Week Ending July 22, 2012. Albums: What’s He Doing Here?
Phil Collins' tersely titled compilation album, …Hits, re-enters The Billboard 200 at #6. This is a new peak for the album, which originally peaked at #18 the week it entered the chart in November 1998. The album had two things going for it. It's studded with 12 top 10 hits. And it was on sale for just 99 cents at Amazon's MP3 store. (That comes out to about eight cents per top 10 hit. A sweet deal.)
That 99 cent deal lifted the album's weekly sales from less than 1K last week to 40K this week. Even though the album hadn't cracked the top 10 until this week, it has sold very well over the past 13 plus years. It has sold 3,429,000 copies.
…Hits is Collins' fifth top 10 album as a solo artist, which equals the number of top 10 albums he has had with Genesis. It's his first appearance in the top 10 since Genesis' We Can't Dance wound up a long run in the top 10 in March 1992. …Hits is #1 on Top Catalog Albums, displacing Zac Brown Band's The Foundation.
Amazon MP3's sale pushed three other albums back into the top 30. Bruno Mars' Doo-Wops & Hooligans vaults from #135 to #11 in its 94th week. Shinedown's Amaryllis rebounds from #108 to #24 in its 17th week. Demi Lovato's Unbroken vaults from #124 to #27 in its 29th week.
This is clearly a win for these artists, who gain extra sales. And it's a win for their fans, who get a great buy. The objective for Amazon MP3 is to build a reputation for low pricing, so that fans get in the habit of checking the site to see what deals they have. The idea of 99-cent pricing is controversial in the music industry, with some saying it devalues albums in consumers' minds. Others counter that that has already happened, and that whatever it takes to get an album sold is fair game.
AmazonMP3 also put Frank Ocean's buzzed-about Channel Orange on sale for $2.99 on July 16. The move resulted in about 15K extra sales for the album. But they're not included in Ocean's sales tally this week. Billboard policy holds that albums must sell for a minimum of $3.49 during their first four weeks of release for the sales to count. If these 15K sales had counted, the album would have ranked #3 this week. Without them, it ranks #4. Ocean fans shouldn't get too riled, though. This album has "Grammy" written all over it, so expect it to have a long life.
All artists need to stay relevant, and there's probably no genre where that's more important than rap. That's why Nas' accomplishment this week is so impressive. Nas' Life Is Good enters The Billboard 200 at #1, a little more than 16 years after he first topped the chart with It Was Written. Only one hip-hop artist has had a longer span of #1 albums. Beastie Boys, whose identity encompasses pop, rap and alternative, has had #1 albums spanning 17 years and three months, from Licensed To Ill (March 1987) to To The 5 Boroughs (June 2004).
You don't need me to tell you that 16 years is a long time. 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. were both alive and well in July 1996, when It Was Written entered the chart at #1. Justin Bieber was two years old, just learning to say "baby-baby-baby" (a phrase that would come in handy later in life).
Wanna know the rap artists who are next in line behind Beastie Boys and Nas for the longest spans of #1 albums? Jay-Z's #1 albums span 12 years and 10 months, from Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life (October 1998) to Watch The Throne (with Kanye West, Aug. 2011). Eminem's span 10 years and three months, from The Marshall Mathers LP (May 2000) to Recovery (August 2010).