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.
Taylor Swift's Red holds at #1 for the second week. It sold 344K copies in its second week, bringing its two-week tally to 1,553,000. It's the first album to reach 1.5 million in just two weeks since 50 Cent's The Massacre blew through 1,912,000 copies in its first two weeks in March 2005.
Red sold more copies in its second week than Swift's previous album, Speak Now, did, just as it sold more copies in its first week than Speak Now did. That's remarkable. Artists almost always follow a blockbuster with an album that isn't as big.
Red surpasses One Direction's Up All Night to become the second best-selling album so far this year. Adele's 21 is on top with sales of 4,132,000 so far this year.
Assuming Adele and Swift wind up at #1 and #2 on the year-end chart (it seems a safe assumption), this will be the fifth time in the Nielsen SoundScan era that female artists have had both of the year's top two albums. Whitney Houston's The Bodyguard soundtrack and Janet Jackson's janet. were #1 and #2 for 1993, Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill and Celine Dion's Falling Into You were #1 and #2 for 1996, Spice Girls' Spice and Jewel's Pieces Of You were #1 and #2 for 1997 and Swift's Fearless and Susan Boyle's I Dreamed A Dream were #1 and #2 for 2009.
Red sold 94K digital copies, which puts it at #1 on Top Digital Albums. This brings its digital sales tally to date to 559K. And with that, Swift makes digital history. She is the first artist to sell 500K copies of three different albums. Fearless has sold 859K digital copies. Speak Now has sold 782K. Five artists have two albums each that have sold 500K digital copies: Adele, Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Mumford & Sons and Kanye West (counting a collabo with Jay-Z).
Meek Mill's Dreams & Nightmares debuts at #2. It sold a healthy 165K copies. It would have sold even more, but Hurricane Sandy impacted Meek Mill's top two markets, New York and Philadelphia (which is his hometown). Meek Mill was featured on a pair of top five albums in 2011-2012, Maybach Music Group Presents: Self Made: Vols. 1 & 2.
Toby Keith's Hope On The Rocks debuts at #6. It's the country star's 13th top 10 album. This is Keith's second album in a row with an alcohol-inspired title. It follows Clancy's Tavern. Several of his hit songs also fit that description. Among them: "Beer For My Horses" (with Willie Nelson), "I Love This Bar," "Whiskey Girl," "Get Drunk And Be Somebody" and "Red Solo Cup." (I don't think it's Sprite in that cup.)
Mumford & Sons' Babel drops from #4 to #7. The album tops the 1 million mark in its sixth week. The group's last album, Sigh No More, took a little more than a year to hit that plateau. It entered the chart (at #127) the week ending Feb. 21, 2010 and topped 1 million the week ending Feb. 27, 2011. Babel is the fifth album to top the 1 million mark so far this year. Look for Justin Bieber's Believe to become the sixth, probably in two weeks.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse's Psychedelic Pill debuts at #8. This is Young's 13th top 10 album, counting three albums with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. That allows Young to pull ahead of Rush as the Canadian act with the most top 10 albums in the U.S. Rush has had 12. Celine Dion is in third place with 11 top 10 albums.
This is Young's second top 10 album of 2012. This marks the first time that Young has had two top 10 albums in a calendar year since 1970, when he scored with CSNY's Déjà vu (#1 in May) and his own After The Gold Rush (#8 in October).
Psychedelic Pill is Young's fourth top 10 album on which he shares billing with Crazy Horse. It follows Rust Never Sleeps, Sleeps With Angels and Americana.
Finally, this isn't the first top 10 album with the word "Psychedelic" in the title. The Temptations' Psychedelic Shack hit #9 in 1970.
Little Big Town's Tornado rebounds from #11 to #10 in its eighth week. This is one of four country albums in the top 10 in the wake of last week's Country Music Assn. Awards. The others are Swift's Red, Jason Aldean's Night Train and Keith's Hope On The Rocks. Little Big Town won two CMA awards: Single of the Year for "Pontoon" and Vocal Group of the Year (breaking Lady Antebellum's three-year hold on that award).
PSY's "Gangnam Style" is #1 on Hot Digital Songs for the fourth week; the third in a row. Will this finally be the week it unseats Maroon 5's "One More Night" from the top spot on the Hot 100? You'll find out later today when we post Chart Watch: Songs.
Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 albums.
The Top Five: Taylor Swift's Red holds at #1 for the second week (344K)…Meek Mill's Dreams & Nightmares debuts at #2 (165K). It's his first top 10 album… Rod Stewart's Merry Christmas Baby debuts at #3 (89K). This is Stewart's 16th top 10 album…Jason Aldean's Night Train dips from #3 to #4 in its third week (71K)…Kendrick Lamar's good kid m.A.A.d. city drops from #2 to #5 in its second week (63K).
The Second Five: Toby Keith's Hope On The Rocks debuts at #6 (48K). This is Keith's 13th top 10 album… Mumford & Sons' Babel drops from #4 to #7 in its sixth week (44K)….Neil Young & Crazy Horse's Psychedelic Pill debuts at #8 (34K). This is Young's 13th career top 10 album…Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Dreams Of Fireflies (On A Christmas Night) EP debuts at #9 (32K). It's the act's second top 10 album…Little Big Town's Tornado rebounds from #11 to #10 in its eighth week (29K). This is its sixth week in the top 10.
Six albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Tony Bennett's Viva Duets drops from #5 to #17, Gary Clark Jr.'s Blak And Blu drops from #6 to #31, Stone Sour's House Of Gold & Bones, Part One drops from #7 to #37, P!nk's The Truth About Love drops from #8 to #14, Lady Antebellum's On This Winter's Night drops from #9 to #15, Brandy's Two Eleven drops from #10 to #29.
Flyleaf's New Horizons debuts at #16. This is the band's second top 20 album. Memento Mori reached #8 in 2009. ..Calvin Harris' 18 Months debuts at #19. The album enters The Official U.K. chart at #1, displacing Taylor Swift's Red, which falls to #5. It's Harris' second album in a row to reach #1 in the U.K., following Ready For The Weekend.
The Pitch Perfect soundtrack drops from #33 to #50 in its sixth week. It's the #1 soundtrack to a theatrically-released film for the fifth time in the past six weeks. The movie holds at #11 at the box-office in its sixth weekend...The Wreck-It Ralph soundtrack debuts at #106. The movie was #1 at the box-office over the weekend.
One Direction's Up All Night—The Live Tour makes boy band history this week. The DVD logs its 20th week at #1 on Top Music Videos. This puts it in a three-way tie for the longest run at #1 by a boy band video. It shares the title with New Kids On The Block's Hangin' Tough (1989-90) and Backstreet Boys' Homecoming—Live In Orlando (1999). In addition, One Direction is the only act that is listed in the top 10 for the year-to-date on the album, song and music video charts. Its album Up All Night is #3 for the year. Its single "What Makes You Beautiful" is #7 for the year. Its video is #2 for the year (behind only Adele's Live At The Royal Albert Hall).
Coming Attractions: Now 44 is expected to be debut at #2 next week, with sales in the 95K range. Aerosmith's Music From Another Dimension! will probably open at #3 (about 70K). Ne-Yo's R.E.D. will probably bow around #6 (about 50K). Also due: All That Remains' War You Can Not Win (about 20K), Glee: The Music Presents Glease (about 15K) and Third Day's Miracle.