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Chris Brown’s ‘Fortune’ sputters to No. 1 debut

Todd Martens
Los Angeles Times (MCT)

LOS ANGELES — Chris Brown can’t seem to escape controversy, and there’s evidence this week that all the hand-wringing about his recent work with Rihanna and his nightclubbing habits is starting to have an effect on his album sales. Although his latest, “Fortune,” debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. pop charts, and it is indeed his second-straight release to bow atop the Billboard tally, its launch has been a soft one.

“Fortune” leads the chart after selling 134,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. That’s far from the effect that his 2011 effort, “F.A.M.E.,” had when it was released, as that album, the first after his assault of one-time girlfriend Rihanna, opened with 270,000 copies sold. What’s more, while Brown ended up being the 10th-best selling digital singles artist of 2011, racking up more than 8.7 million download sales, his latest single, “Don’t Wake Me Up,” just barely cracked the top 100 on last week’s digital sales chart.

“Fortune,” which Brown has teased will be his “last” album, is the only effort to sell at least six figures this week. Its relatively tame debut follows weeks of gossip surrounding Brown’s purported involvement in a New York brawl with Drake.

Behind Brown is a familiar face on the charts. Katy Perry surges back into the top 10 this week after the release of her 3-D film “Katy Perry: Part of Me.” Her “Teenage Dream” went from No. 21 to No. 2, selling 80,000 copies this week. To date, the album has sold more than 2.3 million copies. The boost in album sales is a nice consolation for Perry, as the film opened with a so-so $10.3-million take at the box office.

It could be argued that it wasn’t even an artist who had the biggest effect on this week’s chart. In July, digital retailer Amazon placed 20 albums on sale for 99 cents. Perry’s “Teenage Dream” was among the litter, as was “Some Nights” from fun., Gotye’s “Making Mirrors,” Lionel Richie’s “Tuskegee” and the Black Keys’ “El Camino.”

The promotion juiced sales and lasted for just 24 hours, but sales did count on this week’s chart. Billboard enacted a chart rule last year that forbade albums from charting if the were sold for less than $3.49, but the fine print says that this rule is in effect only in the album’s first four weeks of release.

Billboard reports that all but one of the discounted titles made this week’s top 40, and the greatest beneficiary of the fire sale was U.K. dance artist Ellie Goulding. Her “Lights” bolted from No. 116 to No. 21, having sold 23,000 copies this week.

Other big gainers included Gotye’s “Making Mirrors,” which sold 44,000 and went from No. 31 to No. 6, fun.’s “Some Nights,” which jumped from No. 23 to No. 7 after selling 43,000 copies and the Black Keys’ “El Camino,” which soared from No. 55 to No. 10 on the strength of 37,000 copies sold.

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