Taylor Swift Back at No. 1 on Billboard 200, Nicki Minaj Debuts at No. 2

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Taylor Swift performs onstage during the 2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 19, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  

Taylor Swift makes an expected return to the top of the Billboard 200 chart, as her 1989 album hops up one rung, bringing its total (nonconsecutive) weeks atop the list to six.

The set shifted 375,000 equivalent units in the week ending Dec. 21 (up 16 percent), according to Nielsen Music. (The Billboard 200 chart measures multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums [TEA] and streaming equivalent albums [SEA].)

Swift also leads the Top Album Sales chart, where the set sold 331,000 copies (up 19 percent). With one week remaining in Nielsen Music’s tracking year, 1989 has now sold 3.34 million and is on the verge of overtaking the Frozen soundtrack as 2014’s top selling album. The latter has sold 3.46 million this year.

With 1989 atop the Billboard 200 for a sixth week, Swift’s total weeks at No. 1 rise to 30 (she’s had four No. 1 albums, and all have spent at least six weeks at No. 1). She now ties Mariah Carey for the second-most weeks at No. 1 among women in the chart’s 58-year history. Only Whitney Houston, with 46 leading frames, has more. (Among all acts, The Beatles have the most weeks at No.1, with a whopping 132 chart-topping weeks from 19 No. 1 albums.)

Two new albums arrive in the top 10 of the latest Billboard 200, with Nicki Minaj’s third studio effort, The Pinkprint, bowing at No. 2, and D’Angelo’s surprise release Black Messiah starting at No. 5.

The Pinkprint launches with 244,000 units, with pure album sales representing 194,000 copies of that total. The album sold better than anticipated compared to sales forecasts made shortly after it was released. On Tuesday, Dec. 16 (a day after the album hit retail), industry prognosticators suggested the album might sell between 150,000 and 160,000 in its first week. By Thursday (Dec. 18), that forecast had rose to 190,000.

Minaj’s last album, 2012’s Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and sold 253,000 in its debut week.

Notably, Minaj’s new album is No. 2 on the Billboard 200, but No. 3 on the Top Album Sales chart, as it was surpassed in pure album sales by Pentatonix’s holiday set That’s Christmas To Me. The latter is No. 2 on the Top Album Sales chart, with 203,000 copies (down 2 percent). However, on the multi-metric Billboard 200, it moved 214,000 equivalent album units (down 2 percent) and is steady at No. 3 — behind The Pinkprint.

Last week’s No. 1, J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive, falls to No. 4 with 135,000 units (down 64 percent). It sold 119,000 copies (down 66 percent).

D’Angelo and The Vanguard’s Black Messiah takes a bow at No. 5 with 117,000 units (a sum greatly powered by album sales 111,000). The album is the R&B singer/songwriter’s first in nearly 15 years, since Voodoo was released in January of 2000. Black Messiah is his third charting album, following his debut studio set Brown Sugar in 1995 (peaking at No. 22 the following year), and Voodoo (No. 1, in its debut frame).

As for the rest of the latest top 10… Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour rises 8-6 with 102,000 units (up 26 percent). It sold 79,000 copies (up 32 percent). One Direction’s Four is steady at No. 7 with 101,000 units (up 22 percent), with album sales comprising 88,000 (up 22 percent) of that figure. Ed Sheeran’s x owns the chart’s largest unit gain, as it steps 9-8 with 100,000 (up 35,000 — a 54 percent rise). It also sold 61,000 copies (up 69 percent). Sheeran performed on the season finale of NBC’s The Voice on Dec. 16. The show garnered 12.88 million TV viewers, according to Nielsen.

Garth Brooks’ Man Against Machine rises one slot to No. 9 with 81,000 units (up 32 percent) — all album sales, as his set’s songs are not available for individual purchase, nor is the album on streaming services.

AC/DC’s Rock or Bust closes out the top 10, slipping 5-10 with just over 76,000 units (down 19 percent). Pure album sales (76,000; down 19 percent) comprise nearly that entire figure.