From "Britain's Got Talent" and global YouTube phenomenon to breaking records on the Billboard 200, Susan Boyle's "I Dreamed a Dream" arrives with a stunning 701,000 copies sold in its first week—the best sales frame for an album in 2009. It also marks the best opening week for a female artist's debut album since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991 . . . Her set was just one of a number of high-profile releases that reached retailers last week, including offerings from Adam Lambert, Rihanna and Lady Gaga . . . All told, the top 12 albums on the Billboard 200 this week each sell more than 100,000 copies.



FLASH POINTS

• YouTube sensation and former "Britain's Got Talent" contestant Susan Boyle's debut album, "I Dreamed a Dream," opens at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 701,000 copies sold in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan—the best sales week for an album in the United States this year.

• 2009's previous high-water mark came when Eminem's "Relapse" sold 608,000 in its opening week. In fact, Boyle's sales frame is the best the chart has seen since AC/DC's "Black Ice" bowed with 784,000 upon its release in October 2008.

• Boyle's SYCO/Columbia effort was released last Monday, Nov. 23, and the sales tracking week ended at the close of business on Sunday, Nov. 29.

• The arrival of "I Dreamed a Dream" also marks the best opening week for a female artist's debut album since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991. Boyle beats out Ashanti for the title, as her self-titled debut began with 503,000 in 2002.

• All told, in SoundScan's tracking history, only one other debut album has had a bigger opening week: Snoop Dogg's "Doggystyle" barked with 803,000 in its first week back in 1993.

• Boyle wasn't the only artist to drop an album during the very busy Thanksgiving shopping week, for the reality TV star led a packed release schedule. 2009 "American Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert's debut, "For Your Entertainment," starts at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 with 198,000 copies. Last week, "Idol" champ Kris Allen saw his self-titled debut bow at No. 11 with 80,000.

• Rihanna's fourth album, "Rated R," opens at No. 4 with 181,000—the young diva's best sales week yet. Her previous best came when her third album, "Good Girl Gone Bad," started with 162,000 at No. 2 in 2007.

• Lady Gaga's new eight-song quasi-EP "The Fame Monster" bows at No. 5 with 174,000 while her first album, "The Fame," rises from No. 34 to No. 6 (151,000; up 429%). The total for the original "Fame" jumps this week because it combines sales of her debut set with a two-disc deluxe "The Fame" package that contains both "The Fame" and the new "Monster" disc.

• As for holdovers in the top 10, Andrea Bocelli's "My Christmas" stands strong at No. 2 for a third week as it shifts 218,000 (up 18%) while Miley Cyrus' Wal-Mart-exclusive EP "The Time of Our Lives" vaults from No. 29 to No. 7 with 150,000 (up 385%) thanks in part to its $5 sale tag at the retailer last week. Taylor Swift's "Fearless" moves from No. 10 to No. 8 with 125,000 (up 48%), Carrie Underwood's "Play On" holds at No. 9 with 124,000 (up 44%), and Norah Jones' "The Fall" falls from No. 3 to No. 10 with 110,000 (down 39%).

• Last week's Billboard 200 No. 1, John Mayer's "Battle Studies," slips to No. 13 in its second week with 92,000 (down 68%).

• Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Nov. 29) totaled 10.7 million units, up 34% compared with the sum last week (8 million) and down 12% compared with the Thanksgiving sales week of 2008 (12.2 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 320.2 million, down 13% compared with the same total at this point last year (369.9 million).



MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 10.7 million units
• UP 34% from last week's charts: 8 million units
• DOWN 12% from same week, 2008: 12.2 million units
• This week: The top 12 albums on the Billboard 200 sell more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on the Billboard 200: Kanye West's "808s & Heartbreak" reigned as the Thanksgiving week champ, debuting at No. 1 with 450,000 copies. Taylor Swift's "Fearless" climbed from No. 4 to No. 2 with 267,000 and a 23% gain while Guns N' Roses' long-delayed "Chinese Democracy" bowed at No. 3 with 261,000. The previous week's No. 1, Beyonce's "I Am . . . Sasha Fierce," fell to No. 4 in its second week with 257,000 (down 47%). Ludacris' "Theater of the Mind" (No. 5 with 213,000) and the Killers' "Day & Age" (No. 6 with 193,000) were the remaining debuts in the top 10.


A LOOK AHEAD

• Among the albums released this week, due on next week's charts: R. Kelly's "Untitled," Juvenile's "Cocky and Confident," Allison Iraheta's "Just Like You," the soundtrack to "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" and the Bravery's "Stir the Blood."

• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2008 when: Britney Spears' big top "Circus" bowed at No. 1 with 505,000 while Akon's "Freedom" was the lone other debut in the top 10 at No. 7 with 111,000. The previous week's topper, Kanye West's "808s and Heartbreak," fell to No. 4 with 142,000 (down 69%).