On the latest Billboard 200 albums chart (dated Dec. 23), U2 notched its eighth No. 1 album with the debut of Songs of Experience. It bowed with 186,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Dec. 7, according to Nielsen Music. Of that sum, 180,000 were driven by traditional album sales. Two more albums debuted in the top 10: Chris Stapleton’s From A Room: Volume 2 (at No. 2) and Miguel’s War & Leisure (No. 9).
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 latest Billboard 200 chart:
— Vince Guaraldi Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas (Soundtrack) – No. 32 — The classic animated TV special’s soundtrack returns to the top 40 for the third straight holiday season, as it steps 41-32 with 18,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending Dec. 8 (up 17 percent), according to Nielsen Music, of which 10,000 were in traditional album sales (up 30 percent).
The album has so far peaked at No. 23, on the Billboard 200 chart dated Dec. 31, 2011. The set did not reach any Billboard chart until 1987, when it debuted on the Holiday Albums tally, where it later peaked at No. 2 (Jan. 27, 2007).
The set, which was originally released in 1965, is the seventh-biggest-selling Christmas album of the Nielsen era (1991-present), with 3.7 million copies sold. It also has remained a sturdy seller on vinyl each holiday season. In the Nielsen era, it has sold 85,000 copies on vinyl, and in 2016 alone, it moved 24,000 LPs. In 2017, through Dec. 7, it has sold 15,000 — with 9,000 of that sum registered in the past three weeks.
It has sold well on vinyl not only because of the enduring appeal of the soundtrack — and the annual broadcast of the TV special — but also due to its availability in many variations on vinyl. Currently, there are at least nine variations of A Charlie Brown Christmas on vinyl in the marketplace. There’s the standard weight black vinyl edition (carried by Cracker Barrel) and a 180 gram black LP version (widely available). Barnes & Noble carries two picture discs of the set. And then there are color variations, such as: green, red (at Urban Outfitters), winter white (Cracker Barrel), a red and green swirl (FYE) and a half-red, half-white version (Newbury Comics).
— The Rolling Stones, On Air – No. 47 — The Rolling Stones notch their 54th charting set on the Billboard 200 with the arrival of the archival set On Air (14,000 units; nearly all from traditional album sales). The band has charted at least one new album on the list every year from 2012 to the present.
— Various Artists, ONXRT: Live From the Archives, Vol. 19 – No. 129 — The long-running charity compilation album series visits the list again, as its 19th volume starts at No. 129 with 8,000 units (all from pure album sales). The latest title in the series, compiled and presented by WXRT Chicago, was released exclusively in Target stores in the Chicago area. Proceeds from the album — which boasts live recordings for the station from Sting, Portugal. The Man, and others — benefit the Alliance for the Great Lakes and World Bicycle Relief. It’s the seventh charting title in a row for the Live From the Archives series.
— Dean Martin, The Dean Martin Christmas Album – No. 186 — Martin’s 1966 holiday set, The Dean Martin Christmas Album, finally debuts on the chart, bowing at No. 186. From 1963 through 1973, holiday albums were not eligible to chart on the Billboard 200. Instead, they charted on the seasonal Holiday Albums chart. Martin’s album topped the Holiday Albums list for one week on the chart dated Dec. 3, 1966.
— Brenda Lee, Jingle Bell Rock – No. 197 — Lee is back on the list for the first time since 1969’s Johnny One Time, as her 1993 Jingle Bell Rock album — powered by streams of her classic “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” — debuts on the list at No. 197.