Susan Boyle's "I Dreamed a Dream" holds at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart for a fifth consecutive week, selling another 510,000 copies according to Nielsen SoundScan ... So far, the set has shifted 2,982,000 copies in America. With just one more tracking week left in the year, "Dream" may overtake Taylor Swift's "Fearless" as the year's top selling album in the U.S. ... Meanwhile, Mary J. Blige's new "Stronger With Each Tear" settles for a No. 2 debut on the Billboard 200 with a still handsome 330,000 copies sold.
Susan Boyle's "I Dreamed a Dream" continues its stranglehold of the Billboard 200 chart as it remains locked at No. 1 for a fifth consecutive week. In the tracking week that ended Dec. 27, the album sold 510,000 (down 23%) in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan. So far, the set has shifted 2,982,000 copies in America.
"Dream" has sold more than half a million copies in each of its first five weeks of release -- something only four albums have done since SoundScan began tracking data in 1991. The Beatles' "1" did it in its first six weeks, while Garth Brooks' "Sevens" and Backstreet Boys' "Black & Blue" each managed 500,000-plus frames in their first five weeks.
With just one more tracking week left in the year, "Dream" may overtake Taylor Swift's "Fearless" as the year's top selling album in the U.S. Swift's "Fearless" has sold 3,157,000 in 2009 -- thus, the gap between the two is down to just 175,000.
Because of a quirk in the calendar, instead of 52 tracking weeks in 2009, there are 53. The final week of 2009 will reflect sales data for the week ending Jan. 3. Because four out of the seven days in that week fall in 2009, the full week gets credited to 2009.
Believe it or not, with the continued domination of "I Dreamed a Dream," Boyle is the first artist in the Billboard 200's 53-year chart history to enter the list at No. 1 with a debut album and spend five consecutive weeks at the summit. In second place are Lauryn Hill (1998) and Ashanti (2002), each with three weeks in charge out of the gate with "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" and "Ashanti," respectively.
Because Boyle continues to dominate the Billboard 200, a superstar diva is forced to sit on the sidelines again this week: Mary J. Blige's "Stronger With Each Tear" debuts at No. 2 with 330,000 copies. Her arrival comes one week after Alicia Keys' "The Element of Freedom" bowed at No. 2 behind Boyle with 417,000.
This is Blige's third studio album in a row to start with more than 300,000 sold. Her last set, "Growing Pains," launched at No. 1 with 629,000 in December of 2007, while "The Breakthrough" debuted at No. 1 with 727,000 in December of 2005.
Blige is the ninth woman in SoundScan's 18-year history to see at least three albums all debut with an opening sales week of 300,000 or more.
"Stronger" is her 10th top 10 album on the Billboard 200 and her seventh set to reach the top two slots. It fares better on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, where it starts at the summit. Now with nine No. 1s on the latter chart, Blige trails only Aretha Franklin (10 No. 1s) for most No. 1s among women in the R&B/Hip-Hop tally's 44-year history
Blige's "Stronger" is one of just two debuts within the top 40 of the Billboard 200 this week, as the year slowly comes to a close. The lone other entry comes from the "We Are Young Money" collaborations album featuring artists on Lil Wayne's Young Money label. It debuts at No. 9 with 142,000.
Next week's batch of debuts will look especially barren, as no major releases were issued this week. The next big arrival will be Ke$ha's "Animal" on Tuesday, Jan. 5.
That said, here's a recap of the rest of this week's top 10 albums on the Billboard 200 ... Andrea Bocelli's "My Christmas" holds at No. 3 with 284,000 (down 27%) while Keys' "Freedom" falls two slots to No. 4 with 280,000 (down 33%). Swift's "Fearless" moves down one rung to No. 5 with 224,000 (down 6%), while Lady Gaga's "The Fame" stays put at No. 6 with 169,000 (up 20%). Justin Bieber's "My World" EP climbs from No. 8 to No. 7 with 157,000 (up 23%) while Carrie Underwood's "Play On" slides three slots to No. 8 with 153,000 (down less than 1%). Closing out the top 10 is Michael Buble's "Crazy Love," down three positions, with 137,000 (down 3%).
Just outside the top 10, Eminem's "Relapse" zips back up the Billboard 200, flying from No. 113 to No. 11 with a 713% gain and 128,000 sold last week after it was reissued with extra tracks. It marks the album's best sales week since its third week of release back in June.
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Dec. 27) totaled 17.14 million units, up 13% compared to the sum last week (15.14 million) and up 1% compared to the same sales week of 2008 (17.03 million). Year to date album sales stand at 374.6 million, down 13% compared to the same total at this point last year (428.4 million).
Album units, current chart week: 17.14 million units
UP 13% from last week's charts: 15.14 million units
UP 1% from same week, 2008: 17.03 million units
This week: the top 16 albums on the Billboard 200 sell more than 100,000 copies.
This week last year on The Billboard 200: Taylor Swift's "Fearless" was fixed at No. 1 with 262,000 while the chart's highest debut came at No. 81 with Brutha's self-titled album (21,000 copies).
A LOOK AHEAD
No new major releases bowed this week, so the number of debuts on next week's Billboard 200 chart may be rather slim.
Next week's Billboard 200 will reflect the final -- and 53rd -- week of the 2009. There were only 52 tracking weeks in the 2008 year.