'American Idol' on the Charts: Katharine McPhee Makes 'Smash' Return; Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood See Grammy Bumps
Season five’s runner-up has a "Bombshell" on The Billboard 200. Also: Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson enjoy improved chart fortunes thanks to music's biggest night.
THE MONROE DOCTRINE: It looks like a cast album to the new Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe, but Smash: Bombshell is actually a television soundtrack, the second one to chart from the NBC show Smash. One of the vocalists featured on this new release is the runner-up from season five of American Idol and a star of Smash, Katharine McPhee.
Bombshell debuts at No. 41 on The Billboard 200 and at a lofty No. 3 on the Top Soundtracks chart. The first soundtrack from this series, The Music of Smash, was released in May 2012. That album peaked at No. 9 on The Billboard 200, and clocked in at No. 1 on Top Soundtracks.
McPhee made her Billboard chart debut in June 2006 but had good reason to be familiar with the charts before that. On the top five show during her season, the finalists could choose any song from any Billboard top 10 from that current chart week. In consultation with a Billboard reporter, McPhee made a fairly obscure choice. On the Modern Rock chart, a then-mostly unknown song called “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” was sitting at No. 9 for Scottish singer K.T. Tunstall. On other charts, the song had not taken off yet -- on that week’s Hot 100, it had only climbed to No. 79.
McPhee elected to sing “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” and Tunstall, who had been vocal in her opposition to shows like Idol, surprisingly granted permission through her music publisher. Although Randy Jackson criticized McPhee’s performance, Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul strongly disagreed, praising the vocals and the unique staging. McPhee later selected “Black Horse” to sing in the season finale. And her performance on the top five show sent the original soaring up the Hot 100, to a peak position of No. 20. Tunstall publicly gave McPhee credit for her breakthrough in the American market.
Before the two Smash soundtracks, McPhee charted with three albums of her own. Her self-titled debut is her highest-charting set to date, peaking at No. 2 in 2007. Three years later, Unbroken went to No. 27. And later in 2010, her holiday CD, Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You, missed The Billboard 200 but peaked at No. 11 on the Top Holiday Albums chart.
We’ll have to wait and see if there will be any singles from Bombshell. McPhee had chart success with her single “Touch Me” from the first Smash soundtrack; that song reached No. 4 on the Hot Dance Club Play tally.
GRAMMY BUMPS: Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson benefit from their Grammy appearances and wins with some impressive bumps on the Billboard charts.
Underwood’s Blown Away storms 41-27 on The Billboard 200, where it was a No. 1 album last May. The current single, “Two Black Cadillacs,” races 10-3 on Country Digital Songs, where the previous single, the album’s title track, rebounds 12-5. On the Christian Songs list, the 2006 hit “Jesus, Take the Wheel” ascends 22-12, while “Temporary Home” re-enters at No. 40 and “How Great Thou Art” returns at No. 42.
Clarkson’s Greatest Hits: Chapter One rebounds 48-45, but that’s nothing compared to the resurgence of her Stronger album, which rockets 128-70 on The Billboard 200.
BITS AND PIECES: For the second week in a row, Scotty McCreery’s Clear As Day moves back up the Top Country Albums chart. After a 10-point climb to No. 44 last week, the debut set rises again, to No. 41… Phillip Phillips’ “Home,” which just passed 4 million in sales, is No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart for a fifth week and could be in for a long occupancy of the AC penthouse. Meanwhile, the follow-up single, “Gone, Gone, Gone,” advances 27-23 on the Triple A chart… Fantasia’s new single, “Lose to Win,” is poised to break into the top 10 of the Adult R&B chart next week. For now, it has to settle for a jump of 14-11.