The final tracking week of 2012 yielded big returns on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
Consumers were quick to redeem music download gift cards received for Christmas, causing sales surges on both the overall Billboard 200 as well as the Digital Albums chart. On the latter, all but two titles on the 25-position list see gains this week. On the Billboard 200, the impact is muted, as the chart is stabilizing after a busy holiday. What that means: titles with small declines in sales this week on the Billboard 200 are actually doing well, as the overall album market was down by 23%.
Thus, when we see Taylor Swift's "Red" hold at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for a seventh non-consecutive week with only a 12% drop in sales, that's a huge achievement. Her sales were goosed by a one-day Amazon MP3 sale on Dec. 24, where the retailer marked "Red" down to $1.99. Other titles that beat the overall market decline include the "Les Miserables" soundtrack at No. 2 (136,000; up 218%), Imagine Dragons' "Night Visions" at No. 6 (70,000; up 130%), Rihanna's "Unapologetic" at No. 7 (68,000; up 3%), One Direction's "Up All Night" at No. 15 (52,000; down 11%) and Kendrick Lamar's "Good Kid, m.A.A.d city" at No. 17 (44,000; up 27%).
There was a lot of action all over the chart this week, not just at the very top of the tally. Let's take a look at some of the notable movers and shakers.
-- "Les Miserables" and "Pitch Perfect": With the soundtracks of both "Les Miserables" and "Pitch Perfect" in the top 10 this week (at Nos. 2 and 10, respectively), it's the first time we've had a pair of soundtracks in the region since the Dec. 3, 2011-dated tally ("Glee: The Music, the Christmas Album Volume 2" at No. 6 and "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1" at No. 8).
"Pitch Perfect" rallies 45-10 with 58,000 sold (up 84%) to its best sales week and chart peak yet. The film was released to DVD on Dec. 18 and the soundtrack carried a $6.99 sale tag at iTunes last week.
-- Bob Marley & the Wailers: On Dec. 24, Amazon MP3 sale priced select titles for $1.99 or less, causing huge sales gains for a variety of albums on the chart this week. Four albums went for just 99-cents: Bob Marley and the Wailers' greatest hits "Legend" (a re-entry at No. 24 with 36,000; up 556%); the "Motown 1's" compilation (re-entering at No. 27 with 34,000; up from essentially zero units the week previous); ABBA's "Gold" greatest hits (re-entry at No. 36 with 28,000; up 1,881%); and Carpenters' "Singles: 1969-1981" (a debut at No. 45 with 24,000; up 3,020%)
-- "Django Unchained": The chart's second-highest debut (at No. 99) comes from the soundtrack to the Quentin Tarantino-directed film, shifting 10,000 in its second week of availability (up 145%). The set was released on Dec. 18 and moved 4,000 last week -- its first week out.
-- "A Charlie Brown Christmas": With the chart only reflecting one day of sales before Christmas, it's unsurprising to see only 19 Christmas albums on the Billboard 200 this week. (The chart week tracked Dec. 24-30.) A week previous, there were 50. One of the remaining holiday sets on the chart is Vince Guaraldi Trio's soundtrack to "A Charlie Brown Christmas," which falls 65-114 with 9,000 (down 57%).
-- "Les Miserables" (Part Two): Thanks to buzz generated by the new film, the 1987 Broadway Cast Recording comes back to the list for the first time since the Feb. 27, 1988 chart. It spent nine weeks on the tally in 1987 and 1988, peaking at No. 117.
-- Cassadee Pope: The third-season winner of "The Voice" has sold 19,000 in two weeks of her "The Voice: The Complete Season 3 Collection" -- almost half what first season champ Javier Colon has sold of his first post-"Voice" album to date (45,000). This week, Pope's "Voice" compilation slips 125-130 with 8,000 (down 30%), while holding at No. 1 on Heatseekers Albums.