Official chart analysis: weekly album sales plummet to record 21st Century low, Adele back at No.1

Official chart analysis: weekly album sales plummet to record 21st Century low, Adele back at No.1

21's return to number one is attended by sales of just 22,235 copies - the sixth lowest weekly tally of its career, and the lowest for a number one album for 11 weeks.

Its return to number one is not entirely organic - demand for Adele product was helped by BBC re-screening an edited version of her Live At Royal Albert Hall concert DVD (6th April), renditions of Rolling In The Deep and Someone Like You the following day on The Voice UK by contestants Joelle Moses and Alys Williams and - surprisingly at this stage - TV advertising.

In a chart dominated by female solo artists, Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded falls 1-2 (18,981 sales), Jessie J's Who You Are rises 8-4 (14,171 sales), Emeli Sande's Our Version Of Events holds at number five (12,719 sales) and Lana Del Rey's Born To Die rallies 11-6 (12,493 sales). All sold fewer copies than the week before, but are only prevented from making the top five an all woman zone by the intervention of US band Alabama Shakes.

After topping the chart on Tuesday and Wednesday's midweek sales flashes, Alabama Shakes' debut album, Boys & Girls, faded, ultimately entering the chart at number three (15,703 sales). It is the highest of seven debuts in the Top 75, besting Counting Crows' Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation) (number 23, 5,585 sales), an eponymous album by Ramin (number 16, 6,530 sales), MTV Unplugged by Florence + The Machine (number 27, 4,647 sales) , The Strange Case Of... by Halestorm (number 49, 2,424 sales), All American by Hoodie Allen (number 64, 1,730 sales) and The Lateness Of The Hour by Alex Clare (number 66, 1,685 sales). Underwater Sunshine is Counting Crows' eighth chart album in a career spanning more than 18 years. MTV Unplugged is Florence + The Machine's third chart album, following the number one studio sets Lungs and Ceremonials. Ramin is the debut album by musical theatre star Ramin Kamirloo, who was born in Iran, raised in Canada and currently lives in the UK. The Strange Case Of... is American heavy metal band Halestorm's second album, following their self-titled 2010 debut which fell short of the Top 200, and has sold 6,092 copies to date. Hoodie Allen is a much-vaunted 23 year old rapper from New York. Alex Clare is a 26 year old singer songwriter from London, and The Lateness Of The Hour is his debut album, which had sold 5,070 copies since its release last July but was sparked into life last week by the use of one of its tracks - Too Close - as the soundtrack to the new Microsoft Internet Explorer TV advert. Too Close itself was released as a single in March 2011, and had sold 5,263 copies until a week ago. It benefits even more from the advert, debuting at number 37 (8,499 sales)

The three singles Labrinth took from his debut album Electronic Earth all spent multiple weeks in the Top 10 - but the album itself dives from its entry position of number two to number nine (10,345 sales). Moshi Monsters' Music Rox! and Lostprophets' Weapons also experience steep second week dips of 4-8 (11,172 sales) and 9-35 (3,757 sales), respectively.

Madonna's MDNA is also fading fast, falling 7-13 (7,194 sales) a fortnight after debuting at number one. It is the first Madonna studio album not to be in the Top 10 on its third week on the chart since 1984, when her second album, Like A Virgin, edged up 66-63 - it was a slow starter, debuting at number 74, arriving in the Top 10 for the first time 16 weeks later, and topping the chart on its 44th week. Madonna's longest opening run in the Top 10 came when follow-up True Blue reeled off 32 straight weeks in the top tier, including six at number one, before suddenly lurching 8-22.

Now That's What I Call Music! 81 remains far ahead of the field on the compilation chart, though its second week sales of 91,831 are 64.40% down week-on-week. Its overall two week tally of 347,217 sales put it 3.29% ahead of the pace of 2011 equivalent, Now! 78.

Overall album sales are 27.62% down week-on-week at 1,446,218 - that is 23.19% below same week 2011 sales of 1,882,878, and lower than in any of the 640 previous weeks that have elapsed in the 21st century.

SINGLES: Justin Bieber's girl friend beats off his Boyfriend this week...and he has only himself to blame. It's not a menage a trois we're discussing here but the singles chart, of course. His girl friend (as opposed to girlfriend) is Carly Rae Jepsen, whose debut single Call Me Maybe remains in pole position for a second week, with sales increasing 3.20%.to 110,024. Bieber took a great interest in his fellow Canadian, and made her the first signing to Schoolboy Records, which he runs with Scooter Braun. He even helped promote the song via an unofficial video in which he stars with girlfriend (as opposed to girl friend) Selena Gomez. Having helped to create the monster, Bieber now finds himself playing second fiddle, with his new single Boyfriend beating 2010 smash Baby (which also features Ludacris, and peaked at number three) to become his highest charting single but having to settle for a number two debut (54,817 sales). The Jepsen/Bieber double marks the first time ever that the top two singles in the chart have been by Canadians.

In an incredibly incestuous top five, Bieber himself consigns the man who signed him and who remains one of his best friends - Usher - to a number four debut with Climax. The introductory single from Usher's upcoming album Looking For Myself, Climax sold 41,617 copies last week, and is Usher's 22nd hit since his 1995 debut.

After three straight weeks at number two, She Doesn't Mind slips to number six (39,465 sales) for Sean Paul, and after 10 straight weeks selling upwards of 50,000 copies, Somebody That I Used To Know sold 45,695 last week, but remains at number three for Gotye feat. Kimbra. It is joined in the chart by a Glee Cast version, which debuts at number 56 (5,618 sales).

Elsewhere in the Top 10, Nicki Minaj slips 4-5 with Starships (41,480 sales), Turn Up The Music ebbs 5-9 (26,282 sales) for Chris Brown and Wild Ones subsides 8-10 (25,661 sales) for Flo Rida feat. Sia.

