Week Ending March 18, 2012. Albums: British Teens On Top
With its album Up All Night, One Direction this week becomes the first British teen group to hit #1 on The Billboard 200. Four of the five members of the boy band (which includes one Irishman) are still in their teens. Six previous groups which included at least one teen member have landed #1 albums: Kris Kross, New Kids On The Block, Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, Destiny's Child and Jonas Brothers. All were American.
One Direction has a great "back-story." The five members tried out individually for The X Factor in the U.K., but failed to qualify in the "boys" category. After a suggestion by guest judge Nicole Scherzinger, they formed a group, thus qualifying in the "group" category. The group made its first live appearance in the U.S. on March 12 on NBC's Today show.
One Direction is the second act that rose to fame on The X Factor in the U.K. to land a #1 album in the U.S. The group follows Leona Lewis, whose Spirit debuted at #1 in April 2008. Oddly, Up All Night has yet to reach #1 in the U.K. (it peaked at #2 in December). By contrast, Spirit had been #1 in the U.K. for seven weeks before it was released here.
You might reasonably assume that One Direction won on The X Factor. Never assume. The group finished third in Season 7, behind Matt Cardle and Rebecca Ferguson. (Lewis was the winner on Season 3 of The X Factor.)
A little more than half of the copies of Up All Night that were sold this week (91K out of 176K) were sold digitally, which makes the album #1 on Top Digital Albums. One Direction has an impressive seven songs on this week's Hot Digital Songs chart, topped by "What Makes You Beautiful," which jumps from #17 to #7. The song hit #1 in the U.K. in September. It was #33 on last week's Hot 100 and is expected to make a nice jump this week.
One Direction is the first British band to enter The Billboard 200 at #1 with its first American album. The Beatles didn't do that? Nope. Meet The Beatles! bowed at #92 in January 1964 and rose to #1 in its third week. I should hasten to add that entering the chart at #1 was unheard of back then. No albums opened at #1 until 1975, and no debut albums achieved the feat until 1993.
(Four other British groups—Spice Girls and the "super-groups" Blind Faith, Bad Company and Asia—have hit #1 with their debut albums.)