Week Ending Oct. 20, 2013. Albums: Justin’s Fast Fade

Paul Grein
Chart Watch

Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience is the best-selling album so far this year. It has been the front-runner to win the Grammy for Album of the Year virtually since the week it was released in March. But that doesn't mean the public was clamoring for a sequel—less than seven months after the album's release. The 20/20 Experience, 2 Of 2 spent just two weeks in the top 10 on The Billboard 200 before dropping out this week. (It falls from #5 to #11.) By contrast, the first album spent its first 14 weeks in the top 10 (and 18 weeks total).

The new album has a perception problem. Fans are savvy enough to know that the first album must have contained the strongest material from the 20/20 sessions. (That's especially true because it was Timberlake's first album in 6-1/2 years. It would have been foolhardy for him to return with anything but the strongest album he could muster.) So I'm sure a lot of people view this new album as a collection of leftovers; outtakes. It might as well have a sticker on it, "For Die-Hard Fans Only."

(It's a measure of Timberlake's tremendous popularity that he has enough die-hard fans that this album has sold 455K copies in three weeks.)

Some have suggested that Timberlake should have picked the best of the 2 of 2 songs for an Expanded Deluxe Edition of the first album. Or maybe even left them all in the vault and started from scratch on a follow-up album. The positive reaction to The 20/20 Experience—especially the proof that his fans had remained loyal through that long lay-off—must have been gratifying and energizing. As such, the new material would probably have been superior to these "leftover" tracks from the first sessions.

I have a little bit of good news for Timberlake: "Mirrors" tops the 3 million mark in digital sales this week. It's one of 10 songs to sell that many copies so far in 2013. As a lead artist, Timberlake has had just one bigger seller, "SexyBack" (featuring Timbaland), which has sold 4,340,000 copies.

It would have made a great chart comeback story: On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' arrival in the U.S., Paul McCartney lands his first #1 album as a solo artist in more than 30 years. (He was last in the top spot with 1982's Tug Of War.) But it wasn't to be. Instead, McCartney's New debuts at #3, behind Pearl Jam’s Lightning Bolt, which debuts at #1, and Miley Cyrus' Bangerz, which dips from #1 to #2 in its second week.

Lightning Bolt is Pearl Jam's fifth #1 album. Only two American rock bands—Eagles and Dave Matthews Band—have amassed more #1 albums. Both have had six.

Lightning Bolt sold 84K digital copies, which puts it at #1 on Top Digital Albums.

Lightning Bolt enters the U.K.'s Official Albums Chart at #2. It's the band's highest-charting album in the U.K. since Vs. peaked at #2 in 1993. Pearl Jam has yet to top the U.K. chart.

Cyrus' Bangerz has sold 343K copies in its first two weeks. That's nearly as many as her previous album, Can't Be Tamed, has sold since its release in June 2010 (349K).

New is McCartney's 49th album to make the top 10. That total combines 30 Beatles albums, 10 solo albums, eight albums that were billed either Wings or Paul McCartney & Wings and one collabo with his late wife, Linda McCartney.

New is McCartney's 19th top 10 album apart from the Beatles. That's four more than his former band-mates combined. (John Lennon had seven; George Harrison, six; Ringo Starr, two).

New also enters the U.K.'s Official Albums Chart at #3. With the Beatles, McCartney landed his first #1 there on May 11, 1963 with Please Please Me.

Drake's Nothing Was The Same dips from #3 to #4. The album has sold 947K copies, which puts it at #8 for the year-to-date. It will top the 1 million mark within two weeks. The album has sold 518K digital copies. Drake's previous album, Take Care, has sold 875K digital copies.

The Avett Brothers' Magpie And The Dandelion debuts at #5. It's the group's second top five album in a row. The Carpenter hit #4 in 2012.

Scotty McCreery’s second regular studio album, See You Tonight, enters The Billboard 200 at #6. It sold 52K copies in its first week. That constitutes a 74% drop from McCreery's debut album, Clear As Day, which sold 197K copies in its first week in October 2011. Such a steep drop is typical for American Idol winners. Seven of the first 10 Idol winners saw their first-week sales plummet by more than 50% from their first post-Idol album to their second.

The biggest exception was Carrie Underwood, whose first-week sales soared by 67% from her star-making first album to her second. The other two exceptions were Kelly Clarkson, whose first-week sales declined by a mild 16% from her first album to her second, and Fantasia, whose first-week sales fell by a moderate 45% from her first album to her second.

The steepest drop from album to album? Taylor Hicks, whose first-week sales plummeted by 97% from his first post-Idol album to his second.

This isn't really surprising. The Idol winners' debut albums typically arrive just months after the season finales, which are virtual coronations. The sophomore albums typically arrive a couple of years later, after the confetti has long since been swept up.

See You Tonight enters Top Country Albums at #1, displacing Cassadee Pope's Frame By Frame. (And so, one TV talent show winner dethrones another.) This is McCreery's second #1 country album in a row. Clear As Day topped the country chart for six weeks in 2011. How many Idol winners have reached #1 on Top Country Albums with their first two albums? Just two: McCreery and Underwood. If we broaden it to include all Idol contestants (not just winners) we can add Kellie Pickler.

(McCreery released Christmas With Scotty McCreery between his first two studio albums, but holiday albums are different than regular studio albums.)

Cher's Closer To The Truth rebounds from #11 to #8. This is its third week in the top 10. Of Cher's dozens of albums, either on her own or with Sonny, only three others have logged this many weeks in the top 10. Look At Us (with Sonny) held tight for 14 weeks in 1965; Believe for 11 weeks in 1999; and The Very Best Of Cher for 10 weeks in 2003.

