Singer/songwriter Chris Tomlin claims his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart as his "Burning Lights" opens atop the list with 73,000 sold according to Nielsen SoundScan. The Christian music veteran's new set also arrives at No. 1 on the Christian Albums chart, giving Tomlin his fourth leader on that tally.
Tomlin's opening week is his best sales frame yet, passing up the 63,000 he moved during the Thanksgiving frame of 2010 with "Glory in the Highest: Christmas Songs of Worship." While it's the best week for Tomlin, it's the smallest sales number the No. 1 slot on the Billboard 200 has seen since the Sept. 15, 2012, tally, when fellow Christian act tobyMac bowed atop the list with "Eye on It" (69,000).
That said, "Burning Lights" is only the fourth Christian album to ever hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200. "Eye on It" became the third just last year -- and the first in 15 years.
Before that, you have to scroll back to the fall of 1997, when LeAnn Rimes' "You Light Up My Life -- Inspirational Songs" led the list for three nonconsecutive weeks. A few months earlier, the first Christian No. 1 was Bob Carlisle's fluke hit album "Butterfly Kisses (Shades of Grace)." It spent two straight frames at No. 1 in late June and early July.
Aiding Tomlin's first-week are nontraditional sales generated via churches, this month's huge Passion Conference in Atlanta and pre-orders. The annual Passion Christian gathering drew 60,000 college-aged attendees this year and, according to label sources, was watched by more than 100,000 viewers online.
Collectively, all sales from Passion-related purchases, church sales and the like amounted to 40% of the bow for "Burning Lights." Another 30% came from digital downloads.
One step behind Tomlin is rock band Hollywood Undead. The act charges in at No. 2 with its highest-charting album ever, "Notes From the Underground." The set moved 53,000 in its first week, marking the group's second-largest sales frame. Its best week was when its last album, 2011's "American Tragedy," launched at No. 4 with 66,000. "Notes From the Underground" also gives the band its first No. 1 on the Rock Albums chart, after hitting No. 2 with "American Tragedy."
Last week's No. 1 album, the "Les Miserables" soundtrack, slips to No. 3 with 52,000 (down 44%) while Taylor Swift's "Red" falls one rung to No. 4 with 49,000 (down 29%). Rounding out the top five is the "Pitch Perfect" soundtrack at a new high of No. 5 (up two slots) with 45,000 (down 13%).
In turn, this week marks the first time since 1999 that there have been two non-concert theatrical film soundtracks (that weren't born from a TV series) in the top five. The last time the feat occurred was on the July 17, 1999, chart, when "Wild Wild West" was at No. 4 and "Tarzan" was No. 5.
Just outside the top five this week is Bruno Mars' "Unorthodox Jukebox," which holds at No. 6 with a little more than 42,000 (down 23%).
At No. 7, rock band Black Veil Brides arrives with its best week yet, scoring a 42,000-launch with "Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones." It's the band's highest rank on the tally and best sales stanza, easily surpassing the No. 17 bow of "Set the World on Fire" (23,000) in 2011.
The Lumineers' self-titled album maintains its position at No. 8 with 37,000 (down 28%) while another rock band, Dropkick Murphys, starts at No. 9 with its new album, "Signed and Sealed in Blood" (33,000). It's the second top 10 effort for the latter act, which previously notched a career-high peak of No. 6 with its last album, 2011's "Going Out in Style" (with a 43,000 debut).
Closing out the top 10 is One Direction's "Take Me Home," which slips five rungs with 29,000 (down 52%).
Over on the Digital Songs chart, a new No. 1 has been crowned: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop" (featuring Wanz), jumps 2-1 with 279,000 downloads sold (up 18%). It's the first chart-topper for any of the three artists -- and the first single for the trio to appear on the Digital Songs tally.
The tune concurrently rises 25-23 on the Pop Songs airplay tally (known as Mainstream Top 40 on Billboard.biz) and holds its bullet at No. 17 on the Alternative airplay chart. A week ago, the song jumped to No. 1 for the first time on the On-Demand Songs chart, which monitors the most-streamed songs in the country.
Last week's No. 1, Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble," slips to No. 2 (261,000; down 20%), Will.i.am & Britney Spears' "Scream & Shout" rises 4-3 (189,000; down 7%), and Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven" drops 3-4 (162,000; down 31%). The Lumineers' "Ho Hey" ascends 7-5 (153,000; down 18%), Swedish House Mafia's "Don't You Worry Child" (featuring John Martin) climbs 10-6 (145,000; down 5%), and Phillip Phillips' "Home" slips 5-7 (122,000; down 38%).
Pitbull's "Don't Stop the Party" (featuring TJR) rises 11-8 (nearly 122,000; down 19%), Justin Bieber's "Beauty and a Beat" (featuring Nicki Minaj) dips 8-9 (119,000; down 31%), and PSY's "Gangnam Style" falls 6-10 (105,000; down 45%).
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Jan. 13) totaled 5.09 million units, down 19% compared with the sum last week (6.3 million) and down less than 1% compared with the comparable sales week of 2012 (5.10 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 11.4 million, up 4% compared with the same total at this point last year (10.9 million).
Digital track sales this past week totaled 28.8 million downloads, down 17% compared with last week (34.5 million) and up 1% stacked next to the comparable week of 2012 (28.6 million). Year-to-date track sales are at 63.4 million, up 3% compared with the same total at this point last year (61.3 million).
Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2012 when: Adele's "21" remained at No. 1 with 95,000 (down 9%) while the "Kidz Bop 21" album started at No. 2 with 59,000.