Ask Billboard

Keith Caulfield answers readers' questions about holiday albums, box sets and the Spooky Kids.


Hello Keith,

With the Christmas season approaching quickly, I got curious and would like to know which Christmas albums have sold the most according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Thanks a bunch,

Andre Fortin
Los Angeles

Hi Andre,

The top selling holiday album of the Nielsen SoundScan-era, which began in 1991, is Kenny G's "Miracles - A Holiday Album." The Arista set has sold 7.1 million units in the United States to date.

"Miracles" is followed by Celine Dion's "These Are Special Times" (4.4 million) and Mariah Carey's "Merry Christmas" (also at 4.4 million).

However, in terms of all-time best-selling holiday albums, Elvis Presley's "Elvis' Christmas Album" is considered the biggest seller. It is certified at for shipments of 9 million units to U.S. retailers, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

The set first came out in 1957 and has been a perennial bestseller come the winter holiday season. Upon its initial release, the album spent a month at No. 1 on The Billboard 200.


Hi Keith,

With the slew of box sets being released this season (eg. Michael Jackson's "The Ultimate Collection," Bon Jovi's "100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong," the Beatles' "The Capitol Albums Vol. 1," Nirvana's "With the Lights Out," etc.) I was wondering what are reasonable sales expectations for a box set?

Would you be able to provide the sales on the old box sets for the Carpenters' "From the Top," Diana Ross's "Forever Diana: Musical Memoirs," Led Zeppelin's 1990 self-titled box set, and the Doors' 1997 self-titled box set?

I'm just trying to figure out what type of sales to expect here.

Thanks a lot!


Hello Amit,

One should not expect a box set to sell as much as a single CD release. Priced much higher than your typical release, multi-disc sets are aimed at a very specific audience, the devoted fan of a particular artist.

Nearly all of the new box sets you mentioned carry a list price of $59.95, save for the Beatles box, which lists for $69.95.

The Carpenters' "From the Top" has sold 53,000 units in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, while Diana Ross' "Forever Diana" has shifted 73,000. The Doors self-titled box has moved 181,000 units.

Led Zeppelin's self-titled box was released in 1990, before SoundScan began tabulating data. Since then, it has sold 1.3 million units.



Did Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids' "Lunch Boxes & Choklit Cows" get re-released this past spring? Can you give me any information, news articles and/or information on the re-release of this album?

Thank you,
Ruth Zimmerman

Hi Ruth,

The Spooky Kids' "Lunch Boxes & Choklit Cows" was issued in April by Empire Musicwerks, and then subsequently reached No. 17 on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart. The album was credited to the Spooky Kids, not Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids. The album, which is packaged with a DVD, has sold 20,000 units in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The set is made up of Spooky Kids demos from the early 1990s. Manson and his bandmate Madonna Wayne Gacy unsuccessfully attempted to block the disc's release with a lawsuit against their former Spooky Kids bandmate Scott Putesky and the label.