Chart Watch Extra: Bad Year For Soundtracks
This past year was the worst for movie and TV soundtrack albums since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales for Billboard in 1991. Not one soundtrack sold even 400,000 copies during the year, which is less than half of the previous low. The best-selling soundtrack of 2011 was from Lemonade Mouth (a Disney Channel movie), which sold 379,000 copies during the year. The best-selling soundtrack from a theatrically-released movie was The Twilight Series: Breaking Dawn—Part One, which sold 368K copies.
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.
1992: Whitney Houston, The Bodyguard, 3,835,000. The soundtrack sold that many copies in just six weeks, thanks to Houston's power ballad, "I Will Always Love You." The smash topped the Hot 100 for 14 weeks and went on to win a Grammy as Record of the Year. Houston starred in the movie with Kevin Costner. Overall ranking: #3.
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.