After seemingly coming from out of nowhere just over two months ago, "High School Musical" has emerged as the surprise hit of 2006. The soundtrack to the Disney Channel original movie debuted at #143 on Billboard's albums chart after selling 5,000 copies. The following week, it skyrocketed to the #58 spot, selling close to 13,000 copies -- but the climb didn't end there.
For the past five weeks, the "High School Musical" phenomenon has made its home in the top 10, while big-name artists sit back and watch as tracks from the children's TV movie crush high-charting hopes. Four weeks ago, "High School Musical" hit #1 after selling 101,000 copies (see [article id="1525204"]"What Is 'High School Musical' And How Did It Get To #1?"[/article]). Since then, the disc has hovered in the #2 and #3 spots. According to the latest SoundScan figures, the soundtrack will return to #1 on next week's Billboard chart after logging 142,000-plus scans last week. Total sales of the disc are currently at 811,000.
Not bad for a bunch of unknown teen actors in a film that fuses "Romeo and Juliet" with "Grease," shot on a $5 million budget.
While hip-hop legend E-40 made a strong play for Billboard brilliance with his latest, My Ghetto Report Card, the "Ambassador of the Bay" fell short of a #1 finish. Instead, the disc, which features contributions from Mike Jones, Juelz Santana, UGK and Too Short, debuts at #3 with sales of more than 94,000 -- right behind Back to Bedlam, British crooner James Blunt's debut album, which hangs tight at #2 with 126,000 scans. Jay-Z find Ne-Yo climbs one spot to #4 with In My Own Words, which picked up close to 77,000 sales during its third week in stores. The previous chart's first place finisher, Juvenile's Reality Check, slips four to #5 after selling close to 75,000 units.
Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts racked up sales of more than 64,000 to earn a #6 spot. Matisyahu's Youth claims #7 with week-two scans of 58,000. The Legend of Johnny Cash comes in at #8 with 56,000 sales; the retrospective collection has sold nearly 1.5 million copies since its release in October.
A second helping of Fall Out Boy's From Under the Cork Tree, which has sold more than 2 million copies since its release, helped boost sales of the disc by 122 percent. The album was reissued last week with demo and bonus tracks along with a couple of remixes, and it leaps ahead 33 chart positions to #9 on sales nearing 52,000. Rounding out the top 10 for a second week is Sing-A-Longs & Lullabies for the Film "Curious George" from Jack Johnson and Friends, which picked up an additional 50,000 scans, pushing total sales past the half-million mark.
It was a sluggish week overall for debuts, with precious few outings actually breaching the top 200. Morph the Cat, the third solo outing from Donald Fagen -- who, along with Walter Becker, are the masterminds behind Steely Dan -- opens at #26 with 32,000 sales. The soundtrack to "Dave Chappelle's Block Party," featuring live performances from Mos Def, Big Daddy Kane and Erykah Badu, bows at #44 with sales of 21,000 and change. Guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani's latest, Super Colossal, debuts at #86, selling nearly 12,000 copies, and Black Sabbath's Greatest Hits 1970-1978 -- which hit stores the morning after the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- comes in at #96 with sales of 11,000 plus.
Willie Nelson's You Don't Know Me debuts at #114 with over 9,000 units sold, and Nickelodeon Kids' Choice, Vol. 2, a compilation boasting contributions from Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson, Simple Plan and Ryan Cabrera, checks in at #125 with close to 9,000 in sales. NOFX's Never Trust a Hippy finishes at #186 with 5,000 scans.
Following his appearance last week on "American Idol," sales of Stevie Wonder's A Time to Love surged 89 percent, making it one of this week's biggest gainers. The record, which sold more than 5,000 copies, occupies the #183 slot, returning to the chart after being away for three weeks.