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Wilco, Paisley, Jeremih debuts overshadowed by Michael Jackson

July 8, 2009 | 12:59 pm


The posthumous sales dominance of Michael Jackson continues at music retailers this week, and momentum may not slow for the foreseeable future. Jackson albums sold a total of 800,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, almost doubling the 422,000 sold last week.

The increase was to be expected, as SoundScan's tabulates its numbers through Sunday, and this marked the first full week of sales since Jackson's passing on June 25. With massive interest in Tuesday's memorial at Staples Center, interest in the artist's music isn't expected to slow any time soon.

Jackson's sales were led by his hits compilation "Number Ones" (Sony), which moved a total of 339,000 copies, up from the 108,000 it sold in the previous sales week. To date, the album has sold 2.3 million copies.

Jackson's "Thriller" is a distant second to the hits package, having sold 187,000 copies this week. Often cited as the bestselling album of all time, with reports putting its total worldwide sales at anywhere between 40 million and 100 million, "Thriller" has sold 4.8 million copies since SoundScan began tracking data in 1991, an impressive figure for an album released in 1982.

Of Jackson's 800,000 albums sold, about 140,000 came from the digital sector. Last week, that number was higher, as 241,000 of Jackson's 422,000 albums sold were downloads. Billboard reports that distributors ran out of physical CDs in the wake of Jackson's death, and online purchases were no doubt fueled by the sudden surge of interest in the wake of his passing.

Jackson's top-selling digital single in North America last week was "Man in the Mirror," which moved 217,000 downloads. "Billie Jean" was behind that with 199,000 downloads. All told, Jackson sold about 2.7 million digital singles over the last week. If you include the Jackson 5 in Nielsen SoundScan's totals, Jackson has been responsible for more than 6.2 million downloads.

Jackson's titles are eligible only for Billboard's "top pop catalog" chart, as they are older than 18 months and have fallen below the top 100 on the main pop chart. But no matter, as there's little to distract from Jackson at the top of the main pop chart.

The current U.S. pop chart is topped only by the latest edition of the hits compilation series "Now! That's What I Call Music." The 31th volume in the collection opens this week with 169,000 copies sold.

But there is some action further down.

-- Brad Paisley's "American Saturday Night" opens at No. 2, selling 130,000 copies in its first week in stores. The album comes a few months after the release of "Play," an album largely of instrumentals. The latter started at No. 9 in December after it opened with 54,000 copies. Billboard reports that this is Paisley's fifth top 10 album.

-- Rob Thomas' "Cradlesong" lands at No. 3, having sold 122,000 copies. It's the artist's second solo set, following-up on 2005's ". . . Something to Be," which landed on the chart at No. 1 after selling 252,000 copies, according to Billboard.

-- Wilco has the best sales week of its career wtih "Wilco (The Album)." The set opens with a career-high 99,000 copies sold, and enters the chart at No. 4. The band's 2007 album, "Sky Blue Sky," opened with 87,000 copies sold. Wilco began streaming its latest on its website more than a month ago -- a typical practice for the band -- and appeared on "The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien" in advance of the album's release. This mark's Wilco's third top 10 album on the U.S. pop chart.

-- R&B newcomer Jeremih -- he of "Birthday Sex" fame -- opens at No. 6 after selling 59,000 copies of his self-titled debut. "Birthday Sex" continues to be bigger than Jeremih at this point, as the artist is behind Jackson as the most-streamed artist on MySpace the last couple days, according to data from Big Champagne, and the single has sold well over 690,000 downloads.

-- Also in the top 10 is the the latest from metal act Killswitch Engage. The band's fifth album -- and first self-titled effort -- enters at No. 7, selling 58,000 copies.

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Associated Press