With Christmas little more than two weeks away by the close of business last Saturday, album sales rose by more than a million last week to 6,674,018, writes Alan Jones
That's 20.5% higher than the previous week and a mere 1.3% behind the 6,760,756 sales recorded in Week 50 of 2004 - the closest match to last week in terms of date and proximity to Christmas.
Two albums each contributed sales of more than 200,000 copies to the total. Now That's What I Call Music! 62 logging a 13,1% dip to 204,480 on its third week in the shops, to raise its 20 day cume to 724,118, while Eminem's Curtain Call - The Hits topped the artist chart for the second straight week, and put even Now! 62 in the shade, dashing to sales of 241,382. That's the highest weekly sale for a record by Eminem, beating the 228,297 copies his 2002 release Th e Eminem Show sold on its first week in the shops. Its the third highest sale for a number one artist album so far this year, trailing only the 464,471 copies that Coldplay's X&Y sold the week of its release in June, and the 373,832 copies Robbie Williams' Intensive Care sold in its first week on release at the end of October, beginning of November.
With a 20 day sales tally of 724,118, Now! 62 is certain to replace Now! 60 (849,234 sales) at the top of the list of 2005's best-selling compilations a week hence, and is 32.56% ahead of same stage sales for last year's equivalent, Now! 59, and 4.81% in front of 2003's Now! 56. benchmark
Although Curtain Call has sold 354,296 copies in nine days, there are plenty more in the shops, as the disc has been certified double platinum after shipping more than 600,000 copies.
Eminem's album was one of six artist albums to sell more than 100,000 cop ies last week. The Top 25 all exceeded 50,000 sales, while the 79 biggest sellers cleared the 10,000 mark. In the Top 50, only three albums failed to increase sales week-on-week.
The Darkness' One Way Ticket To Hell And Back dives 11-34 after sales collapsed by 46.6% to 36,100. Reality TV graduates G4 and Will Young were the other losers, with Young's third album Keep On falling 12-20 after a minor 4.2% dip to 62,693, while G4's second album, G4 And Friends, was off 21.5% at 76,225, and retreats 6-13 as a result.
With his second solo single No Worries in the Top 10 for the fifth straight week, former Blue star Simon Webbe's debut album, Sanctuary, has remained virtually static since its release four weeks ago but its rapidly escalating sales are typical of the market at this time of the year. Thus far, Sanctuary has moved 28-29-30-26, while its weekly sales have progressed 18,966-24,799-35,814 -49,621.
With most of the big guns already in battle, Girls Aloud's new album Chemistry is the solitary new entry to the Top 50 this week, and debuts at number 11 with sales of 81,962 more than would have been required to be number one 22 times this year. Their What Will The Neighbours Say album opened at number six exactly a year ago on sales of 85,717, while their 2003 debut Sound Of The Underground debuted at number two during the less frenetic month of May, with sales of just 37,077.
Fthe only other new release able to penetrate the Top 75 came from Korn.
Fanbase acts releasing albums in December are naturally setting themselves up for disappointing chart positions, and such is the case for nu metal veterans Korn, whose seventh studio album See You On The Other Side attracted 12,118 fans last week but has to settle for a below par number 71 debut. The band's first album for Virgin, it appears two years to the week after their final Sony studio album, Take A Look In The Mirror, which was similarly unflattered by a number 53 debut for first week sales of 14,976.
The Christmas gift buying season in full swing, James Blunt's debut album Back To Bedlam continues to prosper. The album sold 327 copies this week in 2004 but 94,946 copies last week and climbs 10-7 on the chart as a result. The runaway best-seller of 2005 has now sold 1,893,400 copies this year, and will easily reach the 2m mark by year's end. The only album to sell 2m. copies in a calendar year thus far in the 21st Century is Dido's Life For Rent, which sold 2,168,302 copies in 2003.
Also doing well, Clarkson's Breakaway album continues to reap the rewards of her growing exposure. Although it slips 8-9, the album sold 83,980 copies last week - that's by far its best weekly sales to date, and take its year-to-date tally to 623,629.
With new single Advertising Space set for release today (12th), Robbie Williams' latest album Intensive Care is picking up pace again, with sales last week up 29.2% at 132,632 propelling its 48 day tally to 970,763. Williams will also be earning healthy residuals from the sale of the Take That compilation Never Forget - The Ultimate Collection, which sold a further 111,666 copies last week (its best weekly tally yet and a 13.4% improvement week-on-week) to take its 27 day sales tally to 390,188 - excellent, though down on the 503,010 copies their 1998 Greatest Hits album sold in the same timespan. Williams' album holds at number two, and Take That's album is likewise unmoved at number four.
Singles are missing out on the bonanza, with overall sales last week of 1,030,008 representing only a 3% increase over the previous week, with physical sales down 4% at 329,338 and downloads improving 5.9% to 700,670. Only the Top 10 singles sold more than 10,000 copies, and there were only three debuts in the Top 10, these being for Sugababes, The Strokes and DHT.
Despite a decline of 28.8% to 31,311 sales, Pussycat Dolls secure a second straight week at the top of the singles chart with StickWitU. Although it finishes up 25.9% ahead of nearest challenger Madonna's Hung Up - which rebounds 3-2 on sales down 21.1% at 24,874 - StickWitU sold fewer copies last week than any number one for 14 weeks, though the Las Vegas troupe's debut album PCD climbs 13-10 this week, and turns in another strong performance, upping its sales week-on-week by 37.5% to 82,193, and increasing its 13 week cume to 307,901.
10 weeks ago, Sugababes' Push The Button dethroned Pussycat Dolls' Don't Cha - but follow-up Ugly can't compete with StickWitU or Madonna's Hung Up, and settles for a number three debut with 21,107 sales. Sugababes' 14th hit may fall short of glory itself but parent album Taller In More Ways catapults 21-8 on sa les of 91,035 - 99.3% higher than last week, and far more than the 65,781 sales it recorded when debuting at number one, eight weeks ago. Cumulative sales of 396,502 lift Sugababes' total album sales to over 2m.
The first big new release of 2006 will be The Strokes' third album First Impressions Of Earth, which is set to drop on 2 January. Ahead of that, the band's first single for a year, Juicebox, debuts at number five this week on sales of 15,821. The band's only previous Top 10 entry, 12:51, debuted at number seven in October 2003 on sales of 14,297, while their sixth Top 40 hit and most recent single, The End Has No End debuted at number 27 last November on sales of 2,996.
Received wisdom is that dance music doesn't sell in America, and although that is largely true, occasionally a dance record will defy convention to become a major hit. One such record is Belgian duo DHT's remake of Roxette's Listen To Your H eart, which became only the second record by a dance act to go Top 10 on the Hot 100 in five years, peaking at number eight in March. It belatedly follows suit in the UK, debuting at number seven this week on sales of 12,568.
Westlife's latest single, You Raise Me Up, was named as Record Of The Year in ITV's televised annual competition of the same name on Saturday (10th). It's the Irish band's fourth win in the seven years of the competition. You Raise Me Up holds at number four this week, with sales down 17.5% at 16,491. It is certain to be joined in the Top 10 next week by follow-up When You Tell Me That You Love Me, on which Westlife are joined by Diana Ross. All this is good news for the band's latest album Face To Face, which rebounds 5-3 this week with sales up 27.6% at 124,647. taking its six week tally to 713,257 copies.