Leona Lewis is the first Britsh solo artist to bow atop the Billboard 200 with a debut album, ending a 22-year drought for U.K. solo female artists at No. 1. Her “Spirit” bows with 205,000, marking the first No. 1 by a female Brit since Sade in 1986 … James Otto joins George Strait in the top three, marking the first time since November that two country albums reside in the chart’s top three spots … Ray J notches his first top 10 with “All I Have,” thanks to hit “Sexy Can I” … Nine Inch Nails bow at No. 14 with the now-widely available instrumental set “Ghosts I-IV.” In Progress Reports, we’ve got yet more news on Lewis, plus “American Idol” and R&B crooner Raheem DeVaughn.
Leona Lewis tops the Billboard 200 with “Spirit,” with sales of 205,000. Lewis, the 2006 winner of England’s TV singing competition “The X Factor,” is the first British solo artist to start atop the Billboard 200 with a debut release. She’s also the first solo female Brit to top the chart since, believe it or not, Sade with “Promise” in February 1986 (when Lewis was not even a year old). The last solo male from the United Kingdom to lead the list was Rod Stewart in October 2006 with “Still the Same . . . Great Rock Classics of Our Time.” The sum for “Spirit” is the highest by any solo female since Alicia Keys’ “As I Am” started with 742,000 on the Dec. 1, 2007, chart. Lewis’ smash “Bleeding Love” meanwhile returns to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Digital Songs with sales of 223,000 (up 11%), the best total of its seven chart weeks.
While James Otto is hardly a newcomer to Nashville, his hit single “Just Got Started Lovin’ You” has introduced him to the masses during its six months on Hot Country Songs, where it pushes 4-3 this week. With 58,000 copies sold, the soulful track fuels the No. 3 bow of “Sunset Man” on the Billboard 200. Otto’s rookie set, “Days of Our Lives,” spent one week (No. 61) on Top Country Albums in March 2004. With George Strait’s “Troubadour” falling 1-2 (59,000, down 65%), the chart marks the first time since November that two country albums reside in the top three positions. On the Billboard 200 dated Nov. 24, the Eagles’ “Long Road Out of Eden” ranked No. 2, followed by Garth Brooks’ “The Ultimate Hits” at No. 3.
Ray J scores his first top 10 on the Billboard 200 as his fourth album, “All I Have,” launches at No. 7 with 39,000 units. His last set, 2005’s “Raydiation,” entered at No. 48 with 21,000, while “This Ain’t a Game” owns the singer’s best weekly sum, having rolled in at No. 21 with 62,000 in July 2001. Ray J’s new set is carried by the single “Sexy Can I” with rapper Yung Berg, which has also granted both artists their first top three hit on the Billboard Hot 100. The song additionally reigns over Rhythmic Airplay for a second frame.
After Nine Inch Nails began offering several permutations of instrumental album “Ghosts I-IV” directly to fans March 2, the album was finally conventionally released April 8, leading to a Billboard 200 bow at No. 14. The band’s manager, Jim Guerinot, claimed that a combination of free download, paid download and physical copy sales amounted to an opening-week take of 781,000 transactions for a value of $1.6 million, yet there was enough demand for the conventional release to draw 26,000 first-week sales. The RED-distributed edition also surpasses the first-week tally of NIN’s last charting title, remix project “Y34RZ3R0R3MIX3D,” which began at No. 77 late last year with 17,000.
Album units, current chart week: 7.36 million units
DOWN 7.8% from last issue’s charts: 7.99 million units
DOWN 8.6% from same week, 2007: 8.06 million units
This week: Just the top album sells more than 100,000 copies.
This week last year on the Billboard 200: The “Now 24” compilation held tight at No. 1 for a second week. Bright Eyes’ “Cassadaga” was the chart’s top debut at No. 4 with 58,000. No albums sold more than 100,000.
The No. 1 album this week, Leona Lewis’ “Spirit” (RMG), sold 205,000.
The No. 1 album for the same week of 2007, the “Now 24” compilation, sold 89,000.
Average total of the No. 1 album for the same week of the year during the past 10 years (1999-2008): 319,339.
Not only is she the queen of the Billboard 200, but Leona Lewis also breaks a record at radio. A week after posting the second-highest all-time debut for a female’s career-opening single at Adult Top 40/Hot AC (No. 32), Lewis shatters the mark at Adult Contemporary/AC, dating to the chart’s conversion to Nielsen BDS data in 1993, as “Bleeding Love” blasts in at a lofty No. 21. Several previous artists, including Idina Menzel most recently with “Brave,” made their initial entrances as high as No. 26.
It’s hardly surprising that last Wednesday’s superstar-studded “American Idol” charity episode “Idol Gives Back” translates to chart success, as four cuts performed on the feel-good special blast onto Hot Digital Songs. In the top 10, two titles debut: Daughtry opens at No. 8 with “What About Now” (86,000 downloads, with sales of the live and album cuts combined). At No. 10, Carrie Underwood’s take on George Michael’s 1990 Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 “Praying for Time” bows (66,000). Viewers also furiously downloaded American Idol Top 8’s “Shout to the Lord” (No. 15, 56,000) and Annie Lennox’s “Many Rivers to Cross” (No. 39, 29,000). A song from the previous night’s episode also resurfaces: Thanks to Jason Castro’s ukulele-accompanied performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version re-enters at No. 11 (62,000). The late Hawaiian’s recording spent 11 weeks on the chart in 2006-07, reaching No. 58. After last year’s inaugural “Idol Gives Back,” Underwood debuted on the May 12, 2007, chart with “I’ll Stand by You” (No. 2, 124,000), joined by performances from fellow participants Kelly Clarkson (No. 35) and Josh Groban (No. 64).
Raheem DeVaughn ascends to his first Adult R&B/Urban AC No. 1, as “Woman” rises 2-1. The title ironically makes it two weeks in the lead for male artists after ladies had ruled for 24 consecutive frames (Alicia Keys, Angie Stone and Keyshia Cole). Last week, Jaheim rose to No. 1 with “Never,” which this week retreats to the runner-up position. Prior to his new No. 1, DeVaughn had climbed as high as No. 18 with each of his first two chart entries in 2005 and 2006.
A LOOK AHEAD
Among the titles released this week, due on next week’s charts: Mariah Carey’s “E=MC2,” Lady Antebellum’s “Lady Antebellum” and Thrice’s “Alchemy Index: Vols. III and IV: Air & Earth.”
Next week’s Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2007 when: Avril Lavigne’s “Best Damn Thing” bowed at No. 1 with 286,000 while Nine Inch Nails’ “Year Zero” entered in the runner-up slot with 187,000. Only the top two albums sold more than 100,000.