Amazon MP3's sale pricing pushes set to the top

As forecast last week, Bruno Mars claims his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, as "Unorthodox Jukebox" jumps one slot to the top of the tally. The set, largely fueled by Amazon MP3 sale pricing, sold 95,000 copies in the week ending March 3, for a gain of 96% compared with the previous week (according to Nielsen SoundScan).

On Feb. 26, the digital retailer offered a bevy of albums for $1.99, including Mars' latest and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "The Heist."

Discounted sales of "Unorthodox Jukebox" and "The Heist"--and all of last week's other Amazon MP3 $1.99 titles-count toward their weekly total because the albums have been out for more than four weeks. Billboard doesn't count sales of albums priced for less than $3.49 in their first four weeks of release.

After the two albums' one-day $1.99 offering, the price of "Unorthodox Jukebox" and "The Heist" rose to $3.99 for the rest of the week.

"Unorthodox Jukebox" might not have been No. 1 this week had it not been for Amazon MP3. Of its total sales, 64,000 were downloads. That's about 46,000 more than what the album has been selling in weekly downloads, on average, during the past two months (18,000).

So, subtract "Unorthodox Jukebox"'s estimated Amazon MP3 gain of 46,000 for the week and we're left with 48,000. That would be slightly less than what the No. 2 album sells this week: the debuting Amok from supergroup Atoms for Peace (50,000).

Atoms for Peace consists of Radiohead's Thom Yorke, Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea, producer Nigel Godrich, drummer Joey Waronker and percussionist Mauro Refosco. While Mars blocks Atoms for Peace from a No. 1 debut, the electronic/rock act can take solace in a No. 1 bow on Rock Albums, Independent Albums and Dance/Electronic Albums.

Slow Ride: With "Unorthodox Jukebox"'s ascent to No. 1 in its 12th week, Mars claims the unusual distinction of the slowest climb to No. 1 since 2005. That year, on March 5, Ray Charles' "Genius Loves Company" climbed to No. 1 after 25 weeks on the tally.

It's rare that an album moves to No. 1, as opposed to debuting there. (Mars' set is only the sixth title to climb to the top since the start of 2010. Earlier this year, the "Les Miserables" soundtrack hit the top in its third week.)

Dating back to when the chart started using SoundScan data on May 25, 1991, there have been 568 albums that first reached No. 1. Of that sum, only 75 of them didn't debut atop the chart. And, of those 75 albums, there were just 19 that took more than 10 weeks to get to No. 1.

The SoundScan-era record for the longest march to No. 1 belongs to the soundtrack to "O Brother, Where Are Thou?," which topped the list in its 63rd week on the chart.

Oscar Applause: Jumping four slots to No. 10 on the Billboard 200 is Adele's "21," selling 27,000 with a gain of 17%. While the album doesn't feature her Academy Award-winning song "Skyfall," the set clearly benefits from Adele's performance of the tune on the Oscars (Feb. 24). This is the 2-year-old album's first time back in the top 10 since Nov. 3, 2012, when it ranked at No. 9. (Adele's Oscar performance was her first on TV-or anywhere-in more than a year. She last sang onstage during the BRIT Awards on Feb. 21, 2012.)

As for the song "Skyfall," after a full week of impact post-Oscars, it charges 32-10 on the Digital Songs chart, selling 105,000 downloads in the week ending March 3 (up 88%). The title track of the James Bond film logs its best sales week since Dec. 1, 2012 (120,000), reflecting the first full week "Skyfall" was in U.S. theaters.

Meanwhile, the "Les Miz" soundtrack, which was feted in an ensemble performance at the Oscars, gains by 59% and moves 35-16 on the Billboard 200. The album's best-selling track last week was the iconic "I Dreamed a Dream," which sold 15,000 downloads (up 93%).

Oscar performances by Shirley Bassey and Barbra Streisand also triggered increases for the songs they performed on the show. Bassey's "Goldfinger" moved 3,000 (up 212%) while Streisand's "The Way We Were" climbed 29% to 3,000.

Next Week: Luke Bryan is headed for his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200. Sources say his new compilation "Spring Break...Here to Party" may sell slightly more than 100,000 copies.