Though Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" returns (yet again) to No. 1 on the Billboard 200, the big chart news belongs to Marvin Sapp, who earns the highest-charting gospel album on the Billboard 200 as his "Here I Am" debuts at No. 2 . . . The lone other new entry in the top 10 this week belongs to Razor & Tie's new rock compilation "The Edge," which bows at No. 4.
While Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" returns to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for a fourth nonconsecutive week (93,000; down 11%), the big album chart news is the arrival of Marvin Sapp's "Here I Am" at No. 2 with 76,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
It's not only Sapp's highest-charting album, but the best-ranked gospel album in the 54-year history of the Billboard 200.
Sapp's former high-water mark was his previous set, "Thirsty," which hit No. 28. Until this week, no gospel album had gone higher than No. 3—a rank last reached by a gospel set when God's Property From Kirk Franklin's Nu Nation debuted and peaked at No. 3 on June 14, 1997, with "God's Property."
Sapp's "Thirsty" spent 81 weeks on the Billboard 200 and has sold 712,000 to date—an impressive number for a gospel set. Its long chart run and handsome sales figure is partially owed to his surprise smash single "Never Would Have Made It." The tune peaked at No. 14 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and lingered for 56 weeks on the list.
As previously mentioned, Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" scoots back to No. 1 with 93,000 (down 11%). It's the first time a No. 1 album has sold less than 100,000 copies in seven months. The last time a No. 1 title sold fewer than 100,000 was when Reba McEntire's "Keep On Loving You" debuted atop the list with 96,000 in the sales week ending Aug. 23, 2009.
Last week's No. 1 on the Billboard 200, Ludacris' "Battle of the Sexes," falls to No. 3 with 61,000 (down 55%) in its sophomore week on the tally.
The chart's second-highest debut comes from the various-artists rock compilation "The Edge," which begins at No. 4 with 53,000. The 32-track Razor & Tie set features Billboard rock chart hits from the likes of Godsmack, Finger Eleven and Thirty Seconds to Mars. A good deal of the album's sales were generated via a direct-response TV ad campaign, though the set was also available through traditional retailers.
"The Edge" is the only other new entry in the top 10 this week, as the White Stripes' new live set "Under Great White Northern Lights" is the tally's third-best debut, but it just misses the top tier. It starts at No. 11 with 29,000.
Lady Gaga's "The Fame" moves up three slots to No. 5 with 48,000 (up 2%), Sade's "Soldier of Love" holds steady at No. 6 with 40,000 (down 23%), and Jimi Hendrix's "Valleys of Neptune" falls three rungs to No. 7 with a little more than 39,000 (down 59%). The Black Eyed Peas' "The E.N.D." rises one spot to No. 8 with nearly 39,000 (down 9%), Gorillaz' "Plastic Beach" drops seven spaces to No. 9 with 38,000 (down 66%), and Justin Bieber's "My World" climbs one position to No. 10 with 34,000 (up 21%).
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending March 21) totaled 5.7 million units, down 7% compared with the sum last week (6.09 million) and down 8% compared with the comparable sales week of 2009 (6.13 million).
AND NEXT WEEK:
On next week's Billboard 200, look for Justin Bieber to net his first No. 1 as "My World 2.0" is on track to open atop the list. Industry prognosticators suggest the 16-year-old singer's second album could sell around 250,000 by week's end on Sunday, March 28.
If that projection holds, it will easily be the recent Billboard cover man's best sales week, besting the 157,000 his debut album sold during Christmas week of 2009. That set, titled "My World," peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 and returned to the top 10 this week (No. 10 with 33,000, up 21%).
"My World 2.0's" first single, "Baby" (featuring Ludacris), became the young artist's first top 10 effort on the Billboard Hot 100 when it debuted and peaked at No. 5 in February.
What other albums will join Bieber's "My World 2.0" next week in the debut parade? We'll see the "Now That's What I Call Music! 33" compilation start high in addition to Monica's "Still Standing." Other sets looking for notable starts include She & Him's "Volume 2" and Goldfrapp's "Head First."
Album units, current chart week: 5.6 million units
DOWN 7% from last week's charts: 6.09 million units
DOWN 8% from the comparable week in 2009: 6.13 million units
This week: No album sells more than 100,000 copies.
This week last year on the Billboard 200: Kelly Clarkson's "All I Ever Wanted" remained at No. 1 for a second week, selling 90,000 copies (down 65%) while the chart's highest debut came from Gorilla Zoe's "Don't Feed the Animals" at No. 8 with 31,000.
A LOOK AHEAD
Among the albums released this week, due on next week's charts: Justin Bieber's "My World 2.0," the "Now 33" compilation, Monica's "Still Standing," Goldfrapp's "Head First," She & Him's "Volume 2," the Bird and the Bee's "Interpreting the Masters Vol. 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates," the Scorpions' "Sting in the Tail," Pet Shop Boys' "Pandemonium Live" and the Dillinger Escape Plan's "Option Paralysis."
Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2009 when: The "Now 30" compilation debuted at No. 1 with 146,000 and the "Hannah Montana: The Movie" soundtrack started at No. 2 with 139,000.