'The Greatest Showman,' 'Frozen,' 'Titanic' & Other No. 1 Soundtracks That Heated Up the January Charts
The Greatest Showman soundtrack’s ascent to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart (dated Jan. 13) is the latest example of how a movie released near Christmas can send its soundtrack to the top of the chart in January. Generally speaking, the early part of January is a less busy time of the year for new releases, so there’s little competition on the chart, and many albums can take advantage of a soft few weeks – and zip to No. 1. The soundtracks that tend to do the best are those from music-focused movies, naturally.
In the past 25 years, just six soundtracks hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in January -- and all six of them did so by climbing to the top (instead of debuting at No. 1). Further, all six of those albums came from movies that were released the previous December or November.
Here’s a look at the six soundtracks that rose to No. 1 on the list in January over the past 25 years, following the release of the album’s parent film the previous Christmas season.
Title – Chart Date
The Greatest Showman – Jan. 13, 2018
Film Opened in U.S. Theaters: Dec. 20, 2017
Following the Dec. 20 opening of The Greatest Showman in theaters, its soundtrack zoomed from No. 63 to No. 5 on the Billboard 200 dated Jan. 13, reflecting the tracking week ending Jan. 4. The Greatest Showman debuted at No. 71 and hit the top of the list in its fourth week on the tally. The film boasts performances by its stars Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Zendaya and more.
Frozen – Jan. 18, 2014
Film Opened in U.S. Theaters (Wide): Nov. 27, 2013
(From Nov. 22-26, was playing in only one theater.)
The animated musical Frozen started off well, debuting at No. 18 on the Dec. 14, 2013-dated list. But then -- as the movie turned into a pop culture phenomenon, and its song “Let It Go” became inescapable -- the soundtrack began its march to No. 1. It hit the top in its sixth frame, rising 4-1 on the tally dated Jan. 18, 2014 (reflecting the tracking week ending Jan. 5). The album would spend a total of 13 nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1.
Les Miserables – Jan. 19, 2013 –
Film Opened in U.S. Theaters: Dec. 25, 2012
The live action musical, adapted from the stage musical of the same name, saw its soundtrack debut at No. 33 on the Billboard 200 (dated Jan. 5, 2013) and shoot to No. 1 in its third week on the list (Jan. 19, 2013; reflecting the tracking week ending Jan. 6). Les Miserables, which also included performances by Jackman, spent one week at No. 1.
Dreamgirls – Jan. 20, 2007 –
Film Opened in U.S. Theaters (Wide): Dec. 25, 2006
(From Dec. 15-24, was playing in only three theaters.)
The album bounced to No. 1 in its fifth week on the Billboard 200 (dated Jan. 20, 2007; tracking week ending Jan. 7) and spent a second, and final, week atop the list the following frame. The album was led by the film's Beyoncé, and included her single “Listen,” which reached No. 61 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Titanic – Jan. 24, 1998 –
Film Opened in U.S. Theaters: Dec. 19, 1997
A little movie you may have heard of, Titanic not only scored big at the box office, but also spun off an enormously successful soundtrack. The album -- featuring Celine Dion's smash single "My Heart Will Go On" -- had a rather low-key debut, as it started at No. 154 on the list, but then quickly rose up the chart, moving to No. 72, then No. 31, then No. 11 and then finally, to No. 1 (Jan. 24, 1998-dated chart -- for the tracking week ending Jan. 11). What album did Titanic bump from No. 1? Dion's Let's Talk About Love, which also included "My Heart Will Go On." As for Titanic, its soundtrack went on and on at No. 1 -- for a total of 16 weeks at the top.
Waiting to Exhale – Jan. 20, 1996
Film Opened in U.S. Theaters: Dec. 22, 1995
The all-female multi-artist soundtrack -- featuring three songs by the film’s co-star Whitney Houston -- entered the chart at a lofty No. 3 (list dated Dec. 2, 1995). However, the album didn’t hit No. 1 until its eighth chart week, Jan. 20, 1996 (tracking week ending Jan. 7). The set spent five weeks at No. 1 -- all in-a-row -- and would launch four top 10-charting hits on the Hot 100: Houston’s “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” (peaking at No. 1) and “Count On Me,” with CeCe Winans (No. 8), Mary J. Blige’s “Not Gon’ Cry” (No. 2) and Brandy’s “Sittin’ Up In My Room” (No. 2).