Home / Music / iTunes Chart Watch: The Michael Jackson Tsunami Fades

iTunes Chart Watch: The Michael Jackson Tsunami Fades

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To quote my friends from Guster, this is the beginning of the end.  Michael Jackson is still a presence on this week's iTunes singles and albums charts, but his dominance is beginning to fade.  It seems the folks caught up in the pageantry and absurdity—because regardless of how you felt we have to admit there has been plenty of both and then some—of Jackson's passing have made the musical purchases they intend to make.  It's the hard thing about selling 25 million copies of an album like Jackson did with Thriller.  At what point does everyone on the planet interested in buying that album have it?  

With MJ's dominance diminishing, we have some new entries.  Taylor Swift has a new single in the Top 10, as does Hannah Montana aka Miley Cyrus.  I hate the real/fiction bit with "Miley Montana."  Two names, two identities, and twice as much bad music.  The good news?  This bubble is about to burst and the predictable signs of decline are showing, making this week's #2 single a little surprising to me.  The least welcome addition to this week's charts is the new Mariah Carey single "Obsessed."  If she's got a new single and a new video, it means she's about to have a new album.  If the single is already #4, we can rest assured we're not about to get a Glitter-esque vacation from her.  People like this song, and that means Mimi is going to be everywhere for months and months.  I can't begin to tell you how much I'm about to hate writing this column week after week after week.


1. "I Gotta Feeling," Black Eyed Peas
2. "He Could Be the One," Hannah Montana
3. "Man In the Mirror," Michael Jackson
4. "Obsessed," Mariah Carey
5. "Fire Burning," Sean Kingston
6. "Boom Boom Pow," Black Eyed Peas
7. "Love Drunk," Boys Like Girls
8. "You Belong With Me," Taylor Swift
9. "Best I Ever Had," Drake
10. "Billie Jean," Michael Jackson

Michael's staying power seems a bit stronger on the albums chart where he has three records in the Top 10, including the top spot.  Maxwell's new album had a big showing, which I read in more than one place that it would so it's not a surprise to me.  I didn't think Hannah's third soundtrack volume would do as well as it did, getting a sense from the pre-teen nieces in my life that Hannah is about to become another child star we hope invested wisely.  The Black Eyed Peas are probably in better shape than #7 if Michael Jackson doesn't have three albums on this chart, because I'm not lucky enough for the listening public to be tiring of them.  

Wilco and Kings of Leon continue to represent the "not-quite-indie" crowd.  Wilco has become something of a Radiohead Jr.  They've had no hits to speak of, yet they've developed a following and they're one of the chic bands you're supposed to like.  Like Radiohead, they're also exceptionally talented and it almost demeans them that they've taken on this bizarre half-life through no fault of their own.  


1. The Essential Michael Jackson – Michael Jackson
2. BLACKsummers'night – Maxwell
3. Nothing Personal – All Time Low
4. Number Ones – Michael Jackson
5. Hannah Montana 3 – Hannah Montana
6. Thriller – Michael Jackson
7. The E.N.D. (The Energy Never Dies) – Black Eyed Peas
8. Only By the Night – Kings of Leon
9. Wilco – Wilco
10. American Saturday Night – Brad Paisley

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About Josh Hathaway

  • Todd Jet

    “It seems the folks caught up in the pageantry and absurdity”

    Ha! Sorry to burst your bubble my friend but to the world it seems like it’s only getting bigger, let the real numbers speak:

    The first week since he died, he sold 400K albums , second week he sold staggering 800K albums and last week he sold a record breaking 1.1 million albums in the US alone!LINK TO BILLBOARD.

    Incredibly but not surprising from the King of Pop, he has sold a total of 9 million albums in just 2 WEEKS, this is bigger than when Elvis died!


  • Interesting, Todd. I’m basing this on the fact that in the previous columns devoted to the iTunes Music Store’s sales, Michael has had more items in both charts than he did this week. Billboard’s net is wider than the one I’m casting. That said, you make a good point. Fewer items in the chart is one way to assess chart performance, actual number of songs or albums sold is another and the more common of the two.

  • Kit O’Toole

    Interesting that you brought this up, Josh–the Chicago Tribune ran a fascinating article today on how people are buying up MJ’s CDs and vinyl just as much as digital downloads. In any case, sales of his music continue to break records (no pun intended).

  • At what point does everyone on the planet interested in buying that album have it?

    When the population grinds to a halt.

    Of course, Jackson’s sales will eventually subside to more normal levels in the weeks to come, but people will always discover his music for the first time and want to seek it out.

    And that goes for all music. We’ll find out on 9/9/09 how many people are interested in buying albums that are at least 39 years old.

  • Of course, new generations get turned on to previous generation’s music. I discover older albums just like anyone else. I was referring mainly to the posthumous surge that Jackson’s music has seen.

    As for 09.09.09, I’ll absolutely be one of them. I might even take that day off and listen to every song of every album. 🙂

  • remind me again of what 9/9/09 is?

  • 6/6/6 for Australians?

  • Mat Brewster

    The Beatles get Remastered.

  • ah. i don’t know if i’ll get any Beatles remasters or not. will probably wait to see what the general consensus is as far as how the should was updated. even then, i can only see myself getting the white album and probably Revolver.

  • Kit O’Toole

    I’m planning on buying the Beatles remasters–they will be a huge improvement over the 80s releases.

  • The ’80s versions were quite terrible so I’m betting these are going to be quite the upgrade. They spent four years working on this diligently and they don’t seem to have let the Loudness Doctors in the room. I hope that proves to be true.

  • At least Michael’s music had messages, like “Man in the Mirror.”

    “Beat It” was about turning the other cheek.

    “Bad” was based on a true story of peer pressure. Apparently, this kid left the ghetto do make something better of himself, but came back to his friends pressuring him to be a “thug” again. He died in real life, but MJ’s point was that you don’t need to prove it to anyone.

    “Cry,” “Heal the World,” “We are the World,” “Jam,” “What More Can I give” and many others discuss social issues.

    “Black or White” is about racial tolerance.

    “Blood on the Dance Floor” is about the dangers of promiscuity.

    This is more than I can say for the artists of today, who sing about superficial things.