Week Ending Dec. 2, 2012. Albums: Good Week Or Bad For Keys?
Alicia Keys' Girl On Fire enters The Billboard 200 at #1. It's Keys' fifth #1 album out of six releases. Here's the odd part: Girl On Fire puts Keys back at #1 even though it sold less than half of what her last album, The Element Of Freedom, sold when it debuted and peaked at #2 in December 2009. Girl On Fire sold 159K this week. The Element Of Freedom sold 417K when it bowed. That album had the misfortune of debuting when there was a phenomenon at #1. Susan Boyle's I Dreamed A Dream sold 661K in its fourth week at #1.
This is the slowest start to date for a Keys album. It sold even fewer copies than Keys' Unplugged album sold (196K) in its first week in October 2005. Of course, overall sales aren't as healthy as they were in 2005. Here a positive note for Keys: The title track (featuring Nicki Minaj) is shaping up as a big hit. It surges from #17 to #3 on this week's Hot Digital Songs chart.
Only two other female R&B (or pop/R&B crossover) artists have five or more #1 albums. Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson have each had six. (Disclaimers: Beyonce has also had six #1 albums if you combine her solo and Destiny's Child albums. And of course all of these artists transcend R&B, but the music industry is built on categories.)
Girl On Fire sold 56K digital copies, which puts it at #1 on Top Digital Albums.
Christmas albums are helping the music industry keep the lights on this holiday season. There are a whopping 78 Christmas albums on this week's Billboard 200, up from 49 last week. There are four Christmas albums in this week's top 10. It's the first time that has happened in 20 years. Rod Stewart's Merry Christmas, Baby jumps from #6 to #3 (matching its highest ranking to date), Michael Buble's Christmas rebounds from #16 to #7, Lady Antebellum's On This Winter's Night rebounds from #19 to #8 (a new peak) and Blake Shelton's Cheers, It's Christmas jumps from #18 to #9 (breaking into the top 10 for the first time).
The last time four holiday albums appeared in the top 10 at the same time was in December 1992. Amy Grant's Home For Christmas was #7, A Very Special Christmas 2 was #8, Neil Diamond's The Christmas Album was #9 and Garth Brooks' Beyond The Season was #10. (Rod Stewart was 47 in December 1992, but he apparently thought, "No, not yet. Maybe in 20 years.")
Brooks went on to land a second top 10 Christmas album, Garth Brooks & The Magic Of Christmas, in 1999. Will Stewart also be a Christmas repeater? Given his five volumes of Great American Standards, I'm going to say yes.