Chart Watch: 'The Greatest Showman' soundtrack humbles pop's biggest stars

Paul Grein
Writer
Yahoo Music

U2, Luke Bryan, and Eminem all released new studio albums in December, but none of them is No. 1 in the first sales tracking week of 2018. That honor goes to the soundtrack for The Greatest Showman, which received much less fanfare when it was released last month. Nonetheless, the soundtrack jumps from No. 5 to No. 1 in its fourth week on the Billboard 200.

And where are those superstar albums, all of which debuted at No. 1? U2’s Songs of Experience tumbles from No. 50 to No. 92 in its fifth week, Bryan’s What Makes You Country dives from No. 17 to No. 34 in its fourth week, and Eminem’s Revival drops from No. 4 to No. 6 in its third week.

The Greatest Showman is the first soundtrack to reach No. 1 since Fifty Shades Darker last March. It’s the first soundtrack from a theatrically released musical film to reach No. 1 since Pitch Perfect 2 in May 2015.

This is the second No. 1 album for Hugh Jackman, who portrays the film’s lead character, P.T. Barnum. Jackman also starred in Les Miserables. The soundtrack to that film reached No. 1 five years ago this week. It’s the third No. 1 album for his co-star, Zac Efron. Efron headlined the High School Musical franchise, which yielded a pair of No. 1 albums in 2006-07.

This is the seventh time in the Nielsen era (which began in 1991) that a film soundtrack has been No. 1 during the first sales tracking week of the new year. This was also true of Frozen in 2014, Les Miserables in 2013, Dreamgirls in 2007, 8 Mile in 2003, Waiting to Exhale in 1996, and The Bodyguard in 1993. This reflects the fact that people often check out films over the holiday break.

The Greatest Showman entered the chart at an inglorious No. 71 three weeks ago. It’s the first album to move up to No. 1 (as opposed to debuting at No. 1) since Pentatonix’s A Pentatonix Christmas, released in 2016, which took nine weeks to reach No. 1.

The soundtrack has climbed higher on the Billboard 200 than the film has on the box office charts. The film has ranked No. 4 at the box office in its first three weekends, according to Box Office Mojo.

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the Oscar-winning lyricists for La La Land, wrote the songs for The Greatest Showman. One of them, “This Is Me,” won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song on Sunday night (Jan. 7). The pair won in that same category last night for co-writing “City of Stars” from La La Land. Pasek and Paul are the first songwriter(s) to win back-to-back awards in this category since Alan Menken won in 1991-92 for composing “Beauty and the Beast” and “A Whole New World.”

The Greatest Showman is the third top 10 album in the past year for Pasek and Paul. In addition to La La Land, they wrote the songs for the Broadway cast album Dear Evan Hansen. That album debuted and peaked at No. 8 in June 2017.

Top Songs

Cardi B has three songs in the top 10 on the Hot 100 for the second week in a row. G-Eazy’s “No Limit” (on which she is featured and which also features A$AP Rocky) dips from its No. 4 peak to No. 5 in its 17th week. “Motorsport,” a co-equal collabo with Migos and Nicki Minaj, dips from No. 7 to No. 8 in its 10th week. “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)” holds at No. 10 in its 27th week. The song logged three weeks at No. 1. Cardi B is the second female rapper to post three songs in the top 10 simultaneously. She follows Iggy Azalea, who scored in August 2014 with “Fancy” (featuring Charli XCX), Ariana Grande’s “Problem” (on which she was featured), and “Black Widow” (featuring Rita Ora).

Ed Sheeran’s duet with Beyoncé, “Perfect,” holds at No. 1 for the fifth week in its 19th week on the Hot 100.  That’s the longest run at No. 1 for a collaboration by a male solo artist and a female solo artist since Rihanna’s “Work” (featuring Drake) logged nine weeks at No. 1 in 2016.

“Perfect” sold 109K digital copies this week, which allows it to hold at No. 1 on Top Digital Songs for the sixth week.

“Perfect” also holds at No. 1 on the Official U.K. Singles Chart for the fifth week. It’s Sheeran’s second transatlantic No. 1, following “Shape of You.” (The current hit is attributed only to Sheeran in the U.K.)

Camila Cabello’s “Havana” (featuring Young Thug) rebounds from No. 3 to No. 2 in its 21st week. This is its sixth week at No. 2, the longest run for a No. 2-peaking song since DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts” (featuring Rihanna and Bryson Tiller), which spent seven weeks at No. 2 last summer.

