As forecasted last week, Taylor Swift's "Red" album spends a seventh nonconsecutive week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. In the sales week ending Dec. 30, 2012 -- the final frame of the year -- the Big Machine Records album sold 241,000 (down 12%), according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Last Friday (Dec. 28), industry sources had projected the set would sell at least 225,000 -- if not more.
A full 54% of the sales for "Red" last week were from downloads. That number isn't too surprising, since Amazon MP3 discounted the title to $1.99 as part of a Gold Box promotion on Dec. 24. Sources suggest that the sales from just Amazon MP3 on that day alone amounted to nearly 30% of the album's entire week -- and 54% of its download sales.
(Discounted sales of "Red" count toward its weekly total because "Red" has been out for more than four weeks; Billboard doesn't count sales of albums priced below $3.49 in their first four weeks of release.)
"Red" was also certainly buoyed by the redemption of download gift cards received for Christmas, as were many albums on the chart. This week's chart reflects the seven-day tracking week that began with Christmas Eve (Monday, Dec. 24) and ended Sunday, Dec. 30.
The seventh week of "Red" at No. 1 gives Swift a total of 24 weeks atop the Billboard 200 through her career -- tying her with Adele as the woman with most weeks at No. 1 since SoundScan began powering the Billboard 200 in May 1991. Swift's "Fearless" album spent 11 weeks at No. 1, while 2010's "Speak Now" logged six weeks atop the list. (All 24 of Adele's weeks at No. 1 came from one album: "21.")
It seems likely that "Red" will hang around at No. 1 for at least another week (if not more), as no new major albums were released this week.
Below Swift this week on the chart is the fast-rising "Les Miserables" film soundtrack. The movie musical's companion album jumps from No. 33 to No. 2 with 136,000 sold and a whopping 218% sales gain. The set's 31-position jump is the largest to the top two since the Feb. 28, 2009, chart. That week, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' "Raising Sand" rebounded 67 rungs from No. 69 to No. 2 after it won the Grammy Award for album of the year.
The "Les Miserables: Highlights" soundtrack was released Friday, Dec. 21, four days before the film arrived in U.S. movie theaters. In the week ending Dec. 23, the set sold 43,000 (with only two full days of sales). It was only natural for the album to see a big gain this week, after it had registered a full seven days' worth of availability and had the film's Christmas Day opening to help drive sales.
"Les Miserables" stars Hugh Jackman and is based on the hit stage musical of the same name. According to Playbill, the Broadway show ran for 6,680 performances between 1987 and 2003 and is the fourth-longest-running show in Broadway history.
The last movie musical soundtrack to reach the top two on the Billboard 200 was the "Hannah Montana: The Movie" album in May 2009. It spent one week at No. 1 and seven weeks in the top two. The last adapted-from-a-stage-musical movie soundtrack to climb this high was "Mamma Mia!" in 2008, which rose to No. 1 for one week on Aug. 23 of that year.
Rounding out the top five on the Billboard 200 this week are One Direction's "Take Me Home" (up one to No. 3 with 120,000; down 32%), Bruno Mars' "Unorthodox Jukebox" (down a slot to No. 4, 110,000; down 38%) and T.I.'s "Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head" (falling 3-5 with 74,000; down 59%).
There's a lot of movement between Nos. 6-10 on the chart this week, all thanks to sale pricing by both Amazon MP3 and iTunes (and consumers redeeming gift cards).
Imagine Dragons' "Night Visions" zips from No. 46 to No. 6 with 70,000 sold (up 130%), earning its second-best sales frame after its debut at No. 2 with 83,000 in September. The album was marked down to $1.99 for one day only at Amazon MP3 (Dec. 24, like Swift's "Red") while iTunes offered it for $7.99 as part of its 2012 Chart Toppers year-end promotion. No surprise: Downloads accounted for 88% of the effort's sales last week.
