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