This week's sales analysis

Hot on the heels of his first number one single, Stronger, West debuts atop the chart for the first time with his third album, Graduation, on sales of 84,611. His last album, Late Registration, debuted and peaked at number two on sales of 67,240 in 2005, losing out to McFly's Wonderland. West's 2004 debut album, The College Dropout, debuted at number 49 on sales of 6,064, and peaked at number 12 some 18 weeks later. It has sold 601,786 copies to date; Late Registration has sold 679,242 copies.

50 Cent's third album Curtis utilises his real forename as its title, and debuts at number two on sales of 72,187. Fiddy's 2003 debut album, Get Rich Or Die Tryin', debuted and peaked at number two in 2003 on first week sales of 47,837 (trumped, ironically by current Ayo Technology singles partner Justin Timberlake), while second album, The Massacre, topped the chart on debut in 2005 with sales of 94,176. Get Rich has since increased its sales to 1,005,244, leaving The Massacre (624,201) well beaten.

Interestingly, 50 Cent - who is also set to lose the battle for US chart supremacy with West, with projections suggesting he will finish up more than 100,000 sales in arrears - has retreated from his previous statement that he would retire if West beat him, and instead now intends to go "round for round" against his rival, releasing future albums simultaneously. Both artists have already completed their next albums - 50 Cent's is called Before I Self-Destruct, and West's Univercity - for 2008 release.

With West and 50 Cent's albums outselling all the rest, hip-hop releases take the top two slots in the album chart for the first time ever.

Hip-hop has provided 10 previous number one albums, starting with the Wu-Tang Clan's Wu-Tang Forever (1997). Subsequent chart-toppers have come from The Beastie Boys (one title), Eminem (four), D12 (one), 50 Cent (one) and The Streets (two). The latter act provided the most recent number one hip-hop album prior to Graduation, topping with The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living some 74 weeks ago.

First single Hold On drifts 32-37 (3,918 sales) on its way down from a number 21 peak but KT Tunstall's second studio album Drastic Fantastic debuts at number three on sales of 56,732. The album thus matches the peak of Tunstall's 2004 debut album Eye To The Telescope, which has sold a massive 1,547,120 copies to date but which debuted quietly at number 128 in Christmas week 2004 on sales of 4,535. Tunstall also released a stripped-down set, Acoustic Extravaganza, in 2006. It reached number 32, and has sold 35,097 copies.

After five weeks below the 2m. mark, album sales last week recovered, climbing 7.5% week-on-week to 2,097,164.

This modest improvement was largely due to a competitive but not blockbuster top three on the artist album chart, fought out by new releases by KanYe West, 50 Cent and KT Tunstall, as mentioned above. All managed to sell more than 50,000 but less than 100,000 copies.

It's only the fifth time in 37 chart weeks thus far in 2007 that the top three have cleared 50,00 sales.

Tunstall's album occupies the bronze medal position with sales of 56,732 - the third highest sale for a number three album in 2007, trailing the 64,054 sales of Fall Out Boy's Infinity On High, and the 63,342 sales of Ben Mills' Picture Of You, on debut 31 weeks and 26 weeks ago, respectively.

However, last week's overall album sales were only the 25th best so far in 2007, and were 11.56% below the same week in 2006, and 13.12% in arrears of the same week in 2005.

Although KT Tunstall trails KanYe West and 50 Cent in the UK as a whole, she predictably wipes the floor with them in her native Scotland, eclipsing West by 10.2% and 50 Cent by 33.2%.

KanYe West's album, incidentally, is the first number one for the Roc-A-Fella label in its 11 year history.

Meanwhile, after waiting 12 years for its first Top 10 artist album, dance label All Around The World secures is second of the year. The Blackburn-based label has had numerous Top 10 entries to the compilation chart but broke its artist chart duck in March, when Cascada's Everytime We Touch debuted at number six. It eventually peaked at number two, spent 11 weeks in the Top 10, and 27 weeks in the Top 75, only falling out of the list this very week. It has sold 392,100 copies to date. AATW's second Top 10 artist album is Ultrabeat's debut set, The Album, which arrives four years after their first single. Debuting at number eight, it sold 20,622 copies last week.

