July 1, 2009 / 7:13 AM / 10 years ago

Michael Jackson shatters chart records

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - As expected, Michael Jackson is once again the King of the Pop charts.

Based on preliminary sales numbers from Nielsen SoundScan, the top nine positions on Billboard’s Top Pop Catalog Albums chart will house Jackson-related titles when the tally is released in the early morning on Wednesday. Nielsen SoundScan’s sales tracking week ended at the close of business Sunday (June 28) night.

Jackson himself — who died June 25 of cardiac arrest at age 50 — has a record eight out of the top 10, and a Jackson 5 compilation also finds its way into the upper tier.

“Number Ones” will fittingly lead the pack at No. 1 with sales of 108,000 (an increase of 2,340 percent) while “The Essential Michael Jackson” and “Thriller” are in the second and third slots with 102,000 and 101,000, respectively. Last week “Number Ones” was the only Jackson title on the chart, at No. 20 with 4,000 copies; both “Essential” and “Thriller” re-enter the tally this week.

Additionally, his classic 1979 studio set “Off the Wall” re-enters at No. 4 with 33,000 while his 1987 album “Bad” returns at No. 6 with 17,000. At No. 5, the Jackson 5’s “The Ultimate Collection” debuts with 18,000. Jackson’s fourth studio album for Epic Records, 1991’s “Dangerous,” re-enters at No. 7 with 14,000, and his 2001 compilation, “Greatest Hits: HIStory — Volume 1,” returns to the list at No. 8 with 12,000. Finally, Jackson’s 2004 box set, “The Ultimate Collection,” charts its first week on the Pop Catalog chart, arriving at No. 9 with 11,000.

The lone non-Jackson-related set in the top 10 is a reissue of the “Woodstock” movie soundtrack, which bows at No. 10 with 8,000.


Collectively, Jackson’s solo albums sold 415,000 this past week. That’s extraordinary, given that his titles sold a combined 10,000 in the week ended June 21. Of the 415,000, 58 percent were digital downloads.

The 415,000 albums sold last week represent nearly 40 percent more than sales of Jackson’s catalog during the entire year up through June 21 (297,000).

On the Top Digital Albums chart, Jackson has a record six out of the top 10 slots, including the top four. “The Essential Michael Jackson” leads the Top Digital Albums list with 80,000 downloads sold, while “Thriller” is No. 2 with 57,000.

With the Black Eyed Peas’ “The E.N.D.” moving back to the No. 1 slot on the Billboard 200 chart with 88,000, this week marks the first time that a catalog album has sold more than the No. 1 current set on the Billboard 200 albums chart. (All three of Jackson’s top sellers on the Pop Catalog chart outsell “The E.N.D.”)

It’s a feat that Jackson himself almost achieved when he reissued “Thriller” in February 2008. The set relaunched with 166,000, re-entering at No. 1 on the Top Pop Catalog chart. That week, Jack Johnson’s “Sleep Through the Static” led the Billboard 200 chart with 180,000 while Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” was at No. 2 with 115,000.

Catalog albums are ineligible to appear on the Billboard 200 albums chart, but they can chart on the all-encompassing Top Comprehensive Albums list. On the latter chart, Jackson’s “Number Ones,” “Essential” and “Thriller” are at Nos. 1-3, followed by the Black Eyed Peas’ “The E.N.D.” at No. 4.


Jackson places a record 25 songs on the 75-position Hot Digital Songs chart (21 solo hits and four with his siblings), smashing the mark of 14 charting titles established by David Cook in June 2008. Jackson’s Halloween radio staple, “Thriller,” moves 167,000, which is good for second place on the chart behind the 203,000 shifted by the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling.”

“Thriller” was also Jackson’s best digital seller in the week before his death, with 5,000 downloads, which translates to a 3,551 percent jump. Jackson’s total volume of downloads this week — including his tracks with the Jackson 5 and the Jacksons — account for 2.6 million downloads, a remarkable number considering that last week’s cumulative sum was 48,000. Moreover, Jackson becomes the first act to sell more than 1 million song downloads in a week.

Besides “Thriller,” Jackson places five other songs in the top 10 including “Man in the Mirror” (No. 3, 165,000), “Billie Jean” (No. 4, 158,000), “The Way You Make Me Feel” (No. 6, 136,000), “Beat It” (No. 7, 134,000) and “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” (No. 8, 125,000).

Not surprisingly, each of the Jackson tracks in the top 10 of Hot Digital Songs was among the top 10 most-played Jackson selections on radio after his passing. According to research provided by Nielsen BDS of monitored airplay from more than 1,600 terrestrial and satellite radio stations and cable music channels, “Billie Jean” was the Jackson track with the most spins for the week ended June 28, with 4,540 — 97 percent of which occurred after news of his death became public. The track posted only 318 plays in the previous week.

Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters

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