Perhaps because of "The Gift's" unique appeal in the marketplace, it was able to build momentum in its second week, unlike most albums, which usually tumble. "Gift's" target demographic of older consumers tend not to focus on an album's street date and buy music at a more leisurely pace -- thus helping it stay steady. Also, as it's a holiday-themed set, it reaps the benefit of consumers searching for seasonal music in the march towards Christmas.
Former "Britain's Got Talent" contestant Boyle is joined by a kindred TV spirit in the top two his week, as 10-year-old "America's Got Talent" runner-up Jackie Evancho sees her "O Holy Night" bow with 239,000 at No. 2. The four song EP -- bolstered with a DVD of performances -- carries an economical list price of $8.
Boyle and Evancho's albums are two of three holiday efforts in the top 10; the "Glee" cast's "Christmas Album" starts at No. 8 with 161,000. We haven't had this many holiday albums in the top 10 since the tally dated Jan. 2, 1993, when four sets populated the region.
Evancho's "O Holy Night" and the "Glee" cast's "Christmas" set are among the eight new entries in the top 10, tying a record set on the Oct. 17, 2009 tally when Barbra Streisand's "Love Is the Answer" bowed at No. 1, followed by arrivals at Nos. 2-5 and 7-9.
Also, the top nine albums this week all sold more than 100,000 each, the first time that's happened since the chart dated Jan. 9 (reflecting the sales week ending Dec. 27, 2009), when the top 16 all moved 100,000 copies.
Diva Rihanna captures her fifth top 10 set with "Loud" coming in at No. 3 with 207,000 -- her best sales week yet. All five of her studio efforts have reached the upper tier. She previously hit the top 10 with "Music of the Sun" (No. 10, 2005), "A Girl Like Me" (No. 5, 2006), "Good Girl Gone Bad" (No. 2, 2007) and "Rated R" (No. 4, 2009).
Rihanna's 'Only Girl' Rebounds to No. 1 on Hot 100
Josh Groban's "Illuminations" lights up at No. 4 with 191,000 start while Kid Rock's "Born Free" bows at No. 5 with 189,000. It's the sixth top 10 for both singers. While you couldn't find "Born" on iTunes, is was available through other digital retailers (like Amazon MP3), but only as a full album purchase. Downloads account for 23,000 of its overall 189,000-start.
Rascal Flatts' Big Machine debut "Nothing Like This" enters at No. 6 with 165,000, marking the band's seventh top 10 album. Meanwhile, Keith Urban sees his latest release, "Get Closer," start at No. 7 with 162,000. It's his fourth top 10 and follows "Defying Gravity," which opened at No. 1 in 2009 with 172,000.
Keith Urban: The Billboard Cover Story
The eighth and final top 10 debut this week belongs to Nelly, who starts at No. 10 with his "5.0" shifting 63,000. It's his sixth top 10.
Aside from Boyle, the only holdover in the top 10 this week is Taylor Swift's "Speak Now," which descends seven slots to No. 9 in its fourth week with 146,000 (down 30%).
Over on the Digital Songs chart, the "Glee" cast's take on Cee Lo Green's "Forget You," featuring actress Gwyneth Paltrow, arrives at No. 1 with 192,000. The cast thus replaces itself atop the list, as its rendition of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" was No. 1 last week with 214,000. This week, "Teenage" tumbles to No. 19 with 72,000 (down 66%). This is actually Paltrow's second No. 1 on a Billboard music chart, following "Cruisin'," a duet with Huey Lewis, which topped the Adult Contemporary radio chart in 2000.
Watch: Gwyneth Paltrow Covers Cee Lo's 'F**k You' on 'Glee'
Green's original version of "Forget You" (aka "F*** You") feels the "Glee" love, as it rallies up 10 slots to a new peak of No. 2 with a one-week high of 191,000 downloads (up 94%).
The cast of "Glee" also bows a second single in the top 10 this week, as its mash-up of "Singing in the Rain/Umbrella" opens at No. 7 with 140,000.
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Nov. 21) totaled 8.12 million units, up 29% compared to the sum last week (6.30 million) and up 2% compared to the comparable sales week of 2009 (7.99 million). Year to date album sales stand at 261.78 million, down 13% compared to the same total at this point last year (300.98 million).
Digital track sales this past week totaled 22.47 million downloads, up 5% compared to last week (21.30 million) and up 19% stacked next to the comparable week of 2009 (18.95 million). Year to date track sales are at 1 billion, up less than 1% compared to the same total at this point last year (999.55 million).