For a fourth week, Taylor Swift's "Fearless" finds itself at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 ... This week's charts mark the final sales frame of the 2008 year, so we dive into the year's sales numbers, detailing some surprising winners and not-so-surprising losers ... You can probably guess what the year's best selling album is, but do you know what the top digital track was? Or the top selling vinyl album? Keep reading to find out.


FLASH POINTS


• Taylor Swift's "Fearless" marks a fourth week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, shifting 262,000 (down 21%). The last album to spend as much time at the top was Alicia Keys' "As I Am," which notched its fourth and final week at No. 1 in February 2008. It's likely that "Fearless" will hold at No. 1 for a fifth week, too. If it does, it'll be the first album to manage that feat since Josh Groban's "Noel" did five straight weeks at No. 1 a year ago.

• This week's charts reflect the week that ended Dec. 28, the final sales frame of the 2008 calendar year. Album sales for the week stood at 17.02 million according to Nielsen SoundScan, up 17% compared the final week of 2007. But, here comes the fine print. The week ending Dec. 28, 2008 included three full days of pre-Christmas shopping. The final week of 2007 ended on Dec. 30, and only contained one day of last minute holiday shopping: Dec. 24. So, it's natural that this year's final week will look somewhat robust stacked next to '07's final frame.

• The year's top selling album is, no surprise, Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter III," with 2.87 million sold. It's the first time the best selling album of the year has sold less than 3 million since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991.

• In 2008, there were 428.4 million albums sold, down 14.4% compared to 2007's 500.5 million. Digital downloads of albums accounted for 65.79 million albums this year, or, 15.4% of the overall album market. In 2007, digital albums sold 50.01 million and represented 10% of the album market. Conversely, physical CD albums made up 360.6 million albums this year (84% of the market), compared to 449.18 million last year (90% of overall album sales).

• 2008 saw a record number of vinyl albums sold, with nearly 1.9 million -- more than any other year since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking data in 1991. It's the first time the industry has sold 1 million vinyl albums in a calendar year since 2004, when 1.2 million were sold. The top selling vinyl set of 2008 was Radiohead's "In Rainbows," with 26,000.

• Meanwhile, digital track sales continue to blow up, as 2008 was the first year to see over 1 billion tracks sold. All told, 1.07 billion were sold, up 26.7% compared to 2007's 844 million. The top selling digital song of the year is Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love," with 3.42 million.




The Billboard 200

Sales data provided and compiled from Nielsen SoundScan
1 1 TAYLOR SWIFT Fearless (Big Machine ) 11 9 AC/DC Black Ice (Columbia / Sony Music)
*2 5 BEYONCE I Am...Sasha Fierce (Music World / Columbia / Sony Music) 12 17 SOUNDTRACK High School Musical 3: Senior Year (Walt Disney )
*3 4 BRITNEY SPEARS Circus (Jive / Zomba) 13 21 PINK Funhouse (LaFace / Zomba)
4 6 NICKELBACK Dark Horse (Roadrunner ) 14 16 ENYA And Winter Came... (Reprise / Warner Bros.)
*5 11 KANYE WEST 808s & Heartbreak (Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam / IDJMG) *15 34 T.I. Paper Trail (Grand Hustle / Atlantic / AG)
6 7 SOUNDTRACK Twilight (Summit / Chop Shop / Atlantic / AG) *16 31 AKON Freedom (Konvict / Upfront / SRC / Universal Motown / UMRG)
7 2 KEYSHIA COLE A Different Me (Imani / Geffen / IGA) 17 18 SOUNDTRACK Mamma Mia! (Decca )
8 10 VARIOUS ARTISTS Now 29 (Universal / EMI / Sony BMG / Zomba / UMe) 18 8 FALL OUT BOY Folie A Deux (Decaydance / Fueled By Ramen / Island / IDJMG)
9 3 JAMIE FOXX Intuition (J / RMG) 19 28 KID ROCK Rock N Roll Jesus (Top Dog / Atlantic / AG)
10 13 DAVID COOK David Cook (19 / RCA / RMG) *20 35 METALLICA Death Magnetic (Warner Bros. )
* indicates titles with greatest sales gains this week




MARKET WATCH

• Album units, current chart week: 17.02 million units
• DOWN 0.79% from last issue's charts: 17.16 million units
• UP 17% from same week, 2007: 14.53 million units
• This week: the top 10 albums each sell more than 100,000 copies.
• This week last year on The Billboard 200: Mary J. Blige's "Growing Pains" skipped from No. 2 to No. 1 in its second week (204,000), displacing Josh Groban's "Noel," which fell to No. 3 with 176,000. No new albums debuted in the top 50 of the chart. The top three albums each sold more than 100,000.





BORDERLINES


• The No. 50 album this week, Kings of Leon's "Only By the Night" (RCA), sold 33,000.
• The No. 50 album for the same week of 2007, Michael Buble's "Call Me Irresponsible" (143/Reprise/Warner Bros.), sold 30,000.
• Average total of the No. 50 album for the same week of the year during the past 10 years (1999-2008): 46,223.



PROGRESS REPORTS

• Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" bounds from No. 11 to No. 7 on the Mainstream Top 40 radio airplay chart. The song is her eighth solo top 10 on the list, which matches the amount of top 10s she collected as a member of Destiny's Child. It also jumps 2-1 on Hot Dance Airplay for her fourth No. 1 and first since "Naughty Girl" in 2004.


• On the Adult Contemporary radio chart, Daughtry posts a third top 10 hit as "What About Now" lifts 13-10. The act is the first group to notch three or more top 10s from a debut album since Backstreet Boys scored four from 1997 to 1999. Daughtry's "Home" commanded the chart for 11 weeks, and "Feels Like Tonight" reached No. 5.

• Shinedown's "Second Chance" rises to No. 1 on both the Rock and Active Rock radio airplay charts this week in Billboard's sister publication Radio & Records, and continues to reign atop Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart. It's the first time a song has dominated all three tallies since Disturbed's "Inside the Fire" on Aug. 16, 2008.


A LOOK AHEAD

• Next week's chart should be fairly quiet in terms of debuts as no major albums were released on Dec. 30.

• Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2008 when: Radiohead's "In Rainbows" reached mainstream retailers and debuted at No. 1 with 122,000. The next highest debut came from the soundtrack to "Juno," which entered at No. 8. Only the top two albums each sold more than 100,000.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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