Post Malone’s “Rockstar” (featuring 21 Savage) dips from No. 2 to No. 3 in its 16th week. The song spent eight weeks at No. 1. The smash logs its 13th week at No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. That’s the longest hold at No. 1 for a white lead artist on that chart since Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” (featuring Charli XCX) was on top for 13 weeks in 2014. The all-time record for a white lead artist was set by Robin Thicke, whose “Blurred Lines” (featuring T.I. + Pharrell) was on top for 16 weeks in 2013.

Imagine Dragons’ “Thunder” inches up from No. 5 to No. 4 in its 36th week. This equals its highest ranking to date. “Thunder” logs its 10th week at No. 1 on Top Rock Songs.

Halsey’s “Bad at Love” jumps from No. 9 to No. 6 in its 18th week. This is its highest ranking to date.

Sam Smith’s “Too Good at Goodbyes” inches up from No. 8 to No. 7 in its 17th week. The song peaked at No. 4.

Lil Pump’s “Gucci Gang” drops from No. 6 to No. 9 in its 17th week. The song peaked at No. 3.

Bruno Mars and Cardi B have the top new entry on the Hot 100, “Finesse,” which debuts at No. 35. It’s the fourth top 40 hit from Mars’s 24K Magic album. It’s vying to become the third top five hit from the album. If it makes it, 24K Magic would be Mars’s third consecutive studio album to spawn three top five hits.

Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line’s “Meant to Be” logged its fifth week at No. 1 on Hot Country Songs last week.

Post Malone’s “Congratulations” (featuring Quavo) tops the 1 million mark in digital sales this week. (Post Malone’s current hit, “Rockstar,” is up to 862K in digital sales.) Two songs topped the 1 million mark last week — Niall Horan’s pop smash “Slow Hands” and Brett Young’s country hit “In Case You Didn’t Know.”

Top Albums

Ed Sheeran’s ÷ holds at No. 2 in its 44th week. The album spent its first two weeks at No. 1. ÷ logs its 20th week at No. 1 on the Official U.K. Albums Chart. That’s the longest run for any album since Adele’s 21 had 23 weeks on top in 2011-12. It’s the longest run for an album by a male solo artist since Elvis Presley’s G.I. Blues soundtrack had 22 weeks on top in 1961.

Taylor Swift’s Reputation drops from No. 1 to No. 3 in its eighth week. The album spent four weeks on top.

G-Eazy’s The Beautiful & Damned rebounds from No. 8 to No. 4 in its third week. The album debuted and peaked at No. 3.

Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. rebounds from No. 9 to No. 5 in its 38th week. The album spent four weeks at No. 1.

Eminem’s Revival drops from No. 4 to No. 6 in its third week. The album debuted at No. 1. Barring a (very unlikely) return to No. 1, it will go down as the first of Eminem’s eight No. 1 albums to log just a single week on top.

Imagine Dragons’ Evolve rebounds from No. 11 to No. 7 in its 28th week. The album debuted and peaked at No. 2.

Post Malone’s Stoney jumps from No. 10 to No. 8 in its 56th week. The album peaked at No. 4.

Huncho Jack’s Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho drops from No. 3 to No. 9 in its second week. The album is a collaboration by Travis Scott and Quavo.

Khalid’s American Teen rebounds from No. 15 to No. 10 in its 44th week. The album peaked at No. 4.

Two albums drop out of the top 10 this week. A Pentatonix Christmas plunges from No. 6 to No. 200 (a sure sign that Christmas is over for another year). Sam Smith’s The Thrill of It All drops from No. 7 to No. 12.

Kane Brown’s Kane Brown rebounds from No. 37 to No. 28 in its 57th week. The album peaked at No. 5. The album returns to No. 1 on Top Country Albums, displacing Garth Brooks’s five-CD box set The Anthology: Part I: The First Five Years. This is the third week on top of the country chart for Brown’s album. The weird part? These three weeks are in three different calendar years.

Ed Sheeran’s rebounds from No. 59 to No. 47 in its 185th week. The album debuted at No. 1. The album returns to No. 1 on Top Catalog Albums. This is its seventh week on top of that chart.

Guns N’ Roses’ Greatest Hits topped the 6 million mark in traditional album sales last week. The album reached No. 3 in April 2004.

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