"American Idol" winner Phillip Phillips earns the highest debut on the Digital Songs chart this week as his "Home" bows at No. 2 with 278,000 downloads sold according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Even better: It's the second-best digital sales week ever for any "Idol" contestant. Only Kelly Clarkson's 2009 song "My Life Would Suck Without You" had a bigger frame, when it debuted with 280,000 downloads.
That may come as a surprise, considering the lengthy careers -- and stellar sales -- of such successful "Idols" as Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. Underwood's best sales week for a song came in 2009, when her "I Told You So" (featuring Randy Travis) started with 125,000.
"Home" also marks the biggest sales week for any "Idol" winner's coronation single since SoundScan began tracking downloads in 2003. It surpasses David Cook's "The Time Of My Life," which debuted with 236,000 in 2008.
Before downloads replaced the CD single as the predominant format for buying songs, two other "Idol" finalists had larger sales weeks than Phillips with their season-finale singles.
At the end of "Idol's" second season in 2003, Clay Aiken's "This Is The Night" CD single launched with 393,000 in its first full week of sales. Meanwhile, winner Ruben Studdard saw his "Flying Without Wings" start with 286,000.
Phillips' arrival this week is also the fourth-largest debut of the year. It trails Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend" (521,000), Maroon 5's "Payphone" featuring Wiz Khalifa (493,000) and Katy Perry's "Part of Me" (411,000).
Phillips also debuts on Digital Songs at No. 41 with "We've Got Tonight" (43,000) and No. 54 with "Volcano" (35,000).
As a note: The weekly sales of songs by "American Idol's" contestants are withheld from SoundScan (and from appearing in the iTunes Store's own popularity lists) while its TV season is in progress. Fox and "Idol" does this in order to keep from influencing the voting public in the course of the season. Once the show has concluded, the sales are then reported to SoundScan, and in turn, Billboard. The sales reported this week are only for the week ending May 27. They are not for the entire season.
As for the rest of the top 10 on the Digital Songs chart this week, Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" sits tight at No. 1 for a second frame, selling 301,000 (up 3%). Maroon 5's "Payphone" holds at No. 3 (265,000; down 6%) and Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" (featuring Kimbra) drops two spots to No. 4 (just under 264,000; down 9%).
Nicki Minaj's "Starships" falls one to No. 5 (153,000; down 12%) and fun.'s "We Are Young" (featuring Janelle Monae) is down 5-6 (149,000; down 8%). Pitbull's "Men in Black III" theme "Back In Time" jumps 11-7 with 147,000 (up 47%) and Rihanna's "Where Have You Been" climbs 13-8 (146,000; up 48%). The latter was performed by the diva on the May 23 season finale of "American Idol." Pitbull's tune benefits from "MIB's" opening in U.S. theaters on Friday, May 25.
Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend" slips 7-9 (144,000; up less than 1%) and Flo Rid's "Wild Ones" (featuring Sia) closes out the top 10 at No. 10 -- down four spots -- with 135,000 (down 11%).
Digital track sales this past week totaled 25.98 million downloads, up 4% compared to last week (24.95 million) and up 5% stacked next to the comparable week of 2011 (24.69 million). Year to date track sales are at 571.28 million, up 7% compared to the same total at this point last year (536.14 million).