There’s not much going on as far as this week’s Billboard charts. People apparently ran away from record stores in droves following Easter weekend, and last week’s sales totals are pretty low. Thank goodness for Adele, who scans another 124,000 copies of 21 to land at #1 yet again. Without that number, the chart would look very dismal indeed. The Foo Fighters stand at #2 with a dismal 34,000 copies sold, and the three debuts in the Top Twenty (Explosions in the Sky at #16, Airborne Toxic Event at #17 and Emmylou Harris at #18), all do so with a number a shade below 20K.
Next week’s chart should be significantly livelier (and why couldn’t someone have released at least a couple of those albums the week before?), but until then, why don’t we step into the wayback machine and do some time travelin’. Let’s pop back into the year when grunge first invaded the mainstream, when hip-hop on the charts was starting to morph into more than Young MC and Tone Loc. Billboard magazine was running a feature on the debut of a new artist named R. Kelly, and were also running a 20th anniversary tribute to the maestro of soul, Barry White. Let’s take a look at the album chart from the week ending May 30th, 1992. Here’s that week’s Top 20 albums.
1) The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion | The Black Crowes
2) Totally Krossed Out | Kris Kross
3) Adrenalize | Def Leppard
4) Blood Sugar Sex Magik | Red Hot Chili Peppers
5) Ropin’ the Wind | Garth Brooks
6) No Fences | Garth Brooks
7) Classic Queen | Queen
8) Ten | Pearl Jam
9) Greatest Hits | ZZ Top
10) Wish | The Cure
11) Achtung Baby | U2
12) Fear of the Dark | Iron Maiden
13) Funky Divas | En Vogue
14) Wynonna | Wynonna
15) Nevermind | Nirvana
16) We Can’t Dance | Genesis
17) Off the Deep End | Weird Al Yankovic
18) Mack Daddy | Sir Mix-a-Lot
19) Luck of the Draw | Bonnie Raitt
20) Check Your Head | Beastie Boys
An interesting (and rock heavy) lineup was in the Top 20 this week, led by The Black Crowes’ first (and only) #1 album, which made a splashy debut (selling 142,000 units) and bumped teen rap duo Kris Kross from pole position. Never fear, Daddy Mac and Mac Daddy were in the midst of a 7-week run at the top of the singles chart with their debut single, “Jump”. Believe it or not, “Jump” was only the second single from a black rap act to hit the top of the pop singles chart at that point, following PM Dawn’s “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss”, which topped the charts at the top of the year. “Jump”, however, was quickly followed at the top of the charts by Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”. The album that spawned that song, Mack Daddy, was spending it’s first week in the Top 20. Spending it’s first week in the Top Ten? Pearl Jam’s debut album, Ten. Destined to become a rock classic, it’s actually (according to Soundscan) the biggest seller of all the albums in this particular week’s Top 20, scanning just a shade under 10 million units.
You can look at the other titles in the Top 20 and get a general flavor for what was going on at the time. Garth Brooks was on top of his game (as he was for much of the nineties), as his two signature albums flanked one another in the Top Ten. Freddie Mercury’s November 1991 death (and “Bohemian Rhapsody”‘s prime placement in the first “Wayne’s World” movie, lifted Queen into the Top Ten for the first time in a decade. R&B hadn’t yet really come into it’s own, with only one album from the genre in the Top 20 (although spots 21-30 housed albums by Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Color Me Badd and Vanessa Williams), and also outside the Top 20, Bruce Springsteen was feeling the effects of his first (relative) flop albums in ages (Human Touch and Lucky Town ranked at #24 and #37 after seven weeks in stores). Meanwhile, Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox made an inauspicious debut at #33 with her first solo album, Diva. Proving that it ain’t where you start, it’s where you finish, Diva has gone on to sell over 2.7 million albums.
Oh, and the one artist who appears in the Top 20 in ’92 and ’11? Dave Grohl-who was Nirvana’s drummer when Nevermind was a hit back in the day and now serves as the lead singer and drummer of the Foo Fighters, who rest in the runner-up spot this week. Also worth noting this week, the Beastie Boys’ appearance in the Top 20 with Check Your Head, as the trio is set to debut in the Top 5 (or possibly #1) next week.
Here’s this week’s (2011) Top 20 albums, in case you were wondering.
1) 21 | Adele
2) Wasting Light | Foo Fighters
3) Sigh No More | Mumford and Sons
4) Femme Fatale | Britney Spears
5) Lemonade Mouth Soundtrack | Various Artists
6) F.A.M.E. | Chris Brown
7) Glee-The Music Presents: The Warblers | Glee Cast
8) Teenage Dream | Katy Perry
9) Rolling Papers | Wiz Khalifa
10) So Beautiful or So What | Paul Simon
11) My Kinda Party | Jason Aldean
12) Paper Airplane | Alison Krauss & Union Station
13) Doo-Wops & Hooligans | Bruno Mars
14) Loud | Rihanna
15) Songs for Japan | Various Artists
16) Take Care Take Care Take Care | Explosions in the Sky
17) All at Once | Airborne Toxic Event
18) Hard Bargain | Emmylou Harris
19) Hello Fear | Kirk Franklin
20) Now That’s What I Call Music | Various Artists