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Timberlake earns Super Bowl sales spike — but Underwood is the real MVP

Paul Grein
Writer
Singers Carrie Underwood and Justin Timberlake backstage during the 55th Annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on Feb. 10, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)

Justin Timberlake earned the expected sales dividends from his halftime performance at Super Bowl LII — but the biggest single boost from the game went to Carrie Underwood, whose inspirational anthem “The Champion” (featuring Ludacris) shot to No. 1 on iTunes.

Underwood’s video performance of “The Champion” opened this year’s Super Bowl broadcast. That prime exposure has enabled it to surpass Timberlake’s “Say Something,” “Filthy,” and “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” which respectively hold down the No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 spots at iTunes. Underwood’s song sold 16K digital copies on Sunday, according to Nielsen. That’s twice as many as the top-selling song from Timberlake’s set, “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”

But you don’t need to feel too bad for Timberlake. Sales for all of the songs he performed during his halftime show soared by 534 percent in the United States on Sunday compared with the day before, according to Nielsen. Timberlake saw a 500 percent spike in YouTube views on the day of the game. His Spotify streams surged 214 percent during the hour that followed the game.

Timberlake has a fourth song in the iTunes top 10, “Man of the Woods,” at No. 10. And two of his older songs appear in the top 20: “Mirrors” at No. 14 and “Rock Your Body” at No. 17.

In addition, Timberlake is No. 1 on the iTunes’ album chart with his new album, Man of the Woods, which is on track to enter the Billboard 200 at No. 1 next week, with first-week activity in the 300K-400K range, despite mixed reviews.

Timberlake’s recording of “Say Something” (featuring country star Chris Stapleton) is the top new entry on Billboard’s Hot 100 this week, at No. 9. This matches the peak position (to date) of “Filthy,” the first single from Man of the Woods.

Stapleton and Timberlake first joined forces to perform Stapleton’s version of George Jones’s “Tennessee Whiskey” and Timberlake’s “Drink You Away” at the 2015 CMA Awards. The performance propelled Stapleton’s Traveller to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 — the first time a CMA performance had ever had such an impact.


“Say Something” is Timberlake’s 25th top 10 hit on the Hot 100, combining his 19 solo hits and six earlier hits with *NSYNC. It’s Stapleton’s highest-charting song to date, surpassing “Tennessee Whiskey,” which reached No. 20 in 2015 following the aforementioned CMA performance.

“Say Something” sold 98K digital copies this past week, which enables it to enter Top Digital Songs at No. 1. It’s Timberlake’s seventh No. 1 digital hit.

Timberlake has sold more than 41.2 million albums in the U.S., according to Nielsen, combining NSync and solo releases. NSync has sold 28.8 million albums, compared with 12.4 million for Timberlake as a solo artist. (NSync’s peak of popularity, circa 1998-2002, coincided with the peak of album sales.)

As a solo artist, Timberlake has achieved 2.6 billion on-demand song streams and 45 billion in cumulative airplay audience. His five top-selling digital song hits are “SexyBack” (featuring Timbaland, 4.9 million), “Mirrors” (3.9 million), T.I.’s “Dead and Gone” (featuring Timberlake, 3.5 million), Jay-Z’s “Holy Grail” (featuring Timberlake, 3.4 million), and “Suit & Tie” (featuring Jay-Z, 3.3 million).

Man of the Woods will be Timberlake’s fourth consecutive studio album to enter the Billboard 200 at No. 1. His first solo album, Justified, debuted and peaked at No. 2 in November 2002 behind the 8 Mile soundtrack, which was then in its second week. Counting NSync albums as well as his solo work, Man of the Woods will be Timberlake’s eighth consecutive (non-holiday) studio album to reach No. 1 or No. 2. That’s an impressive sign of staying power and consistency over a 20-year period, but reception to the album (and to Timberlake’s halftime show) indicates that he’s not quite the untouchable pop powerhouse he once was.

Underwood’s “The Champion” was the top new entry on Billboard’s Hot 100 two weeks ago, but, as often happens with new singles, it dropped off the chart in its second week. The Super Bowl has given the song a second wind. (The song will also be featured in the 2018 Winter Olympics, so watch this space.)

Top Albums

Migos lands their second No. 1 album in a row, as Culture II enters the Billboard 200 in the top spot. The trio’s sophomore album, Culture, debuted at No. 1 a year ago this week. Migos is the fourth rap group to land back-to-back No. 1 albums. The Beastie Boys lead all rap groups with three consecutive No. 1 albums (Ill Communication, Hello Nasty, and To the 5 Boroughs). Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and D12 also had back-to-back chart-toppers. (One other rap group, A Tribe Called Quest, landed two No. 1 albums, but they weren’t back-to-back.)

Migos has 14 songs on this week’s Hot 100, which enables the rap trio to tie the Beatles for most charted songs ever by a group in one week. The Fab Four charted 14 songs on April 11, 1964. (The comparison is apples to oranges, as such sweeps are much easier to accomplish today.)

