Chart Moves: Alt-J Rides 'Wave' Up Billboard 200 Albums Chart

The really big news on the Billboard 200 albums chart this week was the rise of the "Les Miserables" soundtrack to No. 1. It was a rare feat for a stage-musical-turned-movie to hit the top of the tally, as "Les Mis" is only the ninth such production to do so.

As for the rest of the chart, there were of course -- as always -- some movers and shakers. Let's take a closer look at some of them:

Alt-J: The group, which just earned three Brit Awards nominations, flies into the top 100 of the Billboard 200 chart for the first time with its Mercury Prize-winning album "An Awesome Wave."

The set moved 6,000 copies in the week ending Jan. 6 -- good enough for a 1% sales gain over the previous week. While a 1% increase doesn't sound like much, it's a triumph in such a slow sales week where overall album sales are down by 36%.

In turn, the album rallies up the Billboard 200 by 79 slots, jumping from No. 166 to No. 87 -- a new chart high. On the Alternative Albums chart, "An Awesome Wave" makes its debut at No. 18, four months after its release in September, 2012.

In total, "An Awesome Wave" has sold 48,000 in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan.

"Pitch Perfect" and the Lumineers: Despite sales declines this week for both the "Pitch Pefect" soundtrack and the Lumineers' self-titled album, they rise to new heights on the Billboard 200. "Pitch Perfect" was down by 10% (to 52,000) and "The Lumineers" slips by 17% (to 51,000). But, compared to the overall chart, their respective erosions are quite small. In turn, the two albums move up the list to a new peak -- one week after they notched new highs. "Pitch Perfect" climbs from No. 10 to No. 7 and "The Lumineers" ascends 9-8.

Action Item: The New Jersey indie band takes advantage of a slow week, notching the chart's highest debut with its album "Resolution" coming in at No. 72 with 7,000. It's the unsigned group's first set to reach the Billboard 200 chart. Its debut EP, "The Stronger the Love," topped out at No. 34 on the Heatseekers Albums tally in 2010.

All of the set's physical copies were sold via MerchNow.com, resulting in 91% of the album's overall first-week sales. (The remaining 9% were digital downloads.) Industry sources suggest that pre-orders for the set were particularly large, likely owed to how the band offered a myriad of packages to entice consumers. (One bundle, coined the Ultimate Fan Experience, came with a Skype listening party with the band and a custom band-written song for the purchaser.)

Christmas Albums Selling Big After Christmas: The holidays may be over, but don't tell some of the albums on the Billboard 200 this week.

"Tis the Season: Kids Christmas Sing-Along" ties for the chart's largest positional gain this week, leaping 102 rungs to No. 75. Ironically, thanks to post-Christmas clearance sales at big box mass merchants, this holiday-themed album has its best sales week (7,000; up 19%) since last January.

Elsewhere, Jim Brickman's "All Is Calm: Peaceful Christmas Hymns" re-enters at No. 168 -- again thanks to low sale pricing. The album was formerly exclusive to Target, and it would seem the retailer is blowing out the 2011 release after the most recent Christmas season. In the last two weeks, it has moved 8,000 -- about what it sold in the four weeks leading up to Christmas.

Paul Simon: The debut of PBS' "Great Performances: Paul Simon's Graceland" on Jan. 4 helps spark a 239% sales gain for his classic "Graceland" album. It moves from 1,000 to 5,000 sold and re-enters at No. 120.

Norah Jones: Her Target-exclusive "Covers" compilation debuts this week at No. 121 with 5,000 sold. It was previously included as a bonus disc in U.S. vinyl and SACD editions of the 2012 box set "The Norah Jones Collection."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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