Week Ending Sept. 23, 2012. Albums: Not “Bad,” But Not Great

Paul Grein
Chart Watch (NEW)

Michael Jackson's 1987 album Bad re-enters The Billboard 200 at #23, while a deluxe 25th anniversary edition debuts at #46. The two albums sold a combined total of 27K copies, about one-sixth of the number (166K) that a 25th anniversary release of Jackson's most famous album, Thriller, sold in its first week in February 2008. (That was 16 months before Jackson's untimely death, so sympathy wasn't a factor.) Thriller 25 would have ranked #2 for two weeks if catalog albums had been eligible to make The Billboard 200 (as they are now).

In a way, this week's so-so debut for Bad is fitting: In its time, Bad was seen by many as a somewhat disappointing follow-up to Thriller. Was that judgment fair or unfair? You decide.

Bad entered The Billboard 200 at #1 in September 1987 (when that was still a rare event. It was only the sixth album to achieve the feat.) It was the first album in chart history to spawn five #1 singles, a feat not duplicated until last year, when Katy Perry's Teenage Dream did it.  For all its success, Bad didn't sell as well as Thriller or enjoy the near-universal acclaim that Thriller did. Where Thriller was #1 for 37 weeks, Bad was #1 for just six weeks. Where Jackson went home with a record-setting eight Grammys in February 1984, he went home empty-handed in February 1988. (U2's The Joshua Tree took Album of the Year.)

Deluxe reissues of a few other classic albums also got off to faster starts than Bad did this week. The Beatles' Abbey Road sold 89K copies in its first week in September 2009. The Rolling Stones' Exile On Main St. sold 76K copies in its first week in May 2010. Pearl Jam's Ten sold 60K in its first week in March 2009.

Bad re-enters Top Catalog Albums at #1. It's Jackson's fourth album to top this chart. Thriller logged 11 weeks at #1 in 2008. The Essential Michael Jackson spent one week at #1 in March 2009 (again, before Jackson's death). Number Ones logged 28 weeks at #1 in 2009 and 2010 (beginning the week after his death).

Michael Jackson Live At Wembley July 16, 1988 enters Top Music Videos at #1 this week, displacing One Direction's Up All Night—The Live Tour. Details below.

P!nk finally lands her first #1 album with her sixth studio album, The Truth About Love. The album sold 280K copies, which constituted the year's third biggest opening. It trails only Justin Bieber's Believe (374K) and Madonna's MDNA (359K). Madonna's album, you may recall, was boosted by an album/ticket bundle. P!nk earned her sales the old-fashioned way: by recording an album that fans actually wanted to buy.

The Truth About Love is P!nk's sixth top 10 album. She has reached the top 10 with her last five studio offerings as well as her 2010 compilation, Greatest Hits…So Far!!!. P!nk's highest-charting album before this week was Funhouse, which debuted and peaked at #2 in November 2008.

P!nk's album sold 141K digital copies (a little more than half of its total), which puts it at #1 on Top Digital Albums.

Kanye West Presents GOOD Music Cruel Summer, a compilation of artists signed to  West's GOOD Music imprint, debuts at #2. The album sold 205K copies, the highest first-week total for an album that wasn't #1 since Maroon 5's Overexposed debuted and peaked at #2 in July with sales of 222K. Cruel Summer sold 122K digital copies, which is considerably more than half of its total.

Two songs from the album have reached the top 15 on the Hot 100. "Clique" by West, Jay-Z, Big Sean reached #12 last week. "Mercy" by West, Big Sean, Pusha T, 2 Chainz has climbed as high as #13.

Other label/imprint compilations to reach the top 10 in the past 20 years  include Dr. Dre Presents…The Aftermath (#6 in 1996), P. Diddy & Bad Boy Records Present…We Invented The Remix (#1 in 2002), Bad Boy's 10th Anniversary…The Hits (#2 in 2004), Eminem Presents: The Re-Up (#2 in 2006) and Maybach Music Presents: Self Made: Vol. I (#5 in 2011) and Vol. II ( #4 in 2012).

The Killers' Battle Born debuts at #3. This is the band's second to make the top five. Sam's Town debuted and peaked at #2 in October 2006. All four of the band's studio albums have made the top 10. The band has done even better in the U.K., where all four of its studio albums have reached #1. Battle Born debuts at #1 there this week.

Carly Rae Jepsen's monster hit "Call Me Maybe" has sold 5,783,000 copies—and it's still selling about 80K a week. So you would think Jepsen's U.S. debut album, Kiss, would have sold at least, say, 100K copies in its first week, right? No such luck. The album sold 46K copies, to debut at #6.

It's possible that the album would have sold more copies in its first week if it had been released in May when the song was at its peak. (The irresistable smash busted the 300K mark in the week ending May 27.) But a larger factor is probably that, while just about everybody likes the song, most want more proof that Jepsen is going to stick around before they spring for an album.

