Michael Buble's Christmas steps up to #1 on The Billboard 200, with sales of 227K copies. But if his album had sold just 500 fewer copies, Nickelback's Here And Now would have come out on top. It was the closest race for #1 in more than four years. The last time such a small margin separated the top two albums was in October 2007, when Bruce Springsteen's Magic returned to the top spot, unseating Kid Rock's Rock N Roll Jesus. Both albums sold just over 77K copies that week. They were separated by fewer than 250 copies.
Nickelback can take some consolation in that they are contributing to a record-setting week for Canadian acts. For the first time in chart history, Canadian acts hold down four of the top six spots on The Billboard 200. Buble and Nickelback are followed by Drake's Take Care, which drops from #1 to #4 in its second week; and Justin Bieber's Under The Mistletoe, which dips from #5 to #6 in its fourth week.
Christmas is Buble's third #1 album, following 2007's Call Me Irresponsible and 2009's Crazy Love. Here And Now is Nickelback's fourth album to reach #1 or #2.
Nickelback doesn't get much press attention. They've never won a Grammy. They certainly aren't a critics' darling. They just sell albums by the ton. This is the group's second album in a row to open at #2. The group's 2008 album Dark Horse debuted at #2 behind Beyonce's I Am…Sasha Fierce. In the long run, however, Dark Horse has outsold the more celebrated Sasha by 166K units. That's just another sign of what a relatively unsung juggernaut Nickelback is.
Buble's album jumps to #1, three weeks after Bieber's Under The Mistletoe debuted in the top spot. This marks only the third time in chart history that two holiday albums have hit #1 in one holiday season. It last happened in 1957, when Elvis Presley's newly released Elvis' Christmas Album and Bing Crosby's perennial Merry Christmas both hit #1. It first happened in 1946, when Perry Como's newly released Merry Christmas Music and Crosby's year-old Merry Christmas both scored.
Rihanna's Talk That Talk debuts at #3. It's her fifth album in a row to crack the top five. The album sold 198K copies, slightly more than half of them digitally. The album's total of 99K digital sales puts it at #1 on the week's Top Digital Albums chart.
The album fares even better in the U.K., where it debuts at #1. It's Rihanna's third #1 album in the U.K., following Good Girl Gone Bad and Loud. (I'll have much more to say about Rihanna later today when we post Chart Watch: Songs.)
Mary J. Blige's My Life II…The Journey Continues (Act 1) opens at #5. This is Blige's 11th top 10 album. Only four other female solo artists in chart history have amassed 11 or more top 10 albums. Barbra Streisand leads the pack with 31 top 10 albums, followed by Madonna (19), Mariah Carey (16) and Celine Dion (also with 11).
Blige's first My Life album hit #7 in January 1995. It's unusual for a sequel to be released so many years after the original album. Blige's gap of nearly 17 years is rivaled by two similar gaps. Neil Young's Harvest Moon was released in 1992, more than 20 years after Harvest. Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Out Hell II: Back Into Hell was released in 1993, 16 years after Bat Out Of Hell.
Adele's 21 drops from #3 to #7, ending a streak of 39 consecutive weeks in the top five. This is its 40th straight week in the top 10. It's the first album to spend its first 40 weeks inside the top 10 since Britney Spears' …Baby One More Time hung tight for its first 50 weeks in 1999-2000.
Daughtry's third album, Break The Spell, debuts at #8. This marks a drop-off from the band's first two albums, both of which reached #1. Chris Daughtry, who finished fourth on Season 5 of American Idol, isn't the only artist who rose to fame on a TV talent show to enter this week's chart. (See item below the top 10 list.)
Scotty McCreery's Clear As Day rebounds from #13 to #9 in its seventh week. It's #1 on Top Country Albums for the fifth week. That's the longest run at #1 on this chart for a teen-aged artist since Taylor Swift's Fearless, which had logged 29 weeks on top by her 20th birthday in December 2009.
LMFAO's "Sexy And I Know It" jumps to #1 on Hot Digital Songs, dethroning "We Found Love" by Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris, which had led the chart for five straight weeks. Will LMFAO also move up to #1 on the Hot 100? You'll find out later today when we post Chart Watch Songs.
Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 albums.
1. Michael Buble, Christmas, 227,000. The album jumps to #1 after two weeks at #2. This is its fifth week in the top 10. "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas" enters Hot Digital Songs at #172.
2. Nickelback, Here And Now, 227,000. This new entry is the band's fourth album to reach #1 or #2; its fifth to make the top 10. Four songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "When We Stand Together," which drops from #31 to #35.
3. Rihanna, Talk That Talk, 198,000. This new entry is Rihanna's sixth top 10 album; her fifth to crack the top five. Nine songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "We Found Love" (featuring Calvin Harris), which dips to #2.
4. Drake, Take Care, 173,000. The former #1 album drops to #4 in its second week. Eight songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Take Care" (featuring Rihanna), which drops from #4 to #12.
5. Mary J. Blige, My Life II…The Journey Continues (Act 1), 156,000. This new entry is Blige's 11th top 10 album. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Mr. Wrong" (featuring Drake) re-enters at #131. "Love A Woman" debuts at #189.