The soundtrack of The Greatest Showman holds at No. 2 in its eighth week. It spent two weeks at No. 1. The album outsold Culture II in traditional album sales but lost out when digital track sales and streaming were factored in. (This is the second time The Greatest Showman has suffered this fate.) The Greatest Showman logs its sixth week at No. 1 on Top Soundtracks. It spends its fourth week at No. 1 on the Official U.K. Albums Chart. British dance trio Above & Beyond lands their first top 10 album, as Common Ground debuts at No. 3.

Bruno Mars’s 24K Magic rebounds from No. 10 to No. 4 in its 63rd week in the wake of its six-Grammy sweep. The album debuted and peaked at No. 2. This is the 15th time in the past 27 years that the album that won the Grammy for Album of the Year has ranked in the top 5 on the Billboard 200 in the week following the awards. It’s the first album to do so since Mumford & Sons’ Babel returned to No. 1 following its win five years ago.

Ed Sheeran’s ÷ drops from No. 3 to No. 5 in its 48th week. The album spent its first two weeks at No. 1. Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. holds at No. 6 in its 42nd week. The album spent four weeks at No. 1. Camila Cabello’s Camila drops from No. 4 to No. 7 in its third week. The album debuted at No. 1. Post Malone’s Stoney drops from No. 5 to No. 8 in its 60th week. The album peaked at No. 4. Khalid’s American Teen rebounds from No. 15 to No. 9 in its 48th week. The album peaked at No. 4. Imagine Dragons’ Evolve rebounds from No. 13 to No. 10 in its 32nd week. The album debuted and peaked at No. 2.

Fall Out Boy’s MANIA dives from No. 1 to No. 30 in its second week. That’s the steepest fall from No. 1 for an album in its second week since LCD Soundsystem’s American Dream plummeted from No. 1 to No. 56 last September. Three other albums drop out of the top 10 this week. G-Eazy’s The Beautiful & Damned drops from No. 7 to No. 11. Lil Uzi Vert’s Luv Is Rage 2 drops from No. 8 to No. 12. Taylor Swift’s Reputation drops from No. 9 to No. 13. Reputation spent its first 11 weeks in the top 10 before dropping out. That’s a big letdown after Swift’s previous album, 1989, which spent its first 53 weeks in the top 10.

Chris Stapleton’s From a Room: Volume 2 rebounds from No. 55 to No. 18 in its ninth week in the wake of Stapleton winning three Grammys. The album debuted and peaked at No. 2. The album returns to No. 1 on Top Country Albums, displacing LANCO’s debut album, Hallelujah Nights. This is its second week on top.

Grammy Nominees 2018 jumps from No. 32 to No. 20 in its third week. This is the 23rd consecutive installment in this franchise to make the top 20.

Drake’s 2011 album Take Care drops from No. 42 to No. 47 in its 257th week. The album debuted at No. 1. The album rises to No. 1 on Top Catalog Albums. This marks Drake’s first appearance at No. 1 on the catalog chart.

Top Songs

Drake’s “God’s Plan,” which entered the Hot 100 at No. 1 last week, sits tight in its second week. That might not sound like it would be that hard to do, but the last four singles to debut at No. 1 all dropped out of the top spot in their second week. “God’s Plan” is the first song to spend its first two weeks at No. 1 since Adele’s “Hello” spent its first 10 weeks on top in 2015-2016. “God’s Plan” also logs its second week at No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and on the Official U.K. Singles Chart.

Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” holds at No. 2 in its 23rd week. The song logged six weeks at No. 1. Bruno Mars & Cardi B’s “Finesse” rebounds from No. 5 to No. 3 in its fifth week, matching its highest ranking to date. Camila Cabello’s “Havana” (featuring Young Thug) dips from No. 3 to No. 4 in its 25th week. The song reached No. 1. Post Malone’s “Rockstar” (featuring 21 Savage) dips from No. 4 to No. 5 in its 20th week. The song has been in the top 5 the entire time. It spent eight weeks at No. 1. Halsey’s “Bad at Love” holds at No. 6 in its 22nd week. The song has climbed as high as No. 5.

Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” inches up from No. 8 to No. 7 in its 27th week. The song spent two weeks at No. 1 on the Official U.K. Singles Chart last August. “MotorSport,” by Migos, Nicki Minaj & Cardi B, rebounds from No. 11 to No. 8 in its 14th week. The song peaked at No. 6. Imagine Dragons’ “Thunder” dips from No. 9 to No. 10 in its 40th week. The song peaked at No. 4. It tops Hot Rock Songs for a 14th week. Drake’s “Diplomatic Immunity” and G-Eazy’s “No Limit” (featuring A$AP Rocky & Cardi B) fall out of the top 10 this week.

“The Middle,” by Zedd, Maren Morris, and Grey, debuts at No. 23. This is Morris’s highest-charting crossover hit to date, topping Thomas Rhett’s “Craving You,” on which she was featured, which peaked at No. 39. Jason Aldean’s “You Make It Easy” debuts at No. 28. Aldean first cracked the top 30 in May 2009 with “She’s Country.”

For the second week in a row, Jennifer Lopez has a name check on two songs in the top 40. She is mentioned on Drake’s “Diplomatic Immunity” and MAX’s “Lights Down Low” (featuring gnash).

Chart Watch coming attractions: In addition to Timberlake’s Man of the Woods, look for lofty debuts next week by Now 65 and AWOLNATION’s Here Come the Runts.