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On the Charts: Adam Lambert Makes History

Plus: 'Glee' falls off, Ellie Goulding lights up

May 23, 2012 1:40 PM ET
Adam Lambert
Adam Lambert attends 103.5 KTU's KTUphoria in Holmdel City, New Jersey.
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

WINNER OF THE WEEK: Adam Lambert. (And American Idol, whose past and present eras make their presence known on the charts this week). Lambert's Trespassing album debuts at Number One on Billboard's album chart by selling 77,000 copies, making the one-time Idol runner-up the first openly gay male artist to top the chart. Meanwhile, season-four winner Carrie Underwood's Blown Away LP lands at Number Three this week with 54,000 copies.

Pop stars associated with NBC's The Voice are also enjoying a nice little run. Maroon 5's "Payphone" is at Number Two on iTunes' singles chart this week and Number Three on Billboard's digital-songs chart, selling 282,000 copies. On the Ultimate Chart, contestant Tony Lucca (judge Christina Aguilera's former fellow Mouseketeer) sends his bluesy version of the Jay-Z hit "99 Problems" to Number 14, while his collaboration with Adam Levine on the Beatles' "Yesterday" hits Number 23. Conclusion: From a chart perspective, generally, it's better to be a Voice judge and an Idol contestant. 

LOSER OF THE WEEK: That other music show. This week's Glee finale dropped in the TV ratings compared to last year (12.1 million in 2011 vs.  7.6 million this year), and its latest soundtrack album scores the lowest first-week sales in franchise history. Glee, the Music: Season Three – the Graduation Album, which features barbershopped versions of fun.'s "We Are Young," Queen's "We Are the Champions" and Green Day's "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)," sold just 39,000 copies, landing at Number Eight (on both Billboard's albums chart and iTunes) during a slow sales week.

'LIGHTS' WON'T DIM: One of our favorite chart-watching techniques is to study the 20-40 range on BigChampagne's Ultimate Chart, which measures not only traditional sales but stuff like YouTube views and Facebook likes. The Top 20 is usually stable, but lower down we see, for example, Kanye West's "Mercy" jumping 50 slots to Number 38, and B.O.B.'s "Both of Us" increasing 46 slots to Number 37, just as his "So Good" track drops 13 spots to Number 36. The most interesting development this week is with singer-songwriter (and Skrillex girlfriend) Ellie Goulding, whose "Lights" single leaps 29 spots to Number 34 with minimal new promotion – she appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in April and sold Lights, the album, for $6.99 on iTunes earlier this month. The track has sold 1 million copies overall.

LAST WEEK: Rihanna's 'Ship' Sails

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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