The Billboard Top 200

Posted on June 16, 2010

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26 years ago, a band out of Seattle began making music. They have been described as sounding like an explosion in a machine shop, a drum set falling down stairs, a wolverine and a trout in a blender, ice cream and pickles, and talentless geeks. Personally, I think they sound like, The Melvins.

Two weeks ago, they released their 19th album, The Bride Screamed Murder, and finally made their debut on Billboard’s Top 200. The 19th time is the charm I suppose; or not. Truth is, they have released albums in the past, which have sold nearly twice as well in their first week of sales. Back in 1996 they sold over 4,000 copies of their album Stag in the first week of sales; while The Bride Screamed Murder has just sold over 2,800 copies. So why does this album make it onto the list if it didn’t sell nearly as well? It all has to do with the theory of relativity.

The weekly Top 200 list is comparative, as the minimum number of albums that must be sold to qualify for the list changes from week to week. Billboard collects sales data from most retailers and online music stores and takes that information to set their weekly quotas. They also use that same data to determine the number of copies sold. Basically, when record sells are down, you don’t have to sell as many records to make it on the list.  Which is why this album made it, while Stag never even get close. The real kicker in this story is that their album would have made the Hot 100 list if it had only sold around 2,000 more copies. That’s right, 2,000 copies is the difference between the Top 200 and the Hot 100. Five years ago, the minimum for the Top 200 was 5,000 albums sold. Records just ain’t selling like they used to.

This is all old news though; most everyone knows how bad the music business is doing when it comes to album sells. However, there is a good side to everything. The Melvins are in the spotlight. Although it is a dim one, it is still a spotlight nonetheless. So thanks Billboard for continuing to put out lists based on record sales.

Oh, and please go purchase any album from the discography of The Melvins. They’re awesome.

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Posted in: Culture, Music