Week Ending Nov. 27, 2011. Albums: Buble Wins A Squeaker
Michael Buble's Christmas steps up to #1 on The Billboard 200, with sales of 227K copies. But if his album had sold just 500 fewer copies, Nickelback's Here And Now would have come out on top. It was the closest race for #1 in more than four years. The last time such a small margin separated the top two albums was in October 2007, when Bruce Springsteen's Magic returned to the top spot, unseating Kid Rock's Rock N Roll Jesus. Both albums sold just over 77K copies that week. They were separated by fewer than 250 copies.
Nickelback can take some consolation in that they are contributing to a record-setting week for Canadian acts. For the first time in chart history, Canadian acts hold down four of the top six spots on The Billboard 200. Buble and Nickelback are followed by Drake's Take Care, which drops from #1 to #4 in its second week; and Justin Bieber's Under The Mistletoe, which dips from #5 to #6 in its fourth week.
Christmas is Buble's third #1 album, following 2007's Call Me Irresponsible and 2009's Crazy Love. Here And Now is Nickelback's fourth album to reach #1 or #2.
Nickelback doesn't get much press attention. They've never won a Grammy. They certainly aren't a critics' darling. They just sell albums by the ton. This is the group's second album in a row to open at #2. The group's 2008 album Dark Horse debuted at #2 behind Beyonce's I Am…Sasha Fierce. In the long run, however, Dark Horse has outsold the more celebrated Sasha by 166K units. That's just another sign of what a relatively unsung juggernaut Nickelback is.
Buble's album jumps to #1, three weeks after Bieber's Under The Mistletoe debuted in the top spot. This marks only the third time in chart history that two holiday albums have hit #1 in one holiday season. It last happened in 1957, when Elvis Presley's newly released Elvis' Christmas Album and Bing Crosby's perennial Merry Christmas both hit #1. It first happened in 1946, when Perry Como's newly released Merry Christmas Music and Crosby's year-old Merry Christmas both scored.
Rihanna's Talk That Talk debuts at #3. It's her fifth album in a row to crack the top five. The album sold 198K copies, slightly more than half of them digitally. The album's total of 99K digital sales puts it at #1 on the week's Top Digital Albums chart.
The album fares even better in the U.K., where it debuts at #1. It's Rihanna's third #1 album in the U.K., following Good Girl Gone Bad and Loud. (I'll have much more to say about Rihanna later today when we post Chart Watch: Songs.)