Week Ending Nov. 4, 2012. Albums: Christmas In November
It's just the first week of November, but there are five Christmas albums in the top 30 on The Billboard 200. Rod Stewart's Merry Christmas Baby debuts at #3, which is the highest ranking for a Christmas album so far this season. Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Dreams Of Fireflies (On A Christmas Night) debuts at #9, Lady Antebellum's On This Winter's Night drops from #9 to #15 in its second week, Scotty McCreery's Christmas With Scotty McCreery drops from #15 to #21 in its third week and Blake Shelton's Cheers, It's Christmas leaps from #45 to #28 in its fifth week.
Artists have been recording Christmas albums since 1945, when Bing Crosby's Merry Christmas shot to #1. But the music industry really caught on to how big they could be in 2007 when Josh Groban's Noel sold 3,699,000 copies in the last 12 weeks of the year to become the year's best-selling album. That marked the first time in the Nielsen SoundScan era that an Christmas album had ranked among the year's top five sellers. Three more Christmas albums have subsequently ranked in the year-end top five. Andrea Bocelli's My Christmas was the #5 album of 2009. Susan Boyle's The Gift was the #5 album of 2010. Michael Buble's Christmas was the #2 album of 2011. (Buble's album is a hit again this season. It leaps from #101 to #54 this week, which puts it at #1 on Top Catalog Albums).
Fans who nowadays think twice (at least) before buying an album seem to view Christmas albums as an investment. Christmas does tend to come around every year.
Merry Christmas Baby is Stewart's 16th top 10 album, not counting a 1972 album with Faces. Stewart made the top 10 with five volumes in his The Great American Songbook series. They have sold a combined total of 10.6 million copies. This holiday album continues in that pop spirit.
This is Stewart's first Christmas album. It arrives 43 years after the release of his debut album, The Rod Stewart Album. It that the longest that a major artist has made his fans wait for a Christmas album? It is not. Bob Dylan's first holiday album, Christmas In The Heart, was released more than 47 years after the release of his debut album, Bob Dylan. It would up being the #11 best-selling Christmas album of 2009.
Stewart appeared on the Home Shopping Network on Oct. 26, which contributed about 20K to the album's tally. Stewart's album coincides with the release of Rod: The Autobiography.