Michael Jackson’s Label Not All That Thrilled With “Billboard” Chart Rules

Feb 21st, 2008 // 3 Comments

thrilla.jpgThe album chart that came out yesterday was filled with Grammy-feted albums, but there was one notable omission from it: The new, Akon-studded version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which sold 166,000 copies but was relegated to Billboard‘s catalog charts. According to the New York Daily News, execs at Sony are calling Billboard‘s decision “unfathomable… Michael expected it to be on the Top 200 chart.” But the mag claims that other reissues with even more deluxe material than Thriller 25 have also been placed on the catalog chart, and that Wal-Mart and Best Buy concurred with its decision.

Which leaves Thriller at No. 2 on Billboard’s Comprehensive Chart–the listing of top-selling albums that combines current albums and catalog albums, and that was last covered in this space during the whole Eagles/Britney kerfuffle–leading some to wonder whether or not that chart, instead of the arcane-rule-filled Billboard 200, should become the “official” chart that gets cited by the media in these cases. Given that the catalog/”new” divide is one of the few things separating the two charts–and the resurgence of catalog albums is becoming more and more of a story these days, as evidenced by the post-Super Bowl Tom Petty rush–I’m starting to wonder if that shouldn’t become the case.

And besides, as Chris Molanphy noted to me yesterday, shouldn’t Sony be happy that the old and new sales of Jackson’s most famous album are being smooshed together? At the very least, it gives Thriller to retake the highest-selling album of all time mantle back from the Eagles’ greatest-hits collection, an outcome that any right-thinking person should want.

Michael Jackson’s Label Has A Chart Attack Over ‘Thriller 25′ [NYDN]
‘Thriller’ Blocked From The Pop Chart [The Set List]

  1. Chris Molanphy

    Wait wait wait…Sony is pissed?! Michael is pissed?!! No, no, no – they should be quietly thrilled. (No pun intended.)

    If the new disc is charting on Catalog, that means sales of the new Thriller are officially being combined with sales of the original, which means they stand an excellent of retaking the U.S. sales crown from the Eagles. Isn’t that the whole point of rereleasing Thriller in the first place? (I mean, besides the money.)

    If the RIAA rules separately from Billboard/SoundScan and determines that the 25th anniversary version must be tracked and certified as a separate release, then okay, the Sony people have an argument about the album charting on Catalog. But if the RIAA follows Billboard’s lead, and Thriller is allowed to move from 27 million to 29 million total U.S. sales over the next year or two, that’s nothing but good.

    Between His Freakishness and the Henley-Frey Axis, I know who I’m rooting for. The day Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 officially overtook Thriller a few years back as the top U.S. album of all time was one of the saddest in pop-chart fandom. I could live with, say, Led Zeppelin IV taking the crown; or, if it had to be a compilation, the Beatles’ 1 would be tolerable. But an Eagles album that only covers half their career? And it’s the Eagles?! Ugh. Anything that redresses this historic chart wrong — even if it denies Michael some temporary Billboard 200 chart ink — is clearly a good thing.

  2. Charles A. Hohman

    That Eagles album doesn’t even have “Hotel California” or “Life in the Fast Lane” (arguably the band’s two signature songs) on it. Whereas “Thriller” contains much of Jackson’s best known stuff. When I cite that Eagles album as the best-selling of all-time, many casual music fans can’t even name a single one of its tracks (with the occasional exception of “Desperado”).

  3. rrnate

    I’m a little late on this one guys, but “Take It Easy” is definitely a signature Eagles song, lame as it may be.

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