New York band Vampire Weekend sees its sophomore set, "Contra," debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 124,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan . . . The set is only the 12th independently distributed album to top the Billboard 200 since SoundScan began powering the list in May 1991 . . . "Contra" is the only debut in the top 10 this week, as the second-highest entry comes from Omarion's "Ollusion" at No. 19 with 19,000 copies . . . The Greatest Gainer on the tally, in terms of the biggest unit gain, is Lady Gaga's "The Fame Monster," which rallies from No. 10 to No. 6 with 36,000 (up by more than 4,000 copies), likely thanks to her performance and chat on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" last Friday (Jan. 15).



FLASH POINTS

• Vampire Weekend not only celebrates its first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, but the New York band also notches its best sales week yet. The act's new "Contra" (XL Recordings) opens atop the tally with 124,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That easily surpasses the quartet's previous best sales frame, earned when its self-titled first album opened with 28,000 copies in its opening week. That set debuted and peaked at No. 17 on the chart and has since sold 498,000.

• "Contra" also is the second independently distributed album to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in the past year. It's distributed by Alternative Distribution Alliance and marks the first indie set to top the tally since Pearl Jam's self-released "Backspacer" debuted at No. 1 on the Oct. 10, 2009, chart.

• All told, "Contra" is only the 12th indie album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 since SoundScan began powering the chart in May 1991.

• "Contra" is the lone debut in the top 10 this week, as the second-highest entry comes from Omarion's "Ollusion" at No. 19 with 19,000 copies. This isn't out of the ordinary for January, as the month's release schedule is usually light on blockbuster new albums.

• As for the rest of the top 10 this week, Susan Boyle's "I Dreamed a Dream" holds at No. 2 with 77,000 (down 18%), marking its eighth straight week within the top two slots. There's a chance the album could return to No. 1 next week, as it'll probably benefit from the singer's sit-down interview and performance on yesterday's "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (Jan. 19).

• Continuing down this week's top 10, last week's No. 1, Ke$ha's "Animal," falls to No. 3 with 67,000 (down 56%). Lady Gaga's "The Fame" is down one spot to No. 4 with 64,000 (down just 3%) while her "The Fame Monster" EP zips from No. 10 to No. 6 with 36,000 (up 14%). Gaga made her "Oprah" debut last Friday (Jan. 15), thus resulting in the "Monster" rally.

• Alicia Keys' "The Element of Freedom" drops one rung to No. 5 (48,000; down 23%), Mary J. Blige's "Stronger With Each Tear" descends two places to No. 7 (35,000; down 26%), Taylor Swift's "Fearless" falls one slot to No. 8 (33,000; down 12%), and the "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" soundtrack scurries down three places to No. 9 (nearly 33,000; down 12%). Closing out the top 10 is the Black Eyed Peas' "The E.N.D.," dropping two slots, with 32,000 (down 10%).

• Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Jan. 10) totaled 5.7 million units, down 4% compared with the sum last week (5.91 million) and down 3% compared with the comparable sales week of 2009 (week ending Jan. 18; 5.89 million).



MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 5.7 million units
• DOWN 4% from last week's charts: 5.91 million units
• DOWN 3% from the comparable week in 2009: 5.89 million units
• This week: Only the No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 sells more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on the Billboard 200: Taylor Swift's "Fearless" was yet again No. 1 (63,000) while the highest debut was the soundtrack to "Notorious" at No. 4 with 43,000.



A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the albums released this week, due on next week's charts: Spoon's "Transference," the "2010 Grammy Nominees" compilation, eels' "End Times," the soundtrack to "Crazy Heart" and Motion City Soundtrack's "My Dinosaur Life."

• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2009 when: Taylor Swift's "Fearless" held at No. 1 with 63,000 and the chart's highest debut was Mariah Carey's "The Ballads" at No. 10 with 29,000.