Ben Folds Five's The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind debuts at #10. This is Ben Folds' first top 10 album, either on his own or with his cheekily-named trio. Folds reached #11 with 2008's solo album Way To Normal. Ben Folds Five's previous highest-charting album was The Unauthorized Biography Of Reinhold Messner, which reached #35 in 1999. The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind (what a clunky title) is the trio's fourth studio album—and first since 1999.

Psy's "Gangnam Style" jumps to #1 on Hot Digital Songs. It sold 301K copies, which is the greatest one-week tally for a novelty song in digital history. Christina Aguilera's "Your Body" is the week's top new entry at #10. It sold 103K copies. Will "Gangnam Style" also jump to #1 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: P!nk's sixth studio album The Truth About Love debuts at #1 (280K). It's P!nk's sixth top 10 album; her first #1…Kanye West Presents GOOD Music Cruel Summer debuts at #2 (205K)… The Killers' fourth studio album Battle Born debuts at #3 (113K). It's the band's fourth top 10 album…Dave Matthews Band's Away From The World drops from #1 to #4 in its second week (62K)…Little Big Town's Tornado drops from #2 to #5 in its second week (50K). It's #1 on Top Country Albums for the second week.

The Second Five: Carly Rae Jepsen's U.S. debut album Kiss debuts at #6 (46K)…Grizzly Bear's fourth studio album Shields debuts at #7 (39K). It's the band's second top 10 album in a row. Veckatimest hit #8 in 2009… Bob Dylan's Tempest drops from #3 to #8 in its second week (35K).… Avett Brothers' The Carpenter drops from #4 to #9 in its second week (30K)…Ben Folds Five's The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind debuts at #10 (30K). This is the trio's first top 10 album.

Six albums drop out of the top 10 this week. The xx's Coexist drops from #5 to #15, ZZ Top's La Futura dives from #6 to #37, Imagine Dragons' Night Visions drops from #7 to #16, Matchbox Twenty's North drops from #8 to #19, Now 43 drops from #9 to #21 and Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra's Theatre Is Evil plummets from #10 to #154.

Three acts that made the top 10 last time out fell short this time. Easton Corbin's sophomore album All Over The Road debuts at #11. Easton Corbin hit #10 in 2010…Band Of Horses' fourth studio album Mirage Rock debuts at #13. The band's last studio album, Infinite Arms, hit #7 in 2010…Big & Rich's fourth studio album Hillbilly Jedi debuts at #25. The duo's first three albums all reached the top 10.

Dwight Yoakam lands his highest-charting album to date as 3 Pears debuts at #18. The country star's highest-charting album before this was This Time, which hit #25 in 1993. Yoakam first charted in April 1986.

Britney 2.0, an EP of Glee versions of Britney Spears songs from an episode that aired last week, debuts at #43. Two previous Glee EPs built around recording stars' songs debuted at #1:  The Power Of Madonna achieved the feat in April 2010; the Journey-dominated Journey To Regionals scored that June. There are two differences. This was a digital-only release. And Glee is hardly the record-selling (or cultural) force it once was. This is, nonetheless, the week's #1 soundtrack, displacing Austin & Ally.

The Project X soundtrack drops from #155 to #192 in its 14th week. Even with that tepid showing, it's the week's highest-ranking soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie. It was the #1 soundtrack for two weeks in March.

Michael Jackson Live At Wembley July 16, 1988 is Michael Jackson's seventh video to reach #1 on Top Music Videos (which debuted in March 1985 as Top Music Videocassettes). It follows Moonwalker (22 weeks at #1 in 1989), Michael Jackson: The Legend Continues (two weeks in 1989), Video Greatest Hits—HIStory (seven weeks in 1995), HIStory Vol. 2 (two weeks in 1997), Number Ones (one week in 2004 and 13 additional weeks following his death in 2009) and Live In Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour (five weeks in 2009-2010).

Jackson had reason to be feeling good at the time of the Wembley show. Just two weeks earlier, Bad had made history as the first album to spawn five #1 singles on the Hot 100. ("Dirty Diana" claimed the top spot on July 2.) The album ranked #20 on The Billboard 200 on July 16, not "bad" for an album in its 43rd week on the chart.

Live At Wembley is the first DVD by an American artist to reach #1 on Top Music Videos since Lady Gaga's The Monster Ball Tour At Madison Square Garden in November. The top spot has since been dominated by Adele (for 24 weeks) and One Direction (for 16 weeks), with one-week interruptions by George Harrison and Sade.

End Of Watch was #1 at the box-office over the weekend.

Coming Attractions: Mumford & Sons' Babel is a lock to debut at #1 next week, with first-week sales in the 585K range. Green Day's Uno! will debut at #2, with sales in the 150K range. No Doubt's Push And Shove is looking good for #3, with sales in the 120K range. Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Part 1 is expected to debut at #5, with sales of about 85K. deadmau5's >album title goes here< is eyeing a #7 debut, with sales of about 55K. Also due: As I Lay Dying's Awakened.