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