Week Ending June 30, 2013. Albums: Kanye’s Tumble

Paul Grein
Chart Watch (NEW)

Sales of Kanye West’s current album, Yeezus, dropped by 80 percent in its second week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That’s the steepest second-week percentage drop for an album that debuted at #1 since sales of Madonna’s MDNA plummeted by 87 percent in its second week in April 2012.

It’s not uncommon for sales to fall off sharply in their second week. Billboard reports that the average second-week drop for a #1-debuting album in 2013 is 69 percent. The mildest second-week decline for an album that debuted at #1 this year was Josh Groban’s All That Echoes, which fell by just 50 percent in its second week.

But 80 percent is on the high end. Only three other #1-debuting albums in Nielsen SoundScan history (which dates to 1991) have posted steeper second-week drops. (Significantly, they have all come in a little more than two years, a reflection of today’s front-loaded and volatile record market.) They are MDNA (an 87 percent drop), Lady Gaga’s Born This Way (a 84 percent drop in June 2011) and Mac Miller’s Blue Slide Park (a 83 percent drop in December 2011).

West’s camp was attempting a low-key launch for the album. The album arrived at retail without an official single. West made only one TV appearance (albeit a powerhouse one, a performance on Saturday Night Live) before the album came out. The low-key approach yielded low-wattage results. Two preview tracks from the album made the Hot 100 last week based on West’s name power, but both tumble this week. “New Slaves” drops from #56 to #90 in its second week. “Black Skinhead” drops from #69 to #86. On Tuesday, West’s record company, Def Jam, finally chose “Black Skinhead” as the official radio single. (The song is featured in trailers for the upcoming Leonardo DiCaprio movie, The Wolf Of Wall Street.)

By way of comparison, sales of J. Cole’s Born Sinner, which also debuted last week, dropped by a somewhat less steep 72% this week. As a result, Born Sinner holds at #2 on The Billboard 200, while Yeezus drops from #1 to #3. After two weeks, Born Sinner has sold 381K copies, just 11K fewer than Yeezus. The gap between these two artists’ last albums was much wider at this point. After two weeks, West’s 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy had sold 605K copies—more than twice as many as J Cole’s 2011 album Cole World: The Sideline Story, which sold 272K copies in its first two weeks.

As a leader in the hip-hop world, West is no doubt pleased that he is part of an all-rap top three on this week’s Billboard 200. (But he surely rather be leading the packing than picking up the rear.) Wale’s third album, The Gifted, debuts at #1.

This marks the first time that rap albums have ranked #1 back-to-back since Drake’s Take Care displaced Mac Miller’s Blue Slide Park in November 2011.

The Gifted is Wale’s first #1 album. His sophomore album, Ambition, debuted and peaked at #2 in November 2011. Wale has also appeared on two Self Made albums with Maybach Music Group. Rick Ross founded the collective, which also features such artists as Meek Mill and French Montana. Wale (real name: Ralph Victor Folarin) was born in Washington D.C. in 1984.

The Gifted sold 95K digital copies (out of 158K total), which puts it at #1 on Top Digital Albums.

The Gifted tops The Billboard 200 less than three years after Susan Boyle’s similarly-titled The Gift spent four weeks in the lead spot. So if you were to make an alphabetical list of #1 albums, these very different albums would be back-to-back.

Wale isn’t the first artist to use the word “gifted” in an album title. Aretha Franklin titled a 1972 album Young, Gifted & Black. The album, which reached #11 on The Billboard 200, contained the top 10 hits “Rock Steady” and “Daydreamin’” Color Me Badd parodied Franklin’s title (the nerve!) with their 1993 compilation Young, Gifted And Badd—The Remixes. It peaked at #189.

Skillet’s eighth studio album, Rise, debuts at #4. This is the Contemporary Christian group’s second top 10 album. Awake hit #2 in 2009. (FYI, Herb Alpert had a top 10 album titled Rise in 1979.)

Florida Georgia Line’s Here’s To The Good Times rebounds from #8 to #5. It returns to #1 on Top Country Albums, after being displaced last week by another red-hot debut album, Hunter Hayes’ Hunter Hayes. Here’s To The Good Times is the first debut album to log two or more weeks at #1 on Top Country Albums since Scotty McCreery’s Clear As Day, which spent six weeks on top in 2011.

India.Arie’s fifth studio album, Songversation, debuts at #7. All five albums of these albums have made the top 10. The third, Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship, reached #1.

August Burns Red’s sixth studio album, Rescue & Restore, debuts at #9. It’s the band’s first top 10 album. Leveler hit #11 in 2011. August Burns Red is a metalcore band whose members are Christian, but they’re not a Christian rock band per se.

“Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams holds at #1 on Hot Digital Songs for the fifth week. It sold 423K copies, down just a tick from last week’s 424K. Will “Blurred Lines” also hold at #1 for the third week on the Hot 100? Count on it. But you’ll find out for sure out later today when we post Chart Watch: Songs.

