What difference does a year make? How about a difference of almost 1 million records, or nearly a third. That's how the Top Ten pre-Christmas week this year stacks up with the juggernaut that was Xmas2K. Many of the names remain the same, but there are some telling stories on this week's chart. Creed's Weathered had little trouble retaining its hold on Number One, and actually enjoyed a 100,000 sales boost from the previous week, logging 555,000 sales for its fourth straight time on top. Those are beefy numbers, hardly worth tangling with, but as the year spins towards an end, we'll pull out the 2000 measuring tape one last time. This week last year, Creed's Human Clay sat at Number Four on the charts with sales about 175,000 short of what Weathered registered this week. The difference? Human Clay had been in stores for sixty-four weeks by that point.
But a champion is still a champion, be it a fleet Ali or a fat, fortysomething Forman. And the four weeks on top mark the first time this year an album has spent its first four weeks on top. As a matter of fact, only Shaggy's Hotshot (a 2000 release) has spent more weeks at Number One (six) than Weathered, this year. The notion of a Rumours or Thriller dropping anchor for more than half a year is all but dead, as the marquee releases just come too frequently and too fast, even in a lackluster year.
And the charts are full of such tales of recession. In its sixth week of release, Britney Spears' Britney moved up from Number Four to Number Three with sales of 299,000. That's a mere 20,000 more than Oops! . . . I Did It Again mustered this time last year, though Oops! had been making the rounds for more than thirty weeks at that point. Another sobering shot of teen atrophy: This time last year, 'N Sync's No Strings Attached sold 244,000 copies in its thirty-ninth week of release for a Number Nine slot, while this year's Celebrity has fallen to Number Twenty with sales just shy of 150,000.
But enough with the recession numbers, after all this time last year the charts were topped by the Beatles, who sold 824,000 copies of 1. And compared to the poncey tallies registered thus far in 2K1, this week was full of holiday cheer. One has to look all the way down to Number Thirty-four (the Shrek soundtrack) to find an album that didn't crack the 100,000 mark, and a dozen records topped 200K.
No Doubt's Rock Steady did just that; neither rocking unsteadily nor really rocking the Casbah, with a respectable 255,000 copies sold for a Number Nine debut. Mobb Deep's Infamy was the next highest debut, bowing in at Number Twenty-two with sales of 140,000, while the Method Man/Redman soundtrack to the Method Man/Redman film, How High, came in at Number Forty-three.
And a flurry of albums took advantage of the holiday boost to line their sales pockets. Weathered topped the 2 million copies sold mark, which was also passed by Nickelback's Silver Side Up (Number Seven, 259,000) and Usher's 8701 (Number Eleven). A trio of albums -- 'N Sync's Celebrity, Staind's Break the Cycle (Number Forty) and Celine Dion's These Are Special (Number Eighty-four) -- all passed 4 million copies sold, while Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas Extraordinaire (Number Five, 275,000) and Toby Keith's Pull My Chain (Number Twenty-nine) both topped the 1 million copies sold mark.
As for next week, expect more of the same. In the final buying week before Christmas Day, a handful of hip-hop releases (new albums from Lil' Bow Wow and Mystikal) are the only new blood. Then, we can start looking forward to a brighter 2002.
This week's Top Ten: Creed's Weathered; Now That's What I Call Music! 8; Britney Spears' Britney; Garth Brooks' Scarecrow; Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas Extraordinaire; Now That's What I Call Christmas!; Nickelback's Silver Side Up; Enya's A Day Without Rain; No Doubt's Rock Steady and Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory.