We’re not even two months into 2008, and already a disturbing trend has developed for the ever-slumping music industry: So far this year, only two of the records to assume the Billboard album chart’s peak position have sold more than 100,000 copies. Of course, six-digit sales figures used to be the norm — without them, most records never stood a chance at claiming the chart’s #1 spot.
After Radiohead’s In Rainbows sold more than 122,300 copies during the first week of ’08, earning it Billboard’s coveted apex, each subsequent #1 album has failed to come even remotely close to matching that sales total. Alicia Keys’ As I Am spent the next two weeks on top, selling 70,300 and 60,500 copies, respectively. Then, the “Juno” soundtrack took over, after moving close to 65,000 units. Keys’ LP returned to the #1 position just last week, having sold just 61,300 copies.
But this week, before the release of the generally high, post-Grammy sales figures, surfer-turned-crooner Jack Johnson has reversed the tide, at least for the time being. With little more than 374,600 copies sold during week one, Johnson’s latest studio offering, Sleep Through the Static, has become the year’s best-selling new release. That means it is 2008’s first bona fide “hit” record, according to the latest SoundScan data.
But being on top is a sensation Johnson knows well. While his 2003 LP, On and On, and 2005’s In Between Dreams both entered the top 200 at #3, his 2006 effort, Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film “Curious George,” debuted at #1, with sales clocked at just under 163,000. Johnson’s new one even robbed music vet Sheryl Crow of a #1 debut. Her latest album, Detours, bows at #2 on next week’s chart, after generating just 92,300 scans.
A whopping 22 new releases enter next week’s top 200, with four opening in the coveted top 10. Lenny Kravitz’s latest, It Is Time for a Love Revolution, opens at #4 with 73,300 copies snatched up, right behind Keys’ As I Am, which drops two spots to #3 with 80,200 sold. The 2008 Grammy Nominees compilation holds at #5 with 51,700, while the “Juno” soundtrack trails in the #6 slot, selling another 47,200 units. Meanwhile, Mary J. Blige’s Growing Pains closes out the week with 44,600 in sales to finish at #7. The last newcomer to the top 10 checks in at #8: k.d. lang’s Watershed, which sold 41,000 copies. Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus follows at #9, scanning an additional 40,000 units, while Taylor Swift’s self-titled debut rounds things out at #10 with sales reported at 38,700.
The next highest-charting of the week’s newcomers comes in at #13. The soundtrack to “Step Up 2: The Streets,” featuring tracks by Flo Rida, Missy Elliott, Cassie, T-Pain and others, sold close to 31,500 units; and next week’s #14, Kenny G’s Rhythm & Romance, generated first-week sales of 31,000 and change. Nada Surf’s Lucky enters the chart at #81 with 9,200 sold, while Hot Chip’s Made in the Dark opens at #108 with sales of 7,100. The HorrorPops’ Kiss Kiss Kill Kill bows at #148, with 5,200 scans. They Might Be Giants’ Here Come the 123s sits in the #171 hole, with 4,500 carried away from the nation’s record stores. Finally, Bob Mould’s District Line just makes the list at #190, with 4,000 scans, and Al Green’s What Makes the World Go Round enters at #197, selling 3,700 copies.