With five weeks at Number One under its belt and a rush of holiday
sales momentum pushing it towards the new release void that is
January, Shania Twain’s Up! seemed a shoo-in to match
Creed’s 2001/2002 run of eight weeks on top of the charts. But this
week it was knocked off, and not by a randy rookie, as the chart
featured no new releases, but rather by the year’s biggest sales
horse, Eminem. The 8 Mile soundtrack, which features new
songs by the Motor City rapper, sold 313,000 copies last week,
according to SoundScan, to return to Number One.
Up! nearly toppled to Number Three as its sales of
263,400, just edged Avril Lavigne’s Let Go, which sold
263,000 copies and is once again flirting with the one sales
achievement it hasn’t attained this year: a week at Number One.
Let Go itself just beat out the Dixie Chicks’
Home, which sold 260,000 copies.
And while the numbers were strong for the four best-selling
records, their positions underscore the sales slippage that has
afflicted the industry. Let Go, 8 Mile,
Home and Up! were four of the ten best-selling
records of 2002, and only Lavigne’s album was released
before June, the halfway point of the year. Twain’s Up!
managed to be the year’s tenth best-selling album, despite only
five weeks of release; and despite the monstrous start, if some
singles don’t come along fast, it might be running out of gas.
Considering that the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack
wasn’t even a 2002 release (or a 2001 release, for that matter),
only five of the 2002’s ten best releases showed any sort of
long-term success without the huge push that comes from a November
(read: holiday) release.
As a means of comparison, pre-SoundScan releases like Prince’s
Purple Rain enjoyed a twenty-four-week reign at Number
One, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours spent thirty-one weeks on
top, and Michael Jackson’s Thriller lasted thirty-seven
weeks. The Eminem Show has been a bona fide blockbuster
this year, one sales week away from topping 8 million. But that
said, it’s an exception to the rule. The premium placed on the big
first-week splash has all but ensured that there will
never be another record that will spend half a year at
Number One. But a more frightening (and telling) stat is how
quickly “blockbuster” records are exiting the Top Ten, Top Forty
and Top 200. The Eminem Show spent just four weeks at
Number One, but it found its feet and after thirty-two weeks of
release, it’s still hovering near the Top Ten (Number Eleven, with
sales of 187,000). The same can’t be said for big-ticket releases
by Korn, Tom Petty, Lifehouse, Beck, Alanis Morissette, Unkle
Kracker and others, several of which crept back into the Top 200
only due to holiday sales spikes.
8 Mile‘s success on this week’s charts leaves no
certainty about next week’s. Of the four albums clustered near
Number One, Lavigne’s Let Go has the sturdiest legs with
thirty weeks of release thus far, making it less susceptible to the
more dramatic ebbs and tides of the charts. Perhaps more than a
half-year after its release, the teen-pop star’s debut record can
find its way to Number One.
This week’s Top Ten: 8 Mile soundtrack; Shania Twain’s
Up!; Avril Lavigne’s Let Go; the Dixie Chicks’
Home; Jennifer Lopez’s This Is Me . . . Then;
Justin Timberlake’s Justified; Norah Jones’ Come Away
With Me; Christina Aguilera’s Stripped; Tim McGraw’s
Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors; and Aaliyah’s