It’s official. Michael Jackson, the self-proclaimed “King of Pop,” is the “King of Sales” this week, but music industry insiders predict he will soon lose the crown to pop teen queen Britney Spears.
Jackson’s first album of original music in six years, “Invincible,” sold 366,272 units in the week ended Nov. 4, the first week of its release, topping all other U.S. albums, according to Soundscan, which tracks music retail figures.
The pop star made an unprecedented in-store appearance Wednesday at the Virgin Megastore in New York’s Times Square, wearing a shiny royal blue outfit, complete with his signature finger-less gloves in the same color.
While the star’s visit caused an uproar and stopped traffic, 43-year-old Jackson is still expected to face tough competition this week from Spears.
The pop diva released her self-titled “Britney” Tuesday, following up on her smash debut in 1999 of “….Baby One More Time,” and last year’s “Oops!…I Did it Again.”
Scandals have made Jackson a tabloid favorite since the 1990s. This, combined with fading popularity and a music market decline, had led many to doubt Jackson could ever come near the success of his 1982 opus “Thriller,” the biggest selling album in history with sales of more than 40 million units worldwide.
Jackson’s new album claimed the number one spot on charts in other countries as well, including Britain, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey, according to his label Epic.
“We’re obviously thrilled with having the number one record as well as the success of our recently released re-mastered editions of Michael’s other albums,” said Steve Kennedy, vice president of sales for Sony Corp’s Epic Records.
He said sales of several of Jackson’s older albums, including “Thriller,” also dramatically increased. “We’re anticipating Michael to be a strong seller this holiday season,” he said.
While Jackson reigned over the charts this week, the opening numbers still fell far short of other recent No. 1 debuts, including the new album by DMX, which sold 440,000 units in its first week. DMX’ album, “The Great Depression,” fell to number three in the latest week, selling 213,780 in the week, according to Soundscan. Ranking second was Enrique Iglesias’s, whose “Escape” album sold 267,301 units in the past week.
Jackson’s first week sales were also beaten by his kid sister, Janet, who sold 605,000 copies of her album in April.
The record for first week sales is 2.4 million units, achieved by boy-band ‘N Sync last year.
Jackson’s last album, “HIStory,” a double CD with hits and new songs, opened with 391,000 units in 1995 and ended up selling a meager 2.1 million copies.
In the past few months, Jackson has returned to the limelight, promoting the album with high-profile concerts, appearances and TV specials. Radio industry officials said the album has been getting more airplay in the last week but it was too soon to tell if it would have staying power.