As Queens of the Stone Age claim their first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, the annual Tony Awards shine a light on cast recordings.
The Tonys, broadcast June 9 on CBS, help spur an immediate impact for some of this year’s biggest musical cast albums. As this issue’s charts reflect the Nielsen SoundScan tracking week that ended on the night of the telecast, there should also be additional impact from the Tonys on next week’s charts.
That said, the new Broadway cast recording of “Pippin,” which won the Tony for best revival of a musical, debuts at No. 92 on the Billboard 200 with 5,000 sold and bows at No. 1 on the Top Cast Albums chart. Right behind it is the debut of the original Broadway cast of “Motown: The Musical,” with 4,000 (No. 108, Billboard 200; No. 2, Cast Albums). Best revival of a musical nominee “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” tallies a 750% gain (rising to 3,000 sold) thanks to the release of its CD on June 4. (The digital version of the album bowed in May.) Best musical winner “Kinky Boots” slides by 52% after it debuted last week at No. 51 with 7,000.
Cast History: Billboard launched the Top Cast Albums chart slightly more than seven years ago-the first tally dated Jan. 14, 2006. That week, the original Broadway cast recording of “Wicked” ruled as the first No. 1 on Top Cast Albums. In total, “Wicked” has racked 246 weeks at No. 1, by far the most at No. 1 on the chart.
In second place with the most weeks at No. 1 on Top Cast Albums is the original Broadway cast of “Jersey Boys,” with 78 frames atop the tally. Only one other album has more than 10 No. 1 weeks: 2011’s “The Book of Mormon,” whose original Broadway cast set earned 14 frames at No. 1.
“The Book of Mormon” peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 in 2011 — the highest-charting cast album since 1969, when “Hair” spent 13 weeks at No. 1. The former musical’s high peak was driven by its then-recent Tony win for best musical and aggressive promotion and pricing by Amazon MP3. The retailer sale-priced the set for $1.99 for three days in the week it jumped to No. 3 (selling 61,000 — the best sales frame for a cast set since 1992).
In total, 38 cast releases have reached No. 1 on Top Cast Albums since the chart’s bow, including this week’s chart-topper, the new Broadway cast recording of “Pippin.” Previous No. 1s include ever-popular mega-hits like “Les MisÃ©rables” and “Mamma Mia!,” as well as shows that never made it to Broadway, like the original London cast recording of “Love Never Dies” (the sequel to “The Phantom of the Opera”) and 2012’s off-Broadway revival of “Carrie: The Musical.”
As the chart ranks the top-selling cast recordings of the week — not just shows from Broadway and London’s equivalent West End — some interesting titles pop onto it, sometimes at No. 1. One example is “Starship,” from the StarKid Productions troupe (which is best-known for launching member Darren Criss of “Glee”). Another is the 2008 “Chess: In Concert” cast recording and the 2011 special staging of “The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall,” both of which spent a week at No. 1.
Top Sellers: The top-selling cast album of the SoundScan era (1991-present) is, by far, the original London cast recording of “The Phantom of the Opera” (Highlights). The set, released in 1990, has sold nearly 5 million copies in the United States — more than twice the sales of the second-biggest-selling cast set: the original Broadway cast album of “Wicked” (2.4 million).
The rest of the top 10-selling cast albums of the SoundScan era: “Mamma Mia!” (original cast, 1.7 million), “Les MisÃ©rables” (original Broadway cast, 1.6 million), “Jersey Boys” (original Broadway cast, 1.4 million), “Rent” (original Broadway cast, 1.3 million), “The Lion King” (original Broadway cast, 937,000), “Les MisÃ©rables” (original London cast, 902,000), “Miss Saigon” (original London cast, 735,000) and the Donny Osmond-starring “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” (original Canadian cast, 615,000).
Last year’s Tony Award winner for best musical, “Once,” has sold 83,000 copies of its cast album. The 2010 winner, “The Book of Mormon,” has shifted 281,000. The last Tony winner for best musical to move more than a half-million units was 2006 winner “Jersey Boys.”