Carrie on! Underwood's big No. 1 bow | EW.com

TV | Inside TV

Carrie on! Underwood's big No. 1 bow

On the road to next week’s CMA Awards, there have been some sour faces on Nashville’s Music Row: Country CD sales have been down about 26 percent so far this year, versus the “mere” 14 percent sales sag for the music industry at large. But here, like a superheroine, comes uncostumed crusader Carrie Underwood to put a dent in that deficit. Her second album, Carnival Ride, debuted with a robust 527,000 copies. That’s not quite the best opening figure for a country album in 2007 — that honor still belongs to Rascal Flatts, whose Still Feels Good debuted last month with 547,000 — but it is the best for a female artist in any genre this year. (And she had the sixth-best bow overall, trailing only Kanye West, 50 Cent, Linkin Park, the High School Musical 2 soundtrack, and her rascally genre-mates.) Given the current trajectory of the business, the chances of her being able to sell 6 million of her sophomore effort, as she did of her 2005 bow, Some Hearts… well, let’s just say that they’re “So Small,” to quote her current single. But given the steadfastness of the country audience, there’s little doubt that Carnival will be a top 10 mainstay through and beyond the Christmas season.

Last week, a dreadful thought occurred to some of us: that it was a
good thing Underwood had a new album coming out, because if not, Josh
Groban’s Christmas CD would have a good chance of topping the chart… in
October. As it turned out, Groban really was the bestseller of the
holdovers from last week’s chart; his Noel sold another 65,400.
But that was only good enough for No. 5, since besides Carrie, there
were three other newcomers that did surprisingly well. The foremost
shocker was the critically hailed Robert Plant/Alison Krauss
collaboration Raising Sand, which opened at No. 2 with 112,300,
a number that probably nobody saw coming… not even the Rounder label,
which has never seen quite such an immediate return on their rootsy
investments. In at No. 3 was country star Gary Allan, who no doubt
picked up some impulse buyers who’d come into the store for Carrie. His
Living Hard sold 69,000 copies, almost exactly the same opening
that he had last year with his 70K-selling greatest hits album. The
fourth spot belonged to somebody who probably didn’t get a lot of trickle-down business from Underwood fans: System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian, whose solo debut, Elect the Dead, showed up on 66,000 sales ballots.

Two other new entries made it into the top 10: Coheed and Cambria’s Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Vol. Two: No World for Tomorrow, which wasn’t too much of a mouthful for 62,000 fans, and Seether’s Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces, which found space on 57,000 shelves. Other sizable debuts: Neil Young’s Chrome Dreams II,
in at No. 11 with 54,000 first-week sales; Juanes, at No. 13 with 47,000;
Hurricane Chris, entering at No. 24 with 26,000; plus Say Anything at
No. 27, a Ryan Adams EP at No. 40, Dwight Yoakam’s Buck Owens tribute
at No. 42, and Steven Curtis Chapman at No. 47.

As for the next week, the first new Eagles studio album in 28 years, Long Road Out of Eden,
has a good shot at being the biggest seller. One problem: if it is,
we’ll probably never know, because it’s a Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club retail
exclusive, and as such, barring some sort of last-minute development in
Wal-Mart/Soundscan relations, it won’t show up on the chart at all
no matter how many hundreds of thousands of units the low-priced
double-CD sells in those big-box outlets. So Britney Spears’ Blackout is a lock for No. 1, with unofficial projections that it’ll probably move a good but not spectacular 300-400K.

Last week, a dreadful thought occurred to some of us: that it was agood thing Underwood had a new album coming out, because if not, JoshGroban’s Christmas CD would have a good chance of topping the chart… inOctober. As it turned out, Groban really was the bestseller of theholdovers from last week’s chart; his Noel sold another 65,400.But that was only good enough for No. 5, since besides Carrie, therewere three other newcomers that did surprisingly well. The foremostshocker was the critically hailed Robert Plant/Alison Krausscollaboration Raising Sand, which opened at No. 2 with 112,300,a number that probably nobody saw coming… not even the Rounder label,which has never seen quite such an immediate return on their rootsyinvestments. In at No. 3 was country star Gary Allan, who no doubtpicked up some impulse buyers who’d come into the store for Carrie. HisLiving Hard sold 69,000 copies, almost exactly the same openingthat he had last year with his 70K-selling greatest hits album. Thefourth spot belonged to somebody who probably didn’t get a lot of trickle-down business from Underwood fans: System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian, whose solo debut, Elect the Dead, showed up on 66,000 sales ballots.

Two other new entries made it into the top 10: Coheed and Cambria’s Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Vol. Two: No World for Tomorrow, which wasn’t too much of a mouthful for 62,000 fans, and Seether’s Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces, which found space on 57,000 shelves. Other sizable debuts: Neil Young’s Chrome Dreams II,in at No. 11 with 54,000 first-week sales; Juanes, at No. 13 with 47,000;Hurricane Chris, entering at No. 24 with 26,000; plus Say Anything atNo. 27, a Ryan Adams EP at No. 40, Dwight Yoakam’s Buck Owens tributeat No. 42, and Steven Curtis Chapman at No. 47.

As for the next week, the first new Eagles studio album in 28 years, Long Road Out of Eden,has a good shot at being the biggest seller. One problem: if it is,we’ll probably never know, because it’s a Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club retailexclusive, and as such, barring some sort of last-minute development inWal-Mart/Soundscan relations, it won’t show up on the chart at all…no matter how many hundreds of thousands of units the low-priceddouble-CD sells in those big-box outlets. So Britney Spears’ Blackout is a lock for No. 1, with unofficial projections that it’ll probably move a good but not spectacular 300-400K.