After nearly a year of launching missiles at a dartboard (missing more often than not), the record industry took a deep breath as summer segued into fall, and changed its tact. With December fast approaching, the new plan is switch to darts and fire as many as possible at the board. And, whaddya know, a few are starting to stick. Last week, five new albums entered the Top Ten and twenty-six joined the Top 200. This week, four more albums join the Top Ten, and thirty wandered into the Top 200. And so the parade will likely go until late December, because you can't stuff a digital download into a stocking.
Despite all the action, the 8 Mile soundtrack held on to Number One for the second straight week, and it did so without much of a fight. With a boost from the film's arrival in theaters, the album sold 508,000 copies, according to SoundScan, pushing it past 1 million copies sold, and suffering a drop of less than thirty percent in sales. The Eminem-centric record handily bested Justified, the heavily promoted solo debut by 'N Sync's Justin Timberlake, which sold 439,000 at Number Two. In Timberlake's defense, Justified kicked the bejeezus out of crosstown rival Nick Carter's Now or Never, which has sold 91,000 in two weeks of release and is sitting at Number Sixty-three.
The anthology fever continues to burn: U2's Best of 1990-2000 sold 185,000 copies at Number Three; Paul Simon's On My Way, Don't Know Where I'm Going didn't fare quite as well, but with a slighter promotional push, it still sold 13,000 copies at Number 108; and Bjork's Greatest Hits sold 200 copies fewer at Number 115.
And while Peter Frampton remains out of the spotlight, double-disc concert collections have sure come alive. The Dave Matthews Band sold 110,000 copies of Live at Folsom Field, Boulder Colorado, which squeaked into the Top Ten at Number Nine. Alison Krauss and Union Station's Live sold 37,000 at Number Thirty-six, and Eric Clapton's One More Car, One More Rider moved 32,000 units at Number Forty-three. And in the single-disc live format, Willie Nelson's Willie Nelson and Friends Stars and Guitars sold 10,000 copies at Number 133.
The Country Music Association Awards sparked a Stetson invasion on the charts. Entertainer of the Year Alan Jackson saw his Drive ride up from Number Ninety-four to Number Twenty-three, with a sales jump from 13,000 to 50,000. His new holiday album, Let It Be Christmas, also moved 25,000 to debut at Number Fifty-two. Toby Keith's Unleashed (Number Twenty-two) enjoyed a 16,000 copy boost, while Kenny Chesney's No Shoes No Shirt No Problem (Number Twenty-nine) jumped 13,000 copies to 40,000. And the ripples continue: Martina McBride's Greatest Hits (Number Fifty-eight), Keith Urban's Golden Road (Number Fifty-nine), George Strait's Road Less Traveled (Number 120), Mark Wills' Greatest Hits (Number 140), Montgomery Gentry's My Town (Number 143), and Nickel Creek's This Side (Number 146) all enjoyed sales and chart jumps. Brad Paisley's Part II, Krauss and Union Station's New Favorite and Dolly Parton's Halos and Horns returned to the charts at Numbers 145, 191 and 199, respectively, after having fallen off weeks ago.
The only acts that seemed to suffer some were new albums by mid-level artists, who got smothered by higher profile newcomers and the CMAs boots. David Gray's A New Day at Midnight sold a sturdy 72,000 copies at Number Seventeen, a figure that, in early June, would have placed Gray's latest at Number Five. The Wallflowers might need another headlight to find their way back to the top of the charts: Despite being certified gold, 2000's Breach stiffed, at least compared to its four-times platinum predecessor, Bringing Down the Horse. And without a crackerjack hit, the band's new Red Letter Days didn't exactly burn up the charts, debuting at Number Thirty-two with sales of 38,000.
More darts went flinging at the board this week, as many high-profile releases hit stores yesterday. Jay-Z, Missy Elliott, Fat Joe and TLC all offer high profile rap and R&B records, a genre that remains vital, as Jaheim's Still Ghetto (Number Eight, 111,000 copies sold) proves. Crazy Town and Saliva are hoping to court the nu hard rock listeners, while Pearl Jam are aiming for fans a few years older. There's also a new Madonna track on the Die Another Day soundtrack. And a handful of those who dug Sting's "Desert Rose," might have decided to dig a little deeper and check out the latest by his cohort Cheb Mami.
Whether the piles of new releases will ultimately prove profitable remains to be seen. The busy release schedules certainly make the top of the charts appear more interesting. But as major-label records like Tom Petty's The Last DJ, India.Arie's Voyage to India, Shaggy's Lucky Day quietly slink down the charts with tallies below their past efforts, the backend of the turkey month chart might not have the sturdy legs to support the front.
This week's Top Ten: Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture 8 Mile; Justin Timberlake's Justified; U2's Best of 1990-2000; Christina Aguilera's Stripped; Santana's Shaman; Faith Hill's Cry; Eminem's The Eminem Show; Jaheim's Still Ghetto; the Dave Matthews Band's Live at Folsom Field, Boulder Colorado; and Nirvana's Nirvana.