskegee did a fraction as well as Can't Slow Down. That album logged 58 weeks in the top 10, spawned five top 10 hits and won a Grammy as Album of the Year.

Finally, Tuskegee is Richie's fifth top 10 album on The Billboard 200 as a solo artist, which equals the number he had as the lead singer of Commodores.

MDNA is Madonna's eighth #1 album, which puts her just one album away from matching Barbra Streisand's long-held lead as the female artist with the most #1 albums in chart history. Madonna is also second to Streisand among female artists for the longest span of #1 albums. Streisand's #1 albums span nearly 45 years, from People in October 1964 to Love Is The Answer in October 2009. Madonna's span a little more than 26 years, from Like A Virgin in February 1985 to MDNA this week.

MDNA also becomes Madonna's 20th album to make the top 10. The only female artist with more is, you guessed it, Streisand with 31.

MDNA is Madonna's fifth consecutive studio album to reach #1. This streak started with Music in 2000 and has continued with American Life, Confessions On A Dance Floor, Hard Candy and now MDNA. This ties Janet Jackson for the lead among female artists. Jackson hit #1 with five consecutive studio albums from Control in 1986 to All For You in 2001.

MDNA sold 359K copies this week, which is the biggest opening week for an album by female artist since Lady Gaga's Born This Way powered on with sales of more than 1 million in May. It's Madonna's best sales week since Music arrived with sales of 420K in 2000. Madonna's tally was inflated by a promotion involving her upcoming world tour. U.S. fans who bought a concert ticket were given a code which could be redeemed for either a physical or digital copy of MDNA. This same policy boosted the debut of Bon Jovi's Lost Highway, which opened at #1 in July 2007, and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' Mojo, which bowed at #2 in June 2010.

Billboard's editorial director Bill Werde quotes "trusted sources" who say that about 185K of Madonna's total came from the concert ticket tie-in. If you take these sales out of Madonna's total, her tally drops to 174K and Richie wins the week. But, as Werde points out, it's not really fair to take them out. These concert-goers are avid Madonna fans. Many would have bought the album anyway. Even so, expect a larger-than-usual drop next week. The album will probably fall out of the top five.

MDNA also enters the U.K. chart at #1. It's Madonna's 12th album to reach #1 in that country, which enables her to surpass Elvis Presley as the solo artist with the most #1 U.K. albums. It's Madonna's eighth album to reach #1 in both the U.S. and the U.K. This puts her in a tie for second place with Bruce Springsteen, who notched his eighth "transatlantic #1" just three weeks ago. The Beatles are out front with 10 albums that hit #1 in both countries.

Greatest hits albums by Richie and Madonna re-enter this week's chart. Richie's The Definitive Collection (from 2003) re-enters at #100. Madonna's Celebration (from 2009) re-enters at #177.

Madonna and Richie both had #1 albums in 1986. So, remarkably, did two other artists who are listed in this week's top 15: Bruce Springsteen, who falls to #9, and Whitney Houston, who drops to #12.

Adele's 21 logs its 58th week in the top 10, which equals the run of Taylor Swift's Fearless from November 2008 to February 2010. The last album to spend more weeks in the top 10 was Celine Dion's Falling In You, which spent 61 weeks in the top 10 from March 1996 to June 1997. How long will Adele remain in the top 10? Place your bets.

Three weeks ago, Adele moved into some choice real estate: Nielsen SoundScan's running list of the 200 best-selling album artists in its history. To join the list, artists must have sold (as of this week) 10,241,000 albums since the company began tracking sales for Billboard in 1991. Adele has done that with just two studio albums and two iTunes releases.

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond soundtrack drops from #1 to #5 in its second week. It's #1 on Top Soundtracks for the second week. The movie was #1 at the box-office for the second weekend. An album featuring James Newton Howard's original score debuts at #43.

Katy Perry's Teenage Dream leaps from #31 to #7 in its 84th week thanks to the release of The Complete Confection edition. (Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan are combining the sales of the regular and expanded editions.) This is the album's ninth week in the top 10; its highest ranking since May 1. The album has sold 2,141,000 copies, which represents a healthy increase over Perry's 2008 debut One Of The Boys, which has sold 1,458,000. Teenage Dream received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year and went on to spawn five #1 hits on the Hot 100, something only Michael Jackson's Bad had previously accomplished.

Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend" sold 521K copies in its first week. Only one other song in digital history has gotten off to such a fast start. Flo Rida's "Right Round" sold 636K copies in its first week in February 2009. "Boyfriend" may debut at #1 when the Hot 100 is released later today, though it is facing a strong incumbent: "We Are Young" by fun. featuring Janelle Monae, which sold 364K copies. This is the fifth consecutive week in which that song has topped 300K in weekly sales. Only one other song in digital history, "Love The Way You Lie" by Eminem featuring Rihanna, has topped 300K five times. Which will come out on top on the Hot 100 (which combines digital sales, radio airplay and on-demand streaming data)? 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. Madonna, MDNA, 359,000. This new entry is Madonna's 20th top 10 album. The album sold 124K digital copies, which puts it at #1 on Top Digital Albums. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Give Me All Your Luvin" (featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.) rebounds from #119 to #83. "Girl Gone Wild" re-enters at #120.

