Following a sluggish summer and fall for music sales, CDs still managed to be a regular stocking stuffer at year's end. The pre-Christmas sales week found the public heading to the record store in droves including 865,000, who dropped in on their local music retailer to pick up Creed's Weathered, which has dominated the charts in a manner akin to last year's titans. The album enjoyed a sales spike of more than 300,000 copies and scored its fifth straight week at Number One.
The rest of the Top Ten remained largely unchanged. Garth Brooks' Scarecrow and Britney Spears' Britney stumbled out of the gate upon their releases six and seven weeks ago, respectively. Despite high six-figure sales, both albums were victims of the slow sales season, showing marked fatigue from the previous release by Brooks and Spears. But the holidays have provided a life jacket. Scarecrow's 443,000 copies sold last week nearly matched the album's hype-filled opening week mark, and at Number Three, the album seems comfortably lodged in the Top Ten for the next few weeks. Likewise, Britney's 424,000 sales are the album's highest tally since it's debut last month.
Newcomers were hard to find, though hip-hop was well represented. Nas' Stillmatic logged an impressive 343,000 copies sold in its first week for a Top Ten debut, while Lil' Bow Wow's Doggy Bag fell just short, at Number Eleven with sales just shy of 320,000. A trio of rap albums weren't quite a hit with holiday-minded shoppers. Mystikal's Tarantula hasn't yet found its legs, debuting at Number Thirty-three (153,000 copies sold), a far cry from his Number One debut last year with Let's Get Ready, which sold twice as many copies. Granted, Let's Get Ready was preceded by a hit single ("Shake Ya Ass") and mustered some staying power behind a second hit single, "Danger." Also sputtering, were the Wu-Tang Clan's Iron Flag (Number Thirty-two) and Jay-Z's MTV Unplugged (Number Thirty-four), both of which were rushed to release without the usual promotional fanfare that accompanies a frontline rap release.
The remainder of the charts didn't look too terribly different. Only five albums in the Top 100 didn't enjoy some sort of holiday sales boost, and one has to head all the way down to Number Fifty-three to find an album that didn't register six-figure sales. And with the inflated sales came plenty of sales milestones. Enya's A Day Without Rain (Number Five) sold nearly 400,000 copies, pushing past the 5 million copies sold mark and Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory returned to the Top Ten with sales of 379,000, also crossing 5 million. Weathered topped 3 million, while Now! 8 and Scarecrow both passed 2 million units sold. Pink's Missundaztood (Number Ten), Shakira's Laundry Service (Number Seventeen), Pink Floyd's Echoes (Number Eighteen), the Backstreet Boys' Hits Chapter One (Number Twenty-two) and P.O.D.'s Satellite (Number Thirty) all topped the 1 million mark.
Next week expect change and stasis. Sales are likely to plummet, though tardy Christmas shoppers might still make for a somewhat hearty week. But the remainder of the year is a dead zone for new releases, and Creed will have little competition in their bid for a sixth straight week at Number One, as the final sales week of the year comes to a close.
This week's Top Ten: Creed's Weathered; Now That's What I Call Music! 8; Garth Brooks' Scarecrow; Britney Spears' Britney; Enya's A Day Without Rain; Nickelback's Silver Side Up; Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory; Nas' Stillmatic; Usher's 8701; and Pink's Missundaztood.5. The Word, The Word (Ropadope): Featuring, John Medeski, the North Mississippi Allstars and Robert Randolph. Gospel music for atheists -- it's all instrumental -- and blinding playing by young, African-American steel guitarist Randolph.