Week Ending April 15, 2012. Albums: Lionel & Madonna, Week 3

Paul Grein
Chart Watch (NEW)

Lionel Richie lands his first #1 album in more than 25 years as Tuskegee jumps from #4 to #1 in its third week on The Billboard 200. Richie first topped the chart in December 1983 with Can't Slow Down. He returned to the top spot in September 1986 with Dancing On The Ceiling. A two-hour TV special based on the album aired Friday on CBS, which gave the album the push it needed to reach #1.

You may recall that two weeks ago, Madonna's MDNA kept Tuskegee to a #2 debut. Madonna's tally was boosted by a much-debated album/concert ticket bundle, which added an estimated 185K copies to her tally. Without those copies, the race for #1 two weeks ago would have been much closer. (In fairness to Madonna, some of her fans probably would have bought the album if they hadn't been getting it as part of the bundle, so she would probably still have debuted at #1.) In any event, I'm glad the dust-up didn't keep Tuskegee from reaching the top spot. (Meanwhile, MDNA drops from #8 to #18 in its third week. More on that in a minute.)

Tuskegee is fourth "duets" album to reach #1, following Ray Charles' Genius Loves Company, Reba McEntire's Reba: Duets and Tony Bennett's Duets II.

This marks the first time that an African American artist has topped The Billboard 200 with a country album since Ray Charles scored in June 1962 with the ground-breaking Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music. Both men are from the South, where country is king. Charles was born in Albany, Ga. and raised in Greenville, Fla. Richie was born and raised in Tuskegee, Ala.

In addition, Tuskegee regains the #1 spot on Top Country Albums, displacing Rascal Flatts' Changed. (The trio is featured on "Dancing On The Ceiling" on Tuskegee.)

Nearly 8 million people watched Richie's TV special, which ranked #32 in the weekly Nielsen ratings. The show was taped in Las Vegas the day after the taping of the Academy Of Country Music Awards, when most top country stars were on hand. This echoes the situation in January 1985, when "We Are The World" was recorded just hours after the taping of the American Music Awards, when most top music stars were in Los Angeles. Richie was a key player at all four of these events. He hosted the AMAs in 1985. He and Michael Jackson co-wrote "We Are The World."

Richie released six studio albums between Dancing On The Ceiling and Tuskegee. Only one, 2006's Coming Home, reached the top 10. Several didn't even come close. Time stalled at #152 in 1998. But Richie kept it together in the lean years. He looks years younger than his age (62). His resurgence proves that if artists hang in there, success can come around again.

P.S. Richie made a cameo appearance in Madonna's 1991 concert documentary Truth Or Dare. The two artists couldn't have known then that more than 20 years later, they would be in a fierce battle for #1.

MDNA spent just two weeks in the top 10. That puts it in a three-way tie for the briefest run in the top 10 of any studio album in Madonna's three-decade career. 1994's Bedtime Stories and 2003's American Life also spent a mere two weeks in the top 10. (Bedtime Stories redeemed itself when it later spawned Madonna's longest-running #1 hit, "Take A Bow.")

I was struck by the mean-spirited tone of some of the media accounts of Madonna's disappointing second week sales. Media people can be nasty, especially when they smell blood. As I've said before, artists had better have a thick skin. They have to take a lot of crap.

Adele's 21 holds at #2 for the second straight week. The album was expected to return to #1 this week, but Richie had a bigger-than-expected sales surge following the airing of his TV special.

21 sold 92K copies last week, which constitutes its lowest weekly total since August. This is only the second time since the week ending Sept. 4 that 21 has sold fewer than 100K copies in a week. The album's fourth single, "Rumour Has It," is streaking toward the top 10, which should help to stabilize the album.

21 returns to #1 in the U.K. This is its 22nd week at #1 in that country. It has spent 23 weeks at #1 in the U.S. Only one other album in chart history has logged 20 or more weeks at #1 in both countries. The 1958 soundtrack to the movie version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific spent 115 weeks at #1 in the U.K. and 31 weeks at #1 in the U.S.

One Direction's Up All Night holds at #5 its fifth week.  The boy band is the second group assembled by Simon Cowell to enter The Billboard 200 at #1. It follows Il Divo, which debuted in the top spot in January 2006 with Ancora.

Monica's New Life debuts at #4, two notches ahead of Bonnie Raitt's Slipstream. It's Monica's fifth top 10 album; Raitt's fourth. But the arcs of their careers are very different. Monica was just 17 when she first hit the top 10 in July 1998 with her sophomore album, The Boy Is Mine. Raitt was 40 when she first hit the top 10 in March 1990 with Nick Of Time, which was her ninth studio album.

Monica first cracked The Billboard 200 in August 1995 (at age 14) with Miss Thang, which peaked at #36. New Life is her fifth consecutive top 10 album.

Raitt first charted in October 1972 with Give It Up. Her 1977 album Sweet Forgiveness went gold, but she couldn't seem to make it to the top ranks of female artists, which were populated in that decade by Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Linda Ronstadt.

Raitt's career changed literally overnight at the 32nd annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 21, 1990. She performed on the show and won four awards, including Album of the Year for Nick Of Time (in a major upset over the likes of Tom Petty and Don Henley). Suddenly, an artist that people liked in a casual way became an artist that people really felt connected to. The album, which hadn't cracked the top 20 prior to Grammy night, shot to #1 in April 1990. It was the first dramatic example of the Grammys' impact on sales.

