While there was a lot of excitement on last week's Billboard 200 thanks to the impact from the Grammy Awards, things get back to (dreary) normal on this week's tally.
Mumford & Sons' "Babel" remains at No. 1 for a fifth nonconsecutive week, but sells just 63,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That's down 66% compared with last week, when it jumped back to the top of the list with 185,000.
"Babel"'s sum this week is the lowest sales week for a No. 1 album since Zac Brown Band's "Uncaged" moved a light 48,000 on Aug. 11, 2012.
On the bright side, "Babel" marks the longest run at No. 1 for an album by a duo or group since 2004. That year, OutKast's "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" wrapped a seven-week nonconsecutive rule at No. 1 on the Feb. 7 chart. (Like "Babel," OutKast's set also won the Grammy for album of the year. However, "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" didn't return to No. 1 after its win.)
The last group to reign for more than five weeks at No. 1 was Creed, with "Weathered" in late 2001 and early 2002. The album tallied eight consecutive frames at No. 1 between Dec. 8, 2001, and Jan. 26, 2002.
While the rest of this week's top 10 is pretty ho-hum, there are a few bright spots:
Soulful rock band Alabama Shakes returns to the top 10 for the first time in almost a year, as "Boys & Girls" jumps 20-6 with 33,000 (up 10%). It's the set's second-largest sales week yet, and comes in the wake of the act's performance on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" on Feb. 16. (The show was given an encore airing, although in edited form, a week later on Feb. 23.)
The band last sold more in a week on the chart dated April 28, 2012, when the album vaulted 16-8 with 43,000 in its second week. It debuted at No. 16 with a digital-exclusive title, before jumping to No. 8 with both digital and physical sales. The group's 2013 U.S. tour launched March 1 in Boise, Idaho, and has dates lined up through March 16. After that, the band heads down to Mexico and South America, before returning stateside for a series of shows and festivals this summer.
One more album returns to the top 10 this week: Rihanna's "Unapologetic" zips 15-9 with 29,000 (though it's down 29% in sales). The set was last in the top 10 on the Jan. 12 chart.
Looking ahead: Bruno Mars could notch his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 next week-thanks to Amazon MP3.
On Feb. 26, the digital retailer offered a bevy of albums for $1.99, including Mars' latest, "Unorthodox Jukebox." Sources say the title could jump to No. 1 on next week's Billboard 200, thanks to robust sales from Amazon MP3.
It's a bit early to predict exactly how much the album could sell in the week ending March 3. That said, don't rule out a figure in the range of 70,000-80,000, which should be enough to fend off the rest of the chart competition. The Feb. 26 release schedule was particularly light on blockbuster titles, so the stage is set for Mars to jump to No. 1. (Discounted sales of "Unorthodox Jukebox" count toward its weekly total because the album has been out for more than four weeks. Billboard doesn't count sales of albums priced below $3.49 in their first four weeks of release.)
At press time, the retailer was selling the album for $3.99. The sale opportunity wasn't lost on Mars, who tweeted a link to the discounted album to his 15.6 million followers on the morning of Feb. 27.
If "Unorthodox Jukebox" goes to No. 1, it will be Mars' first chart-topper. His debut album, "Doo-Wops & Hooligans," reached No. 3, while the new set has so far peaked at No. 2, which is where it debuted.
Other titles that were offered for the one-day-only price of $1.99 include Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "The Heist," Tegan & Sara's "Heartthrob" and Muse's "The 2nd Law." All are expected to make significant sales increases as well.