Lady Antebellum's second album, "Need You Now," crashes in at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, selling 481,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan—the biggest sales week of 2010 and the best opening for a country set since 2008 . . . It's also the biggest debut week for a January release since 2005 . . . Lady A's arrival at No. 1 also helps EMI Music claim four out of the top 10 titles on the Billboard 200 this week, the first time the company has done so in nearly 12 years.



FLASH POINTS

• Lady Antebellum's sophomore effort, "Need You Now," starts its chart run at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, selling 481,000, 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 200 with 592,000 copies in November 2008.

• Lady Antebellum's self-titled first album debuted and peaked at No. 4 with 43,000 in its opening week back in May 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 that Lady A's "Need You Now" racked up 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.) The trio 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).

• Lady A's arrival at No. 1 helps EMI Music claim four out of the top 10 titles on the Billboard 200 this week, the first time the company has done so in nearly 12 years. Lady A's Capitol Nashville effort is joined by Capitol's Corinne Bailey Rae and her second album, "The Sea" (a debut at No. 7 with 53,000); the Grammy/Capitol "Grammy Nominees 2010" compilation (down three slots to No. 8 in its second week with 45,000; down 7%); and Manhattan's Celtic Woman with "Songs From the Heart" (debuting at No. 9 with 42,000). The last time EMI had four albums in the top 10 was July 4, 1998, when Master P's "MP Da Last Don" (No. 3; No Limit/Priority), the soundtrack to "Hope Floats" (No. 4; Capitol), Garth Brooks' "The Limited Series" (No. 6; Capitol Nashville/Capitol) and the Smashing Pumpkins' "Adore" (No. 10; Virgin/Capitol) held court.

• 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%), Susan Boyle's "I Dreamed a Dream" drops two rungs to No. 4 (59,000; down 31%), and Barry Manilow's "The Greatest Love Songs of All Time" debuts at No. 5 (57,000). 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. At Nos. 7-9 are the aforementioned Rae, "Grammy Nominees" and Celtic Woman titles, respectively. 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 with the sum last week (5.8 million) and down .06% compared with the comparable sales week of 2009 (6.51 million).

• A LOOK AHEAD:

• Next week on the Billboard 200, look for Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" to hold atop the tally for a second week. The set could sell between 190,000 to 220,000 copies by week's end on Feb. 9.

• That sales forecast is based on how, in the past year, most high-bowing country albums have generally dropped by anywhere between 55%-60% in sales in their second week. However, throwing a wrench into predicting Lady A's second week is this past Sunday's (Jan. 31) Grammy Awards, where the trio performed. It's likely that a full-week's worth of impact from the show will help soften "Need You Now's" second-week decline. Stay tuned.

• The highest debut will likely be Lil Wayne's almost-mythical rap/rock "Rebirth" album, which industry sources are suggesting may sell 125,000 to 150,000 copies.

• The repeatedly delayed "Rebirth" finally arrived in stores this week, nine months after its initial announced release date. The Cash Money set was originally slated for an April 7, 2009, arrival, but that changed a number of times last year until the album was finally set to drop Dec. 15, 2009. At the last minute, its release was postponed—but not before Amazon.com accidentally shipped a number of copies to some customers who preordered the album.

• Other albums headed for notable debuts on next week's Billboard 200 include Nick Jonas and the Administration's "Who I Am" and Rob Zombie's "Hellbilly Deluxe 2."


MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 6.50 million units
• UP 11% from last week's charts: 5.8 million units
• DOWN .06% from the comparable week in 2009: 6.51 million units
• This week: The top two albums on the Billboard 200 sell more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on the Billboard 200: Bruce Springsteen's "Working on a Dream" debuted at No. 1 with 224,000 while the "2009 Grammy Nominees" compilation entered at No. 6 with 33,000. The previous week's topper, Taylor Swift's "Fearless," dropped to No. 2 with 55,000 (down 12%).



A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the albums released this week, due on next week's charts: Lil Wayne's "Rebirth," Nick Jonas and the Administration's "Who I Am," Rob Zombie's "Hellbilly Deluxe 2," BT's "These Hopeful Machines" and the Soft Pack's "The Soft Pack."

• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2009 when: the Fray's self-titled set arrived at No. 1 with 179,000, bumping Bruce Springsteen's "Working on a Dream" out of the top slot, as it slid to No. 2 with 102,000 (down 55%). Dierks Bentley's "Feel That Fire" was the chart's second-best bow, coming in at No. 3 with 71,000.