Country singer Gary Allan notches his first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart as "Set You Free," his ninth studio album, debuts atop the list with 106,000 sold according to Nielsen SoundScan.
It grants him his best sales week ever, surpassing the 99,000 start of "Tough All Over" in 2005. Further, "Set You Free" outpaces the launch of his last studio set, 2010's "Get Off on the Pain" (65,000) by 63%.
Helping Allan's cause this week is his successful single "Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain)," which jumps to No. 1 on the Country Airplay chart. It's his biggest hit at the format since 2004, when "Nothing On But the Radio" spent two weeks atop the list.
On the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart (which combines airplay, sales and streaming data), "Every Storm" jumped to No. 29 last week -- marking Allan's second-biggest Hot 100 hit ever. Only "Man to Man" went higher -- No. 25 -- in 2003. It's expected that "Every Storm" will move up on the Hot 100 when it compiled later today (Jan. 30).
Also fueling the new album's start is a performance on NBC's "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" (Jan. 23) and sale pricing and promotion at a number of retailers. "Set You Free" sold for $9.99 at Target, Best Buy and iTunes last week while Walmart carried it for a penny more: $10.
"Set You Free" sold particularly well at physical retailers, as CDs comprise 64% of the set's first week. Comparably, physical product made up just 30% of the sales of last week's No. 1-debuting album -- rapper A$AP Rocky's "Long.Live.A$AP" (42,000 of its 139,000 bow). However, that striking contrast isn't too surprising. In 2012, physical sales accounted for 75% of all country album sales versus 56% of all rap albums.
Allan first appeared on the Billboard 200 chart on Nov. 9, 1996 with "Used Heart for Sale," which ultimately peaked at No. 136. He's since visited the top 10 five times (including this week), but hadn't gone higher than No. 3.
Allan's new album is one of two debuts in the top 10 this week. It's joined by the "2013 Grammy Nominees" compilation, which bows at No. 4 with 41,000 sold. Last year's "2012 Grammy Nominees" album also debuted at No. 4, but with 52,000. It went on to tally an even bigger sales week -- though not a higher chart rank -- when it moved 84,000 the frame after the Grammy Awards on Feb. 12. It's expected that the "2013 Grammy Nominees" album will also see higher sales after this year's show, set for Feb. 10.
Speaking of the Grammy Awards, one of the show's scheduled performers, the Lumineers, reaches a new chart high this week. The trio's self-titled album jumps five slots to No. 2 with 50,000 (up 31%). The title gains thanks in part to the band's performance on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" on Jan. 19. The album was also boosted by a $3.99 sale tag in the Amazon MP3 store and a discount to $7.99 at Best Buy.
As for the rest of the top 10: The soundtrack to "Pitch Perfect" holds at No. 3 (44,000; down 1%), "Kidz Bop 23" falls three to No. 5 (40,000; down 50%) and Mumford & Sons' "Babel" rises 9-6 (38,000; up 51%). Last week's No. 1, A$AP Rocky's "Long.Live.A$AP," falls to No. 7 (38,000; down 73%), Bruno Mars' "Unorthodox Jukebox" dips 5-8 (36,000; down 7%) and Taylor Swift's "Red" tumbles 4-9 (32,000; down 21%). The "Les Miserables" soundtrack rounds out the top 10, down four to No. 10 (27,000; down 29%).
Over on the Digital Songs chart, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop" (featuring Wanz) maintains the No. 1 slot for a third week (357,000; up 5%) and crosses the 2 million sales mark. Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble" rises 3-2 (190,000; down 14%) and Lil Wayne's "Love Me" flies 18-3 after its first full week of availability (171,000; up 117%). The single features Drake and Future.
The songs between Nos. 4-7 are all stationary this week, starting with will.i.am and Britney Spears' "Scream & Shout" at No. 4 with 170,000 (down 8%). It's followed by the Lumineers' "Ho Hey" (141,000; down 9%), Swedish House Mafia's "Don't You Worry Child" (132,000; down 6%) and Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven" (126,000; down 7%).
Justin Timberlake's "Suit and Tie" (featuring Jay-Z) takes a not-unexpected second-week tumble, as it falls six slots to No. 8 with 109,000 (down 65%). Most blockbuster debuts can't sustain a second week of huge sales, as the excitement and demand for a song naturally declines. Its sales will likely stabilize in the coming weeks as its airplay and streams increase and more consumers are moved to purchase the song.
Maroon 5's latest single "Daylight" rises 13-9 (104,000; up 20%) and Phillip Phillips' "Home" slides 8-10 (104,000; down 20%).
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Jan. 27) totaled 4.91 million units, down 1% compared with the sum last week (4.97 million) and down 9% compared with the comparable sales week of 2012 (5.39 million). Year to date album sales stand at 21.23 million, down 1% compared to the same total at this point last year (21.35 million).
Digital track sales this past week totaled 26.67 million downloads, down 4% compared with last week (27.82 million) and up 3% stacked next to the comparable week of 2012 (25.98 million). Year to date track sales are at 117.85 million, up 2% compared to the same total at this point last year (115.19 million).
Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2012 when: Adele's "21" was for a 19th week (122,000; up 5%) while Lana Del Rey's "Born to Die" arrived at No. 2 with 77,000.