Conventional wisdom is that many Christmas gift recipients find MP3 players and iTunes gift cards under their tree, resulting in immediate digital gratification via download services. With this week's charts reflecting the week that ended on Dec. 26 -- the day after Christmas -- the tallies look especially festive. Every year we see spikes in digital download sales in the week that includes the day of (and after) Christmas.
Back on the Billboard 200 albums chart, Susan Boyle's "The Gift" stands still at No. 2, with 240,000 (down 6%). The "Glee" Christmas album rises two rungs to No. 3 (160,000; up 1%), Jackie Evancho's "O Holy Night" is steady at No. 4 (151,000; down 21%) and Michael Jackson's "Michael" slips two to No. 5 (150,000; down 34%).
The week's highest new entry comes from Jamie Foxx's "Best Night Of My Life," which parties it up at No. 6 with 144,000. It's Foxx's third straight set to see a late December release, following "Unpredictable" (issued on Dec. 20, 2005) and "Intuition" (Dec. 16, 2008). The latter set opened at No. 3 with 265,000, while the earlier album climbed in at No. 2 with 598,000 (before hitting No. 1 the week following).
Eminem's "Recovery" is right behind Foxx, flying 15 rungs to No. 7 with 137,000 (up 100%). It benefits from sale pricing in the iTunes Store and also zips 15-1 on the Digital Albums chart with a whopping 513% jump in sales.
Nicki Minaj's "Pink Friday" stands at No. 8 for a second week, selling 133,000 (up 36%).
Keyshia Cole's "Calling All Hearts" is the list's second biggest debut, starting at No. 9 with 128,000. Her last album, "A Different Me," was released, coincidentally enough, on the same day as Foxx's last effort, on Dec. 16, 2008. "Different" launched at No. 2 with 322,000, one step ahead of "Intuition's" 265,000. Both albums were blocked from No. 1 that week by the woman who reigns this week: Taylor Swift. Her "Fearless" set was in its third non-consecutive week atop the list, selling 330,000.
Closing out the top 10 on the Billboard 200 is Rihanna's "Loud," which climbs one spot to No. 10 with 111,000 (up 33%). Right behind her at No. 11 is the debut of Keri Hilson's sophomore effort, "No Boys Allowed," with 102,000. Hilson's first release, "In a Perfect World," debuted and peaked at No. 4 in April of 2009 with 94,000.
After Hilson, you have to scroll down all the way to No. 119 to find the next highest debut: Duran Duran's new studio album, "All You Need Is Now," released exclusively last week through iTunes. The set, the iconic band's 17th to chart, begins with 14,000 sold and also arrives at No. 11 on the Digital Albums chart and No. 6 on Top Independent Albums. A deluxe physical edition of the album will drop in February of 2011.
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Dec. 26) totaled 15.08 million units, up 21% compared to the sum last week (12.49 million) and down 12% compared to the comparable sales week of 2009 (17.14 million). Year to date album sales stand at 319.01 million, down 13% compared to the same total at this point last year (366.13 million).
Digital track sales this past week totaled 43.96 million downloads, up 108% compared to last week (21.18 million) and down 2% stacked next to the comparable week of 2009 (44.75 million). Year to date track sales are at 1.129 billion, up 1% compared to the same total at this point last year (1.122 billion).
Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2009 when: Susan Boyle's "I Dreamed a Dream" spent its sixth and final frame atop the list, shifting 137,000 (down 73%) while Lady Gaga's "The Fame" hit its peak of No. 2 with 82,000 (though it was down 51%). The highest debut came in at No. 73, from a discount "Chopin Masterpieces" set (10,000) that was sale priced in Amazon's MP3 store.