Chart Watch: Early Winners & Losers In Christmas Album Race (Quack, Quack)
The Robertsons' Duck The Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas enters The Billboard 200 at #4 this week. The album, a spin-off from the reality TV series Duck Dynasty, sold 69K copies in the week ending Nov. 3. That's less than 1K copies behind Kelly Clarkson's expected smash Wrapped In Red—and way ahead of under-performing holiday albums by such stars as Susan Boyle and Mary J. Blige. (We'll get to those.)
Duck The Halls isn't the first Christmas album that was drawn from a TV show to reach the top 10. Two Glee Christmas albums went top 10. Also, two Christmas albums by Mitch Miller & the Gang reached (or returned to) the top 10 during the 1961-1964 run of Sing Along With Mitch. (For the record, Nielsen SoundScan isn't classifying Duck The Halls as a TV soundtrack.)
Duck The Halls, which features country stars George Strait, Luke Bryan, Alison Krauss and Josh Turner, enters Top Country Albums at #1, displacing Luke Bryan's Crash My Party. It's only the second Christmas album to reach #1 on the country chart. The first was Garth Brooks' Garth Brooks & The Magic Of Christmas, which scored in December 1999. (Brooks' first and bigger-selling Christmas album, Beyond The Season, spent four weeks at #2 on the country chart in 1992.)
If Duck The Halls maintains this pace and winds up as the #1 or #2 holiday album of the season, this would mark the first time since the 1990s that a country holiday album has fared so well. Brooks' Beyond The Season was the #1 holiday album of 1992, Vince Gill's Let There Be Peace On Earth was the #2 holiday album of 1993 and Garth Brooks & The Magic Of Christmas was #2 for 1999.
But the Robertsons will have to contend with the formidable Kelly Clarkson, whose Wrapped In Red debuts at #3. Clarkson is vying to become the female American artist to have the year's top holiday album since Nielsen SoundScan started tracking music sales in 1991. If Clarkson does win the holiday album derby, this would be the second time that an American Idol alum has had the year's top holiday seller. Clay Aiken's Merry Christmas With Love was the top holiday album of 2004.
All six of Clarkson's studio albums have reached the top three. Her only full-length album to fall short of the top three is Greatest Hits—Chapter One, which peaked at #11 last year. And that was just because greatest hits albums don't sell well in an era when fans can cherry-pick their favorites on iTunes. In a previous era, that would have been a #1 album.