Vampire Weekend Debuts At No. 1 On Billboard 200

Best Bets Albums 2013, Vampire Weekend

Soren Solkar Starbird

As predicted, Vampire Weekend notches its second No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 as Modern Vampires of the City debuts atop the list this week. The set sold 134,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, which is a record-high sales week for the act.

The group's last album, Contra, previously held the act's one-week sales record when it started at No. 1 in January 2010 with 124,000.

Modern Vampires of the City is the 19th independently distributed album to reach No. 1 since the Billboard 200 began incorporating SoundScan sales data in 1991. The set is released on XL Recordings with physical distribution to non-indie retailers via Warner Music's indie-distribution arm Alternative Distribution Alliance, and the rest handled by XL on its own.

The new album is the first indie set to debut at No. 1 this year. The last indie to start at No. 1 was Jason Aldean's Night Train on the Nov. 3, 2012, chart. A few weeks before Aldean, Mumford & Sons' Babel opened at No. 1. It returned to the top this year after it won the Grammy Award for album of the year.

At No. 2 this week is country legend George Strait with his arriving Love Is Everything. It sold 125,000 in its first frame, which surpasses the start of Strait's last studio release, 2011's Here For a Good Time (91,000). (Strait's first week sales figure was revised by SoundScan on the morning of May 22 from 120,000 to 125,000.)

Love Is Everything is Strait's 18th top 10 album on the Billboard 200, tying him with Paul McCartney for the fourth-most top 10s among male artists in history. Only Frank Sinatra (33), Elvis Presley (27) and Bob Dylan (20) have logged more top 10s among the gents.

Over on the Top Country Albums chart, Love Is Everything extends Strait’s record for the most No. 1s on that list, upping his total to 25. In a distant second place are Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, who each have 15 No. 1s.

At No. 3 on the Billboard 200 is the third and final debut in the top 10: Demi Lovato's Demi. The singer/actress' fourth album is her fourth straight set to debut in the top four, and it scores her best sales week yet (110,000).

Lovato's last album, 2011's Unbroken, started at No. 4 with 96,000. She previously opened at No. 1 with her sophomore set, Here We Go Again, in 2009. (It debuted with 108,000, her previous best sales week.) Her first album, 2008's Don't Forget, debuted and peaked at No. 2 with an 89,000 launch.

As for the rest of the top 10 this week, last week's No. 1, Lady Antebellum's Golden, falls to No. 5 with 56,000 (down 67%). Right above it is the soundtrack to the film "The Great Gatsby," which slips from No. 2 to No. 4 in its second week with 95,000 (down just 30%).

The Now 46 compilation falls 3-6 (52,000; down 43%), Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience descends 6-7 (44,000; down 34%), and Michael Bublé's To Be Loved dips 4-8 (40,000; down 53%). Pistol Annies' Annie Up drops 5-9 (30,000; down 64%), and Blake Shelton's Based on a True Story . . . steps down 9-10 (28,000; down 26%).

On the Digital Songs chart, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Can't Hold Us" is still tops, selling another 231,000 downloads (down 4%). Charging fast right behind is Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," featuring T.I. & Pharrell, which vaults 23-2 with 206,000 (up 204%). Last week, the song was performed on NBC's "The Voice" (May 14) and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" (May 16).

P!nk's "Just Give Me a Reason," featuring Nate Ruess, slips 2-3 with 193,000 (down 16%); Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise" holds at No. 4 with 189,000 (up 25%); and Selena Gomez's "Come & Get It" climbs 6-5 with 164,000 (up 15%).

Falling 3-6 is Timberlake's "Mirrors" with 156,000 (down 7%), while Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" is steady at No. 7 with 141,000 (up less than 1%). Also standing still is Icona Pop's "I Love It," featuring Charli XCX, though it's up by less than 1%. Jumping 19-9 is Lana Del Rey's "Young and Beautiful" with 121,000 (up 57%), thanks to exposure gleaned from its use in the film "The Great Gatsby" and on its soundtrack.

Completing the top 10 is Daft Punk's "Get Lucky," featuring Pharrell Williams, which rises 17-10 with 118,000 (up 45%).

Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending May 19) totaled 5.10 million units, down 8% compared with the sum last week (5.6 million) and up less than 1% compared with the comparable sales week of 2012 (5.09 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 111.4 million, down 5% compared with the same total at this point last year (117.4 million).
    
Digital track sales this past week totaled 24.4 million downloads, up 1% compared with last week (24.3 million) and down 2% stacked next to the comparable week of 2012 (25 million). Year-to-date track sales are at 531.2 million, down 3% compared with the same total at this point last year (545.3 million).

Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2012 when: John Mayer's Born and Raised gave the singer/guitarist his third No. 1, as it debuted atop the list with 219,000. The second-highest entry was Slash's Apocalyptic Love, featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, at No. 4 with 38,000.