Idol's Scotty McCreery scores highest debut holiday album

"American Idol" Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery cracks the Top 5 on the Billboard 200 albums chart with his second album, a timely holiday collection as well as one smart business move.

The tenth winner of "American Idol," Scotty McCreery, announced a while back he was going to drop an album of holiday tunes on us and he did just that last week. This week, Christmas with Scotty McCreery, debuted on the Billboard 200. And not only did the album start up where Clear As Day, his platinum debut, left off, dropping a holiday album shows a little bit of the businessman in young Scotty McCreery.

According to Billboard, Christmas with Scotty McCreery placed at No. 4 on the albums chart, selling 41,000 copies (by Nielsen Soundscan data). It placed behindJason Aldean's No. 1 debut, Night Train, Mumford and Sons almost-platinum-after four weeks Babel, and Brandy's new Two Eleven. The magazine also noted that the McCreery offering was the highest debuting holiday album this year thus far, the only one to make the Top 10 (and Top 5).

It's also the No. 1 set on the Holiday Albums chart, displacing Blake Shelton's Cheers, It's Christmas.

Technically speaking, McCreery's 11-track collection, which includes two original holiday recordings in addition to the seasonal classics, is the first major label holiday album offered by a country music finalist. He is the only winner of the hit singing competition series to offer a collection of Christmas songs.

In fact, only about a dozen "Idol" finalists have recorded holiday albums, while Season 5's Elliott Yamin and Mandisa both have released two, although one of Mandisa's is an EP. Season 8's David Archuleta dropped Christmas from the Heart in 2009 and was featured on six recordings on last year's Mormon Tabernacle Choir release.

Yet, it would appear that releasing a Christmas or holiday album would be in the artists' best interests. Why? Christmas might only come around once a year, but people buy Christmas music every year. They buy the classics. They buy new stuff. They buy classics by new artists. And they buy music by artists whose renditions have become currently popular and/or modern-day classics. In fact, recording an album of holiday material is an investment in the future.

Take, for instance, the current make-up of the Holiday albums chart, which started recording for this year during the first week of October, which means it's only four weeks old for the year. Of the Top 25, only six are 2012 releases. Of them, only one is from 2011. So 18 of the Top 25 holiday albums are multiple years of age. Of those Top 25, four are country artists. Several of the collections date back decades, like Alabama's Alabama Christmas, which dates back to 1983, and Christmas Songs by Sinatra, which was released in 1948. Some are relatively newer collections of old songs by artists like Elvis Presley, Johnny Mathis, Burl Ives, Bing Crosby, and Andy Williams.

It's easy to see why recording an album of holiday favorites could become a pretty sound investment...

Young McCreery might only be enjoying his first year of college at North Carolina State, but he already has his eyes set on residual long-term income. When he said he was thinking about majoring in marketing, he undoubtedly was playing to his strengths.

The Season 10 "American Idol" winner isn't the only finalist from the hit show to sell a few holiday albums this week. According to Brian Mansfield at "Idol Chatter," Mandisa sold a little less than a 1,000 of the re-release of her 2008 album, It's Christmas. The revamped recording is entitled It's Christmas: Christmas Angel Edition.

But Christmas with Scotty McCreery has a long way to go to become the top holiday album mover among "Idol" finalists. Clay Aiken dominates that position. His Merry Christmas with Love from 2004 remains the top seller at just over 1.4 million copies.

(photo credit: Walmart, Creative Commons)