Why is Bon Jovi’s album back at No. 1, two years later — and is that fair?


Bon Jovi’s 2016 album This House Is Not for Sale re-enters the Billboard 200 at No. 1, dislodging the hot-selling soundtrack to the blockbuster film Black Panther. How can that be? Bon Jovi’s album was boosted by a concert ticket/album sale redemption offer, in which fans who bought a ticket to Bon Jovi’s upcoming arena tour could also opt to get the album. A similar redemption offer enabled the album to debut at No. 1 back in November 2016.

Bon Jovi (Photo: AFP Relax
Bon Jovi (Photo: AFP Relax

Many other albums have benefited from such offers. Just since last summer, such promotions boosted Arcade Fire’s Everything Now, LCD Soundsystem’s American Dream, the Killers’ Wonderful Wonderful, Shania Twain’s Now, and P!nk’s Beautiful Trauma, all of which debuted at No. 1.

But while these bundles are an established practice in the music industry, they raise fairness issues. Is Bon Jovi’s album really the most popular album in America this week, or did the band’s team just capitalize on a quirk in chart methodology?

The album owes almost all of its success to the two promotions. It sold 128K copies in traditional album sales in its first week. It sold 120K copies this week. But get this: In the 67 weeks between those tent-pole weeks, it sold just 78K copies — on average, just a little more than 1K copies a week. Last week, without the promotion, the album sold just 175 copies.

Keith Caulfield, Billboard‘s co-director of charts, explained how these offers work in his chart recap this week. “For the tour’s ticket/album sale redemption offer, the price of the standard CD edition of This House Is Not for Sale was bundled into the purchase price of each ticket sold online to the tour. Customers received, via email, a redemption offer for the album, where they could choose to redeem the CD and have it mailed to them. The only sales that count towards the charts are those albums that are redeemed by customers. Many ticket buyers never redeem the offer.”

In a previous column, he explained the rationale behind the promotions. “Artists and record labels have increasingly turned to offering ticket/album bundles as a way to sell music, as the traditional retail landscape has changed dramatically in recent years, and as album sales continue to shrink. Not only are a growing number of fans turning to streaming in order to consume albums (instead of buying them), but the brick-and-mortar retailers that remain in business have dramatically reduced the number of titles they sell in stores (as well as the physical floor space for those albums). In turn, artists have found new ways to sell their music — from selling them bundled with merchandise, to offering them with concert tickets.”

Fair or not fair, This House Is Not for Sale will go down as Bon Jovi’s first album to log multiple weeks at No. 1 since New Jersey in 1988. That album, the band’s follow-up to their commercial breakthrough Slippery When Wet, spawned five top 10 hits on the Hot 100. This House Is Not for Sale has yet to spawn any Hot 100 hits.

This House Is Not for Sale returns to No. 1 following a 67-week gap. That’s the longest gap between appearances at No. 1 for any album since Bing Crosby’s Merry Christmas returned to No. 1 in January 1958, seven years after its most recent No. 1 appearance. (That album contained his immortal “White Christmas.”)

This House Is Not for Sale is the third album to re-enter the Billboard 200 at No. 1, following Chris Stapleton’s Traveller (following his big night at the CMA Awards in 2015) and Prince’s The Very Best of Prince (following his death in 2016). This House Is Not for Sale has been in release for 69 weeks, but this is just its eighth week on the Billboard 200. The album charted for seven weeks in late 2016 and early 2017.

Bon Jovi’s tour kicks off on March 14 at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The 24-date U.S. trek is slated to conclude on May 24 at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

Bon Jovi will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 14. Howard Stern is set to do the honors.

Top Albums

Black Panther: The Album dips from No. 1 to No. 2 in its third week. It spent two weeks on top. The album is No. 1 on Top Soundtracks for the third week.

Migos’s Culture II dips from No. 2 to No. 3 in its fifth week. The album debuted at No. 1.

6ix9ine’s Day 69 debuts at No. 4. It’s the rapper’s debut mixtape. The 21-year-old reached No. 12 on the Hot 100 in December with “Gummo.”

The Greatest Showman soundtrack drops from No. 3 to No. 5 in its 12th week. The album spent two weeks at No. 1.

Ed Sheeran’s ÷ inches up from No. 7 to No. 6 in its 52nd week. The album spent its first two weeks at No. 1.

Post Malone’s Stoney rebounds from No. 9 to No. 7 in its 64th week. The album peaked at No. 4.

