His 'Spring Break' set is one of few single-act compilations to top tally in SoundScan era

Country star Luke Bryan logs his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 as his new release, "Spring Break...Here to Party," debuts atop the list. It sold 150,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and marks his best sales week yet.

Bryan previously topped out at No. 2 with "Tailgates & Tanlines," his last studio effort, which arrived in 2011. It achieved his then-largest sales frame when it bowed with 145,000.

"Spring Break" is mostly a compilation of tracks previously released on Bryan's four earlier "Spring Break"-themed EPs, all of which were only available as downloads. Released between 2009 and 2012, the four EPs have sold a combined 145,000, according to SoundScan. None of the tracks on those releases were promoted as radio singles.

Unlike the four EPs, the new "Spring Break" is available as both a download and CD. Of its sales last week, half were downloads. Smartly, the four EPs were all removed from retail availability at the end of January and early February. Thus, any fans looking for Bryan's summery tunes had to turn to the new album.

Bryan is on tour and recording his fourth studio album, the follow-up to "Tailgates & Tanlines." He's slated to co-host the Academy of Country Music Awards on April 7 with Blake Shelton, and will also perform on the CBS show.

As "Spring Break" is essentially a compilation of previously released recordings, it's interesting to note how infrequently single-artist compilations reach No. 1. The last time such a release hit the top was on Nov. 14, 2009, when the Michael Jackson soundtrack to "This Is It" debuted atop the list.

Since SoundScan began powering the Billboard 200 on May 25, 1991, only a handful of single-artist compilations have topped the tally. A mere 16 conventional compilations have hit No. 1. Of those, 13 were standard greatest-hits sets, while the remaining three were left-of-center packages like Bryan's. Aside from his themed collection, Jennifer Lopez's remix compilation "J to tha L-O! The Remixes" spent two nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1 in 2002. Additionally, while Jackson's This Is It was technically a soundtrack, it also served as a best-of release. It featured 14 of his greatest hits, plus two new versions of the then-new title track, which ran during the film's end credits.

 

From The Vaults: At No. 2 on the Billboard 200 is another debut, but by an artist of a different vintage: Jimi Hendrix. The late rock icon scores his highest-charting album in 44 years, as "People, Hell and Angels" arrives at No. 2 with 72,000 sold.

The legendary singer/songwriter/guitarist died Sept. 18, 1970, and the new album contains 12 previously unreleased studio recordings that Hendrix completed between 1968 and 1970. Hendrix last charted in the top two when "Electric Ladyland" spent two weeks at No. 1 in 1968 (Nov. 16-23). He most recently visited the top five when another from-the-vaults release, 2010's "Valleys of Neptune," debuted and peaked at No. 4 with a 95,000 start.

Before this week, the last time a posthumously released album reached the top two was in 2009, when Jackson's This Is It spent two weeks in the region. Notably, in 2012, Whitney Houston's "Whitney: The Greatest Hits" spent three weeks at No. 2 following her death that year. However, that album was originally released in 2000.

It's uncommon for releases like Hendrix's--a collection of assembled archival studio recordings--to chart as high as it did on the Billboard 200. The last such release to hit the top two was Johnny Cash's American V: A Hundred Highways in 2006. It debuted at No. 1 on the July 22 chart. The country icon recorded the vocals for the set before his death in 2003, and producer Rick Rubin later compiled the tracks for release.

 

Looking Ahead: On next week's Billboard 200, rock legend David Bowie looks like he'll land his highest-charting album ever, as sources indicate "The Next Day" should debut at No. 2 with around 80,000. Bon Jovi might also grab its fifth No. 1 with "What About Now" (85,000-90,000)

Meanwhile, the week after that, watch for Justin Timberlake's "The 20/20 Experience" (due March 19) to blow in at No. 1 with more than 500,000. Sources suggest that its half-million forecast could grow even larger once the set reaches retail.