Adele and Mariah Carey dominated the respective worlds of albums and singles in the week leading up to Christmas, to no one’s surprise. A fresh album by Roddy Ricch was the lone wild card thrown into the holiday mix at the last minute, but its modest returns stood no danger of toppling Adele from her throne atop the Billboard 200.
Ricch’s “Live Life Fast“ debuted at No. 4 with 62,000 album-equivalent units. In recent years, typically only hip-hop artists have taken a chance on releasing major albums in December, when few consumers are looking out for new music. It works out for some, but Ricch didn’t end up getting a lot of immediate attention for his sophomore release, which came out Dec. 17. In contrast, his first album, “Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial,” which came out around the same time in December 2019, had a more robust bow, with 101,000 units. That one went on to spend four weeks atop the Billboard 200, so it remains to be seen whether his second effort might develop the same sort of legs after Christmas.
Adele’s “30” is spending its fifth straight week on top, with more to undoubtedly follow. It earned 212,000 units for the week ending Dec. 23, obviously a prime week for what remains of the physical album sales market. Most of Adele’s number didn’t just consist of album-“equivalent” units but actual album sales. “30” sold 180,500 copies in full during the week, most of them in physical form, as the album continued to be featured in prominent racks in big-box stores for last-minute buying. Those sales were up 23% from the previous week, according to Billboard, even as streaming for the album declined 14%, for an overall 16% jump from week 4 to week 5.
Billboard further notes that “30” is the first album in more than three years to top 200,000 units for at least three weeks. The last album to do that was Drake’s “Scorpion,” with one difference being that he accomplished it in that album’s first three weeks and Adele’s record did it in three non-successive weeks.
It was still beginning — make that continuing — to look a lot like Christmas on the rest of the album chart as well as throughout the upper ranks of the singles chart. Michael Buble’s 10-year-old “Christmas” album moved up two spots to No. 2 on the Billboard 200, with 77,000 units. Other big holiday albums included the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s 1965 “A Charlie Brown Christmas” reaching its historical peak, moving up to No. 6 with 61,000 units. Holiday collections by Carey and Nat King Cole took the Nos. 7-8 spots on the album chart.
Non-seasonal entries in the top 10 had Adele still followed by Taylor Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version)” at No. 3. Its 76,000 album-equivalent units represented a 12% increase from the preceding week, with a big presence being maintained in the physical/big-box market as well. Also squeezing into the top 10 without a holiday hook were Juice WRLD (falling from No. 2 to No. 9 in the posthumous album’s second week) and Bo Burnham at No. 10.
The Burnham album’s staggering 721% increase from the previous week was due to the first-time issuing of the set in physical form, with both CDs and vinyl LPs making their first appearance in the marketplace. The 50,000 unit total for the June 2021 release — a comedy album to everyone but the Grammys — included 44,000 complete album sales.
Moving over to the magical land of singles, Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” enjoyed its second straight week at the top of the Billboard Hot 100… but of course the 1994 perennial’s history as a No. 1 stretches into past years, so this was its seventh week as a chart-topper in all. The song never reached the top of the Hot 100 until 2019, but it’s done it every year since. And technically, it’s done it in four different years, even though it was only two years ago that the tune first reached the summit. That’s on a sort of technicality, for now: This week’s chart is part of Billboard’s Jan. 1, 2022 issue, and dated as such, so Carey can now say her song was No. 1 in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022. That’s a record, but it was also a record last week when “Christmas” achieved the feat for a mere three separate years.
Carey’s modern standard had 47.5 million U.S. streams during the week, along with 32 million radio airplay audience impressions.
“All I Want for Christmas Is You” was one of eight Christmas tunes in the Billboard chart’s top 10 this week. The Ronettes’ 1963 “Sleigh Ride” was notable for cracking the top 10 (at No. 10) for the first time in its nearly five six-decade history. Billboard notes that this sets a record for the longest time elapsed between top 10 hits, since the only Ronettes record to previously hit that mark was “Be My Baby,” 58 years and three months ago.
Also in the top 10 were holiday jingles from Brenda Lee (No. 2), Bobby Helms (No. 3), Burl Ives (No. 4), Andy Williams (No. 6) Wham (No. 7) and Jose Feliciano (No. 8).
The only non-seasonal songs in the top 10 were Adele’s “Easy on Me” at No. 5 and the Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber’s “Stay” at No. 9.