Michael Buble Headed For Another Blockbuster Sales Week on Billboard 200
Michael Buble Headed For Another Blockbuster Sales Week on Billboard 200

In the tightest race for No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in four years, Michael Buble's "Christmas" rises 2-1 on the tally while Nickelback's new "Here and Now" debuts at No. 2. "Christmas" sold a little more than 227,000 -- ahead of Nickelback by a mere 0.2% margin. "Here" sold nearly 227,000.

In terms of units, the last time the Billboard 200 saw a smaller difference between the Nos. 1 and 2 albums was on the Nov. 3, 2007, chart. That was when Bruce Springsteen's "Magic" rose 2-1 for its second week at the top with slightly more than 77,000 while Kid Rock's "Rock N Roll Jesus" slipped 2-1, just 0.3% behind "Magic."

"Christmas" marks Buble's third No. 1 album, following 2007's "Call Me Irresponsible" and 2009's "Crazy Love." And with 227,000 sold, it also marks Buble's best sales week, which was previously set when "Irresponsible" bowed with 212,000.

"Christmas" is the second holiday set to top the tally this year, following Justin Bieber's "Under the Mistletoe." The only other time we've had two Christmas albums reach No. 1 in the same year was in 1957, when Elvis Presley's "Elvis' Christmas Album" and Bing Crosby's "Merry Christmas" both reached the top. All told, Buble's "Christmas" is the ninth holiday No. 1 in the 55-year history of the chart.

As for Nickelback, "Here" marks the band's fifth top 10 set and third consecutive album to arrive in the top two. It last topped the tally with 2005's "All the Right Reasons," which opened with 325,000. The group's last effort, 2008's "Dark Horse," galloped in at No. 2 with 326,000.

Arriving in the No. 3 slot this week is Rihanna's "Talk That Talk," selling 197,000. It's the diva's sixth top 10 album and follows "Loud," which launched at No. 2 a year ago with 207,000.

Last week's No. 1, Drake's "Take Care," falls to No. 4 with 173,000 (down 73%) while Mary J. Blige's ninth studio album, "My Life II: The Journey Continues, Act I," debuts at No. 5 with 156,000. Like Rihanna, every one of Blige's studio efforts have reached the top 10. Blige's last set, 2009's "Stronger With Each Tear," bowed at No. 2 with 330,000.

Bieber's "Under the Mistletoe" is pushed 5-6, despite a gain in sales (142,000; up 69%) while Adele's "21" also gains, but is forced backwards 3-7 (140,000; up 24%). This is the first time "21" has left the top five of the tally in its entire 40-week chart run.

Daughtry's "Break the Spell" is the fourth and final arrival in the top 10, as the rock band's third set starts at No. 8 with 129,000. Its previous two releases -- its 2007 self-titled effort and 2009's "Leave This Town" -- both reached No. 1. "Town" started with 269,000 at No. 1, while "Daughtry" entered at No. 2 with 304,000, before hitting No. 1 two months later.

The entire top eight albums this week all sell in excess of 100,000 each, the first time we've had that many 100,000-plus titles since the Jan. 8 chart. That was when the top 11 all sold more than 100,000, reflecting the sales week that ended Dec. 26, 2010.

Rounding out the top 10 are Scotty McCreery's "Clear As Day," jumping 13-9 (88,000; up 165%) and Coldplay's "Mylo Xyloto," falling 9-10 (79,000; up 46%). Elsewhere in the top 20, we see new entries from Taylor Swift at No. 11 with her "Speak Now World Tour Live" (77,000), Big Time Rush's "Elevate" at No. 12 (70,000) and Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band's "Ultimate Hits" at No. 19 (50,000).

Over on the Digital Songs chart, LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It" hits No. 1 for the first time, jumping 2-1 with 226,000 (up 24%). Last week's topper, Rihanna's "We Found Love" (featuring Calvin Harris), falls to No. 2 with 209,000 (down 1%). Bruno Mars' "It Will Rain" holds at No. 3 (196,000; up 14%), and Flo Rida's "Good Feeling" jumps 7-4 (141,000; up 2%). Katy Perry's "The One That Got Away" rises 11-5 (137,000; up 29%); Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger" (featuring Christina Aguilera) returns to the top 10, flying 12-6 (125,000; up 27%); and Adele's "Someone Like You" moves 8-7 (114,000; down 10%).

Gym Class Heroes' "Stereo Hearts" (featuring Adam Levine) climbs back into the top 10 (14-8) after a two-week absence (114,000; up 35%). David Guetta's "Without You" (featuring Usher) slips 6-9 (107,000; down 24%), and LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" rises 16-10 (101,000; up 30%).

Chalk up the big gains for many of the titles in the top 10 to ABC's broadcast of the "American Music Awards" on Nov. 20. Nos. 1, 5, 6, 8 and 10 were all performed on the show.

Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Nov. 27) totaled 9.8 million units, up 39% compared with the sum last week (7 million) and down 5% compared with the comparable sales week of 2010 (10.2 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 278.7 million, up 2% compared with the same total at this point last year (272 million).

Digital track sales this past week totaled 22.06 million downloads, up 2% compared with last week (21.7 million) and down less than 1% stacked next to the comparable week of 2010 (22.16 million). Year-to-date track sales are at 1.1 billion, up 10% compared with the same total at this point last year (1 billion).

Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2010 when: Susan Boyle's "The Gift" returned to No. 1 (3-1) with 272,000 (up 3%), while Kanye West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" fell 1-7 with 108,000 (down 78%).