Billboard -- The "Les Miserables" musical film soundtrack is on course to jump straight into the top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart next week. Industry forecasters are suggesting the 20-song "Highlights" set may sell around 100,000 copies by the end of the tracking week on Sunday, Dec. 30.
Unlike most albums -- which are released Tuesday each week -- the "Les Miserables" album bowed on Friday, Dec. 21, four days before the film was released in U.S. theaters. The soundtrack arrived on the Billboard 200 this past week, with only three full days of sales, at No. 33 with 43,000 sold according to Nielsen SoundScan.
As the "Les Miserables" album was the only major new album that was released in the past week, it's getting seemingly extra promotion from digital retailers such as iTunes. As of Friday, Dec. 28, the album is featured in the store's main flash box, plus is pictured as the store's top "new music" release.
Further, as we've noted previously, holiday download gift cards are making waves at digital retailers this week, and the "Les Miserables" soundtrack is a likely beneficiary. Many consumers received gift cards on Christmas Day -- the same day the "Les Mis" movie opened in theaters. It only seems natural that "Les Mis" moviegoers with gift cards may have immediately downloaded the soundtrack on its opening day, if not shortly thereafter.
We'll likely continue to see the "Les Miserables" soundtrack make waves on the Billboard 200 over the coming weeks. Music-driven film soundtracks generally do well on the chart in January, thanks in part to a lack of competition from hot new traditional studio albums. In January 2011, for example, both the "Tron: Legacy" and "Country Strong" soundtracks spent multiple weeks in the top 10. Before that, we had top 10 placings in recent years from the likes of "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" (No. 6 in 2010), "Juno" (No. 1 in 2008) and "Dreamgirls" (No. 1 in 2007).
On Nielsen SoundScan's Building chart (below), "Les Miserables" is No. 4 while Taylor Swift's "Red" rules at No. 1. The Building tally is a precursor to the final Billboard 200 ranking -- reflecting the first four days (Monday through Thursday) of SoundScan's tracking week as reported by six major merchants.
"Red" is on track to notch a seventh non-consecutive week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 next week.
One Direction 's "Take Me Home" is in the runner-up slot on the Building Chart, while Bruno Mars ' "Unorthodox Jukebox" is third and T.I. 's "Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head" stands at No. 5. Mumford & Son s' "Babel" is No. 6, the "Now 44" album is in seventh place and Justin Bieber 's "Believe" is No. 8. One Direction's first album, "Up All Night," is found at No. 9 while P!nk 's "The Truth About Love" rounds out the top 10.
The new Billboard 200 chart's top 10 will be revealed on the morning of Thursday, Jan. 3. Due to the New Year's holiday falling on SoundScan's normal processing day (Tuesday, Jan. 1), the weekly top 10 recap story that traditionally posts on Wednesday morning will arrive on Thursday instead. Charts on both billboard.com and billboard.biz will refresh around 6 p.m. EST on Thursday, Jan. 3, instead of in the morning as usual.Nielsen SoundScan Building ChartRankLW BB 200ArtistTitle11Taylor Swift"Red"24One Direction"Take Me Home"33Bruno Mars"Unorthodox Jukebox"433Soundtrack"Les Miserables"54One Direction"Take Me Home"68Mumford & Sons"Babel"710Various Artists"Now 44"813Justin Bieber"Believe"921One Direction"Up All Night"1014P!nk"The Truth About Love"The Building Chart reflects the first four days (Monday through Thursday) of SoundScan's tracking week (which ends Sunday) as reported by six major merchants: iTunes, Trans World Entertainment, Best Buy, Starbucks, Target and Anderson Merchandisers. Billboard estimates that they make up about 85% of all U.S. album sales.
For my money, if you want the best soundtrack, buy the Tenth Anniversary Concert edition (TAC). I really liked the movie, will most likely see it again, and will certainly purchase it when it comes out on DVD, but the musical score is rather thin in lot of places compared to the TAC edition, and, on occasion, some tunes that should have been allowed to breathe a little were sung as if they were just trying to gallop through the current number to get to the next one.
There is no need to sing them at such a pace that one lyric line almost steps on another. Also, at a couple of places in the movie track, there were a couple of inexplicable lyric changes from the original lines. I still haven't figured out why they felt the need to do that. But the main point is to let the songs breathe a little, there's no need to sing them at such a pace that one lyric line almost steps on another one.
Not to mention, the singers in the TAC are, with one exception, better than the movie cast. Sorry, but that includes Hathaway. The one exception would be Barks. She could be in the best of the best without breaking a sweat. Outstanding performance. Certainly, buy the movie version for the remembrances of the movie. But if you want the best renditions of the tunes, buy the TAC version. If you see the theater production with a great cast, my guess is that you'll be listening to the TAC version much more often than the movie version.
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