Lady Antebellum's second album, "Need You Now," crashes in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, selling 481,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That's the biggest debut sales week for any album since Susan Boyle's "I Dreamed a Dream" bowed atop the list with 701,000 in November, and the best for a country album since Taylor Swift's "Fearless" opened at No. 1 on the Billboard with 592,000 copies in Nov. 2008.
Lady Antebellum's self-titled first album debuted and peaked at No. 4 with 43,000 in its opening week back in May of 2008. This week, in the set's 94th week on the chart, it climbs one spot to No. 15 with 31,000 (up 32%).
The eye-popping sum racked by Lady A's "Need You Now" is also the biggest opening week for an album released in January since the Game's "The Documentary" bowed with 587,000 at No. 1 in 2005. Traditionally, January isn't packed with albums that earn blockbuster debut weeks, as most of the big guns come out in time for the busy November-December holiday shopping season. But for the Capitol Nashville set, all the stars have seemingly aligned.
The new album's title track, which the trio performed on the Jan. 31 Grammy Awards, already spent five weeks atop the Hot Country Songs chart and jumps from No. 37 to No. 30 on the Pop Songs tally this week. (The Pop Songs list ranks the most-played songs at top 40 radio stations.) Lady Antebellum also has another reason to celebrate, as it won its first Grammy award during the show's pre-telecast ceremony, taking home the trophy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals (for "I Run To You," from its first album).
Joining Lady A as a new arrival to the Billboard 200 this week is Barry Manilow, whose "The Greatest Love Songs of All Time" debuts at at No. 5 with 57,000; Corinne Bailey Rae, whose second album "The Sea" debuts at No. 7 with 53,000; and Celtic Woman with "Songs From the Heart," debuting at No. 9 with 42,000.
Last week's No. 1, the "Hope for Haiti Now" charity compilation, drops to No. 2 with 143,000 -- down just 16% after its first full week of availability. Lady Gaga's "The Fame" holds at No. 3 with (68,000; up 10%), while Susan Boyle's "I Dreamed a Dream" drops two rungs to No. 4 (59,000; down 31%).
Michael Jackson's "This Is It" jumps 11 spots to No. 6 with 55,000 (up 136%) courtesy of the attention generated from the DVD release of the same-named film. The "Grammy Nominees 2010" compilation moves down three slots to No. 8 in its second week with 45,000 (down 7%). Closing out the top 10, at No. 10, is the Black Eyed Peas' "The E.N.D." with 40,000 (up 14%).
Expect significant jumps next week for last Sunday's (Jan. 31) Grammy Awards performers, including Gaga and the Peas, once a full week of sales impact is felt. (SoundScan's tracking week ends at the close of business on Sunday evening.)
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Jan. 31) totaled 6.50 million units, up 11% compared to the sum last week (5.84 million) and down .06% compared to the comparable sales week of 2009 (6.51 million).