Billboard 200 Chart Moves: 'Weird Al's' 'Hamilton Polka' Pushes Cast Album to Highest Rank in Eight Months
Plus: The “Coco” soundtrack hits the top 40 for the first time, Joan Baez earns her highest charting album in over 40 years, and Bon Jovi takes a big tumble.
On the latest Billboard 200 albums chart (dated March 17), Black Panther: The Album jumped back to No. 1, scoring a third nonconsecutive week atop the list. Meanwhile, The Greatest Showman soundtrack skipped 5-2, giving the chart theatrical film soundtracks at Nos. 1 and 2 for the first time in nearly 20 years.
The Billboard 200 chart ranks the week’s most popular albums based on their overall consumption. That overall unit figure combines pure album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA).
Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the action on the rest of the Billboard 200:
— Original Broadway Cast Recording, Hamilton: An American Musical – No. 16 — Following the release and promotion of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “The Hamilton Polka” -- inspired by Hamilton: An American Musical -- the original Broadway cast recording of the show hits an eight-month high on the Billboard 200. The set rises 21-16, its highest rank since the July 22, 2017-dated list, when it was also No. 16. The album earned 20,000 equivalent album units in the week ending March 8 (up 9 percent).
“The Hamilton Polka” -- which is not included on the Hamilton cast recording -- was released March 2 and sold 17,000 downloads in the week ending March 8. It also generated 1.2 million streams.
On the day of the song's release, Yankovic and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to promote and lip-sync the tune. Even though “The Hamilton Polka” is not on the Hamilton cast album, general excitement and curiosity around the “Polka” single encouraged consumers to buy and stream the album, and also purchase tracks from the set. The album sold 7,000 copies in the tracking week (up 15 percent), generated 1,000 TEA units (up 11 percent) and earned 12,000 SEA units (up 6 percent).
In December, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda announced that new Hamilton-related content would arrive each month under the banner of Hamildrops. The first release was “Ben Franklin’s Song” by The Decemberists in December. It was followed by a video for The Hamilton Mixtape’s “Wrote My Way Out,” by Nas, Dave East, Miranda and Aloe Blacc, a remix of “Wrote” featuring Royce Da 5’9”, Joyner Lucas, Black Thought and Blacc (both in January), and then “The Hamilton Polka.”
— Soundtrack, Coco – No. 39 — With Coco’s vault from No. 120 to No. 39, the album becomes the sixth soundtrack to reach the top 40 for the first time in 2018. The set’s jump comes courtesy of publicity generated by the film’s two Academy Award wins on March 4, including one for best original song for “Remember Me,” which was performed on the ABC TV broadcast. Before Coco, the chart welcomed new top 40 sets this year from Fifty Shades Freed (No. 5), Black Panther: The Album (No. 1), Pitch Perfect 3 (No. 20), The Greatest Showman (No. 1) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (No. 12).
— The Breeders, All Nerve – No. 79 — The rock band is back on the list with its first album in nearly 10 years, as All Nerve enters at No. 79 (8,000 units; 7,000 in traditional album sales). The act was last on the list back in 2008 with its last album, Mountain Battles, which debuted and peaked at No. 98 on the April 26, 2008-dated tally. The group’s biggest album, Last Splash, peaked at No. 33 in 1994, and launched the hit single “Cannonball” (No. 44 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 2 on Alternative Songs).
— Joan Baez, Whistle Down the Wind – No. 104 — The singer returns to the Billboard 200 chart for the first time in nearly 10 years, with her highest charting effort in over 40 years, as Whistle Down the Wind bows at No. 104 with 7,000 units. It’s her first new album since Day After Tomorrow, which was released in September of 2008 and debuted and peaked at No. 128.
Whistle Down the Wind is Baez’s highest charting set since 1977’s Blowin’ Away reached No. 54 on the Aug. 6, 1977-dated list.
Baez made her Billboard chart debut back on Nov. 27, 1961 with her album Joan Baez, Vol. 2. It topped out at No. 13 on the Billboard 200 the following year – her first of a dozen top 40-charting efforts.
— Bon Jovi, This House Is Not for Sale – No. 169 — Bon Jovi’s This House Is Not for Sale earns the distinction of the largest positional fall from No. 1 in the history of the Billboard 200 chart, as the set collapses 168 spots: from its re-entry at No. 1 a week ago to No. 169 (5,000 units; down 96 percent).
The set returned to the top of the chart thanks largely to sales of the album generated by a concert ticket/album sale redemption offer with the band’s upcoming arena tour. As we’ve seen repeatedly in the past, albums that garner big sales figures in a single week from such redemption offers will often have a huge decline a week later, when there are no further redemptions left to power the album on the list. Such is the case with This House Is Not for Sale. Notably, the album now has two of the top five largest falls from No. 1. When the set entered atop the list back in 2016, also powered by sales from a redemption offer, it fell to No. 43 in its second week.
Of the top five largest drops from No. 1, only one album was not driven by sales tallied from a redemption offer – Brand New’s Science Fiction.
The Top 10 Biggest Falls from No. 1:
Bon Jovi, This House Is Not for Sale, 1-169, March 17, 2018
Brand New, Science Fiction, 1-97, Sept. 16, 2017
The Killers, Wonderful Wonderful, 1-59, Oct. 21, 2017
LCD Soundsystem, American Dream, 1-56, Sept. 30, 2017
Bon Jovi, This House Is Not for Sale, 1-43, Dec. 3, 2016
Pentatonix, A Pentatonix Christmas, 1-41, Jan. 21, 2017
Arcade Fire, Everything Now, 1-38, Aug. 26, 2017
Incubus, Light Grenades, 1-37, Dec. 23, 2016
Linkin Park, One More Light, 1-30, June 17, 2017
Fall Out Boy, Mania, 1-30, Feb. 10, 2018
Chart watchers note: Back in 1958, Elvis Presley’s Elvis’ Christmas Album went from No. 1 to completely off the chart in a single week. However, back then, the chart was only 25 positions deep, so it wasn’t surprising to see a Christmas album vaporize off such a shallow chart after the holiday season had concluded. (Much like how Pentatonix’s A Pentatonix Christmas fell 1-41 after Christmastime on the Jan. 21, 2017-dated tally.)