"Juno" soundtrack a boost for little-known singer

Fri Jan 11, 2008 9:23pm EST
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By Katie Hasty

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Almost a month after its digital-only release, the soundtrack to the hit movie "Juno" debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 this week.

The Rhino Records release sold 38,000 copies in the week ended January 6, its second atop Billboard's Digital Albums tally, taking total sales to 75,000 copies since December 11, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album finally hit shelves on Tuesday.

No artist has benefited more from the record's sudden and unexpected rise than Olympia, Wash.-based singer/songwriter Kimya Dawson, whose music is prominently featured in the teen-pregnancy comedy.

When "Juno" director Jason Reitman asked the film's star, Ellen Page, what music she thought her title character would listen to, Page responded, "The Moldy Peaches" -- the quirky pop duo Dawson was in with Adam Greene until 2004. A song from that act made the final cut for the film's soundtrack, as did several tracks from Dawson's very personal K Records solo sets "Remember That I Love You" (2006) and "Knock-Knock Who?" (2004). Additionally, two tracks from her side-project Antsy Pants were appended to "Juno," which also boasts songs from Buddy Holly, Cat Power, Belle & Sebastian and Sonic Youth.

"I've always done my own booking and management," Dawson says. "And if people want to (license) my stuff, they have to come to me. With 'Juno,' I had to read the script before I OK'd it, to make sure it was something I could feel good attaching myself to. It worked that I did."

The personal attachment to the film is exactly what has made the soundtrack so effective in the marketplace, according to Rhino Entertainment executive VP/GM Kevin Gore. "Everyone who's seen the movie feels a musical connection to it. Kimya's songs fit in beautifully," Gore says. "There's a wonderful indie spin to it, but it appeals to a very broad audience because of the way the film was written."

Rhino is working with Dawson to coordinate an East and West Coast tour stint in support of the effort, though Dawson is "always touring anyway," she says. They hope to arrange in-store performances so that Dawson can still stick to her guns playing all-ages shows, as she insists.

Sales for "Juno" are expected to remain strong as the movie expands into new markets. The Fox Searchlight release has earned more than $56 million to date, and is generating awards-season buzz.   Continued...