Week Ending May 6, 2012. Albums: Carrie Makes Idol History

Paul Grein
Chart Watch (NEW)

Carrie Underwood this week becomes the first American Idol alumnus to land three #1 albums on The Billboard 200. Kelly Clarkson and Chris Daughtry's band Daughtry have each had two. Underwood scores with her fourth album, Blown Away, which follows 2007's Carnival Ride and 2009's Play On.

Clarkson was the first Idol alum to land a #1 album and also the first to land two. But she missed out on the chance to become the first to log three when her current album, Stronger, debuted and peaked at #2 in October. (Chris Daughtry likewise missed out on the chance to become first Idol alum to land three #1 albums when his band's Break The Spell debuted and peaked at #8 in November.)

Underwood and Clarkson are, by far, the biggest stars that Idol has produced.  Oddly, neither artist reached #1 with her best-selling album. Underwood's 2005 debut, Some Hearts, peaked at #2. Clarkson's 2004 sophomore album, Breakaway, peaked at #3.

Underwood has won more Grammys (five) than any other Idol alum. Clarkson is second with three. Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia have each won one. Underwood is the only Idol contestant to have won as Best New Artist (or even to have been nominated, for that matter).

In addition, Underwood becomes only the second female "core" country artist to land three #1 albums on The Billboard 200, following Faith Hill. Hill topped the chart from 1999 to 2005 with Breathe, Cry and Fireflies. (Linda Ronstadt also had three #1 albums in the 1970s, when she was a pop/rock/country powerhouse. Two of those three albums also reached #1 on the country chart. But Ronstadt was, at root, a pop/rock artist who was embraced by country, not the other way around.)

Swept Away also debuts at #1 on Top Country Albums, dethroning Lionel Richie's Tuskegee. All four of Underwood's albums have entered the country chart at #1. Underwood is just the second artist in the chart's 48-year history to debut at #1 with his or her first four albums. She follows Miranda Lambert, who achieved the feat in November. Two other acts (LeAnn Rimes and Gretchen Wilson) are runners-up, having debuted at #1 with their first three albums.

Underwood's album sold 107K digital copies, which puts it at #1 on Top Digital Albums. Taylor Swift is the only other female country solo artist to top 100K in weekly digital sales. Swift has done it twice. Five songs from Underwood's album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Blown Away," which debuts at #22. Underwood performed the song on Idol last week.

Norah Jones' ...Little Broken Hearts enters The Billboard 200 at #2. It's Jones' fifth album in a row to make the top three. The album was produced by Danger Mouse, who has amassed five Grammy nominations for Producer of the Year. He won the award in February 2011.

...Little Broken Hearts is one of four albums in this week's top 10 which don't have a single song on Nielsen SoundScan's 200-deep list of the week's Hot Digital Songs. The others are Lionel Richie's Tuskegee, Jack White's Blunderbuss and Marilyn Manson's Born Villain.

You probably know that Jones is the daughter of sitar star Ravi Shankar. Jones isn't the only second-generation star to enter the chart this week. Rufus Wainwright, the son of Loudon Wainwright III and folk singer Kate McGarrigle, bows at #35 with Out Of The Game.

B.o.B's sophomore album Strange Clouds debuts at #5. His 2010 debut album B.o.B Presents: The Adventures Of Bobby Ray opened at #1. The sales tallies for the two albums are pretty close. Strange Clouds sold 76K this week. …Bobby Ray sold 84K in its first week. Five songs from B.o.B's album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Both Of Us" (featuring Taylor Swift), which debuts at #8.

Lionel Richie's Tuskegee drops from #3 to #6. As of this week, the album has sold more copies than any other album released in 2012. Tuskegee has sold 679K copies, which enables it to pull ahead of Now 41 (658K). Only two albums have sold more copies so far this year. Both are holdovers from prior years. Adele's 2011 blockbuster 21 has sold 3,163,000 copies so far this year. Whitney Houston's 2000 compilation Whitney: The Greatest Hits has sold 765K so far this year.

The Music Of SMASH bows at #9. (By way of comparison, the first soundtrack from Glee debuted and peaked at #4 in November 2009.) This is the highest ranking for a TV soundtrack since Glee: The Music: Season 3: Volume 7 debuted and peaked at #9 in December. This is only the second week in 2012 that a TV soundtrack has ranked as the week's #1 soundtrack. Two songs from the SMASH album, both featuring series star (and Idol alum) Katharine McPhee, are listed on Hot Digital Songs. An original song, "Touch Me," bows at #106. A cover of "Shake It Out" by Florence + the Machine bows at #181.

Marilyn Manson's Born Villain bows at #10. It's Manson's seventh top 10 album. Manson first cracked the top 10 in October 1996 with Antichrist Superstar. Here's my weird item of the week: Manson has amassed more top 10 albums than any other male artist who has a distinctly female first name. He tops Alice Cooper, who has had five top 10 albums.

"Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye featuring Kimbra holds at #1 on Hot Digital Songs for the third week. Will it log its fourth week 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, but first a word of explanation. For contractual reasons, I may no longer present the top 10 in a list format. Going forward, I'll present the same information in paragraph form. This new format lacks the visual punch of the old format, but I'll still be able to get the info out to you, which is the most important thing.

The Top Five: Carrie Underwood's  Blown Away debuts at #1 (267K). It's the singer's fourth top five album…Norah Jones' ...Little Broken Hearts debuts at #2 (110K). It's the singer's fifth top five album…Now 42 debuts at #3 (95K). It's the fifth consecutive regular installment in this series to debut at #3…Adele's 21 drops from #2 to #4 in its 63rd week (77K). The former #1 album has been in the top 10 the entire time…B.o.B's Strange Clouds debuts at #5 (76K). It's the hip-hopper's second top five album.