Willie Nelson's To All The Girls… debuts at #9, boosted by a QVC tie-in. Nelson, 80, is the second octogenarian to land a top 10 album. Tony Bennett was 85 when Duets II debuted at #1 in September 2011. (Frank Sinatra was on the brink of turning 79 in November 1994 when he made the top 10 for the last time in his lifetime with Duets II.)

We have a nice generational spread among the artists in this week's top 10, from 16-year old Lorde to Nelson. I always like to see a wide range of genres and ages in the top 10. Something for everybody.

To All The Girls… consists of duets with female singers, mostly country, but also including a few singers from other genres, such as Mavis Staples, Norah Jones and Shelby Lynne. The title of the album is a nod to Nelson's 1984 hit "To All The Girls I've Loved Before," a genre-bridging (if gimmicky) collabo with Julio Iglesias which made the top five on the Hot 100.

This is Nelson's second top 10 album; his first since 1982's Always On My Mind. Nelson is one of the best-selling country album artists of all time. But, as I've said before, country was under-represented on the chart in the years before Nielsen SoundScan's arrival in 1991. (Remember that another top-selling country album artist, Alabama, landed its second top 10 album just last month.)

Eminem's "Rap God" enters Hot Digital Songs at #1, displacing Lorde's "Royals." Eminem's song sold 270K copies in its first week. How high will "Rap God" debut on the Hot 100? And will "Royals" log its fourth week at #1? You'll find out later today when we post Chart Watch: Songs.

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

The Top Five: Pearl Jam’s Lightning Bolt debuts at #1 (166K). It’s the band’s 11th top 10 album…Miley Cyrus' Bangerz dips from #1 to #2 in its second week (72K)…Paul McCartney's New debuts at #3 (67K). It's his 19th top 10 album apart from The Beatles Drake's Nothing Was The Same dips from #3 to #4 in its fourth week (58K). It has been in the top five the entire time…The Avett Brothers' Magpie And The Dandelion debuts at #5 (58K). It's the band's second top 10 album.

The Second Five: Scotty McCreery’s See You Tonight debuts at #6 (52K). It's his third top 10 album or EP… Lorde's Pure Heroine dips from #6 to #7 in its third week (48K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time…Cher's Closer To The Truth rebounds from #11 to #8 in its fourth week (45K). This is its third week in the top 10...Willie Nelson's To All The Girls… debuts at #9 (43K). It's his second top 10 album…The Head & The Heart's Let's Be Still debuts at #10 (42K). It's the group's first top 10 album.

Glee: The Quarterback drops from #7 to #28. It's #1 on Top Soundtracks for the second week. Six other albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Panic! At The Disco's Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! drops from #2 to #19. Pusha T's My Name Is My Name drops from #4 to #14. Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience (2 of 2) drops from #5 to #11. Korn’s Paradigm Shift drops from #8 to #22. Cassadee Pope's Frame By Frame drops from #9 to #18. Mayday Parade's Monsters In The Closet plummets from #10 to #63.

Gavin DeGraw's Make A Move debuts at #13. It's his fourth top 20 album in a row…Trivium's Vengeance Falls debuts at #15. It's the band's second top 15 album in a row…Chase Rice's Ready Set Roll EP debuts at #16. The title track entered the Hot 100 last week.

Mary J. Blige's A Mary Christmas debuts at #23. Mary Mary chose a similar title for their 2006 holiday album, A Mary Mary Christmas. Blige's album was produced by holiday album king, David Foster, who has produced or co-produced best-selling Christmas albums by Michael Bolton, Celine Dion, Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Michael Buble and Rod Stewart. (I think even Scrooge could have a hit Christmas album if he got David Foster to produce it.)

Metallica's Metallica: Through The Never drops from #51 to #82 in its fourth week. It's the highest-charting soundtrack from a theatrically-released movie for the fourth week.

Journey's 1988 compilation Greatest Hits drops from #97 to #103 in its 283rd week on the chart. The album returns to #1 on Top Catalog Albums, displacing another rock album, Bon Jovi's Greatest Hits. This is its 14th week on top. The album first topped the catalog chart in June 2007.

The Great Gatsby: Music From Baz Luhrmann's Film, which drops from #85 to #115 in its 24th week, tops the 500K sales mark this week. It's the 26th album to sell 500K copies in 2013. It's the second soundtrack to do so. Pitch Perfect has sold 713K copies so far this year.

Jason Aldean's Night Train To Georgia enters Top Music Videos at #1. The DVD sold 13K copies in its first week, a total topped by only one video so far this year. History Of The Eagles sold 23K in its first week in May. Aldean's latest album, Night Train, has sold 1,454,000 copies. The title of the video is a nod to Gladys Knight & the Pips' immortal "Midnight Train To Georgia," which was in its second week atop the Hot 100 40 years ago this week.

Gravity was #1 at the box-office for the third straight weekend. It's the second movie to do that so far in 2013. The first was Lee Daniels' The Butler.

Coming Attractions: Katy Perry’s PRISM is set to debut at #1 next week with first-week sales in the 275-300K range. That's an improvement from her last album, Teenage Dream, which started with sales of 192K in August 2010. Three other albums are likely to debut in the top 10: Fifth Harmony's Better Together EP at #6 (30K), AFI's Burials at #7 (25K) and DJ Khaled's Suffering From Success at #10 (22K). Looking at top 20 debuts: Def Leppard's Viva! Hysteria at #14 (14K) and Tori Kelly's Foreward EP at #15 (14K).