Have you heard the one about the band who spends its entire career on major record companies, finally is able to release its new CD on its own label and creates a patchwork network for distribution, promotion and marketing? The punch line? The group lands its first No. 1 album in 13 years.
That's how it's looking for Pearl Jam with "Backspacer," the first studio album from its own Monkeywrench Records. We won't know for sure until Tuesday night, but early indicators are that the set will sell around 200,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double. That's enough to bump Jay Z's "The Blueprint 3" out of the top spot. Former penthouse occupant Whitney Houston drops to No. 5 after jumping back up to No. 2 last week following her "Oprah" surge.
Pearl Jam's success follows the continuum we're seeing with acts like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails leaving the major label system and seeing no downside as their sales continue to soar. These are acts that in many ways are still in their prime (or just slightly past it, in the case of NIN), who are going this route, but it's also working astonishingly well for veteran acts like Journey and the Eagles, who still have huge fan bases. Like Journey and the Eagles, whose discs were available only through Wal-mart, the exclusive retailer for Pearl Jam is Target (although PJ took care of indie retailers and let them have the CD as well, so the exclusive is only partial).
Jay Z slips to No. 2. But here's the interesting thing. I'm not sure, but my hunch is this is the first time we've seen two technically "indie" releases in the top 2 spots. Jay-Z's record is on Roc Nation, his own label through Live Nation. Of course, it is distributed in conjunction with Atlantic, which technically makes it not an indie, but it's food for thought. His appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" may give him an extra boost.
Also debuting in the Top 10 will be rockers Three Days Grace, who look poised to come in around No. 3 with sales of 85,000. They aren't the other rockers having nice first weeks: both Brand New and Five Finger Death Punch debut in the Top 10, ahead of such critically acclaimed acts like Monsters of Folk, who hover around 12 or so.
Pearl Jam's stay at the top will be short, however, as Mariah Carey's "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel" comes out Sept. 29 and is a lock for coming in at No. 1