Josh Groban's Noel holds at #1 for the third straight week, posting sales of 581,000. It's the first holiday album to log three consecutive weeks at #1 since Elvis Presley's Elvis' Christmas Album in 1957. Elvis's album had four weeks total in the lead, a feat Groban is sure to match and may even top. This is the second time in a month that an old Presley record has been equaled. In November, Jay-Z tied Presley for the most #1 albums by a solo artist. Presley has been dead for more than 30 years and is still generating headlines, a sign of his phenomenal sales and continuing hold on the popular imagination.
With three chart weeks to go in the year, Noel is likely to top High School Musical 2 as the #1 CD of 2007. Noel has sold 2,110,000 copies so far, just 416,000 shy of HSM2's year-to-date total. It's also likely to surpass Kenny G's Miracles-The Holiday Album for the highest sales total by a seasonal album in a calendar year. Miracles sold 2,987,000 copies in its first year of release, 1994. To break Kenny G's record, Groban has to sell 877,000 more copies in the next three weeks. Can he do it? Bet on it.
This is the seventh consecutive week that the #1 album has sold in excess of 400,000 copies. That's the longest streak in which the #1 album has sold like a #1 album is supposed to since 2001, when, for seven straight weeks, releases by Britney Spears, Garth Brooks and Creed sold in excess of 400K. The last time the #1 album sold this well for more than seven straight weeks was at the end of 2000, when the winning streak extended to nine weeks. This may not seem like much to you, but to the shell-shocked people working in the music industry, who have endured years of cutbacks and sliding sales, it's something approaching a Christmas miracle.
Alicia Keys's As I Am moves up a notch to #2 (with sales of 234,000), three weeks after debuting in the top spot. The album has sold 1,584,000 copies in just four weeks. It's already #11 for the year-to-date and is likely to wind up around #6 for the year. That would match the ranking of Keys's debut album, Songs In A Minor, which was the #6 CD of 2001.
The Eagles' Long Road Out Of Eden slips a notch to #3 (with sales of 204,000), five weeks after opening at #1. The album has sold 1,969,000 copies to date, which puts it #5 on the year-to-date tally. It's likely to wind up right around #3 for the year, behind just Noel and HSM2. The Eagles' album will be the #1 CD of the year by a rock artist and the #1 CD of the year by a group. It's currently second on both tallies to the eponymous debut album by Daughtry.
Now 26 holds at #4 for the second week (with sales of 158,000). Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus moves up from #7 to #5 (with sales of 132,000). The album is #4 for the year-to-date, with sales of 1,977,000. HSM2 holds at #6, with sales of 128,000. This is the first time that Hannah Montana 2 has ranked ahead of its fellow Disney sequel since HSM2 was released in August.
Carrie Underwood's Carnival Ride moves up from #9 to #7, six weeks after debuting at #1. This brings the album's sales to 1,269,000, which puts it at #20 for the year-to-date. Underwood will wind up as the only artist with two albums in the year's top 20. Her debut, Some Hearts, is #16 for the year-to-date. It was the #3 best-seller of 2006.
Garth Brooks's The Ultimate Hits drops from #5 to #8. Taylor Swift's eponymous debut album jumps from #12 to #9 in its 59th week on the chart. Swift won the Horizon Award at the Country Music Assn. Awards and is nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist. Swift's album is #12 on the year-to-date list, with sales of 1,549,000. It, too, could easily wind up in the year's top 10.
In the ongoing American Idol saga, Audio Day Dream by this year's runner-up, Blake Lewis, opens at #10 with sales of 98,000. That matches the opening chart position, but falls short of the opening week's sales tally, posted two weeks ago by this year's winner, Jordin Sparks. Sparks, you will recall, opened with sales of 119,000-a new low for a debut album by an Idol winner. Lewis's total puts him in the middle of the pack for the best opening weeks by Idol runners-up. Clay Aiken, Bo Bice and Katharine McPhee all sold more; Justin Guarini and Diana DeGarmo sold less.
It may seem unfair to constantly compare the contestants' progress, but the show is called American Idol-singular. It was set up as a competition where there is one clear winner. In reality, as we have seen, there can be multiple "winners." Clay Aiken finished second in Season 2. Daughtry ranked fourth in Season 5. Jennifer Hudson came in seventh in Season 3. All have done rather well for themselves. So while the original concept for the show was that of a winner-takes-all event like the Miss America pageant, in reality it's more like the Grammy competition for Best New Artist. In the Grammy contest, too, it's still probably better to win than lose, but many "losers" have gone on to do very well, thank you. Just ask Led Zeppelin, Elton John, the Eagles and Green Day, all of whom came up short on Grammy night.
Two albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas Song (which features Johnny Mathis and Olivia Newton-John) dips from #10 to #11. Celine Dion's Taking Chances drops from #8 to #12. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that Mannheim Steamroller will move back into the top 10 in coming weeks (it's a Christmas thing). Dion's album spent just three weeks in the top 10. By contrast, her best-selling album, Falling Into You, logged 61 weeks in the top 10 in 1996-97. (Yes, gentle readers, there was a time that albums sold strongly for that long. Falling Into You is tied with Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass' Whipped Cream And Other Delights for eighth place on the all-time list of albums with the longest runs in the top 10. The list is headed by The Sound Of Music soundtrack, which was in the top 10 for a whopping total of 109 weeks-from 1965, when it was released, into 1968.)
Scarface's M.A.D.E. opens at #17. It's the rapper's ninth consecutive studio album to reach the top 20. His output is topped by the 1997 release The Untouchable, which hit #1. Scarface (real name: Brad Jordan) first hit the pop album chart in the spring of 1990 as part of Ghetto Boys. (The group changed the spelling to the hipper The Geto Boys on its second album later that year.)
Besides Blake Lewis and Scarface, four other albums debut in the top 40 this week. Trace Adkins's American Man: Greatest Hits Vol. II bows at #22, Drama's Gangsta Gorillaz arrives at #26, Wyclef Jean's The Carnival II: Memoirs Of An Immigrant opens at #28, and Godsmack's Good Times, Bad Times debuts at #35. Adkins's first hits compilation, Greatest Hits Collection, Volume 1, made the top 10 in 2003. (His optimism in tagging that set "Volume 1" has been justified.)
Looking ahead to next week, look for debuts by Wu-Tang Clan's 8 Diagrams, Bow Wow and Omarion's Face Off, Dave Matthews Band's Live At Piedmont Park, Beanie Sigel's The Solution and The Dream's Love Hate. Due the following week: Mary J. Blige's Growing Pains.