As its title suggests, Natalie Imbruglia's new compilation, Glorious - The Singles 97-07, marks the Australian singer's 10th year as a recording artist. The album includes the single Glorious, which peaked at number 23 last month, matching the highest psoition of its 2005 predecessor Counting Down The Days. Imbruglia's new album fares better, debuting at number five on sales of 22,749. The Counting Down The Days album debuted at number one, on sales of 41,290 but ultimately sold only 204,877 copies, whereas Imbruglia's 1998 debut album, Left Of The Middle, peaked at number five but sold a commendable 1,143,768, powered by a succession of successful singles, including the mega-hit Torn.

Of Top 10 artist albums titles not covered elsewhere, Amy Winehouse's Back To Black falls 2-4 on sales of 28,678; last week's number one, Once Upon A Time In The West by Hard-Fi dips to number six on sales of 22,431; Plain White T's' Every Second Counts falls 3-7 on sales of 21,410; Newton Faulkner's Hand Built By Robots ends a six week stint in the top five, tumbling 4-9 on sales of 16,609; Mika's Life In Cartoon Motion declines 6-10 on sales of 16,456.

Variously described as a hip-hop, grime, rap and UK garage artist, Kano is hard to pigeonhole but chalked up his biggest hit single to date with This Is The Girl, his collaboration with Craig David, which peaked at number 18 last week. It's the introductory single from 22 year old Kano's second album, London Town, which debuts this week at number 14 on sales of 13,674. His only previous album, Home Sweet Home, spawned three lesser hit singles and peaked at number 36 but was critically acclaimed and had a long shelf life, eventually selling 101,102 copies.

On the compilation chart, High School Musical remains at number one on sales of 20,722, recovering from a mid-week deficit to narrowly defeat Gatecrasher Immortal, which stays second on sales of 20,417.

While album sales improved last week, singles fell back 6% to 1,335,686. This was due primarily to a dearth of hot new releases - the top four singles are frozen, and there are no new entries to the Top 10.

Although the singles chart has become increasingly stable since download sales were

added to the mix, it's still very unusual for the top four to be non-movers but that's exactly what happens this week, with the leading quartet maintaining their positions, though all have peaked and suffer a dip in sales.

Sean Kingston is top for the third week in a row but suffers the biggest fall, with Beautiful Girls ebbing 22.6% to 32,348 sales - the lowest tally for a number one for eight weeks; Plain White T's' Hey There Delilah shrinks 14.9% to 23,543; KanYe West's Stronger suffers a fairly minor 17.3% diminution, despite competition from his Graduation album; and James Blunt's 1973 is off 20.7% to 17,377 sales.

Equalling its three week run at number one in America, Beautiful Girls remains comfortably ahead, while lifting its cumulative sales tally to 157,025. The last American male soloist to spend this long at number one with his debut hit was Eamon, whose F.U.R.B. (F U Right Back) reigned for four weeks in 2004. Despite the popularity of Beautiful Girls, Kingston's eponymous debut album dips 8-13 on sales of 14,109 on its second week in the chart.

50 Cent's Ayo Technology is the only single in the upper echelon to increase sales, and moves 8-5 with 16,542 takers. Rihanna's Shut Up And Drive is static at six on sales of 13,257. Girls Aloud slip 5-7 with Sexy No No No on sales of 13,850, while Robyn's former number one With Every Heartbeat falls 7-8 on sales of 11,691. Timbaland's The Way I Are rallies 10-9 with sales of 11,249, trading places with Scouting For Girls' She's So Lovely, which sold 10,488 copies.

They'd be the first to admit it, and two artists in this week's Top 20 are ill-placed to take part in promotional activities for their current hits. Elvis Presley - who shuffled off this mortal coil more than 30 years ago - secures his sixth Top 20 hit in five weeks with Party, while Luciano Pavarotti, who fell to the bottom of his cage just 11 days ago, jumps 24-12 (9,167 sales) with Nessum Dorma, which re-charted following his demise last week. Classical repertoire rarely charts but Nessun Dorma reached number two for Pav in 1990, foiled by Elt's Sacrifice. Party was a number two hit in 1957, and re-enters at number 14 on sales of 9,069. Party is one of the shortest hits of all-time at 89 seconds, and this week's highest new entry. It's the second week n a row that Presley has had the number 14 single - he held the place last week with (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear, which slumps to number 77, making it the fastest faller in the current run of classic Presley reissues.