Slipstream is Raitt's first top 10 album since 1994's Longing In Their Hearts. Raitt's three subsequent studio albums peaked in the teens on the chart.

Raitt is a second-generation music star. Her father, John Raitt, was a major Broadway star of the '40s and '50s. Raitt headlined two original cast albums that made the top 10. The album from Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel spent six weeks at #1 in the summer of 1945. The album from The Pajama Game reached #4 in 1954. Raitt also starred in the movie version of The Pajama Game, opposite Doris Day. The soundtrack hit #9 in 1957. Raitt died in February 2005 at age 88.

Hoodie Allen's All American EP debuts at #10. It's the first top 10 album or EP for the Jewish rapper (real name: Steven Markowitz). Allen's cleverly titled 2009 EP, Bagels And Beats, has sold just 2K copies. Incidentally, this is the first time that an album or EP with the phrase "All American" in its title has made the top 10. Rick Derringer's 1973 album All American Boy hit #25. Hinder's 2010 album All American Nightmare reached #37.

"Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye featuring Kimbra tops Hot Digital Songs, with sales of 542K. That's the biggest one-week sales tally so far this year, topping Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend," which started with sales of 521K two weeks ago. "Somebody…" dethrones "We Are Young" by fun. featuring Janelle Monae from the top spot on the digital chart. Will it also replace it at #1 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. Lionel Richie, Tuskegee, 129,000. The album jumps from #4 to #1 in its third week. It's Richie's third #1 album. The tally includes 42K digital copies, which puts Tuskegee at #1 on Top Digital Albums.

2. Adele, 21, 92,000. The former #1 album holds at #2 for the second week. This is its 60th week in the top 10. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Rumour Has It," which jumps from #31 to #23.

3. Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, 81,000. The former #1 album drops to #3 in its second week. Five songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Starships," which dips from #5 to #6.

4. Monica, New Life, 69,000. This new entry is Monica's fifth top 10 album.

5. One Direction, Up All Night, 66,000. The former #1 album holds at #5 its fifth week.  It has been in the top 10 the entire time. Five songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "What Makes You Beautiful," which jumps from #4 to #3.

6. Bonnie Raitt, Slipstream, 64,000. This new entry is Raitt's fourth top 10 album.

7. Gotye, Making Mirrors, 54,000.  The album jumps from #15 to #7 (its highest ranking to date) in its 14th week, following Gotye's performance on Saturday Night Live. This is its second week in the top 10. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Somebody That I Used To Know" (featuring Kimbra) jumps from #2 to #1. "Eyes Wide Open" bows at #181.

8. Alabama Shakes, Boys & Girls, 43,000. The album jumps from #16 to #8 in its second week, thanks to the belated release of the CD. (People in Alabama should be pleased this week, between this album and Tuskegee.)

9. Rascal Flatts, Changed, 41,000. The album drops from #3 to #9 in its second week. "Banjo" jumps from #65 to #61 on Hot Digital Songs.

10. Hoodie Allen, All American, 27,000. This new entry is the first top 10 album or EP for the Jewish rapper.

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond drops from #7 to #14 in its fourth week. It's #1 on Top Soundtracks for the fourth week. The movie was #1 at the box-office for the fourth weekend in a row. It's the first movie to log four weekends at #1 since Avatar was #1 for seven weekends in 2008-2009.

Four other albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Of Monsters & Men's My Head Is An Animal drops from #6 to #12, Madonna's MDNA drops from #8 to #18, Marvin Sapp's I Win drops from #9 to #23, and Shinedown's Amaryllis drops from #10 to #19.

Counting Crows' Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation) bows at #11. It's the band's first studio album to fall short of the top 10…Halestorm's The Strange Case Of… bows at #15. The hard rock band first charted in 2009… Prince Royce's Phase II bows at #16. His previous album, Prince Royce, hit #77 in 2011…Trip Lee's Good Life bows at #17. The Christian hip-hopper's previous album, Between Two Worlds, hit #58 in 2010.

Adele's 2008 album 19 drops from #17 to #26 in its 130th week on the chart. The album logs its 36th week at #1 on Top Catalog Albums.

Reba McEntire this week becomes just the second female country artist to top the 30 million mark in album sales since Nielsen SoundScan started tracking sales for Billboard in 1991. Shania Twain is #1 with sales of 34,175,000. But keep in mind that McEntire was a force in country music for nearly 10 years before Nielsen SoundScan scanned its first bar code. (She first hit Top Country Albums in October 1981 with Heart To Heart.) Twain's tally, on the other hand, counts every album she ever sold. (She first charted in July 1993 with Shania Twain.)

Adele's Live At The Royal Albert Hall is #1 on Top Music Videos for the 20th straight week. It's just two weeks away from tying Whitney Houston's The #1 Video Hits from 1986 for the longest run at #1 by a female artist in the chart's 27-year history. Adele's DVD sold 11K copies this week, bringing its total to 805K.

Coming Attractions: Jason Mraz's Love Is A Four Letter Word is in a tight race with Lionel Richie's album for #1 next week. Both albums will sell in the 100K range. Train's California 37 will probably open at #4, with sales in the 70K range. Look for Pluto, the debut by hip hop artist Future to open at #7, with sales in the 35K range. Look for top 20 debuts by Jack Johnson & Friends' Best Of Kokua Festival and Neon Trees' Picture Show.