It was a familiar story at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this past week, where Taylor Swift's "Red" held atop the chart for a sixth nonconsecutive stanza. The singer's album moved another 276,000 copies according to Nielsen SoundScan, easily outpacing the No. 2 set, T.I.'s debuting "Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head" with 179,000.
Outside the top 10 there was a lot of action, so let's take a look at some of the notable movers and shakers. . .
-- "The Essential Now That's What I Call Christmas" - Of all the albums that were on the chart last week, the "The Essential Now That's What I Call Christmas" compilation earns the largest percentage sales gain this week. It vaults from No. 113 to No. 25 with a whopping 511% increase, selling 55,000 copies. All thanks go to Amazon MP3, which sale-priced the 2008 set for 99-cents for one day only on Dec. 19. It shouldn't be surprising then to know that 95% of the album's sales last week were from downloads -- likely nearly all from Amazon. It's also the "Now" set's best sales week ever, trumping the 44,000 it moved in the week ending Dec. 21, 2008. Then again, isn't it natural that a bargain-barrel price would yield a record-high sales frame?
-- "Pitch Perfect" - The soundtrack to the film soars back onto the chart, reentering at No. 45 with 32,000 sold and a 610% gain in sales. Credit the lift to a one-two punch of the movie's DVD hitting retailers on Dec. 18, plus, a new deluxe edition of the soundtrack that was released the same day.
-- The Beatles - Following the iTunes Store's sale and promotion of a number of Beatles albums, an array of the Fab Four's efforts post big gains. All of the group's studio albums (except "The Beatles (White Album)") were marked down to $9.99, as was its mega-selling greatest hits "1." In turn, both "1" and "Abbey Road" return to the Billboard 200 this week, at Nos. 117 and 172, respectively. The titles sold 12,000 (up 229%) and 8,000 (up 152%).
"1" was the band's best-selling download set last week, shifting just over 7,000 copies (up 753% digitally).
There was a time when the Beatles' catalog, rather famously, was hardly ever sale priced. But that was before the act went digital. (Still, it's not often the band's material is discounted, so this still an event.)
In the olden days -- pre-digital -- you'd be hard-pressed to find a Beatles CD selling for less than $18. Things are a bit different today. For example, the physical CD version of "1" has a list price of $18.99, but can be had for $13.99 at Amazon.com. Most of the Beatles' studio CDs on Amazon.com sell for a sale price of $13.88. No Beatles titles are priced lower.
All that said, it's still rare to find a Beatles album selling for under $10 anywhere, which makes iTunes' promotion all the more impressive.
-- Kelly Clarkson - The singer's "Stronger" album crosses the 1 million total sales mark this week, giving the original "American Idol" winner her first million-seller since her second effort, 2004's "Breakaway" (6.3 million). "Stronger" sold another 8,000 copies this past week (reentering at No. 173, up 64%), bringing its total sum to a wee bit over 1 million.
After "Breakaway," Clarkson issued 2007's "My December" and 2009's "All I Ever Wanted." They have sold 836,000 and 961,000, respectively. The diva's debut album, 2003's "Thankful," is also in the million club, with 2.8 million sold.