UK perspective: Rare week on US charts, with more than 1m sales for Taylor Swift

11/05/10 Music Week

It’s a rare event for a single to debut at number one on the Hot 100, rarer still for the event to coincide with a number one debut on the Top 200 album chart. But it happens for the 11th time in chart history this week, with Ke$ha’s We R Who We R and Taylor Swift’s Speak Now scorching to the top of the charts.

Swift’s album – the fifth country title to top the list in six weeks – had been expected to sell around 800,000 copies but delighted and dumbfounded industry experts by shifting a whopping 1,047,000 copies – the highest tally of any album for five years, the second highest ever for a woman, and more than the combined sales of numbers two thru’ 62 on the list. Accounting for more than one in six sales nationally, it provides the 20 year old singer/songwriter with her third straight number one album.

Its release also unleashed a frenzy of cherry-picking on iTunes, with the resulting sales providing 10 of its tracks with simultaneous debuts on the Hot 100, with Sparks Fly the top title, entering the list at number 17.

With the already charting Mine dipping 13-21, Swift has 11 simultaneous Hot 100 hits, a total only beaten by The Beatles and matched by David Cook.

But Swift didn’t have it all her own way: after debuting last week at number 11, Mean (not to be confused with Mine, mentioned above) falls off the list altogether. It’s a consequence of iTunes’ ‘complete my album’ facility. Any punters who previously purchased Mean and went back for the rest of the album effectively bought the album in its entirety and returned Mean, resulting in negative sales for the track. Its number 11 debut and peak and immediate disappearance from the chart match A Little Bit Longer, the title track of a Jonas Brothers album which did exactly the same thing in 2008.

Aside from Speak Now, the only other new entry to the Top 10 of the album chart this week is Michael Buble’s Hollywood: The Deluxe EP. Comprising just the bonus tracks added to Buble’s Crazy Love album, the EP sold nearly 26,000 copies in its own right. The former number one album Crazy Love rebounds 115-27, with sales of 16,000 – a combination of the original CD and the new double CD.

Among UK acts, Elton John again leads the way, with The Union – his collaboration with US veteran Leon Russell – dipping 3-6 on sales of 37,000. His old sparring partner, Rod Stewart, is also down, falling 4-8 with Fly Me To The Moon: The Great American Songbook Volume 5, on sales of just over 30,000.

Meanwhile, Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More rebounds 20-19 although its sales are off 9% week-on-week at 18,000.

Other Brits in the top half of the chart are Florence + The Machine (48-45), The Bee Gees (41-49), Eric Clapton (38-50), The Beatles (27-96, 1967-1970), Robert Plant (59-96), Belle & Sebastian (50-94) and Bryan Ferry, who sold nearly 6,000 copies of Olympia to debut at number 71.

Perhaps surprisingly that’s not only an improvement on the number 117 peak of his last studio album, Dylanesque (2007) but also the highest placing achieved in America for a Ferry album since Bete Noire got to number 63 in 1987. Boys & Girls also reached number 63 (1985) and these two albums are jointly Ferry’s top charting solo albums in America. As a member of Roxy Music his best effort was Manifesto, number 23 in 1979.

Ke$ha’s We R Who We R is the eighteenth single to debut atop the Hot 100 and its arrival results in a single place decline for all of the records that were placed between one and eight last week, including top Brit Taio Cruz, whose Dynamite thus migrates 8-9. Pink’s Raise Your Glass is the only static song in the top tier, holding at number 10.

Taylor Swift’s mass chart invasion, by the way, brings her tally of Hot 100 entries since her 2006 debut to 39, placing her among the chart’s Top 10 females of all-time. Impressive as that is, it’s 50 hits fewer than Glee Cast have managed since their June 2009 debut. They have a quiet week this week, debuting only with their version of The Time Warp. Arriving at number 89, it’s also their 89th hit.

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