Billboard Explains: When a Soundtrack Dominates the Charts – Billboard

The latest episode of Billboard Explains dives into soundtrack albums topping the Billboard charts, from ‘West Side Story’ to ‘Encanto.’
By Starr Bowenbank
The Billboard charts have been an integral part of the music industry since the 1940s, keeping records of the most-played songs and albums across a broad range of genres throughout the decades. On occasion, movie, television or musical soundtracks are popular enough to make appearances on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard 200 charts — a feat that reached a high point with the original West Side Story film and now continues with Disney’s Encanto.

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Upon its release in 1961, the West Side Story soundtrack broke several records, spending 54 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and laying the groundwork for soundtrack albums from The Graduate (1968), Saturday Night Fever (1978) and Grease (1978) to top the all-genre albums chart following their release.

By the ’90s, soundtrack albums had entered their golden age, with Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” for The Bodyguard — which spent 14 weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 — showing the power an artist-focused soundtrack and lead single could hold. Artist-driven soundtrack albums — such as Kendrick Lamar’s curation on 2018’s Black Panther: The Album — continue to remain popular, though a big single (seen with “Shallow” from 2018’s A Star Is Born) and replicating a movie experience (The Greatest Showman in 2018) also prove to be successful.
With Disney’s Encanto, Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the songs and utilized storytelling that re-created the experience of watching the movie that has caused the release to soar on the Billboard 200 and earn a Hot 100 hit, with “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” so far peaking at No. 2.
Watch the latest episode of Billboard Explains above to learn more about the factors that can lead to a soundtrack’s success.
After the video, catch up on more Billboard Explains videos and learn about the American Music Awards, the Billboard Latin Music Awards, the Hot 100 charthow R&B/hip-hop became the biggest genre in the U.S.how festivals book their lineupsBillie Eilish’s formula for success, the history of rap battlesnonbinary awareness in musicthe Billboard Music Awardsthe Free Britney movementrise of K-pop in the U.S.why Taylor Swift is re-recording her first six albumsthe boom of hit all-female collaborationshow Grammy nominees and winners are chosenwhy songwriters are selling their publishing catalogshow the Super Bowl halftime show is booked and why Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” was able to shoot to No. 1 on the Hot 100.

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