Like "Night Visions" and "Red," Rihanna's "Unapologetic" profits from Amazon's $1.99 sale. It rises from No. 19 to No. 7 with 68,000 (up 3%). Trailing Rihanna is Mumford & Sons' "Babel," holding at No. 8 with 68,000 (down 27%).
An iTunes $7.99 sale tag also push the Lumineers' self-titled effort to its best rank and highest sales frame yet. The set climbs from No. 24 to No. 9 with 61,000 (up 10%). The group's breakout single, "Ho Hey," also continues to make airplay gains, as it maintains its bullet at No. 3 on the Pop Songs chart (known as Mainstream Top 40 on Billboard.biz).
Closing out the top 10 is the soundtrack to "Pitch Perfect," which zooms 45-10 with 58,000 (up 84%) -- its best chart rank and sales week yet. The musical movie was released to DVD on Dec. 18, and its soundtrack re-entered the chart at No. 45 last week with 32,000. Its re-entry last week -- and gain this week -- are powered by the DVD, a reissue of the album on Dec. 18 (with four bonus tracks) and a $6.99 sale tag at iTunes for the standard version of the album. In the past two weeks, the album has sold 90,000 copies -- 37% of its cumulative total. The set bowed Sept. 25, three days before it arrived in U.S. theaters in limited release.
On the Digital Songs chart, the gift card redemption effect is inescapable, as a staggering 48 songs sold more than 100,000 downloads last week. The week previous, just 10 did.
Leading the charge is Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble," which returns to No. 1 (up one slot) with 582,000 sold (up 163%). It earns the fourth-largest sales week ever for a song and the second-biggest for a tune that wasn't in its debut frame.
Flo Rida's "Right Round" continues to hold the all-time one-week digital sales record, when it debuted with 636,000 on the Feb. 28, 2009, chart. Swift's own "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is second with 623,000 (a debut on Sept. 1, 2012). Ke$ha's "TiK ToK" is third with 610,000 sold during the Christmas frame of 2009 (reflected in the chart Jan. 2, 2010, chart). "TiK Tok" had debuted in October 2009.
"I Knew You Were Trouble" is one of seven songs to sell more than 300,000 downloads last week. Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven" is pushed down to No. 2, despite a 120% sales increase. It sold 497,000.
PSY's "Gangnam Style" takes a tremendous leap as well, rising 8-3 with 400,000 (up 245%). Exposure from end-of-year chart countdown shows, New Year's Eve party playlist purchases and gift card redemptions help PSY jump back up the tally.
Justin Bieber's "Beauty and a Beat" ascends 7-4 (372,000; up 212%), Rihanna's "Diamonds" holds at No. 5 (365,000; up 159%), the Lumineers' "Ho Hey" slips 3-6 (304,000; up 104%), and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop" drops one rung to No. 7 (a little more than 304,000; up 116%).
As for the rest of the top 10: Ke$ha's "Die Young" rises 12-8 with 299,000 (up 228%), Will.i.am & Britney Spears' "Scream & Shout" slides 4-9 with 285,000 (up 99%), and Phillip Phillips' "Home" falls a spot to No. 10 with 281,000 (up 157%).
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Dec. 30) totaled 9.8 million units, down 23% compared with the sum last week (12.7 million) and up 27% compared with the comparable sales week of 2011 (7.7 million). 2012 finishes the year with 316 million albums sold, down 4% compared to 2011's sum (330.6 million).
Digital track sales this past week totaled 55.7 million downloads -- the single largest week ever for digital track sales. That's up 119% compared with last week (25.5 million) and up 20% stacked next to the comparable week of 2011 (46.4 million). The previous largest frame on record was the week ending Dec. 28, 2008, when 47.7 million tracks were sold.
A record 1.33 billion tracks were sold overall in 2012, up 5% compared with the then-record total moved in 2011 (1.27 billion).
Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2012 when: Adele's "21" held at No. 1 with 124,000 (down 14%) while the chart's top debut came at No. 7: SafetySuit's "These Times" bowed with 26,000.