This is the fourth time in the past six years that the year's top soundtrack was from a TV show rather than a theatrically-released movie. This is the second year in a row that a Twilight soundtrack has been the year's top-selling soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse took that title in 2010.
This is only the third time since 1992 that no soundtrack has sold 1 million copies during the year. This first happened in 2004 when the year's top soundtrack, Shrek 2, sold 939K. It also happened in 2010, when Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album sold 917K copies.
Soundtrack sales peaked in 1998 when Titanic sold a staggering 9,338,000 copies during the year. The Bodyguard and The Lion King also sold more than 4 million copies each during their peak years.
Here's a list of the best-selling soundtracks for each year from 1992 (the first full year of Nielsen SoundScan accounting) through 2011. For years in which a TV soundtrack came out on top, I also show the year's top-selling soundtrack from a theatrically-released movie. (That's for you purists who don't quite consider the Glee Christmas album to be a "soundtrack.") The sales tally right after the title is the number of copies the soundtrack sold in that calendar year. The "Overall ranking" at the end of the paragraph refers to the soundtrack's ranking among all of that year's albums.
1993: Whitney Houston, The Bodyguard, 5,460,000. The soundtrack sold even more copies the following year thanks to the continuing success of "I Will Always Love You" and Houston's follow-up hits, notably "I'm Every Woman" and "I Have Nothing." In March 1994, the soundtrack won a Grammy as Album of the Year. Overall ranking: #1.
1995: Dangerous Minds, 2,608,000. "Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio featuring L.V. was the #1 smash from this soundtrack. The song was based on hidden gem on Stevie Wonder's 1976 masterwork, Songs In The Key Of Life. Overall ranking: #11.
1996: Waiting To Exhale, 2,550,000. Whitney Houston co-starred in this chick flick and contributed two top 10 hits to the all-female soundtrack: "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" and "Count On Me" (a duet with CeCe Winans). Other hits on the soundtrack include Mary J. Blige's "Not Gon' Cry" and Brandy's "Sittin' Up In My Room." Overall ranking: #12.
1998: Titanic, 9,338,000. Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme From 'Titanic')" was the #1 hit that powered this blockbuster album. Dion's chest-thumping smash won a Grammy as Record of the Year. The song won both a Grammy as Song of the Year and an Oscar. Overall ranking: #1.
1999: Tarzan, 1,497,000. Phil Collins' "You'll Be In My Heart" reached #21 on the Hot 100 and won an Oscar. Overall ranking: #49.
2000: Mission: Impossible 2, 1,344,000. Metallica's "I Disappear" and Limp Bizkit's "Take A Look Around (Theme From "M:I-2")" were the key tracks from this album. The first Mission: Impossible soundtrack was a hit in 1996. The TV show on which the franchise was based debuted in 1966. Overall ranking: #56.
2002: 8 Mile: 3,498,000. Eminem starred in the movie and contributed four songs to the soundtrack. One of those songs, the anthemic "Lose Yourself," logged 12 weeks at #1 and won an Oscar. 50 Cent's "Wanksta" also made the top 20. Overall ranking: #5.
2004: Shrek 2, 939,000. Counting Crows' "Accidentally In Love" was a top 40 hit from this soundtrack. The album also included Lipps, Inc.'s 1980 smash "Funkytown." The first Shrek soundtrack was a hit in 2001. Overall ranking: #74.
2005: Get Rich Or Die Tryin', 1,103,000. 50 Cent starred in this movie which was based on his 2003 album. He also contributed three Hot 100 hits: "Window Shopper," "Hustler's Ambition" and "Best Friend" (which reunited him with his "Candy Shop" cohort, Olivia). Overall ranking: #42.
2007: High School Musical 2, 2,957,000. The cast's "What Time Is It" was a top 10 hit from this soundtrack to the Disney Channel sequel. Overall ranking: #2. Hairspray was the year's top soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie. It sold 922,000 copies. The Broadway show on which the musical was based opened in 2002. Overall ranking: 45.
2008: Mamma Mia!, 1,406,000. Meryl Streep starred in this trifle which is built around Abba's irresistable music. The movie was based on the stage musical which opened in 2001. Overall ranking: #12.
2010: Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album, 917,000. The cast's versions of "O Holy Night," "Baby, It's Cold Outside" and Wham!'s "Last Christmas" were Hot 100 hits. The TV show debuted on Fox in 2009. Overall ranking: #16. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse was the year's top soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie. It sold 517,000 copies. Muse's "Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)" was a Hot 100 hit from the album. Overall ranking: #48.
2011: Lemonade Mouth, 379,000. The biggest hit from the album was "Determinate" by Bridgit Mendler featuring Adam Hicks, which reached #51 on the Hot 100. Overall ranking #68. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part One was the year's top soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie. It sold 368,000 copies. The biggest hit from the Twilight album is Bruno Mars' "It Will Rain," which has climbed as high as #3. Overall ranking: #71.
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