6. Justin Bieber, Under The Mistletoe, 142,000. The former #1 album dips from #5 to #6. This is its fourth week in the top 10. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Mistletoe" vaults from #69 to #37. "Drummer Boy" (featuring Busta Rhymes) re-enters at #173.
7. Adele, 21, 140,000. The former #1 album drops from #3 to #7. This is its 40th week in the top 10. Five songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs, topped by "Someone Like You," which inches up from #8 to #7.
8. Daughtry, Break The Spell, 129,000. This new entry is Daughtry's third top 10 album. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Crawling Back To You" re-enters at #106. "Start Of Something Good" debuts at #168.
9. Scotty McCreery, Clear As Day, 88,000. The former #1 album rebounds from #13 to #9 in its second week. This is its fifth week in the top 10. It's #1 on Top Country Albums for the fifth week. "The Trouble With Girls" jumps from #102 to #82 on Hot Digital Songs.
10. Coldplay, Mylo Xyloto, 79,000. The former #1 album dips from #9 to #10 in its fifth week. Two songs from the album are listed on Hot Digital Songs. "Paradise" drops from #20 to #23. "Princess Of China" (featuring Rihanna) drops from #107 to #140.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 drops from #8 to #18 in its third week. It's the #1 soundtrack to a theatrically-released movie for the third week. The movie was #1 at the box-office for the second straight weekend. Four other albums dropped out of the top 10. Andrea Bocelli's Concerto: Live In Central Park drops from #4 to #14, Glee: The Music: The Christmas Album: Volume 2 drops from #6 to #26, Now 40 drops from #7 to #13 and Susan Boyle's Someone To Watch Over Me drops from #10 to #28.
Taylor Swift's Speak Now World Tour Live debuts at #11. It will have to do a little better than that if it is to become Swift's fifth top 10 album…Big Time Rush's Elevate debuts at #12. It's the week's #1 soundtrack (movie or TV). The group's debut album, BTR, hit #3 in October 2010. The group stars in the Nickelodeon series of the same name.
Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band's Ultimate Hits Rock And Roll Never Forgets bows at #19. This marks the first time that the original versions of Seger's classic hits have been made available for digital sale. ("Rock And Roll Never Forgets" was the third single from Seger's 1976 album Night Moves.) Seger's 1994 album Greatest Hits has sold 9,098,000 copies, a total topped by only two greatest hits albums in the Nielsen SoundScan era: the Beatles' 1 (11,934,000) and Bob Marley & the Wailers' Legend (10,627,000).
Michael Jackson's Immortal debuts at #24, surprisingly low given his constant presence in the news. This is the album from the new Cirque du Soleil show built around Jackson's music. It is off to a slower start than the Beatles' Love, which logged seven weeks in the top 10 in late 2006 and early 2007, though it has climbed higher than Viva Vegas, the album from Cirque's Elvis Presley show, which hit #48 in 2010. This is the second album that consists of remixes of Jacksons hits to crack the top 30. It follows 1997's Blood On The Dance Floor—HIStory In The Mix, which peaked at #24.
Immortal echoes several other one-word titles that Jackson used in his lifetime. Some of the one-word descriptors suited him better than others. Thriller? Without a doubt. Bad and Dangerous? There will always be controversy about that. Invincible? Jackson's sad ending proved that no one is invincible. Immortal? Because of his art, he will be.
As noted above, Chris Daughtry isn't the only artist who rose to fame on a TV talent show to enter this week's chart. Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr., who was the Season 6 winner on America's Got Talent, debuts at #34 with That's Life. James Durbin, who finished fourth on Season 10 of American Idol, opens at #36 with Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster. Javier Colon, who was the Season 1 winner on The Voice, bows at #134 with Come Through For You. Remarkably, this is lower than Colon's 2003 album, Javier, which debuted and peaked at #91.
The Muppets soundtrack debuts at #38. The soundtrack to the first The Muppet Movie peaked at #32 in November 1979.
Susan Boyle's 2010 album The Gift drops from #32 to #45. It's #1 on Top Catalog Albums for the second straight week. It is able to hold that spot because of a disappointing re-entry by the Rolling Stones' Some Girls, which re-enters the chart at #46. I initially expected this album to come on much higher, perhaps in the top 10. The 2010 re-release of another classic Stones album from the 1970s, Exile On Main St., re-entered at #2.
Lady Gaga's A Very Gaga Holiday debuts at #52. The four-song digital EP features songs from her 90-minute TV special A Very Gaga Thanksgiving. It's the second release this season to play off the title of the A Very Special Christmas franchise. It follows She & Him's A Very She & Him Christmas, which slips from #37 to #41 this week.
Lady Gaga's The Monster Ball Tour At Madison Square Garden, the video from her Emmy-nominated HBO special, enters Top Music Videos at #1. It sold 26,000 copies this week, the greatest total for a music video since Beyonce's I Am…World Tour sold 37K and 31K its first two weeks in November and December 2010. Beyonce's new music video, Live At Roseland: Elements Of 4, debuts at #3 this week, with sales of 17K. Britney Spears' Live: The Femme Fatale Tour debuts at #2, with sales of 19K.
Coming Attractions: Trey Songz's Inevitable is expected to be next week's top new entry on The Billboard 200, with sales of about 20K. Also due: Hot Chelle Rae's Whatever. In addition, Adele's Live At Royal Albert Hall will make a big splash on Top Music Videos.