Friday, May 11, 2012

The Week In Music: Competition 'Blown Away' By Underwood's 4th Set

As expected, Carrie Underwood has “Blown Away” the competition, as her fourth album launches atop the Billboard 200, and the Country and Digital album charts this week. This marks the second best sales week for any 2012 debut so far: With sales of 267K , Carrie comes in behind Madonna’s LiveNation-assisted “MDNA,” which opened with 358K.

Fun factoids: “Blown Away” is the third chart-topping album for five-time Grammy winner Underwood, alongside 2007’s “Carnival Ride” and 2009’s “Play On.” She is only the third female to score three No. 1 country albums, with Linda Ronstadt and Faith Hill.

All of Underwood’s albums have launched at No. 1 on Country, making her the second act—with Miranda Lambert—to achieve the feat with their first four sets.

Among the top 10 albums this week, six are new, including a surprisingly high runner-up bow for Norah Jones’ “Little Broken Hearts,” which hasn’t fostered a single note of radio airplay. Mind you, her fifth album’s debut sales week is also the humblest since “Come Away With Me” launched pre-Grammys in 2002. The “Now 42” hits compilation enters the fray at No. 3, meaning that the top three are all fresh meat on the chart.

That puts Adele’s “21” at No. 4, the first time it has slipped as far since mid-December 2011, although in its 63 chart weeks, it has never departed the top 10. Back to the new: B.o.B’s sophomore “Strange Clouds,” launches at No. 5, following the No. 1 debut of 2010’s “The Adventures of Bobby Ray.” Lionel Richie’s former chart-topping “Tuskegee” edges 3-6 (down 18%), Jack White’s “Blunderbuss” tumbles 1-7 (down 60%) and One Direction’s “Up All Night” falls 4-8 (down 10%).

Nos. 9 and 10 on the Billboard 200 are also new: the soundtrack to NBC’s hit musical series “Smash”; and Marilyn Manson’s “Born Villain,” his seventh top 10 album.

One backward glance here: Richie’s “Tuskegee” is thus far 2012’s biggest-selling new album, with 679K copies, ahead of “Now 41,” with 658K. The only two sets to move more are previous-year releases: Adele’s 2011 “21”  (3.2M) and Whitney Houston’s 2000 “Whitney: The Greatest Hits” (765K this year).

One notch below the top 10, “The Avengers: Assemble” soundtrack debuts at No. 11, featuring new songs from Soundgarden, Scott Weiland, Evanescence and Shinedown. And not surprisingly, seven Beastie Boys albums return to the Billboard 200 following group member Adam “MCA” Yauch’s death last week. Leading is 1986 debut “Licensed To Ill,” at No. 18, which also captures the Top Catalog Albums top spot.

And speaking of veteran acts: Two whose latest albums launched at No. 1 earlier this year are suffering in silence. First, Bruce Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball,” after only nine weeks, is buried at No. 53. He hasn’t been close to the top 10 singles in 15 years, when “Secret Garden” reached No. 19.

Likewise, Madonna has tanked with her much-hyped “MDNA,” which fares even more poorly: After only six weeks, it’s at No. 65 on the Billboard 200. First single “Give Me All Your Luvin’” grazed the top 10, while follow-up “Girl Gone Wild,” a No. 1 Dance Club Song, never reached the Hot 100.

Let’s get happy again: On the singles side this week, Belgian/Aussie solo artist Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” not only remains at No. 1 on the Hot 100 (with Top Airplay Gainer honors) for a fourth week, but is tops on the Digital Songs, On-Demand, Alternative (10 weeks), Dance/Club Play and Dance/Mix Show Airplay charts. It rises 3-2 on the all-format Radio Songs.

The track has reached No. 1 in more than a dozen countries, including eight weeks in Australia (where Gotye has won five Aria awards) and five in the U.K. With his continued dominance, it’s time we all learned how to correctly pronounce the 31-year-old musician and singer/songwriter’s name: “Gauthier.” So now you know.

That’s the biggest news among the Hot 100’s top 5, as fun.’s “We Are Young,” featuring Janelle Monae, holds at No. 2 for a fourth week; and Maroon 5’s “Payphone,” featuring Wiz Khalifa, remains at No. 3, where it debuted two weeks ago. The latter roars up Radio Songs 19-11, with a 19% increase in all-format airplay, and holds at No. 2 on Digital Songs sales, reaching 1 million downloads this week. Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” moves 5-4; and Flo Rida’s “Wild Ones,” featuring Sia, inches 6-5.

Elsewhere, there are no major shake-ups in the top 10: The Wanted’s “Glad You Came” moves 4-6; Nicki Minaj’s “Starships” 8-7; Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” 7-8; One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful” 9- 9; and, Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” 10-10. In fact, the highest debut on the Hot 100 is B.o.B’s oddball collaboration with Taylor Swift, “Both of Us,” launching at No. 18.

Next week: Few new high-profile albums are coming out in May, so for Mother’s Day, Adele could capture the album lead again, although Carrie Underwood is just as appealing to the Mommy crowd.

L.A.-based alternative Silversun Pickups’ third album “Neck Of The Woods” will likely be next week’s highest new debut. Keane’s “Strangeland” and Tank’s “This Is How I Feel” are also due. The following week perhaps looks more promising, with new sets from Adam Lambert, Garbage and Santana. *

(Originally written for