The Second Five: Lionel Richie's Tuskegee drops from #3 to #6 in its sixth week (64K). The former #1 album has been in the top 10 the entire time…Jack White's Blunderbuss drops from #1 to #7 (56K) in its second week…One Direction's Up All Night drops from #4 to #8 in its eighth week (45K). The former #1 album has been in the top 10 the entire time… The Music Of SMASH debuts at #9 (40K)…Marilyn Manson's Born Villain debuts at #10 (38K). It's Manson's seventh top 10 album.

Six albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Lee Brice's Hard 2 Love drops from #5 to #14, Kip Moore's Up All Night drops from #6 to #16, The Wanted's The Wanted dives from #7 to #32, Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded drops from #8 to #17, Gotye's Making Mirrors drops from #9 to #12, and Jason Mraz's Love Is A Four Letter Word drops from #10 to #15.

The Avengers: Assemble soundtrack bows at #11. It's the week's top-ranking soundtrack to a theatrically-released film, displacing The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond. Marvel's The Avengers was #1 at the box-office over the weekend. The soundtrack features "Live to Rise," the first new Soundgarden track in 15 years, along with songs from such other rock acts as Shinedown, Rise Against, Scott Weiland, Evanescence and Five Finger Death Punch.

Seven Beastie Boys albums re-enter The Billboard 200 in the wake of the death last week of co-founder Adam Yauch, better known as MCA. The group's 1986 debut album Licensed To Ill re-enters at #18, its highest ranking since July 1987. It's #1 on Top Catalog Albums, displacing Whitney Houston's Whitney: The Greatest Hits. The group's 2005 greatest hits album Solid Gold Hits re-enters at #51. The group's 1989 sophomore album Paul's Boutique re-enters at #56.

Licensed To Ill made rap history in March 1987 when it became the first rap album to reach #1. The trio had three more #1 albums: 1994's Ill Communication, 1998's Hello Nasty and 2004's To The 5 Boroughs. No other rap group has had four #1 albums. (Bone Thugs N Harmony and the collective D12 are runners-up with two each.)

In June 1995, Licensed To Ill became the first rap album in the Nielsen SoundScan era to reach #1 on Top Catalog Albums. This is its 27th week on top of that chart, which is longer, by far, any other rap album. (The Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready To Die is second. It spent seven weeks at #1 on the catalog chart in 2004.)

The group has sold 19,985,000 albums in the U.S. since 1991, when Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard. That's more than any other rap group. Bone Thugs N Harmony is second with sales of 16,867,000. Cypress Hill is third with 10,328,000.

Beastie Boys won three Grammys. Hello Nasty won for Best Alternative Music Performance. The Beasties are the only hip-hop act to win in that category.

We are just 25 years removed from 1987, but several artists (or group members) who topped The Billboard 200 that year have passed on. The roster includes Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, plus Yauch and two members of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band: Danny Fererici and Clarence Clemons. Albums by those four acts held the #1 spot for a combined total of 26 weeks in 1987. (In addition, Patrick Swayze, the star of Dirty Dancing, has passed on. That soundtrack was #1 for the last seven weeks of 1987.) The take-away message: Life is short.

George Harrison: Living in the Material World vaults from #20 to #1 in its second week on Top Music Videos, displacing Adele's Live At The Royal Albert Hall, which dips to #2 after 22 weeks at #1. The Harrison title sold 22K copies this week. It's his second #1 on this chart, following a re-release of The Concert For Bangla Desh, which debuted at #1 in October 2005.

Martin Scorsese directed Living In The Material World, which opened theatrically in September at the Telluride Film Festival. Scorsese has directed several acclaimed documentaries about (or concert films starring) rock titans. Others include The Band's The Last Waltz in 1978. Bob Dylan's No Direction Home in 2005 and The Rolling Stones' Shine A Light in 2008.

Scorsese is probably more plugged into to rock, and contemporary music in general, than any other major director. So it's fitting, if still somewhat surprising, that he won a Grammy before he won an Oscar or an Emmy. Scorsese won a Grammy as video director on Dylan's No Direction Home, which was voted Best Long Form Music Video of 2005. He won an Oscar for Best Director for the 2006 movie The Departed. He won an Emmy in 2011 for directing the pilot of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.

Harrison had a #1 album in 1973 titled Living In The Material World. It was his first studio album following his 1970 smash All Things Must Pass. Harrison's Early Takes, Volume 1 enters The Billboard 200 this week at #20.

Ricky Martin's eponymous 1999 album tops the 7 million mark in U.S. sales this week. The album debuted at #1 in the week ending May 16, 1999. That same week, Martin's smash single "Livin' La Vida Loca" was in its fourth (of five) weeks at #1 on the Hot 100. Martin was on the cover of TIME the week of May 24, 1999, with the cover line, "Latin Music Goes Pop!" That's called hitting it big.

Coming Attractions: Carrie Underwood and Adele are expected to battle for #1 on next week's chart. Both artists have strong mom appeal. It looks like Underwood has the edge. Silversun Pickups' Neck Of The Woods is expected to be the week's top new entry, with sales in the 35K range. That would enable it to debut right around #6. Also due: Tank's This Is How I Feel (around #9), Keane's Strangeland (around #13), Karmin's Hello (around #16) and Mary Mary's Go Get It.