Last week's race for the No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 between Ariana Grande and Tamar Braxton was nothing compared to the showdown on this week's tally.
Country star Keith Urban debuts at No. 1 with "Fuse," edging out the also-arriving "Kiss Land" by the Weeknd at No. 2. Less than 3,000 copies separate the albums, which enter the chart with rounded figures of 98,000 and 95,000, respectively, according to Nielsen SoundScan. (The latest sales tracking week ended Sunday, Sept. 15.)
That's the closest margin between Nos. 1 and 2 since early January, when less than 2,000 copies separated the "Les Misérables" soundtrack at No. 1 (92,000) and Mumford & Sons' "Babel" at No. 2 (91,000).
Last week, industry sources had forecast Urban would likely debut at No. 1, but it would be a close race between he and the Weeknd (the stage name of R&B singer Abel Tesfave).
Last Wednesday (Sept. 11), sources suggested that "Fuse" was aiming to sell 100,000 to 110,000, but by Friday, that sum had shrunk to 100,000 even. Meanwhile, the Weeknd's album went from 90,000 to 100,000 on Wednesday to a solid 95,000 on Friday.
During release week, Urban performed on NBC's "Today" (Sept. 10, the day of the album's release) and ABC's "The View" and CBS' " Late Show With David Letterman" (both on Sept. 11). As for the Weeknd, he played "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Sept. 12 and toured through the week, playing two shows in California (Berkeley and Santa Barbara) and one in Seattle.
Urban's debut of 98,000 means the chart’s top-selling album sells fewer than 100,000 copies for the first time after six weeks. The No. 1 seller last dipped below 100,000 on the Aug. 10 chart, when Selena Gomez's "Stars Dance" entered with 97,000.
For Urban, "Fuse" is his fifth top 10 album and second No. 1 after 2009's "Defying Gravity” bowed atop the list with 172,000. ("Defying Gravity" also narrowly beat a No. 2 debut that week: Prince's "Lotus Flow3r/MPLSOUND/Elix3r," which started with 168,000.)
Urban last charted with 2010's "Get Closer," which debuted and peaked at No. 7 with a 162,000 start. "Fuse" marks the "American Idol" judge's lowest sales start for an album since 2002's "Golden Road" drove onto the chart with 67,000 at No. 11.
As for the Weeknd, while "Kiss Land" is his first full-length studio effort, he did chart with one previous set, 2012's "Trilogy." The compilation of three previously released mixtapes debuted at No. 4 with 86,000 on the Dec. 1, 2012, chart. It has sold 385,000 to date.
At No. 3 on the Billboard 200 this week, 2 Chainz follows his No. 1 debut effort, "Based on a T.R.U. Story," with a second top five hit, "B.O.A.T.S. II #METIME." The new album arrives at No. 3, selling 63,000 copies. "Based on a T.R.U. Story" sold more than twice as much in its first frame, shifting 147,000 units.
However, the same week "Based" opened at No. 1, 2 Chainz was also sitting atop the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart with the album's single "No Lie." Comparably, his new album's current single, "Feds Watching," has yet to climb higher than No. 20 on that chart. But 2 Chainz does open at No. 1 on the Rap Albums chart, his second leader on the list.
Luke Bryan's "Crash My Party" rises one rung on the Billboard 200 to No. 4, selling 53,000 (down 22%).
Janelle Monáe secures her best sales week and first top 10 album as "The Electric Lady" bows at No. 5 with 47,000. The set, which is her second full-length effort, follows her debut album, "The Archandroid: Suites II and III." It arrived in 2010 and debuted and peaked at No. 17 with a start of 21,000.
One rung behind Monáe are Arctic Monkeys, who claim their best sales week since 2007 and highest-charting album ever. The British group's new album, "AM," enters at No. 6 with 42,000. The start beats the No. 7 peak of 2007's "Favourite Worst Nightmare," which still owns the band's largest sales frame: 44,000 in its debut week.
Arctic Monkeys are currently enjoying their first Alternative airplay hit since 2006, as the “AM” single "Do I Wanna Know?" rises from 40-39 on the chart this week. The band's only other Alternative hit is its breakthrough single, "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor," which peaked at No. 7 in 2006.
The sixth, and final, arrival in the Billboard's top 10 is Sheryl Crow's "Feels Like Home." The set, which is the singer/songwriter's first country effort, bows at No. 7 with 36,000. On the Top Country Albums chart, it opens at No. 3 behind Urban and Bryan, respectively.
On the Billboard 200, "Feels Like Home" marks Crow's ninth top 10 album, and all eight of her studio efforts have reached the top 10. (She also scored a top 10 title with her 2004 greatest-hits album, "The Very Best of Sheryl Crow.")
Last week's No. 2 album, Tamar Braxton's "Love and War," falls to No. 8 with 35,000 (down 70%). Last week's No. 1, Ariana Grande's "Yours Truly," drops to No. 9 with 31,000 (down 77%). Closing out the top 10 is John Legend's "Love in the Future," dipping 4-10 with 30,000 (down 55%).
Over on the Digital Songs chart, Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" soars from No. 10 to No. 1 with 477,000 downloads sold—the second-largest sales week of the year for a song. The track rises to the top with a 312% gain in the wake of its Sept. 9 music video premiere. Only one song this year has sold more in a week: Katy Perry's "Roar," which debuted at No. 1 with 557,000. This week, "Roar" slips from No. 1 to No. 2 with 331,000, down 11%.
Lorde's "Royals" is also pushed back one position, despite a sales gain of 17%. It falls 2-3 with 263,000. Avicii's "Wake Me Up!" is forced down as well, though it gains by 3%. It moves 3-4 with 202,000.
Lady Gaga's "Applause" rises 6-5 with 184,000 (up 15%) following the diva's performance of the track on ABC's "Good Morning America" (Sept. 9) and stopping by Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live" (Sept. 11). Eminem's "Berzerk" slips 4-6 with 165,000 (down 12%). Jay Z's "Holy Grail," featuring Justin Timberlake, is steady at No. 7 with 146,000 (down 8%). Drake's "Hold On, We're Going Home," featuring Majid Jordan, rises one slot to No. 8 with 143,000 (up 13%).
Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," featuring Pharrell and T.I., descends four positions to No. 9 with 123,000 (down 27%). Rounding out the top 10 is Lana Del Rey & Cedric Gervais' "Summertime Sadness," moving 8-10 with 118,000 (down 7%).
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Sept. 15) totaled 4.5 million units, down 10% compared with the sum last week (5.06 million) and down 11% compared with the comparable sales week of 2012 (5.11 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 195.8 million, down 6% compared with the same total at this point last year (207.3 million).
Digital track sales this past week totaled 22.1 million downloads, down 1% compared with last week (22.3 million) and down 4% stacked next to the comparable week of 2012 (22.9 million). Year-to-date track sales are at 932.4 million, down 3% compared with the same total at this point last year (962.4 million).
Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2012 when: P!nk earned her first No. 1 album with "The Truth About Love," as it bowed with 280,000. It was one of six new albums that started in the top 10, with the compilation "Good Music Cruel Summer" starting at No. 2 with 205,000.