Week Ending Jan. 22, 2012. Albums: Synchronicity!

Paul Grein
Chart Watch (NEW)

Adele's 21 tops The Billboard 200 for the 17th week, which is the longest run by any album since Whitney Houston's The Bodyguard soundtrack logged 20 weeks on top in 1992-1993. It's the longest run at #1 for an album by a British artist since the Police's Synchronicity was #1 for 17 weeks in 1983. (Two of the three members of that trio were born in England.)

Only two albums by British (or majority-British) acts have had longer runs at #1. Fleetwood Mac's Rumours logged 31 weeks at #1 in 1977-'78. (Three of the five members the iconic pop-rock group were born in England.) The Bee Gees' Saturday Night Fever soundtrack logged 24 weeks at #1 in 1978. (All three members of the brother trio were born in England.)

21 returns to #1 in the U.K. for its 20th week on top. 21 is the first non-soundtrack ever to log 17 or more weeks at #1 in both the U.S. and the U.K. Only three other albums (all of them soundtracks) have accomplished this feat: South Pacific (115 weeks at #1 in the U.K., 31 weeks on top in the U.S.), Elvis Presley's Blue Hawaii (18 weeks in the U.K., 20 weeks in the U.S.) and Saturday Night Fever (18 weeks in the U.K., 24 weeks in the U.S.)

It will be interesting to see how far this album can go. It's at 6,147,000 in U.S. sales right now. "Set Fire To The Rain" will probably hit #1 today, so songs from the album are still getting heavy radio airplay. And Adele is certain to sweep the Grammys on Feb. 12. So the album is sure to get to 7 or 8 million. Can it reach 10 million? No album that has been released since Eminem's The Eminem Show (which came out in May 2002) has done that, but at this point, I wouldn't bet against it.

This is absolutely, positively my last year-end item for 2011 (unless I think of something else): 21 sold more than twice as many copies in 2011 (5,824,000) as Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III sold in 2008 (2,874,000) when it was that year's #1 album.

What's the most successful ongoing series of albums in the nearly 56-year history of The Billboard 200? If you said the Now series, step to the front of the class. A whopping 45 albums in the long-running Now series have made top 10 since 1998. (That includes 40 regular installments, plus five themed editions devoted to Christmas songs, country and #1 hits.) Do you know what franchise is in second place? It's the Kidz Bop series, which this week lands its 14th top 10 installment as Kidz Bop 21 debuts at #2.

This is the third consecutive album in this series (and the fourth all told) to debut at #2. The series has yet to yield a #1 album.

Want me to keep going with the list of top franchises? Glee is in third place, with 13 top 10 albums or EPs. The annual Grammy Nominees series is in fourth place, with 10 top 10 albums. (That total will jump to 11 next week with the arrival of Grammy Nominees 2012.)

A sticker on the cover of every Kidz Bop album states: "Today's biggest hits sung by kids for kids." That's one of the most clever disclaimers I've ever seen. They're taking the series' biggest liability (these aren't the original versions) and turning it into a selling point. Brilliant!

Toby Keith's Clancy's Tavern jumps from #22 to #8 in its 13th week. This is its second week in the top 10. It returns to #1 on Top Country Albums for the first time since October. It's Keith's first album to spend more than one week at #1 on the country album chart since Honkytonk University topped the chart for seven weeks in 2005. The album's resurgence is linked to the success of his Glee-boosted single "Red Solo Cup," which has climbed as high as #15 on the Hot 100. That makes it Keith's highest-charting single in a Hot 100 career which dates to 1993.

The albums at #8, #9 and #10 this week (Clancy's Tavern, Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto and Nickelback's Here And Now) each sold just 17K copies, slightly fewer than the album that held the #10 spot last week, Now 40. What's the significance of this? Now 40 set a record for the slimmest weekly sales tally of any top 10 album since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard in 1991. That record is now held by this week's #10 album, Here And Now.

Three albums by Etta James rank in the top half of The Billboard 200 in the week after her death. The Best Of Etta James--20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection jumps from #62 to #46 (her highest ranking ever), Her Best bows at #59 and At Last! re-enters at #96. These three albums sold a combined total of nearly 19K copies. If this fan interest had focused on just one album, it would have ranked #7 this week. I'll have more to say about Etta James in Chart Watch: Songs, but I won't keep you in suspense: "At Last" sold 63K digital copies this week, which puts it at #29 on Hot Digital Songs.

"Turn Me On" by David Guetta featuring Nicki Minaj surges from #7 to #1 on Hot Digital Songs. How high will it climb on the Hot 100? Two songs break into the top 10 on the Digital Songs chart: Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" and Jessie J's "Domino." Will either or both make the top 10 on the Hot 100? You'll find out the answers to both questions later today when we post Chart Watch: Songs.

Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 albums.

1. Adele, 21, 95,000. The album logs its 17th week at #1. This is its 48th week in the top 10. The album sold 33K digital copies this week, which puts it at #1 on Top Digital Albums for the 12th week. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Set Fire To The Rain," which dips from #1 to #2.

2. Kidz Bop Kids, Kidz Bop 21, 59,000. This new entry is the fourth Kidz Bop album (and the third in a row) to debut at #2.

3. The Black Keys, El Camino, 29,000. The album holds at #3 in its seventh week. It has been in the top 10 the entire time. "Lonely Boy" jumps from #70 to #74 on Hot Digital Songs.

4. Drake, Take Care, 29,000. The former #1 album holds at #4 in its 10th week. It has been in the top 10 the entire time. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Take Care" (featuring Rihanna), which jumps from #35 to #32.

5. Rihanna, Talk That Talk, 20,000. The album rebounds from #7 to #5 in its ninth week. This is its seventh week in the top 10. Three songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "We Found Love" (featuring Calvin Harris), which holds at #6.

6. Young Jeezy, TM:103 Hustlerz Ambition, 19,000. The album holds at #6 in its fifth week. It has been in the top 10 the entire time. "I Do" (featuring Jay-Z and Andre 3000) drops from #177 to #192 on Hot Digital Songs.

7. James Fortune & FIYA, Identity, 18,0000. This new entry is the gospel act's first top 10 album.

8. Toby Keith, Clancy's Tavern, 18,000. The album jumps from #22 to #8 in its 13th week. This is its second week in the top 10. "Red Solo Cup" drops from #17 to #20 on Hot Digital Songs.

9. Coldplay, Mylo Xyloto, 19,000. The former #1 album dips from #8 to #9 its 13th week. This is its ninth week in the top 10. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Paradise" jumps from #29 to #27. "Princess Of China" (featuring Rihanna) jumps from #157 to #115.

10. Nickelback, Here And Now, 17,000. The album dips from #9 to #10 in its ninth week. This is its seventh week in the top 10. "When We Stand Together" drops from #102 to #140 on Hot Digital Songs.

Three albums drop out of the top 10 this week. David Crowder Band's Give Us Rest dives from #2 to #20, Snow Patrol's Fallen Empires plummets from #5 to #33 and Now 40 drops from #10 to #16.

Attack Attack!'s This Means War debuts at #11. It's the highest-charting album for the Ohio-based rock band. Attack Attack! first charted in 2008 with Someday Came Suddenly, which debuted and peaked at #193.

The Joyful Noise soundtrack jumps from #21 to #12 in its second week. It's the #1 soundtrack for the second week. The success of this album reminds me of the success last year of Country Strong. Both soundtracks accompany critic-proof movies which appeal to mainstream, especially country music, fans.

Adele's 2008 album 19 jumps from #16 to #15.  It's #1 on Top Catalog Albums for the 32nd week...Ani DiFranco's Which Side Are You On? debuts at #26. It's her fourth album to crack the top 30…Anthony Green's Beautiful Things bows at #27. Green, the lead singer of Circa Survive and The Sound Of Animals Fighting, first charted as a solo artist with Avalon in 2008.

Underworld Awakening was #1 at the box-office over the weekend. The soundtrack, featuring such acts as Evanescence, Linkin Park and The Cure, debuts at #175.

Adele's Live At The Royal Albert Hall holds at #1 on Top Music Videos. The DVD sold 17K copies this week, bringing its eight-week total to 511K.

Coming Attractions: Though Adele's album is expected to hold at #1 next week, look for Tim McGraw's Emotional Traffic to be the top new entry, with sales in the 65K range. Five other albums have a shot at the top 10: Lamb of God's Resolution, 2012 Grammy NomineesIngrid Michaelson's Human Again, Kellie Pickler's 100 Proof and the multi-artist Chimes of Freedom: The Songs Of Bob Dylan. Also due:  Kari Jobe's Where I Find You, Celtic Woman's Believe and Seal's Soul 2.

Shameless Plug I: We all know that Adele is going to sweep the Grammys on Feb. 12. So does this mean that Grammy night is going to be completely devoid of suspense? No. There are 72 categories in which Adele isn't nominated, and which, as a result, remain competitive. I posted a blog in the "And The Winner Is" folder yesterday in which I look at 12 races that you should keep your eye on. If you missed it, here's a link.

Shameless Plug II: John Williams yesterday surpassed the late Alfred Newman for most career Oscar nominations for film scores. Williams has two scores in the running this year, War Horse and The Adventures Of Tintin, bringing his career total to 42. Newman amassed 41 nominations for scores. If you missed my blog about the Oscar music nominations, here's a link.