Apologies, again, to those of you who regularly read my chart rundowns, for last week’s no-show – the result of a merciless day-job workload.
That said, we didn’t miss much last week: Diddy debuted at #1, with a solid but lackluster total (I sent a question to Billboard’s chart columnist about Diddy’s feat; they ran it online here). And Justin Timberlake moved back into the album chart’s Top Five with his two-month-old album – foreshadowing his triumph this week on the singles chart:
If he wrote us a symphony… In a victory for both Cameron Diaz’s boyfriend and fans of great pop, Justin’s “My Love” – in my opinion, the second-best pop song of 2006 – storms to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. By leaping from #5 to #1 in one swoop, Trousersnake halts the ascent of such radio garbage as Akon’s cheese-fest with Eminem, “Smack That,” and – yes! – Hinder’s execrable “Lips of an Angel” (which falls to #4; please let this song be over). “My Love” gives Justin back-to-back #1 singles after “SexyBack,” which is still in the Top Five this week. While his two hits were interrupted in the top slot by Ludacris’s unobjectionable “Money Maker,” Timberlake nonetheless becomes the first act to score consecutive #1 singles since Usher did it back in ‘04 with a jaw-dropping four-single streak (”Yeah!,” “Burn,” “Confessions Pt. II,” “My Boo”). How’d Trousersnake do it? Heavy radio airplay fueled most of the run, but the final push came from iTunes, where a “single mix” of “My Love” – sold separately from the album mix – is now the Apple store’s top-selling download. Interestingly, the single mix’s key feature is its removal of the “Let Me Talk to You” prelude, which appears on both the album mix and in the “My Love” video; most fans of the song agree the prelude is pretty weak and expendable, so in this case the public’s vote exhibits good taste.
Don’t break her chart, her achy-breaky chart. Rock critics are lousy chart predictors, part MCCXVI: For the second time this year, a left-field pop act famed from a TV show steals the #1 spot on the album chart from a long-favored contender. The new #1 album in America is not My Chemical Romance’s much-hyped (and generally excellent) The Black Parade but, rather, the soundtrack to Hannah Montana, a Disney Channel show starring the daughter of Billy Ray “Achy Breaky” Cyrus. Squeaky-clean Miley Cyrus doesn’t have much in common with the steamy, Diddy-svengali’d girl group Danity Kane; but just as those pussycat dolls stunned jaded insiders back in August by thumping OutKast for #1, Hannah wins in a walk over Gerard Way’s band of restyled emo-warriors, 281,000 copies to 240,000. Like the Killers with their #2 debut earlier this month, MCR can take solace in scoring their best sales week ever; also, last week their awesome single “Welcome to the Black Parade” took the top of the Modern Rock chart, evicting the Killers’ “When You Were Young.” As for Miss Cyrus, her win cements the Disney media empire’s dominance over the 2006 charts: with 10 months of the year over, the triple-platinum High School Musical soundtrack is still in the Top 40 and all but unstoppable as the year’s #1 album.
Bucking the trend. The news out of retailers is actually pretty good this week, as CD sales are up just over 5% compared with the same week a year ago – only the second week this fall to achieve that feat. It’s also heartening to see some acts defying gravity with “good holds,” as they say in Hollywood – i.e., modest weekly sales drops. Having suffered the slings and arrows of fickle hipsters, the Killers are still in the Top 10 in their fourth week, and Justin’s album is still in the Top Five, both with low-double-digit drops. The other Top 10–dweller with legs is octogenarian Tony Bennett, who debuted two weeks ago with his Duets album (there’s another idea he stole from Sinatra) and, after a second-week drop, is actually moving back up this week, with sales at Starbucks likely giving him a boost. Hmm…Hannah Montana, Tony Bennett…kids, elders – these are the year’s big winners. Have I hit that point home enough this year?
Making Bennett look hip. Was I just saying something about elders? Next week, a veteran artist is going to score his second #1 album of 2006. Yep, two chart-toppers in one year, and he’s nearing Social Security age. No, not that guy. No, I wish it were that guy. No, this guy will come and he’ll give without taking, but we’ll send him away.