Finally given a full release on Monday, We Are Young debuts at number seven (38,390 sales) for Fun feat. Janelle Monae, while one of the many soundalike covers, by Rainbow Mix advances 64-54 (5,893 sales).

Debuting at number eight (33,735 sales), Level Up is the biggest hit to date for Sway, and the only record in the Top 10 by a British artist. The Londoner's previous biggest hit, Still Speedin', reached number 17 last December. It's strange that there is only one British act in the Top 10 domestically - the Top 13, even - when there are two in the top four in America, where The Wanted climb 5-3 with Glad You Came, while One Direction surge 9-4 with What Makes You Beautiful.

After being sung by TWO contestants on The Voice UK's fourth and final blind auditions show on BBC1 on Saturday night, John Legend's single Ordinary People sensationally returns to the chart, after selling nearly 12,000 copies in less than four hours. A performance of the track - which was co-written by The Voice UK coach Will.I.Am - won Becky Hill a place on Jessie J's team on the show. Minutes later, Jaz Ellington was seen becoming the final member of Will.I.Am's team and responded to a request from Jessie J to sing something else for her - presumably, rules could be relaxed at this point as all teams were complete, and an end-of-term spirit was afoot - by singing the same song. A number 27 hit for Legend in 2005, Ordinary People matched that position by selling 11,857 copies last week. It required only 4,204 sales to make that position on its original chart run. It has been a consistent low level seller in the digital age, however, increasing its career tally to 97,596 before returning to the chart. It will inevitably reach a new chart peak this week. Legend's track almost passed Jessie J's own latest hit, the David Guetta collaboration Laserlight, which debuts at number 26 on sales of exactly 12,100 copies.

A number 32 hit in their native America recently, Blackout debuts at number 21 (15,528 sales) for Breathe Carolina.

Erroneously listed at number 90 and number 118 (the latter credited to The Human League) last week, Together In Electric Dreams now has all of its sales united and sprints to number 46 (6,670 sales) for Giorgio Moroder and Philip Oakey. The 1984 number three hit - used in the current EDF Energy advert - is one of four current Top 75. Hits that date back more than a decade ago The rest: Wheatus' 2001 number two smash Teenage Dirtbag jumps 41-36 (8,613 sales), helped by its 59p iTunes price point, and much Facebook campaigning by the band; Train's Drops Of Jupiter (Tell Me), number 10 the same year, moves 50-35 (8,770 sales) having returned to the chart after being sung by Phil Poole on the first episode of The Voice UK; Otis Redding's (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay - a posthumous number three hit in 1968 - ends a 44 year absence by re-entering the chart at number 60 (5,221 sales) after being performed on The Voice UK by Tyler James and on Britain's Got Talent by The Mend; and The Beatles' Here Comes The Sun re-enters the chart at number 58 (5,270 sales) in response to Marks & Spencer's current TV advertising campaign, on which it is sung by Gary Barlow.

A George Harrison song from The Beatles' 1969 album Abbey Road, Here Comes The Sun was not a single at the time but did finally chart in November 2010, following the historic release of The Beatles' catalogue on iTunes. It was one of four Beatles tracks to make the Top 75 at the time, and one of 32 to make the Top 200. In that first week on iTunes, 132,649 Beatles tracks were sold. A couple of weeks ago that total passed the million mark, and as of Saturday 8 April, total Beatles digital track sales were 1,023,037. The four tracks that made the Top 75 that very first week remain the Beatles' four biggest sellers digitally. They are: Hey Jude (68,309), Let It Be (67,185), Twist And Shout (48,029) and Here Comes The Sun (46,208). There is a big gap to the fifth biggest seller, Come Together (27,654).

The Beatles' digital sales have made a big difference in the ongoing battle for the title of Britain's all-time biggest selling singles act. An OCC survey in 2003 came up with the following top three: 3 Elvis Presley - 19,243,960 sales, 2 The Beatles - 20,799,632 sales, 1 Cliff Richard - 20,908,500 sales. In the 452 chart weeks that have elapsed since then, Richard has sold a further 590,451 singles, raising his overall tally to 21,498,951, Presley has sold 2,288,286, increasing his tally to 21,532,246, and The Beatles have sold 1,024,664, increasing their tally to 21,824,296, making them the UK's biggest singles act. Without digital sales, they would be far adrift of Presley - since 2003 they have had only residual sales of 959 CDs, 652 7-inch and 16 cassette s. Although Presley has sold twice as many singles as The Beatles since 2003, his huge back catalogue has been available digitally for a lot longer than theirs, and in 2005, his 18 number ones were all re-released on 10-inch and CD, boosting his sales considerably.

Madonna, incidentally, is the UK's fourth biggest singles act, with sales of 17,582,206. Queen are the number two group, with sales of 12,556,708, with Abba third on 11,189,520. The Abba total in 2003 included estimated sales of 920,000 for Dancing Queen - but it has since sold a further 132,777 copies (all but six of them digitally) which, if the original estimate is correct,, would elevate it to a million seller, with a to date tally of 1,052,777. As huge as the sales of The Beatles, Presley and Richard might seem, the sheer size of the singles market these days means they will likely be overhauled eventually. Two 21st century stars already chasing hard are Lady GaGa, with sales of 7,246,566 in a little over three years, and Rihanna, with a staggering 13,311,889 sales since August 2005. Figures in the last three paragraphs relate to sales up to 8 April only, as an analysis of this scope takes some time to prepare and update.

Overall singles sales last week were down 5.40% week-on-week at 3,305,764 - 11.89% above same week 2011 sales of 2,954,513.


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