Imagine Dragons’ Evolve rebounds from No. 13 to No. 8 in its 36th week. The album debuted and peaked at No. 2. The album was reissued on Feb. 21 with a new track, “Next to Me.” It also was on sale in the iTunes Store.

Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. drops from No. 7 to No. 9 in its 46th week. The album spent four weeks at No. 1.

Vance Joy lands his first top 10 album as his sophomore album, Nation of Two, debuts at No. 10. His first album, Dream Your Life Away, debuted and peaked at No. 17 in September 2014. That album included his top 30 hit “Riptide.”

Four albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Nipsey Hussle’s Victory Lap drops from No. 4 to No. 14. Brandi Carlile’s By the Way, I Forgive You plummets from No. 5 to No. 76. Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods drops from No. 6 to No. 11. The Fifty Shades Freed soundtrack drops from No. 10 to No. 17.

Kane Brown’s Kane Brown rebounds from No. 27 to No. 22 in its 65th week. The album peaked at No. 5. The album logs its seventh week at No. 1 on Top Country Albums.

Ed Sheeran’s x drops from No. 50 to No. 53 in its 193rd chart week. The album debuted at No. 1. The album logs its 12th week at No. 1 on Top Catalog Albums.

Top Songs

Drake’s “God’s Plan,” which entered the Hot 100 at No. 1 five weeks ago, sits tight in its sixth week. “God’s Plan” is the first song to spend its first six weeks at No. 1 since Adele’s “Hello” spent its first 10 weeks on top in 2015-16. It’s the first song by a male artist to spend its first six weeks at No. 1 since Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind”/”Something about the Way You Look Tonight,” which spent its first 14 weeks on top in 1997-98.

“God’s Plan” seems likely to log 10 or more weeks at No. 1. It would be Drake’s second song to do so, following his 2016 smash “One Dance,” which spent 10 weeks on top. Drake is vying to become the second male solo artist with two singles that have logged 10 or more weeks at No. 1. Pharrell Williams was the first, but only combining lead and featured roles. He was featured on Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” (12 weeks on top in 2013) and followed up with his own “Happy” (10 weeks in 2014).

“God’s Plan” logs its sixth week at No. 1 on both the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and the Official U.K. Singles Chart.

Post Malone’s “Psycho” (featuring Ty Dolla $ign) is this week’s top new entry at No. 2. It’s his second single to debut at No. 2, following “Rockstar” (featuring 21 Savage), which opened at No. 2 behind in October behind Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves).” (It logged three weeks in the runner-up spot before it moved up to No. 1.) This is Post Malone’s third top 10 hit, following “Congratulations” (featuring Quavo) and “Rockstar.” It’s Ty Dolla $ign’s highest-charting hit to date. It surpasses Fifth Harmony’s “Work from Home,” which peaked at No. 4.

“Psycho” sold 80K digital copies, which allows it to enter Top Digital Songs at No. 1. “Rockstar” also entered the digital sales chart at No. 1. (Surprisingly, that was its only week on top of that chart.)

Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” dips from No. 2 to No. 3 in its 27th week. The song logged six weeks at No. 1.

Bruno Mars & Cardi B’s “Finesse” dips from its No. 3 peak to No. 4 in its ninth week.

Camila Cabello’s “Havana” (featuring Young Thug) dips from No. 4 to No. 5 in its 29th week. The song reached No. 1.

BlocBoy JB’s “Look Alive” (featuring Drake) dips from its No. 5 peak to No. 6 in its third week.

“Meant to Be” by Bebe Rehxa and Florida Georgia Line rebounds from No. 8 to No. 7 in its 19th week, matching its highest ranking to date. “Meant to Be” holds at No. 1 on Hot Country Songs for the 14th consecutive week.

Post Malone’s “Rockstar” (featuring 21 Savage) drops from No. 6 to No. 8 in its 24th week. The song spent eight weeks at No. 1.

Two songs from Black Panther: The Album round out the top 10. “Pray for Me” by the Weeknd & Kendrick Lamar holds at No. 9 in its fourth week. The song peaked at No. 7. “All The Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and SZA drops from its No. 7 peak to No. 10 in its eighth week.

“The Middle” by Zedd, Maren Morris, and Grey jumps from No. 13 to No. 11 in its fifth week. Zedd and Grey collaborated on a previous hit, Hailee Steinfeld and Grey’s “Starving” (featuring Zedd), which reached No. 12.

Logic’s “44 More” is the week’s second-highest new entry at No. 22. It’s vying to become his third top 15 hit, following the all-star “Sucker for Pain” and “1-800-273-8255” (featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid).

Migos’s “Stir Fry” drops out of the top 10 this week.