Week Ending Feb. 24, 2013. Albums: Mumford Leads “Americana” Wave

Paul Grein
Chart Watch (NEW)

“Americana” music—an industry term for rootsy, guitar-based music—accounts for three of the top six albums on this week’s Billboard 200. Mumford & Sons’ Babel holds at #1 for the fifth week, The Lumineers’ The Lumineers jumps from #6 to #5 its 47th week and Alabama Shakes’ Boys & Girls leaps from #20 to #6 in its 43rd week. (Sales of Boys & Girls jumped by 10% compared to last week. It’s the only album in the top 15 to show a sales increase.)

Babel and The Lumineers were both nominated for Best Americana Album at the Grammys on Feb. 10. (They lost, in a big surprise, to Bonnie Raitt’s Slipstream.) Boys & Girls had also been entered in that category, but it wasn’t nominated. (It doubtless would have made the finals if the voting had occurred just a few weeks later).

Babel is the first rock album (broadly defined) to log five or more weeks at #1 since Creed’s Weathered spent eight weeks on top in late 2001 and early 2002.

Babel is the first album by a British group to log five or more weeks at #1 since the Beatles’ hit-studded compilation 1, which spent eight weeks on top in late 2000 and early 2001. It’s the first studio album by a British group to remain #1 this long since Spice Girls’ Spice spent five weeks on top in 1997. That frothy female quintet has virtually nothing in common with the rootsy Mumford & Sons beyond nationality and success, but that’s the fun of the charts.

Alas, Babel is #1 with sales of just 63K, which is the lowest weekly tally for a #1 album since Zac Brown Band’s Uncaged returned to #1 in July with sales of just 48K.

Babel sold 28K digital copies this week, which puts it at #1 on Top Digital Albums. This is its fifth week on top of that chart.

Bruno Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox inches up from #3 to #2, where it debuted in November. The album has yet to reach #1, though that may well change next week. Amazon MP3 put the album (and 19 others) on sale for just $1.99 on Tuesday (Feb. 26). The Amazon sale will probably also send Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ The Heist back into the top 10. The album rebounds from #33 to #16 this week.

Mars’ 2010 debut album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, jumps from #64 to #59 in its 123rd week. It’s #1 on Top Catalog Albums for the fourth week.

As noted above, Alabama Shakes’ Boys & Girls vaults from #20 to #6 in its 43rd week. This is its highest ranking to date. The album reached #8 in its second week on the chart in April, but dropped out of the top 100 for the last 12 weeks of 2012. (It fell off The Billboard 200 entirely for four of those weeks). The Grammys and a performance slot on Saturday Night Live spurred the album’s revival. The band received two Grammy nominations—Best New Artist and Best Rock Performance for “Hold On.” That song finally broke onto the Hot 100 last week at #100 and is expected to move up this week. The band wasn’t given a performance slot on the Grammy telecast (which was a missed opportunity for the Grammys), but Brittany Howard, the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist, participated in the tribute to Levon Helm.

The title of Boys & Girls is similar to that of another Southern rock smash, the Allman Brothers Band’s Brothers And Sisters. That album logged five weeks at #1 in 1973. Alabama Shakes hails from Athens, Ala. The Allman Brothers were from Macon, Ga.

Incidentally, Alabama Shakes has climbed higher on The Billboard 200 than Alabama ever did. The Closer You Get…, the highest-charting album by that country group, peaked at #10 in April 1983. However, country (like rap) was under-represented on the chart in the years before Nielsen SoundScan started tracking sales for Billboard in 1991.

Rihanna’s Unapologetic rebounds from #15 to #9. The album has already spawned two top five hits: “Diamonds,” which spent three weeks at #1, and “Stay” (featuring Mikky Ekko), which vaulted from #57 to #3 last week. Unapologetic is Rihanna’s fourth album to generate two or more top five hits. Good Girl Gone Bad spawned “Umbrella” (featuring Jay-Z) and “Don’t Stop The Music” (plus two more songs that were added to an expanded edition). Loud spawned “What’s My Name” (featuring Drake), “Only Girl (In The World)” and “S&M.” Talk That Talk spawned “We Found Love” (featuring Calvin Harris) and “Where Have You Been.”

Taylor Swift’s Red drops from #4 to #10. The album is #1 on Top Country Albums for the 15th week. That’s the longest run at #1 on the country chart since Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now logged 31 weeks on top in 2010-2011.

“Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz is #1 on Hot Digital Songs for the seventh straight week, with sales of 364K. This is the seventh time its sales have topped 300K. Only one other song in digital history—“We Are Young” by fun. featuring Janelle Monae—has achieved that feat. Can “Thrift Shop” regain the #1 spot on the Hot 100 from Baauer’s “Harlem Shake,” which debuted at #1 last week? (“Harlem Shake” jumps from #3 to #2 on Hot Digital Songs, with sales of 297K.) 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: Mumford & Sons’ Babel holds at #1 for the fifth week in its 22nd week (63K). This is its 16th week in the top 10…Bruno Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox jumps from #3 to #2 in its 11th week (48K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time…Josh Groban’s All That Echoes rebounds from #5 to #3 in its third week (41K). It has been in the top five the entire time… Now 45 rebounds from #8 to #4 in its third week (38K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time…The Lumineers’ The Lumineers jumps from #6 to #5 in its 47th week (35K). This is its ninth week in the top 10.

The Second Five: Alabama Shakes’ Boys & Girls rebounds from #20 to #6 in its 43rd week (33K). This is its second week in the top 10…Grammy Nominees 2013 drops from #2 to #7 in its fifth week (30K). This is its third week in the top 10… fun.’s Some Nights dips from #7 to #8 in its 53rd week (30K). This is its eighth week in the top 10…Rihanna’s Unapologetic rebounds from #15 to #9 in its 14th week (29K). This is its fourth week in the top 10… Taylor Swift’s Red drops from #4 to #10 in its 18th week (28K). This is its 17th week in the top 10.

Two albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Andrea Bocelli’s Passione drops from #9 to #15… Maroon 5’s Overexposed drops from #10 to #21.

The Pitch Perfect soundtrack jumps from #16 to #11 in its 18th chart week. This is the 12th time it has been the week’s highest-charting soundtrack from a theatrically-released movie. The soundtrack has sold 531K copies, which is a solid showing for a movie that was only a moderate hit. (It has grossed $65,001,000.) This is the best example of a hit soundtrack from a movie that was less than a blockbuster since Country Strong two years ago. That soundtrack sold 479K. The movie grossed just $20,219,000. (Country Strong was the highest-ranking soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie for 18 weeks in 2010-2011.)

Buckcherry’s Confessions is the week’s top new entry at #20. This is the band’s third top 20 album, though it dropped off from the top 10 pace of its predecessors Black Butterfly (#8 in 2008) and All Night Long (#10 in 2010).

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ Push The Sky Away debuts at #29. This is the first top 30 album for the group, which has been turning out albums since 1984. (This means that a band releasing its first album this year might have to wait until 2042 to crack the top 30 for the first time!) Cave and his band didn’t even crack The Billboard 200 until its 10th album, 1997’s The Boatman’s CallAtlas Genius’ When It Was Now debuts at #34. This is the first studio album by the Aussie band, which includes three brothers.

Celtic Thunder’s Mythology debuts at #51. In addition, the Celtic group debuts at #1 on Top Music Videos with its music video of the same name. It’s the group’s third #1 on Top Music Videos. Heritage and Storm both topped that chart in 2011.

Emeli Sande’s Our Version Of Events rebounds from #142 to #64 in its 15th week on the chart. This is its highest ranking since it debuted and peaked at #28 in June. The album has sold 102K copies in the U.S. A song from the album, “Next To Me,” breaks into the top 100 on Hot Digital Songs and is vying to enter the Hot 100 this week. The album returns to #1 on The Official U.K. Chart in the wake of being named Album of the Year at the BRIT Awards (their equivalent of the Grammys). This is its ninth week on top of the U.K. chart.

Identity Thief returned #1 at the box-office after being dislodged last week by A Good Day To Die Hard. It’s the first movie to spend two weekends on top in 2013. It’s also the first movie to return to #1 after being booted out of the top spot since Skyfall returned to #1 in December following a three-week interruption by The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2.

R.I.P. Classical pianist Van Cliburn achieved international fame in 1958, when he won the first International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow. The idea of an American winning such a competition at the height of the Cold War made headlines around the world. Later that year, Cliburn topped The Billboard 200 for seven weeks with Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1. The following year he returned to the top 10 with Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3. Both albums received Grammy nominations for Album of the Year (and won Grammys for Best Classical Performance). Cliburn later charted with collections of music by Schumann, Chopin and Brahms. Cliburn was voted a Kennedy Center Honor in 2001 and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. He died today (Wednesday) at age 78.

Coming Attractions: Hillsong United’s Zion is expected to be next week’s top new entry, with sales in the 35K range. It will probably debut at #4. Also due: Atoms for Peace’ Amok (also about 35K for a debut at #5), Michael Bolton’s Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: A Tribute To Hitsville (about 12K) and The Mavericks’ In Time (about 10K).