Michael Jackson’s “HIStory Past, Present and Future, Book 1” album may not have set sales history, but the two-disc package appears to have done robust business during its first week in the stores.
Estimates from various retailers Monday suggest the album sold at least 375,000 and possibly as many as 470,000. Exact figures won’t be known until they are released today by SoundScan, which monitors U.S. record sales.
If the estimates are correct, “HIStory” far exceeded the 326,500 first-week mark registered by Jackson’s last album, 1991’s “Dangerous,” a single-disc collection that went on to sell more than 5.5 million copies in the United States.
But the figures fell short of the first-week sales registered in 1991 by Gun N’ Roses’ pair of “Use Your Illusion” albums, which was the mark that “HIStory” had to beat to claim the fastest start ever by an artist.
Though “Illusion I” and “Illusion II” were packaged separately, approximately 700,000 copies of each sold opening week, turning it, in effect, into a double album because retailers reported at the time that fans in virtually all cases bought both.
First-week sales results in the record industry aren’t as crucial a measure of a project’s eventual success as they are in the film industry.
Yet record-industry insiders have been waiting eagerly for the results to see if there would be consumer resistance to Jackson’s decision to release a double album - one disc featuring greatest hits, the other featuring new material.
Another concern: potential backlashes over controversies, ranging from 1993 child-molestation accusations to complaints by Jewish groups that a song on the new album contained anti-Semitic language.
Jackson has said he will rerecord the lyrics for future copies of the album and offered apologies to anyone offended by the words.