On the latest Billboard 200 albums chart (dated Dec. 10), Metallica earned its sixth No. 1 album as Hardwired… to Self-Destruct bowed at No. 1 with 291,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Nov. 24, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 282,000 were in traditional album sales.
The Billboard 200 chart ranks the week's most popular albums based on their overall consumption. That overall unit figure combines pure album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA).
Now, let's take a closer look at some of the action on the latest Billboard 200 chart:
- Pentatonix, A Pentatonix Christmas - No. 4 - Pentatonix's A Pentatonix Christmas continues its run in the top 10 on the Billboard 200, as the set gets pushed back 2-4 -- despite a handsome 80 percent unit gain to 101,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Nov. 24, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 94,000 were in traditional album sales (up 87 percent). Just outside the top 10 is another holiday set from Pentatonix, the act's 2014 effort That's Christmas to Me, which jumps 18-12 with 29,000 units (up 62 percent) and 23,000 copies sold (up 63 percent).
So far, both A Pentatonix Christmas and That's Christmas to Me have peaked at No. 2 on the chart.
- Jordan Smith, 'Tis the Season - No. 21 - The Voice winner's holiday album zooms 112-21 with a 243 percent unit gain (to 20,000) thanks to a return to the TV show that launched him. He performed on the Nov. 22 episode of the NBC series.
- Celtic Woman, Voices of Angels - No. 77 - Over on the World Albums chart, the vocal group notches its 13th No. 1 with this set's chart-topping arrival (10,000 copies sold). In the 25-year history of the chart, only Celtic Thunder has more leaders, with 15.
- Prince, 4Ever - No. 80 - Prince's first posthumous release, the greatest-hits compilation 4Ever, debuts at No. 80 on the Billboard 200. The set marks the late icon's (he died on April 21) 40th charting album. 4Ever sold 8,000 copies in the week ending Nov. 24, according to Nielsen Music, and earned 9,000 equivalent album units. The album was released off-cycle on Nov. 22 (instead of the normal Friday release of Nov. 18 or Nov. 25), so it arrives on the chart with only two days of sales and consumption activity.
The new 40-song set is especially notable in that it includes a previously unreleased track, "Moonbeam Levels." The song was originally recorded in 1982 during sessions for the 1999 album.
The other 39 songs on 4Ever span 1978 to 1993 during his time with Warner Bros. Records -- from "Soft and Wet," his first charting single, to "Nothing Compares 2 U" in 1993. Of Prince's 30 top 40-charting hit songs on the Billboard Hot 100, 24 of them are represented on the 4Ever compilation. His only top 40 hits absent from the set are "Partyman," "The Arms of Orion" (both from the Batman soundtrack), "Money Don't Matter 2 Night," "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World," "LetItGo" and "I Hate U."
Interestingly, 4Ever sports the first appearance of Prince's Hot 100 No. 1 hit "Batdance" on any of his hits compilations. Though he released a number of greatest-hits albums since "Batdance" led the list in 1989, the track was absent from all of those albums (including The Hits/The B-Sides, The Very Best of Prince and Ultimate).
Since Prince died on April 21, his catalog of albums have sold 2.6 million in the U.S. Further, after his passing, his albums were so popular, that on the May 14-dated chart, he had a record 19 concurrently charting titles on the list.
- Vince Guaraldi Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas (Soundtrack) - No. 96 - The annual holiday favorite zooms from No. 197 to No. 96 with 8,000 units (up 98 percent) and 5,000 copies sold (up 83 percent). On the Top Holiday Albums chart, it climbs 35-26.
The album has proven to be a hot seller on vinyl, as it ranks at No. 5 on the Vinyl Albums chart with 2,000 sold (up 46 percent). The set is available in an array of permutations: a red/green swirl vinyl LP exclusive to Transworld stores, a picture disc that's exclusive to Barnes & Noble, a red LP for Urban Outfitters, and then a widely available green LP. (Oddly enough, there is not a standard black LP of the album currently in print.)
In 2015, the album sold 25,000 copies on vinyl LP and was the year's top-selling holiday set on vinyl. In 2016, it has so far sold another 8,000 copies, and since Nielsen started tracking sales in 1991, it has moved 55,000 on vinyl.
Over on the Vinyl Albums chart, the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack is pushed down 2-5 despite a 46 percent sales gain.
- The Beatles, Live at the Hollywood Bowl - No. 152 - Thanks to the album's release on vinyl LP, it jumps back onto the list at No. 152 with 6,000 units (up 223 percent) and 6,000 sold (up 243 percent). Of its sales sum, vinyl LPs accounted for 4,000 sold. On the Vinyl Albums chart, the set enters at No. 2.