Billboard sings a transitory tune
The revolving door at No. 1 keeps on spinning as Danity Kane, the latest TV-created band, opens in the top slot this week.Group is the third different chart-topper in three weeks, and the trend is likely to continue as September and the fourth quarter see an overload of superstar releases. As in the movie biz, it’s one week and out. Albums from artists such as Justin Timberlake, Clay Aiken, Bob Dylan, Janet Jackson and Rod Stewart could experience the “one and done” effect as they roll out in the final few months of the year. Last year saw 12 different albums take the No. 1 slot during the 13 weeks between Sept. 1 and Dec. 1. Ten years ago, that span — covering 14 weeks of numbers — saw 10 albums in the top slot. In 1999, the last solid year of music sales, nine albums were No. 1 during the 13-week span. Clearly, fewer and fewer albums are gaining traction in the upper reaches of the music sales chart. The seven rookies in this week’s top 10 will face strong competition off the bat, making their runs in the single digits short-lived. That scenario could easily play out through the end of the year as the industry attempts to pull even with last year’s sales total of 618.9 million units. That would require the music biz to generate 45% of its sales in the final third of the year, as sales are currently at 344.61 million units. Most years, about 35% of the year’s sales are tallied between Oct. 1 and New Year’s Eve. September is a month reserved for status albums that get in under the wire to qualify for the upcoming Grammy Awards (cutoff is Sept. 30). This September, however, is following a pattern established in 2005: A bevy of star albums were released ahead of the fourth quarter with the hopes of developing legs just prior to the year’s most crowded release schedule. In truth, few did. This week’s top 10 is packed with genre hits (hard rockers Lamb of God, Mexican rockers Mana and R&B dance thrush Kelis) and novelty (Paris Hilton, Danity Kane) that will succumb quickly to the fall onslaught. Dylan’s “Modern Times,” released Tuesday, already is primed to take over the top slot next week with a sales tally probably under 150,000 units. Dylan certainly will be dethroned when Audioslave and Beyonce duke it out for No. 1 a week later. Their reign likely will end at seven days with the Sept. 12 release of John Mayer’s “Continuum.” The first superstar mano-a-mano battle arrives Sept. 19 when Timberlake’s “FutureSex/Lovesounds” and Aiken’s “A Thousand Different Ways” arrive. Aiken’s disc is the first of several from “American Idol” finalists populating the September-November release slate. Sept. 26 will see the arrival of the latest from Jackson and Tony Bennett; latter release is being heavily hyped in conjunction with crooner’s 80th birthday. October opens with new discs from two of the bestselling rock groups of the last several years, Evanescence and the Killers. A week later, Stewart enters the picture with his return to rock ‘n’ roll. Vince Gill and Ruben Studdard are the anticipated heavyweights on Oct. 11; John Legend’s sophomore effort goes out Oct. 24. Barry Manilow, who opened at No. 1 with his songs of the 1950s, returns Oct. 31 with his renditions of ’60s tunes. His same-day competition will be Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell III.” Keith Urban and Sugarland lead a country parade on Nov. 7. And greatest-hits sets from Faith Hill, Sara Evans and Trisha Yearwood are penciled in for the month, too. Nov. 14 is still the three-way battleground of last season’s “American Idol”-ists Taylor Hicks, Katharine McPhee and KelliePickler. Not included in the mix are the usual rock and pop greatest-hits collections that populate the holiday season; none have been announced yet. Last year, for the first time in recent memory, albums were released during the perceived dead weeks around Christmas. Strong sales for efforts from Mary J. Blige and Jamie Foxx certainly have altered that thinking, and while nothing has been announced for Dec. 19 or 26, it’s likely there will be prominent new discs in stores on those dates. The current sales week was won by the band created on MTV’s “Making of the Band 3.” Danity Kane’s self-titled debut on Diddy’s label Bad Boy sold 234,000 copies, the best week for a “Making of” band, according to Nielsen Soundscan. Outkast’s soundtrack to “Idlewild” (LaFace) opened at No. 2 on sales of 196,000. Mana came in at No. 4, posting the highest debut for a Spanish-language album by a band, as “Amar es Combatir” (Warner Latina) scanned 87,000 copies. Lamb of God’s “Sacrament” (Epic) sold 63,000 to debut at No. 8. “The Ultimate Luther Vandross” (J), which includes his hits for several labels plus unreleased tracks, opened at No. 9 on sales of 59,000. “Kelis Was Here” (Jive) was one slot lower on 1,000 fewer sales.