While many were focused on a battle between Paramore's "Brand New Eyes" and Mariah Carey's "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel" for the top slot on the Billboard 200 this week, Barbra Streisand trumps them both. "Love Is the Answer" earns Streisand her ninth No. 1 on the chart, opening with 180,000 copies according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The debut extends Streisand's lead as the female act with the most No. 1s in the history of the Billboard 200. It's also the her best sales week and highest charting album since 1997, when "Higher Ground" started at No. 1 with 207,000.
"Answer" beats the arrivals of Paramore's "Brand New Eyes," which enters at No. 2 with 175,000, and Mariah Carey's "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel," arriving at No. 3 with 168,000. First-week sales projections had estimated that Paramore would finish ahead of the two divas. As it turns out, Streisand surprised many with how well her album sold in non-traditional ways -- such as through Starbucks, QVC and via her Web site -- and that likely threw a wrench into forecasting sales.
"Brand New Eyes" gives Paramore its best sales week and highest charting album ever. The band's sophomore album, "Riot!," peaked at No. 15 in 2007. "Eyes" also starts at No. 1 on the Top Digital Albums tally with a whopping 73,000 downloads.
Carey's "Memoirs" begins its Billboard 200 life with 168,000 -- off quite a bit from the opening of her last set, 2008's "E=MC2." The latter effort bowed at No. 1 with 463,000, her biggest first-week sum ever.
Those titles are just three of the record-breaking eight entries in the top 10. Rock band Breaking Benjamin's "Dear Agony" arrives at No. 4 with the act's best sales week -- 134,000. It's the Hollywood Records band's first release since 2006's "Phobia" debuted and peaked at No. 2 with 125,000.
Alice in Chains visits the top 10 for the first time since 1996 as its new album, "Black Gives Way to Blue," bows at No. 5 with 126,000. The album is the band's first with new vocalist William DuVall, who replaced the band's late frontman Layne Staley in 2006.
Madonna's new greatest hits set, "Celebration," starts the party at No. 7 this week with 72,000. Rounding out the top 10 entries are Miranda Lambert's third album, "Revolution" (No. 8 with 66,000) and Selena Gomez and the Scene's "Kiss and Tell," which debuts just a little behind Lambert's sum at No. 9 with 66,000. Only two albums in this week's top 10 also appeared on last week's chart: Pearl Jam's "Backspacer" falls from No. 1 to No. 10 with 58,000 (down 69%) while Jay-Z's "The Blueprint 3" drops from No. 2 to No. 6 with 89,000 (down 34%).
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Oct. 4) totaled 6.87 million units, up 16% compared to the sum last week (5.93 million) and down 8% compared to the same sales week of 2008 (7.50 million). Year to date album sales stand at 263.4 million, down 14% compared to the same total at this point last year (305.3 million).