One thing I should have mentioned in last week’s column is that it was the lowest week of recorded music sales in the Soundscan era, which goes back almost 20 years. Yes, we know there’s been a downturn in paid consumption of music over the last decade, but this is pretty much rock bottom, I think. Hopefully there’s nowhere to go from here but up.

We’d be looking at an even worse week this week if not for Jack Johnson. Proving that surfer dudes never go out of style, the mellow songwriter’s latest album, “To the Sea” debuts at #1 on this week’s Billboard chart with 243,000 units sold. It sells nearly five times the amount of it’s nearest competitor, Justin Bieber’s “My World 2.0”, which actually increases 4% in sales this week to 52,000 units.

Last week was a fairly quiet week for new releases, as only three other albums debut in the Top Fifty. British newcomer Taio Cruz follows up his #1 hit “Break Your Heart” with his debut album “Rokstarr”. That enters at #8 with 24,000 units sold. Right behind him is Clay Aiken with “Tried & True”, his latest collection of standards. Anchoring the top 50 is emo-rock band Hawthorne Heights with their fourth album, “Skeletons”. This band has weathered several storms, including the death of a member, but considering the fact that their “If Only You Were Lonely” opened at #2 a scant four years ago, the band can’t possibly be happy with this chart position.

Quite a few albums show minor increases over the previous week. The biggest lifts go to Johnson’s 2009 live album “En Concert” and indie pop band Sleigh Bells’ “Treats”. The former album piggybacks on Jack’s new release to reenter the album chart at #56, while the latter album posts a 116% gain after being released physically (it had previously been available digitally for several weeks).

On the other side of things, it’s not looking good for Stone Temple Pilots. In its’ second week out, their comeback effort tumbles from #2-#16. It has yet to cross the 100,000 unit sold barrier. Bummer. Believe it or not, it doesn’t look like Scott Weiland can even get arrested these days.

Next week, the #1 album will be a soundtrack-either the new “Twilight” volume or the latest in the chart-topping string of “Glee” releases. Christina Aguilera will in all likelihood have to settle for a disappointing #3 debut. However, if Jack Johnson doesn’t decline too much, we could be looking at a week when 4 albums sell over 100,000 copies. These days, that’s reason enough for celebration!

28 years ago this week, the #1 song in the country was Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder’s “Ebony & Ivory”. While both artists had already seen their best days by that point, this song holds a special place in my heard because it’s the first 45 I remember buying with my own money! Of course, Paul and Stevie are also still making good (if inconsistent) music half a century into both their careers, so hats off to them! Watch the video after checking out this week’s Top 20 albums.

1) “To the Sea” by Jack Johnson
2) “My World 2.0” by Justin Bieber
3) “Glee: The Music-Showstoppers” by Glee Cast
4) “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum
5) “Raymond v. Raymond” by Usher
6) “The Fame” by Lady GaGa
7) “Live at the Troubadour” by Carole King and James Taylor
8) “Rokstarr” by Taio Cruz
9) “Tried and True” by Clay Aiken
10) “Animal” by Ke$ha
11) “Oracle” by Godsmack
12) “Now That’s What I Call Music 33” by Various Artists
13) “The Adventures of Bobby Ray” by B.O.B.
14) “The Foundation” by Zac Brown Band
15) “Brothers” by The Black Keys
16) “Stone Temple Pilots” by Stone Temple Pilots
17) “The E.N.D.” by The Black Eyed Peas
18) “Distant Relatives” by Nas & Damian Marley
19) “Iron Man 2 Soundtrack” by AC/DC
20) “The Fame: Monster” by Lady GaGa

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