Just a week after Australian music legend Nick Cave set a local chart record after his new album, Skeleton Tree, became the 15th Aussie album to hit the top of the albums chart this year, the record has been smashed again.
However, the celebrations could be short-lived, seeing as we may also have a new record for lowest selling Number 1 debut in ARIA chart history. That dubious accolade now belongs to former Australian Idol star Anthony Callea.
Callea recently dropped his fifth album, Backbone, a collection of covers of songs by artists like Michael Jackson (‘Man In The Mirror’), TLC (‘Unpretty’), Queen (‘Somebody to Love’), and Celine Dion (‘It’s All Coming Back to Me Now’).
It’s currently sitting at the top of the ARIA Albums chart, but with sales of just 2,950 units. To put that in context, Disturbed broke the record for lowest selling Number 1 in Australian chart history after shifting 2,140 units in a week.
However, Disturbed’s album Immortalized had already been in the charts for several weeks before it was handed that honour. The album had originally debuted at Number 1 back in August with a relatively healthy 8,242 sales.
Callea, meanwhile, has entered the chart with sales considerably lower than that of Bring Me The Horizon, who previously held the record for lowest selling Number 1. They famously sold just 3,600 copies of There Is a Hell… back in 2010.
What separates Callea and the UK metalcore outfit from Disturbed is that they both saw their troubling sales numbers in their debut week. Sitting behind Callea is the Suicide Squad soundtrack (2,846 sales), currently in its seventh week on the chart.
Just to put that in context, Callea’s album sold only 100 copies more than the soundtrack to a poorly received superhero movie that’s been out for seven weeks and features a ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ cover so bad we should all agree to never speak of it again.
We contacted ARIA to confirm whether Backbone is indeed the new record holder for lowest selling Number 1 debut in Aussie chart history, but ARIA don’t comment or report on sales figures.
Part of the reason why Australia has seen a spate of low-selling Number 1 albums could be because ARIA does not currently tally streaming figures when determining chart positions for albums, only when determining the much healthier looking singles chart.
The UK began including streaming figures into their album charts early last year, whilst America’s Billboard album chart began including streaming in December 2014. In the US, 1,500 song streams from one album are equivalent to one album sale.
In the UK, the 12 most streamed tracks from the standard version of an album and the top two songs are ‘down-weighted’ in line with the average streams of the rest of the songs, so that an album with one popular track doesn’t ‘cheat’ and make it to Number 1 on a single song.
The total of these streams are divided by 1,000 and added to the album’s physical and digital sales. This is done to reflect the difference between the cost of streaming compared to the cost of buying an album.
Looks like Australia has a bit of catching up to do.