Ask Billboard: Sugarland's Sweet Success
Ask Billboard: Sugarland's Sweet Success

Country duo Sugarland swoops in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart with its third topper, "The Incredible Machine." The set sold 203,000 copies last week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, beating out the No. 2 arrival of Kings of Leon's "Come Around Sundown," which starts with 184,000.

Sugarland: The Billboard Cover Story

Next week, both albums will move aside, as Taylor Swift's "Speak Now" is going to blow in with likely the largest sales week of the year. Industry prognosticators suggest it will start with anywhere between 800,000 to 900,000 copies and has a shot at shifting 1 million.

Taylor Swift's 'Speak Now' On Track for Massive Debut

Sugarland previously hit No. 1 with 2008's "Love On the Inside" and the 2009 Walmart-exclusive, "Live On the Inside." "Love" was the duo's last studio release, and it opened at No. 2 with a career-high sales week of 313,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan, before climbing to No. 1 the next week with 171,000.

"Come Around Sundown" immediately earns Kings of Leon both its highest charting album and best sales week. The group's last set, 2008's "Only By the Night," bowed at No. 5 with their best sales week (74,000), but peaked at No. 4 nearly a year later, in September of 2009. Each of the band's albums have posted successively higher peaks: its 2003 debut, "Youth & Young Manhood," topped out at No. 113, 2005's "Aha Shake Heartbreak" hit No. 55 and 2007's "Because of the Times" halted at No. 25.

Sugarland and Kings of Leon's sets are two of seven new entries in the top 10 this week. Following them at No. 3 is Elton John and Leon Russell's collaboration album, "The Union" (80,000), and at No. 4, Rod Stewart's "Fly Me To The Moon" (79,000).

Elton John & Leon Russell Form Perfect 'Union'

For John, it's the legend's highest charting set since 1976's "Blue Moves" peaked at No. 3. John last reached the top 10 with the greatest hits set "Rocket Man: Number Ones" in 2007, when it debuted and peaked at No. 9. And, with "The Union's" 80,000 start, it marks John's best sales week since December 2002, when "Greatest Hits 1970-2002" shifted 108,000 over Christmas week. (Also impressive: "Union" earns him his highest frame for a studio effort since "The Big Picture" bowed with 101,000 at No. 9 in 1997.) As for Russell, he last went higher with the No. 2 set "Carney" in 1972, which spent four weeks in the runner-up slot. It's his highest charting set.

Video: Rod Stewart Talks 'American Songbook'

Stewart's latest installment in his continuing covers series matches the No. 4 entry of his 2009 R&B redux set, "Soulbook" (84,000), and is his 15th top 10 album overall.

Below Stewart at No. 5 is last week's No. 1, Lil Wayne's "I Am Not a Human Being," which falls with 65,000 (down 49%). Nos. 6 and 7 are debuts from the "Glee: the Rocky Horror Glee Show" soundtrack (48,000) and Shakira's new Spanish language album, "Sale El Sol" (46,000), respectively.

For the cast of "Glee," it's both their lowest sales start and chart debut so far. However, since this album came out a week before its songs aired on its companion episode on Oct. 26, watch for a possible gain on next week's charts.

Shakira's "Sale" is the Colombian diva's fourth top 10 set, and her second Spanish effort to reach the upper tier. Her last Spanish album, 2005's "Fijacion Oral: Vol. 1," debuted and peaked at No. 4 with 158,000.

Eminem's "Recovery" slips three spots to No. 8 with 43,000 (down 15%), a little ahead of Third Day's debut at No. 9 with "Move" (37,000). It's the third top 10 for the Christian act, which saw its last studio set, 2008's "Revelation," begin at No. 6 with 75,000. Rounding out the top 10 is Darius Rucker's "Charleston, SC 1966," descending eight rungs to No. 10 in its second week with a little under 37,000 (down 63%).

Over on the Digital Songs chart, Far*East Movement's "Like a G6" reclaims the No. 1 slot with 204,000 (down 9%) as last week's topper, Taylor Swift's "Back to December" falls to No. 13 with 70,000. However, her "Mean" -- the final single in the countdown to the release of her "Speak Now" album -- arrives at No. 2 with 163,000. It's her fifth top 10 debut on the Digital Songs chart this year, and this is the third straight week she's driven a song straight into the top 10 following her album's title track (No. 2; 217,000) and last week's "December."

Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Oct. 24) totaled 5.17 million units, up 3% compared to the sum last week (5.01 million) and down 10% compared to the comparable sales week of 2009 (5.73 million). Year to date album sales stand at 236.14 million, down 13% compared to the same total at this point last year (272.78 million).

Digital track sales this past week totaled 18.58 million downloads, down 6% compared to last week (19.71 million) and down less than 1% stacked next to the comparable week of 2009 (18.63 million). Year to date track sales are at 918.25 million, down 1% compared to the same total at this point last year (923.45 million).

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