The Case Of The Missing #2 Album – Chart Watch
For the second week in a row, Jack Johnson’s. Sleep Through The Static and Michael Jackson‘s Thriller 25 are the top two albums in the U.S. Or are they?<They are, if you look at the Top Comprehensive Albums chart compiled by Nielsen/SoundScan. Johnson is #1 for the week with sales of 105,000 copies, trailed by Jackson with 63,000 copies. (The gap between the two is wider than it was last week, when just 14,000 copies separated them.)But Jackson is nowhere to be found on the list of Top Current Albums that is published each week (as The Billboard 200) in Billboard magazine. The top 10 from that chart is reprinted in countless newspapers and websites around the world, including this one. The reason for the omission, as I explained last week, is that Nielsen/SoundScan and Billboard exclude catalog titles-defined as albums that are 18 months old or older-from the main chart. (Continuously running “current” hits are exempted.)The idea is to make more room on the chart for new albums, which need every break they can get. This week, the rule resulted in 31 older albums being removed from Top Current Albums and shifted over to Top Catalog Albums. Just four of these 31 titles would have ranked in the top 100: Thriller 25, which would have ranked #2; Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ Greatest Hits, #63; Guns N’ Roses’ Greatest Hits, #64, and Bob Marley & the Wailers’ Legend, #84.The idea of clearing catalog product out to give new titles a break makes a certain amount of sense. But having a top 10 that forever has to carry an asterisk is a high price to pay. Billboard and Nielsen/SoundScan should consider revising their policy so that the top 10, at least, is presented without any modification. They could even present the top 100 exactly as is. This week, as noted, they’re opening up only four spots in the top 100 by having this policy. Most of the catalog titles–including such perennial best-sellers as Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon, AC/DC’s Back In Black and Metallica’s Metallica–rank in the second hundred.In his Over The Counter column, Billboard’s Geoff Mayfield reports that Thriller 25 is only the second album to be denied a top 10 spot on Top Current Albums by the catalog-exclusion rule since the Comprehensive chart bowed in late 2003. Il Divo’s The Christmas Collection would have placed #10 on the main chart in December 2006 if it had been allowed to compete. Even so, two albums denied a hard-earned spot in the top 10 is two too many.I know that Michael Jackson, a proud and highly competitive man, is never content to finish second. But he should bear in mind that his album, which won the Grammy for Album of the Year 24 years ago, sold more copies in each of the last two weeks than this year’s freshly-minted Album of the Year champ, Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters. River ranked #5 last week and this week dives to #16.This will be a memorable week for Johnson, who also makes the cover of Rolling Stone for the first time. Johnson was born in 1975, when Jackson was roughly at the midpoint between his initial Jackson 5 smashes and his solo superstardom with Off The Wall.On Hot Digital Tracks, “Low” by Flo Rida featuring T-Pain holds at #1 for a record 13th consecutive week. It is now just 129,000 copies behind “Crank That Soulja Boy” as the most downloaded track of all time. It will probably take two more weeks to top it. The Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em track just keeps adding to its total. It sold 30,000 downloads this week.
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