Week Ending Aug. 19, 2012. Albums: Marley In Top 20
More than 28 years after it was first released, Bob Marley & the Wailers' Legend finally cracks the top 20 on The Billboard 200. Legend, the one reggae album that everybody owns, leaps from #38 to #18 in its 236th week on the chart. The uptick is due to several factors: being discounted at Best Buy, being carried by Starbucks and buzz from the documentary Marley which opened in April. (Far more people meant to see the film than actually saw it. It grossed $1.4 million.)
Legend originally peaked at #54 in October 1984. It remained on the chart for 113 weeks. After that, it was considered a catalog title and was no longer eligible to compete on The Billboard 200. That changed in 2009, when a much-needed rule change allowed catalog albums to compete alongside current albums on The Billboard 200. The album reached a new peak, #26 in June 2011, and this week climbs to another new peak.
Legend is the 10th best-selling album of the Nielsen SoundScan era, with sales of 11,103,000 copies since 1991. Among greatest hits albums, it's second only to the Beatles' 1, which has sold 12,083,000 copies. Could Legend one day surpass 1 as the best-selling greatest hits album in Nielsen SoundScan history? Let's take a look. In the past five years, Legend has sold 1,892,000 copies, compared to 1,111,000 for 1. So Legend is closing the gap with the hit-studded Beatles collection. It may well surpass it, but it will probably take several years. (Let me remind you that the figure for Marley's album doesn't in any way count its first seven years of sales.)
Legend returns to #1 on the Top Catalog Albums chart for the first time since May 2010. This is the album's 112th week at #1 since 1991. That's more weeks on top than any other album. In fact, it's more than the two runners-up combined. They are Creed's My Own Prison, with 54 weeks at #1 on the catalog chart, and the Grease soundtrack, with 52 weeks on top.
Shameless Plug: Later today, we'll post a Chart Watch Extra in which I look at the 25 albums that have topped the catalog chart for 12 or more weeks since 1991. The list includes 11 greatest hits albums, three Christmas albums, two various-artists compilations and one movie soundtrack (the aforementioned Grease). Just one act appears twice on the list. You could guess and then find out for sure when we post this later today.