Unless you’re a label executive, Billboard employee, or Chris Brown, you probably couldn’t give a care in the world about the charts. Streaming’s fucked the whole thing up, with the industry’s two main bastions of success—the Hot 100 and Billboard 200—doing an especially poor job of reflecting which album in a given week is actually selling the most copies, partly because no one buys albums anymore. Which is all to say...a 2016 Bon Jovi release is the No. 1 album in America right now, for the dumbest possible reason, and I couldn’t be happier.
Ticket bundling has been going on for years—that is, the practice of including an album download or physical copy with tickets for an artist’s upcoming tour, as an easy hack to the No. 1 album spot—but it reached a fever pitch of sorts last year, when damn near every chart-topper outside of the .001 percent (read: Taylor Swift) utilized the gimmick. That being said, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an artist try to catapult an old release back to No. 1 quite like Bon Jovi. If you bought a ticket for the band’s upcoming U.S. arena tour, it would also include the chance to redeem a CD of their pretty old album, This House Is Not for Sale. I get it though—true Jovi heads can and should have two copies of every album.
It’s not totally uncommon for a two-year-old album to reclaim the top spot, in the event of an award show or Super Bowl peg, maybe (or in the worst case, an artist death). But this is so shameless, so thirsty, and yet so legal by Billboard chart standards, it’s kind of awesome. Bon Jovi now holds the longest gap between stints at No. 1 with a 15 month break, and I hope it opens the floodgates for even more outrageous chart gaming.
Could Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness have gone back to No. 1 if the Smashing Pumpkins bundled? Will the 30th anniversary tour bundle of Rihanna’s Good Girl Gone Bad finally get it to No. 1 (really, that thing somehow debuted at No. 2)? The possibilities are endless, but the arduous labor of clicking a download link for an album you already own or can easily stream may eventually lose out.