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George Michael’s U.S. Music Sales Up 2,678% Following Death

The death of George Michael on Dec. 25, 2016 prompted a big sales surge for his albums and digital songs in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music. In the week ending Dec. 29, sales of Michael's music…

The death of George Michael on Dec. 25 prompted a big sales surge for his albums and digital songs in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music. In the week ending Dec. 29, sales of Michael’s music — including with his former duo, Wham! — increased 2,678 percent (to 477,000 albums and songs, rounded to the nearest thousand) as compared to the previous week (17,000). Of the 477,000 total, album sales equaled 48,000 (up from just 1,000 the week previous), while song sales totaled 429,000 (an increase from 16,000 a week earlier).

In total, Michael/Wham! earned 103,000 equivalent album units during the tracking frame — a gain of 2,071 percent compared to the 5,000 units earned a week earlier.

Concurrently, three of Michael’s solo albums and Wham!’s 1984 breakthrough set Make It Big return to the Billboard 200 chart (dated Jan. 14). The chart ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA).


Michael’s 2008 greatest hits album Twenty Five re-enters the list at No. 12 — a new high for the album, surpassing its initial No. 28 debut and peak. The best-of earned 39,000 equivalent album units in the latest week (up 1,471 percent), with 9,000 of those in traditional album sales (up 9,476 percent). Michael’s debut solo album, 1987’s Faith, jumps back onto the tally at No. 18 with 33,000 units (up 6,061 percent), with 14,000 copies sold (up 8,189 percent). The smash set — which spent 12 weeks atop the chart — was the biggest-selling Michael or Wham! album of the week.

Michael additionally charts one more solo set on the list, the 1998 greatest hits compilation Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael, at No. 84 (11,000 units; up 3,291 percent, with 7,000 sold; up 5,257 percent).

Wham! sees its Make It Big studio effort return at No. 168 (7,000 units; up 713 percent, with 5,000 sold; up 2,208 percent). It’s the first time the former No. 1 album has been on the tally since 1986. The set ruled the chart for three weeks in 1985 and launched three No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100: “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” “Careless Whisper” and “Everything She Wants.”


Speaking of the Hot 100, “Careless Whisper” re-enters the list at No. 33, while the duo’s seasonal hit “Last Christmas” rises 50-41 in its second week on the chart. Meanwhile, Michael’s former Hot 100 topper “Faith” flies back onto the list at No. 47.

“Careless Whisper” was also Michael and Wham!’s best-selling song in the week ending Dec. 29, with 53,000 downloads sold (up 3,423 percent).

The most-streamed song of the Michael/Wham! catalog during the week was “Last Christmas,” with 8.2 million on-demand streams (up 64 percent). “Whisper” was in second place, with 7.7 million (up 576 percent). In total, Michael/Wham! registered 50.7 million streams for the week (up 553 percent from 7.8 million).