Josh Groban ends Christmas drought atop U.S. chart
By Geoff Mayfield
LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera, Garth Brooks, Harry Connick Jr., Whitney Houston and Sarah McLachlan. They are just a few of the multiplatinum artists whose Christmas albums failed to reach No. 1 on The Billboard 200 between 1994, when Kenny G's "Miracles -- The Holiday Album" rang the bell, and last week, when Josh Groban's "Noel" became the first since then to do so.
The Los Angeles tenor returned to "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in the same week he visited "Good Morning America" and NBC's "Christmas From Rockefeller Center" special, while ABC used his treatment of "I'll Be Home for Christmas" to accompany a montage of messages from troops stationed in Iraq.
All that TV exposure helped "Noel" log a second week atop the chart in the week ended December 2 with 539,000 copies -- a 33% increase in sales.
More than that, Groban's new total represents one of the largest weeks logged by a holiday album since Nielsen SoundScan starting tracking sales in 1991. Kenny G's "Miracles" topped Groban's current total for three weeks, the largest of those being 819,000. No other Christmas album in SoundScan history clocked a week as large as Groban's sum.
If he holds on to No. 1 next week -- as preliminary data strongly suggest -- "Noel" will be the first to lead Billboard's album chart for three consecutive weeks since Elvis Presley's "Elvis' Christmas Album" did so in 1957.
Groban's half-million-plus week brings volume for the top 100 holiday albums to 1.92 million, the best frame for that category since the week ending December 14, 2003 (1.96 million), when Connick's "Harry for the Holidays" led with 129,000.
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