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

The Top Five: Wale’s The Gifted debuts at #1 (158K). It’s his second top 10 album…J. Cole’s Born Sinner holds at #2 in its second week (84K)…Kanye West’s Yeezus drops from #1 to #3 in its second week (65K)… Skillet’s Rise debuts at #4 (60K). It’s the group’s second top 10 album…Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories rebounds from #6 to #5 its sixth week (31K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time.

The Second Five: Florida Georgia Line’s Here’s To The Good Times rebounds from #8 to #6 in its 30th week (31K). This is its fifth week in the top 10…India.Arie’s Songversation debuts at #7 (31K). It’s her fifth top 10 album…Imagine Dragons’ Night Visions rebounds from #10 to #8 in its 43rd week (29K). This is its 12th week in the top 10… August Burns Red’s Rescue & Restore debuts at #9 (26K). It’s the band’s first top 10 album…Black Sabbath’s 13 drops from #5 to #10 in its third week (26K).

Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience drops from #9 to #17, ending, for now at least, a 14-week run in the top 10. Three other albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Mac Miller’s Watching Movies With The Sound Off drops from #3 to #14. Kelly Rowland’s Talk A Good Game drops from #4 to #11. Hunter Hayes’ Hunter Hayes drops from #7 to #16.

Shameless Plug: We’re about to post a Chart Watch Extra in which I look at the top 10 songs and albums of the first six months. The 20/20 Experience is the top album, with sales of 2,037,000.

Amon Amarth lands its first top 20 album as the band’s ninth studio album, Deceiver Of The Gods, debuts at #19. Amon Amarth is a death metal band from Sweden. Its previous highest-charting album was its previous album, Surtur Rising, which peaked at #34.

Pitch Perfect rebounds from #38 to #20 in its 36th week (as the movie hits HBO and as a sequel to the soundtrack, More Music From Pitch Perfect, debuts at #139). Pitch Perfect returns to #1 on Top Soundtracks, displacing The Great Gatsby: Music From Baz Luhrmann’s Film. The album first topped the soundtrack chart the week ending Sept. 30. Pitch Perfect is the highest-ranking soundtrack from a theatrically-released movie for the 18th week. Anna Kendrick’s sleeper hit “Cups (Pitch Perfect’s When I’m Gone)” is #17 on the Hot 100.

Attila’s fifth album, About That Life, debuts at #22. This is the highest-charting album to date for the American “death-core” band…Queensryche’s 14th studio album, Queensryche, debuts at #22. It’s the heavy metal band’s second eponymous album. Its 1983 debut EP (which reached #81) was also titled Queensryche.

Bob Marley & the Wailers’ 1984 compilation Legend vaults from #86 to #26 in its 274th week on the chart. The album peaked at #54 at the time but has climbed as high as #18 since the chart was opened to catalog albums in 2009. A new collection, Legend Remixed, debuts at #89 this week. Legend returns to #1 on Top Catalog Albums. This is its 115th week on top of that chart (in the Nielsen SoundScan era).

The Beatles’ 2000 compilation 1 re-enters the chart at #37. Fun With Numbers: 1 is one of three albums in this week’s top 40 with a title that consists of a number and nothing else. The others are Black Sabbath’s 13 and Adele’s 21.

The Beatles’ Help! re-enters the chart at #83, boosted by the release of the Blu-ray edition of the movie. The soundtrack logged nine weeks at #1 in 1965 and became the first Beatles album to receive a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. It has sold 1,575,000 copies in the Nielsen SoundScan era.

Help! re-enters Top Music Videos at #1, displacing Paul McCartney & Wings’ Rockshow. (The Beatles once displaced McCartney from #1 on The Billboard 200. It happened in June 1970 when Let It Be knocked out McCartney. It has happened the other way around, too. In June 1973, Red Rose Speedway replaced The Beatles/ 1967-1970.)

Natalie Cole’s En Espanol debuts at #91. Recording in Spanish is a family tradition. Cole’s father, the great Nat “King” Cole, reached #12 in 1958 with Cole Espanol. (Natalie was eight at the time.)

Alan Jackson this week becomes just the ninth artist to top 40 million in sales since 1991, when Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard. (This misses Jackson’s first year of success. Jackson’s debut album, Here In The Real World, hit the country and pop and charts in March 1990.) Jackson’s best-selling album is 1995’s The Greatest Hits Collection, which has sold 5,807,000 copies. How big is country music? Four of the nine artists who have hit 40M in Nielsen SoundScan-era sales are country: Garth Brooks (68,634,00), George Strait (44,440,000) and Tim McGraw (41,599,000).

The top four albums on Entertainment Weekly’s list of the 100 best albums (the Beatles’ Revolver, Prince & the Revolution’s Purple Rain, the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main St and Michael Jackson’s Thriller) all reached #1 on The Billboard 200. But #5 on the list is an album that didn’t even make the top 20: The Clash’s London Calling, which, despite critical plaudits, stalled at #27 on the chart.

Monsters University was #1 at the box-office for the second straight weekend.

Coming Attractions: Joe’s Double Back: Evolution Of R&B looks to be next week’s top new entry, with sales in the 25K range. (J. Cole’s album will probably rise to #1 in its third week.) Also due: Relient K’s Collapsible Lung and Hillsong Live’s Glorious Ruins (Live).