In the current music climate, first-week sales are more important than ever—not so much as a predictor of future success, but a way for artists to claim a high “peaked at this spot on the charts” number, what with the cycle of promotion for 99.9% of cultural products screeching to a halt on said items’ release date. For two relatively high-profile releases in 2008, the test, then, became trying to find as many sales as possible during that first week so as to ensure a high-enough chart position for said acts to at least seem kind of relevant for a day or so. (Al Franken and Nicole Scherzinger, together at last!)
Slipknot was the first big-name act to get all huffy about recounting album sales this year, and it’s easy to see why; week one sales of All Hope Is Gone totaled around 239,000 copies. Which is good in this atrocious climate, and yet not, because that total brought them 13 copies short of the top spot of said week’s album charts. (The Game’s LAX beat it out.) A hunt through the discarded pizza boxes and basement couches of the masked Iowans’ fanbase ensued, and—what do you know?—about 1,250 extra sales were unearthed, which was more than enough to grab the No. 1 spot.
A few weeks later, the Pussycat Dolls took Slipknot’s concept and (unsurprisingly) made it slightly tawdrier and more pathetic. Despite the midriffs of Nicole Scherzinger and her handmaids being plastered all over Kingdom Come in the weeks leading up to the release of their sophomore effort Doll Domination, its chart debut was mired by nitpicking over whether or not it sold more albums than Kings Of Freaking Leon’s Only By The Night, and whether or not it would debut at No. 4 or No. 5. It won that battle, but lost the war; last week it sat at No. 132, and despite that 79,000 first-week total, it had only sold about 180,000 copies through that week’s chart date, while Kings Of Leon’s album had moved some 225,000 units in that time. Be careful what you wish for, indeed.