2. Lionel Richie, Tuskegee, 199,000. This new entry is Richie's 10th top 10 album (counting five albums with Commodores). "You Are," a duet with Blake Shelton, bows at #160.

3. Adele, 21, 121,000. The former #1 album dips from #2 to #3. This is its 58th week in the top 10. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Set Fire To The Rain," which drops from #15 to #20.

4. Shinedown, Amaryllis, 106,000. This new entry is Shinedown's second top 10 album. The Sound Of Madness hit #8 in 2008. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Bully" drops from #94 to #149. "I'll Follow You" debuts at #174.

5. Various Artists, The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond, soundtrack, 64,000. The former #1 album drops to #5 in its second week. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by Taylor Swift's "Eyes Open," which drops from #4 to #13.

6. One Direction, Up All Night, 46,000. The former #1 album drops from #4 to #6 its third week.  Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "What Makes You Beautiful" jumps from #7 to #5. "One Thing" jumps from #83 to #77.

7. Katy Perry, Teenage Dream, 33,000. The former #1 album leaps from #31 to #7 in its 84th week. Five songs from the expanded version of the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Part Of Me," which rebounds from #11 to #10.

8. The Used, Vulnerable, 32,000. This new entry is the band's fourth top 10 album.  No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. As a result, next week it may be Vulnerable to dropping out of the top 10.

9. Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball, 28,000. The former #1 album drops from #6 to #9 in its fourth week. The album has sold 320K copies. No songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, yet it has spent a month in the top 10. Being a legend has its privileges.

10. Various Artists, Now 41, 25,000. The album drops from #8 to #10 in its eighth week. It has been in the top 10 the entire time. The album has sold 573K copies.

Five albums drop out of the top 10 this week. The Shins' Port Of Morrow drops from #3 to #14, Odd Future's The OF Tape Vol. 2 drops from #5 to #36, Melanie Fiona's The MF Life drops from #7 to #22. Whitney Houston's Whitney: The Greatest Hits drops from #6 to 12. Esperanza Spalding's Radio Music Society drops from #10 to #30. Houston's album is #1 on Top Catalog Albums for the seventh time in the past eight weeks.

The Mars Volta's Noctourniquet bows at #15. That's a disappointing debut for the band, which has had three top 10 albums (including two that made the top five)…Meshuggah's Koloss bows at #17…The All-American Rejects' Kids In The Streets bows at #18.

Rapper E-40 enters the chart with three separate volumes of The Block Brochure: Welcome To The Soil. Vol. 1 opens at #59, Vol. 2 at #58 and Vol. 3 at #71. In addition, an edition which combines the three volumes bows at #44. E-40 first charted in October 1993. He reached the top 10 with 1996's The Hall Of Game and 2006's My Ghetto Report Card.

Adele's Live At The Royal Albert Hall is #1 on Top Music Videos for the 18th straight week. I've told you that that's the second longest run by a female artist. It trails Whitney Houston's The #1 Video Hits, which logged 22 weeks at #1 in 1986. Let me add that it's also the second longest run by a British artist. It trails Pink Floyd's Pulse, which logged 25 weeks at #1 (15 weeks in 1995-1996 and 10 weeks in 2006). Will Adele's DVD top either or both of these titles? Place your bets. It sold 15K copies this week, bringing its total to 777K.

Shameless Plug: Doris Day turned 90 yesterday.  Barbra Streisand turns 70 later this month. On Monday, we posted a Chart Watch Extra in which I compared and contrasted their careers. What do they have in common? Massive success in records, movies and TV which paved the way for everybody from J. Lo to Beyonce. If you missed it, here's a link. I also wrote a sidebar column on other pop music hit-makers from the 1940s and early '50s who are still alive and kicking. (I'm referring here to Day, not Streisand!) Tony Bennett's on the list, of course, and so are Patti Page and Pete Seeger. But who knew that Tony Martin, 98, was still living? Here's a link to that one.

Coming Attractions: Nicki Minaj's sophomore album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, is expected to debut at #1 next week, with sales in the 215K range. Rascal Flatts' Changed will probably open at #3, with sales in the 110K range. Marvin Sapp's I Win and Of Monsters & Men's My Head Is An Animal will probably open at #7 and #8, respectively. Also due: Alabama Shakes' Boys & Girls and Candlebox's Love Stories And Other Musings.


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