The current TV advert for Cadbury's Dairy Milk is 90 seconds long, and throughout it features a gorilla drumming to Phil Collins' introductory solo hit, In The Air Tonight. The track, which reached number two in 1981 and number four in 1988, instantly responded to the exposure by returning to the chart last week at number 42, and now climbs to number 23 on sales of 5,320 downloads. Collins' Hits album, which has sold 1,258,749 copies since its 1998 release and, naturally, includes the song, is available at mid-price from today (17th).

In pursuit of their third straight Top 10 hit, Booty Luv jump 31-11 with Don't Mess With My Man. The dance duo comprises Cherise Roberts and Nadia Shepherd, who both enjoyed seven Top 20 hits with Big Brovaz between 2002 and 2004. Booty Luv reached number two with Boogie 2Nite and number 10 with Shine, which were remakes of songs by The SOS Band and Luther Vandross. Don't Mess With My Man was first a hit for Lucy Pearl in 2000, reaching number 20 on sales of 12,787 - more than the 9,335 copies Booty Luv's single sold this week, despite its lower placing.

Modfather Paul Weller sounds like he's going back to his roots with the authentically aged collaboration with DJ Andy Lewis, Are You Trying To Be Lonely. Despite this, it's a new song written by Weller and Lewis themselves as a track for Lewis' upcoming album, You Should Be Hearing Something Now. Entering the chart at number 31 on sales of 4,509, it marks Lewis' Top 40 debut, but it's 49 year old Weller's 66th hit, 62 of them Top 40, since his 1977 debut with The Jam.

Much further down the chart, Status Quo, who already have more hits to their credit than any other band, secure their 64th Top 75 entry, debuting at number 48 with Beginning Of The End, on sales of 2,579. The debut release on the band's own Fourth Chord label, it extends their span of hits to more than 39 years, but is unlikely to provide their 56th Top 40 hit, as it was fully-released on vinyl, CD and download last week, and has no further formats to give it a boost.

The current obsession with titles utilising the word "girl" in their titles increases still further, with a record five concurrent Top 40 hits using the word or its plural - Sean Kingston's Beautiful Girls leads the way, with Fergie's Big Girls Don't Cry, Kano's This Is The Girl, Mika's Big Girl and Dave Spoon's Bad Girl all making their presence felt. There are also current Top 40 hits by Girls Aloud and Scouting For Girls.

Number 69 on airplay the week it entered the Top 10 of the sales chart, Plain White T's debut hit, Hey There Delilah, has proved its popularity with punters by racking up seven straight weeks in the sales Top 10, spending the last two weeks at number two. Radio was quick to take note of its popularity, and it completed a speedy ascent of the airplay chart last week, when it jumped to number one in succession to KT Tunstall's Hold On.

It has increased its radio penetration for eight weeks in a row, and moves further ahead of runner-up James Blunt's 1973 this week, logging 1,770 plays and an audience of 64.08m, compared to 1,493 plays and an audience of 61.05m in the previous frame. Blunt's 1973, meanwhile, improves its tally of plays from 1,482 to 1,668 but sees its audience dip from 53.64m to 45.60m.

It's only six weeks since The Hoosiers' debut hit Worried About Ray peaked at number three on the airplay chart but this week it is joined in the Top 20 by follow-up Goodbye Mr A, which is the chart's highest new entry at number 20. Logging 346 plays from 41 stations, and an audience of 23.26m on its maiden chart appearance, it nevertheless has no effect on the continuing popularity of Worried About Ray, which actually rallies 20-17. Most stations are still giving Worried About Ray more exposure but the BBC's Radio One and Radio Two both aired Goodbye Mr A 10 times last week, while playing Worried About Ray just twice between them.

There's a rare dead-heat on the TV airplay chart, with The Pretender by The Foo Fighters and KanYeWest's Stronger crossing the finishing line together with 328 plays. For Stronger, it's the sixth week at number one, and for The Pretender it's the culmination of a fast rise, which has seen it move 77-5-2-1.

The Pretender is the first single from The Foo Fighters' upcoming album, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, and the promo clip for the track features the band being charged by police and splattered in red liquid. The track is also faring well on radio airplay, where it ranks number 18, and on sales, where it rises 23-21 this week.


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