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On the Charts: Lady Antebellum Gets Comfortable at the Top

Lil Wayne's 'Tha Carter IV' drops to Number Three

September 21, 2011 4:50 PM ET
lady antebellum irving plaza new york city
Lady Antebellum perform at Irving Plaza in New York City
Roger Kisby/Getty Images

WINNER OF THE WEEK: Lady Antebellum. But first, a quote from country star Eric Church, who hit Number One on the Billboard album charts a few weeks ago. "Up until now I've not had a Number One song, a Top Five song – I've barely had a Top 10 song!" he told us. "We've taken a little bit different approach." Now, Lady Antebellum is a totally different case – the extremely good-looking country trio surged into pop superstardom on the strength of its 2010 middle-of-the-road single "Need You Now." But the band's new album, Own the Night, leaped to Number One in its first week, selling 347,000 copies, with no hit single. There was nothing on the Billboard Hot 100 or BigChampagne's Ultimate Chart as of last Thursday, and the band isn't in iTunes' Top 10 singles this week. So that's where the Eric Church comparison comes in. For the most part, to have lasting success on the album charts these days, an artist needs smash singles on YouTube and radio. Undoubtedly Lady Antebellum will pursue this strategy, since its album is full of obvious radio hits. But for now, it's possible country artists have the unique power to grab Number One without a smash single.

LOSER OF THE WEEK: Lil Wayne. It turns out even somebody this ridiculously prolific has to stop churning out hot singles eventually. Lil Wayne's latest, "How to Love," hangs on to Number Seven on the Ultimate Chart, which measures online criteria such as Facebook likes and YouTube views, and hits Number Nine (up from Number 14) on Billboard's Hot 100. It hasn't disappeared by any means, but the rapper's album, Tha Carter IV, is perhaps feeling the effect of the comparatively lukewarm single activity. The album hit Number One last week (seems like a long time ago), then dropped 47 percent in sales, with just 117,000 this week, enough for Number Three. Our guess is we haven't seen the last of Tha Carter IV at this level. Maybe Weezy is just catching his breath.

CHARTING WITHOUT LISTENING: Coldplay didn't release any music this week and still managed to dominate iTunes. The band's first single "Paradise" hit Number Five and its album, Mylo Xyloto, hit Number Four. Of course, because it's not actually out yet, it didn't chart on either Billboard or BigChampagne. Which makes sense, we guess. The only remaining question, as others have asked: Why do people need to pre-order online music? The quantity is unlimited. It's not like it'll be unavailable if they buy too late.

LAST WEEK: The Beatles Rock iTunes

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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