Lupe Fiasco's "Lasers" arrives atop the Billboard 200 with 204,000 first-week copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
It marks his first No. 1 and best sales week yet. Second album "The Cool" launched at No. 15 with 143,000 at the tail end of 2007, while "Food & Liquor" bowed at No. 8 with 81,000 in 2006. "Lasers" also fires up at No. 1 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (see Between the Bullets, page 54).
The arrival marks the second-biggest sales week of the year and fifth straight week where the No. 1 position on the Billboard 200 has housed a set that sold more than 100,000 copies. Additionally, this is the fourth frame in a row where album sales are up compared with the comparable week in 2010 (up 2%).
Handsome package: P!nk's cutely named "Greatest Hits . . . So Far!!!" has become quite the big seller. Which is odd, considering that hits packages are a rather old-fashioned concept in this digital track era.
"So Far" has sold 549,000 copies since its release on Nov. 16, 2010. It has yet to sell less than 17,000 in a week; for the past eight straight weeks, it has moved 20,000-plus weekly copies.
To put things in perspective, in 2010, the biggest-selling album that was a true greatest-hits set was Michael Jackson's 2003 effort, "Number Ones," with 388,000 sold (No. 78 for the year). The best seller among 2010 releases was Bon Jovi's "Greatest Hits," with 360,000 (No. 91). The latter set continues to sell well and has moved 479,000 copies.
The P!nk and Bon Jovi releases are similar in that they both span an entire career, offer a lot of killer and no filler, and cater to fans who are just discovering each act.
P!nk's set has 14 songs, two of them new. Eight of them are previously released top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits, while the two new tracks have set the chart on fire. Leadoff track "Raise Your Glass" hit No. 1 while "F**kin' Perfect" went to No. 2. "So Far" is the singer's first hits album and reaches back to her first single, 2000's "There You Go."
Bon Jovi's "Hits" was available in both 16-track and 34-track editions. The latter contains all but one of the band's 17 top 40 Hot 100 hits from its nearly 30-year career. (Missing is 1989's No. 9 single "Living in Sin.") It's the group's second hits release, following 1994's "Cross Road."
Even though P!nk's two massive new singles-which have sold a combined 4.3 million-have probably cut into her "Hits" sales a bit, what's likely driving the album are her longevity and multigenerational appeal.
Figure that a good number of consumers first discovered P!nk a year ago when she was flinging herself above the audience during the 52nd annual Grammy Awards telecast, and then another wave of fans got turned on to her thanks to "Raise Your Glass." In a way, she's never been bigger-despite the fact that she first hit the charts in 2000.
So, take the "discovery" aspect, combine that with her sterling catalog, then add the number of consumers who looked at the "Hits" track list and said, "I know all of these songs. I own only one or two already, but there's no sense in just cherry-picking the rest a la carte. So I might as well buy the whole thing and save money."
Dance Dance: If you're wondering why there are two similarly titled Dance Gavin Dance albums on the Billboard 200 this week, let us explain. At No. 82 is the act's new album, "Downtown Battle Mountain II," with a 6,000 bow, while at No. 190 is "Downtown Battle Mountain I & II" with 3,000.
The latter is exclusive to Hot Topic stores and combines the band's first two albums into one set. Because of its bundling of two different albums, it can't have its sales merged with the new title at No. 82.
Hot ladies: On Heatseekers Albums, two ladies with serious buzz make waves: Ellie Goulding's "Lights" arrives at No. 1 with 4,000, while Gossip frontwoman Beth Ditto starts at No. 27 with her four-song EP. The Simian Mobile Disco-produced set is led by the brilliant single "I Wrote the Book."