"Spring Break . . . Here to Party" makes an impressive debut, while Jimi Hendrix starts at No. 2.
Country star Luke Bryan logs his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart as his new compilation, "Spring Break . . . Here to Party," debuts atop the list. It sold 150,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and marks his best sales week yet.
Bryan previously topped out at No. 2 with "Tailgates & Tanlines," his last studio effort, which was released in 2011. It also owned his single largest sales frame, when it bowed with 145,000.
"Spring Break" is mostly a compilation of tracks previously released on Bryan's four earlier "Spring Break"-themed EPs -- all of which were only available as downloads. Released between 2009 and 2012, the four earlier EPs have sold a combined 145,000 according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Unlike the four EPs, the new "Spring Break . . . Here to Party" album is available as both a download and a physical CD. Of its sales last week, half were from downloads.
Bryan is currently on tour and at work recording his fourth studio album, the follow-up to "Tailgates & Tanlines." He's slated to co-host the Academy of Country Music Awards on April 7 with Blake Shelton, and will also perform on the CBS show.
As "Spring Break" is essentially a compilation of previously released recordings, it's interesting to note how infrequently single-artist compilations are No. 1. The last time a single-act compilation was No. 1 was on the Nov. 14, 2009 chart, when Michael Jackson's "This Is It" soundtrack debuted atop the list.
At No. 2 this week is another debuting title, but by an artist of a slightly different vintage: Jimi Hendrix. The long-dead rock icon scores his highest-charting album in 44 years, as "People, Hell and Angels" arrives at No. 2 with 72,000 sold.
The new album contains 12 previously unreleased studio recordings completed by Hendrix between 1968 and 1970. The legendary singer/songwriter/guitarist died on Sept. 18, 1970. Hendrix last charted this high when "Electric Ladyland" spent two weeks at No. 1 on Nov. 16-23, 1968. Hendrix most recently visited the top 10 of the chart when another from-the-vaults album, 2010's "Valleys of Neptune," debuted and peaked at No. 4 with a 95,000 start.
Before this week, the last time a posthumously-released album reached the top two was in 2009, when Jackson's "This Is It" spent two weeks in the region. (Notably, in 2012, Whitney Houston's "Whitney: The Greatest Hits" spent three weeks at No. 2 following her death that year. However, that album was released in 2000.)
It's uncommon that releases like Hendrix's -- a collection of assembled archival studio recordings -- charts this high on the Billboard 200. The last release of the sort to hit the top two was Johnny Cash's 2006 album "American V: A Hundred Highways" -- it debuted at No. 1 on that year's July 22 chart. The country icon recorded the vocals for the set before his death in 2003, and the tracks were later compiled by producer Rick Rubin for release.
As for the rest of the top 10 this week, it's full of familiar faces -- and a couple returning ones. Last week's chart-topper, Bruno Mars' "Unorthodox Jukebox," falls to No. 3 with 51,000 (down 46%). Mumford & Sons' "Babel" slips 3-4 (35,000; down 18%), Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "The Heist" is down 4-5 (29,000; down 30%) and Rihanna's "Unapologetic" rises 9-6 (29,000; up 1%). This is the highest rank for Rihanna's album since its second week on the chart, when it was also No. 6, back on the chart dated Dec. 15, 2012.
Country duo Florida Georgia Line hits a new peak on the Billboard 200, as its debut full-length album "Here's to the Good Times" jumps 18-7 with 26,000 (up 21%). The set was promoted and sale-priced by the iTunes Store last week as part of its Great New Artists campaign. The set's download sales were up by 58% last week, accounting for slightly more than half of the album's units last week. (The set's physical sales were actually down for the week by 2%.)
The duo's hit single "Cruise," which already hit No. 1 on the Country Songs chart, is now heading towards the Mainstream Top 40 tally (aka: Pop Songs on Billboard.com). A new remix of the tune, featuring Nelly, was recently released. This week, the song is bubbling under the threshold of the Mainstream Top 40 airplay chart, with 93 spins detected at 10 top 40 radio stations according to Nielsen BDS.
Meanwhile, as Imagine Dragons' single "It's Time" hits a new peak on the Mainstream Top 40 chart (rising 12-11 this week), the band's album returns to the top 10. Their "Night Visions" set rallies 15-8 with 26,000 (up 8%), marking the title's highest rank since the Jan. 12 chart (when it was No. 6).
Rounding out the top 10 this week is the "Now 45" compilation (6-9 with 24,000; down 25%) and the Lumineers' self-titled album (7-10 with just under 24,000; down 22%).
Over on the Digital Songs chart, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop" spends a ninth straight week at No. 1, selling 306,000 downloads (down 6%). It's the longest run at No. 1 since Sept. 26, 2009, when the Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" wrapped a 10-week reign at No. 1.
At No. 2 this week is Bruno Mars' "When I Was Your Man," holding in the runner-up slot with 240,000 (up 4%). Rihanna's "Stay" (featuring Mikky Ekko) climbs 5-3 with 236,000 (up 12%) and Baauer's "Harlem Shake" slips 3-4 with 186,000 (down 19%).
Justin Timberlake's "Suit & Tie" (featuring Jay-Z) rises 7-5 with 151,000 (up 7%) and Drake's "Started From the Bottom" is stationary at No. 6 with 128,000 (down 10%).
Pitbull's "Feel This Moment" (featuring Christina Aguilera) drives 11-7 with 125,000 (up 21%) as the song breaks into the top 15 (16-14) on the Mainstream Top 40 chart. The tune is also the soundtrack to new TV commercials for ABC's "Dancing With the Stars."
P!nk's "Just Give Me a Reason" (featuring Nate Ruess) soars 25-8 on Digital Songs with 122,000 sold (up 91%). It's the latest radio-promoted single from P!nk's "The Truth About Love" album, and the song rises 30-25 on the Mainstream Top 40 chart this week.
Imagine Dragons "Radioactive," which is currently in its fourth straight week at No. 1 on the Alternative airplay chart, jumps 12-9 on Digital Songs with 111,000 sold (up 11%).
Closing out the top 10 on Digital Songs is Demi Lovato's "Heart Attack," which drops 4-10 with 107,000 (down 50%).
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending March 10) totaled 5.49 million units, down 5% compared with the sum last week (5.79 million) and down 12% compared with the comparable sales week of 2012 (6.24 million). Year to date album sales stand at 55.85 million, down 8% compared to the same total at this point last year (60.58 million).
Digital track sales this past week totaled 25.44 million downloads, down 3% compared with last week (26.12 million) and down 1% stacked next to the comparable week of 2012 (25.76 million). Year to date track sales are at 278.82 million, down 2% compared to the same total at this point last year (283.80 million).
Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2012 when: One Direction's "Up All Night" debuted at No. 1 with 176,000. The previous week's leader, Bruce Springsteen's "Wrecking Ball," fell to No. 4 with 57,000 (down 71%).