Los Angeles – Welcome to the best sales week of this still-young 2005.
Contributing to this buoyant frame are historic chart accomplishments by Tina Turner, the fastest start for the 10-year-old “Grammy Nominees” line of releases and, nestled between those two albums, a not-too-motley week for Motley Crue.
Album volume for the week stands at 11.4 million, and 6.9 million of those units sold were current titles. Both figures are high-water marks for the year.
The volume of digital tracks, which slipped to less than 5 million last week for the first time since the week ending Dec. 19, is also on the rise, as a 17% hike pushes the category above that threshold.
Record companies and merchants can get only so excited, as this bounty represents a sunny day on the eve of a storm.
Depending on how you are comparing data with last year, next week’s charts compete with the sixth chart week of 2004, when Kenny Chesney’s “When the Sun Goes Down” bowed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with a tally north of 550,000. No title on next week’s list will approach that kind of number, so it will be a challenge for the industry to meet the 12.7 million albums that were sold during the 2004 week that ended Feb. 8.
Beyond that, no one expects any week this month to match the heat of the frame that ended Feb. 15, 2004. That was when the perfect alignment of the Grammy Awards telecast, a million-plus start for Norah Jones’ new set and Valentine’s shopping pushed album sales to 17.3 million, the biggest Nielsen SoundScan week ever recorded outside of a November or December.
This time around, Valentine shopping will affect the week ending Feb. 13, while the Grammys’ influence will hit the following week. And no album arriving this month will replace the volume that came from Jones’ “Feels Like Home.” So, for the moment, let’s enjoy this sparkling view.
We will witness an odd confluence this year, in which the same artist will benefit from the spotlight of both the Grammys and the Academy Awards. Even if Ray Charles’ posthumous “Genius Loves Company” album does not win any Grammys, he will be remembered in a tribute performed by Billy Preston and Bonnie Raitt.
Later in the month, Taylor Hackford’s biopic “Ray” will shine during the Oscars. The film already has put a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award on the mantle of lead Jamie Foxx, so you have to like his chances at the big dance.
In the meantime, the film’s DVD release – even as it continues to run in theaters – revitalizes Charles’ recordings, including Greatest Gainer honors on the Billboard 200 and Top Pop Catalog. He wins on the former for the film’s first soundtrack (43-16, up 130%) and on the catalog list for “The Very Best of Ray Charles” (12-1, up 71%).
The big chart also sees “Genius” grow by 39% (35-24) and sequel soundtrack “More Music From Ray,” smartly launched the same week as the DVD, enter at No. 46. The catalog chart shows “Anthology” re-entering at No. 38 (up 80%), while two more albums enter Top Independent Albums at Nos. 38 and 39.
Combined, those seven charting albums account for 146,000 units.
SIMPLY HER BEST
Aside from earning her best Billboard 200 rank, Tina Turner also garners her best Nielsen SoundScan week. Two appearances on “Today”; an hourlong love fest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”; deep discounts at Circuit City, Best Buy and Target; and availability at Starbucks helped move 121,500 copies of her two-disc anthology, “All the Best” (No. 2).
Her previous SoundScan peak was 60,000 in 2000 for “Twenty Four Seven.”
Although “2004 Grammy Nominees” began four places higher than the line’s new edition (No. 4 last year versus No. 8 this time), “Grammy Nominees 2005” has the best opening sum since the series started in 1995. No, I don’t know why the year leads the title some years and caps it in others.
What I do know is that the new set’s 78,000-unit launch beats the line’s previous best start of 71,000, when the 2000 volume bowed at No. 19.
I also know that the No. 6 bow for Motley Crue’s two-fer hits set, “Red, White & Crue,” marks the band’s best rank since 1997 (“Generation Swine,” No. 4) and its best SoundScan week since 1991 (“Decade of Decadence,” 190,000).