From "Britain's Got Talent" and global YouTube phenomenon to breaking records on the Billboard 200, Susan Boyle's "I Dreamed a Dream" arrives with a stunning 701,000 copies sold in its first week—the best sales frame for an album in 2009. It also marks the best opening week for a female artist's debut album since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991 . . . Her set was just one of a number of high-profile releases that reached retailers last week, including offerings from Adam Lambert, Rihanna and Lady Gaga . . . All told, the top 12 albums on the Billboard 200 this week each sell more than 100,000 copies.
YouTube sensation and former "Britain's Got Talent" contestant Susan Boyle's debut album, "I Dreamed a Dream," opens at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 701,000 copies sold in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan—the best sales week for an album in the United States this year.
2009's previous high-water mark came when Eminem's "Relapse" sold 608,000 in its opening week. In fact, Boyle's sales frame is the best the chart has seen since AC/DC's "Black Ice" bowed with 784,000 upon its release in October 2008.
Boyle's SYCO/Columbia effort was released last Monday, Nov. 23, and the sales tracking week ended at the close of business on Sunday, Nov. 29.
The arrival of "I Dreamed a Dream" also marks the best opening week for a female artist's debut album since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991. Boyle beats out Ashanti for the title, as her self-titled debut began with 503,000 in 2002.
All told, in SoundScan's tracking history, only one other debut album has had a bigger opening week: Snoop Dogg's "Doggystyle" barked with 803,000 in its first week back in 1993.
Boyle wasn't the only artist to drop an album during the very busy Thanksgiving shopping week, for the reality TV star led a packed release schedule. 2009 "American Idol" runner-up Adam Lambert's debut, "For Your Entertainment," starts at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 with 198,000 copies. Last week, "Idol" champ Kris Allen saw his self-titled debut bow at No. 11 with 80,000.
Rihanna's fourth album, "Rated R," opens at No. 4 with 181,000—the young diva's best sales week yet. Her previous best came when her third album, "Good Girl Gone Bad," started with 162,000 at No. 2 in 2007.
Lady Gaga's new eight-song quasi-EP "The Fame Monster" bows at No. 5 with 174,000 while her first album, "The Fame," rises from No. 34 to No. 6 (151,000; up 429%). The total for the original "Fame" jumps this week because it combines sales of her debut set with a two-disc deluxe "The Fame" package that contains both "The Fame" and the new "Monster" disc.
As for holdovers in the top 10, Andrea Bocelli's "My Christmas" stands strong at No. 2 for a third week as it shifts 218,000 (up 18%) while Miley Cyrus' Wal-Mart-exclusive EP "The Time of Our Lives" vaults from No. 29 to No. 7 with 150,000 (up 385%) thanks in part to its $5 sale tag at the retailer last week. Taylor Swift's "Fearless" moves from No. 10 to No. 8 with 125,000 (up 48%), Carrie Underwood's "Play On" holds at No. 9 with 124,000 (up 44%), and Norah Jones' "The Fall" falls from No. 3 to No. 10 with 110,000 (down 39%).
Last week's Billboard 200 No. 1, John Mayer's "Battle Studies," slips to No. 13 in its second week with 92,000 (down 68%).
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Nov. 29) totaled 10.7 million units, up 34% compared with the sum last week (8 million) and down 12% compared with the Thanksgiving sales week of 2008 (12.2 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 320.2 million, down 13% compared with the same total at this point last year (369.9 million).
Album units, current chart week: 10.7 million units
UP 34% from last week's charts: 8 million units
DOWN 12% from same week, 2008: 12.2 million units
This week: The top 12 albums on the Billboard 200 sell more than 100,000 copies.
This week last year on the Billboard 200: Kanye West's "808s & Heartbreak" reigned as the Thanksgiving week champ, debuting at No. 1 with 450,000 copies. Taylor Swift's "Fearless" climbed from No. 4 to No. 2 with 267,000 and a 23% gain while Guns N' Roses' long-delayed "Chinese Democracy" bowed at No. 3 with 261,000. The previous week's No. 1, Beyonce's "I Am . . . Sasha Fierce," fell to No. 4 in its second week with 257,000 (down 47%). Ludacris' "Theater of the Mind" (No. 5 with 213,000) and the Killers' "Day & Age" (No. 6 with 193,000) were the remaining debuts in the top 10.
A LOOK AHEAD
Among the albums released this week, due on next week's charts: R. Kelly's "Untitled," Juvenile's "Cocky and Confident," Allison Iraheta's "Just Like You," the soundtrack to "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" and the Bravery's "Stir the Blood."
Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2008 when: Britney Spears' big top "Circus" bowed at No. 1 with 505,000 while Akon's "Freedom" was the lone other debut in the top 10 at No. 7 with 111,000. The previous week's topper, Kanye West's "808s and Heartbreak," fell to No. 4 with 142,000 (down 69%).