Friday, May 25, 2012

The Week In Music: “Idol” Tanks On TV, But Charges The Charts

On the tube, at least, “American Idol” appears to have slunk into wearisome “yesterday’s news” territory for much of America. The Season 11 finale this week posted its lowest ratings ever—down 29% from last year—as blues troubadour Phillip Phillips was crowned the winner, possessing about as much personal panache as 2011’s victor, dreary country crooner Scotty McCreery. Yawn!

However, where there’s real talent, consumers are still prepared to rally. On this week’s album chart, for the first time, one “American Idol” supplants another at No. 1—a notable feat for the franchise.

Adam Lambert powers to the top of the Billboard 200 with his new “Trespassing,” moving 77,000 copies. That pushes out last week’s chart-topper, Season 4 “AI” winner Carrie Underwood, whose “Blown Away” dips to No. 3. The latter holds at No. 1 on Country Albums for a third week.

This is “Idol” Season 8 runner-up Lambert’s first No. 1 album, following “For Your Entertainment,” which debuted and peaked at No. 3 during the 2009 holiday season—blocked by Susan Boyle’s “I Dreamed a Dream” and Andrea Bocelli’s “My Christmas.” “Entertainment” delivered the 2010 top 10 hit “Whataya Want From Me,” which was nominated for a Best Male Pop Vocal Performance Grammy. So far, the only action “Trespassing” has fostered is a murmur on Hot Digital Songs with the title track, which enters at a tepid No. 178.

Billboard columnist Gary Trust notes that Lambert is the seventh “AI” finalist to reach No. 1, alongside Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, Underwood, Chris Daughtry and McCreery. And next week we’ll see how Kris Allen fares; he defeated Lambert on “Idol” in 2009, and sophomore album, “Thank You Camellia” will chart a week from now. Like McCreery before him, Allen has hardly become a household name: Following two medium-sized hits in 2009, he’s delivered three consecutive flops, including 2012’s (current) “The Vision of Love” from the new album. It’s safe to say that Lambert is runner-up in title only.

Moving along… At No. 2 on the Billboard 200 in its 65th chart week is “21” from Adele, who has grown as comfortable in the runner-up spot as she has at No. 1. By far, she is in the lead of 2012’s best-selling albums to date (followed by Lionel Richie’s “Tuskegee” and Whitney Houston’s Whitney: The Greatest Hits.”)

Comedy rock duo Tenacious D—actors Jack Black and Kyle Glass—launches at No. 4 on the album chart with “Rize of the Fenix.” They reached No. 8 in 2006 with “The Pick of Destiny.” Norah Jones’ “Little Broken Hearts” holds at 5; “Now 42” is down 2 to 6; and debuting at No. 7 is indie duo Beach Houses with “Bloom,” its first top 40 entry among three charted albums. Also new is No. 8, “Glee, the Music: Season Three, The Graduation Album,” the 14th top album for the Fox TV series. At No. 9, down 6, is Lionel Richie’s “Tuskegee”; while One Direction’s “Up All Night” dips 3 to No. 10.

On the singles side, Gotye’s delectable “Somebody That I Used to Know,” featuring Kimbra, spends a luxurious sixth week at No. 1 on the Hot 100. (Remember I taught you how to say his name a couple weeks ago: “Got-ee-aye.” Good for you…) The alt-meets-dance-meets-pop song tops Radio Songs, at last, up 2-1, while it’s No. 1 on Pop Songs, Adult Pop Songs, Alternative Songs (its 12th week) and Dance/Mix Show Airplay (3 weeks). It now ties Fun.’s “We Are Young” for most weeks at No. 1 in 2012.

Canadian songbird Carly Jepsen’s perky “Call Me Maybe,” No. 2 on the Hot 100, continues to knock on heaven’s door as a potential singles chart-topper. It rises to No. 1 on Digital Songs in its 13th week, also claiming top Digital and Airplay Gainer honors. It rises 9-7 on Pop Songs airplay and 12-9 on Radio Songs, according to NielsenBDS. “Maybe” holds at No. 3 on On-Demand Songs.
Maroon 5’s “Payphone,” featuring Wiz Khalifa, surprisingly slips 2-3 on the Hot 100, although it moves up 4 to No. 10 on Radio Songs. Fun.’s anthemic “We Are Young,” featuring Janelle Monae—which spent six weeks at No. 1 in March and April—eases 3 to 4; as Nicki Minaj’s sing-songy “Starships” returns to No. 5, up 1.

Flo Rida’s “Wild Ones,” featuring Sia, dips 5-6, while 7-10 remain locked in place: One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful,” the Wanted’s “Glad You Came,” Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” and Train’s “Drive By.”

Coming Up: John Mayer and his new hippie haircut will likely make a robust debut next week with “Born And Raised.”

Finally, the week wouldn’t be complete without a look at the love expressed for Donna Summer in the wake of her untimely death last week, at age 63. Paul Grein from Yahoo! Music was kind enough to do the legwork, and reports that nine Summer songs enter the Hot Digital Songs chart. The Oscar-winning “Last Dance,” arguably her signature hit, leads the way, with sales of 38,000.

Following are “On The Radio,” “Hot Stuff,” “She Works Hard For The Money,” “Bad Girls,” “Love To Love You Baby,” “MacArthur Park,” “Dim All The Lights” and “Heaven Knows.” In addition, four Donna Summer compilations re-enter The Billboard 200, led by “On The Radio—Greatest Hits—Volumes I & II.”

It about slayed me that we lost five-time Grammy winner Summer and Bee Gee Robin Gibb within days of one another. I was a teenager in the midst of disco’s joyous revolution in the late 1970s. Too young, perhaps, for entry into Studio 54, but believe me, my friends and I spent many a weekend mastering the Pretzel and spinning in unison to so many indelible dance ditties. R.I.P Donna & Robin.*