'New Moon' Rises To No. 1 on Billboard 200
Death Cab for Cutie Ryan Russell

Just in case you've been in a sight-, sound- and Twitter-deprivation tank for the past two years, here's the lowdown on the "Twilight" franchise: It's a series of four books written by Stephenie Meyer about Bella, a human girl who hearts Edward, a vampire boy. This is awkward, due to Edward's predilection for snacking on platelets, but also because high school relationships are invariably angsty and messy.

The first of the series, "Twilight," became a feature film starring bed-headed porcelain heartthrob Robert Pattinson, and made almost $400 million last year at box offices around the world for its fledgling movie studio, Summit Entertainment. The accompanying soundtrack, featuring Paramore, Muse, Linkin Park-and a rather lovely track by Pattinson himself-sold 2.2 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

On Nov. 20, the adaptation of the second book in the series, "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," hits theaters. But more than one month before-on Oct. 16-Atlantic/Chop Shop Records released the soundtrack, bumped up from Oct. 20 after the album leaked on the Internet. In its first three days of sales, the soundtrack sold 115,000, copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, landing it at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.

For the next three months, Atlantic wants to make the "New Moon" soundtrack inescapable. The label is teaming with teen lifestyle all-stars to promote the album: Hot Topic, MTV and MySpace. For those too old to wear black nail polish, the soundtrack also will be sold at Whole Foods, Nordstrom's, Hallmark and Hollywood Video.

But besides its omnipresence, there's a secret weapon the label is deploying for "New Moon." The soundtrack features tracks from Thom Yorke, Bon Iver & St. Vincent, Lykke Li and Sea Wolf, among others-and they're all exclusive to the album.

"We had offers from artists that were incredibly wonderful and incredibly commercial, and it would have been easy to say, 'Oh, let's go for it because we'll sell more records'-but it wouldn't have been true to the project," says Paul Katz, founder/CEO of Eye2Ear Music, which consults with Summit Entertainment on music; Katz produced the soundtrack album and has been involved since the script stage to determine where music could fit into the film.

The track list mediates the one bit of risk to the "Twilight" series: So far, the franchise owes its popularity to the capricious crushes of teenage girls. Getting "Twihards" who love virtuous vampires to buy the soundtrack is easy -- but getting Radiohead fans to plunk down cash for a little bit of the "New Moon" universe will be a coup.

"Keeping it as a combination of obviously great artists -- but making it interesting for people to discover -- was a very carefully considered view," Katz says.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Pages

Print