Country star Jason Aldean nets his second No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, as his new release, Old Boots, New Dirt, kicks in atop the list. It starts with 278,000 sold in the week ending Oct. 12, the third-largest sales week of 2014 according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Old Boots, New Dirt also notches the largest sales week of 2014 for an independently-distributed album. (It's distributed by RED Distribution, Sony Music's independent distribution arm.)
Aldean bumps another country giant out of the No. 1 slot: Blake Shelton, as his Bringing Back the Sunshine falls 1-6 with 34,000 (down 66 percent). It's the first time we've had back-to-back No. 1s from country albums in over a year. It last happened on the chart dated May 25, 2013, when Lady Antebellum's Golden spent one week at No. 1, following a one-week stint at the top by Kenny Chesney's Life On a Rock.
Aldean's last album, 2012's Night Train, also started at No. 1, with a larger opening week: 409,000. That set, however, followed the breakthrough success Aldean found with his 2010 set My Kinda Party. That effort debuted and peaked at No. 2 on the chart dated Nov. 20, 2010, and spent its first 87 consecutive weeks in the top 40. (It also lingered for 12 weeks at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart.) So far, My Kinda Party has shifted 3.1 million copies. (2.8 million in its first two years.)
Night Train performed well, but didn't have the same sort of phenomenal chart run like My Kinda Party. Night Train spent its first 21 frames in the top 40 of the Billboard 200, one week at No. 1 on Top Country Albums, and has sold 1.7 million in its (just over) two years of release.
Coming in far behind Aldean's Old Boots, New Dirt is singer/songwriter Hozier with his debut full-length self-titled album at No. 2. Buoyed by an Oct. 11 appearance as the musical guest on NBC's Saturday Night Live, the act's album sold 58,000 copies in its first week -- slightly larger than what industry forecasters thought the album might sell. (Last week, sources suggested it might sell just over 50,000.)
The album was led by the hit single "Take Me To Church," which topped the Adult Alternative Songs chart, and reached the top 10 on both Hot Rock Songs and Alternative Songs. Billboard tipped Hozier as an act to watch for in February (Bubbling Under, Feb. 28), as "Take Me To Church" was just starting to gain traction on U.S. radio.
Barbra Streisand's former No. 1 album, Partners, continues to sell well, as it holds at No. 3 with 49,000 (down 33 percent). It has sold 445,000 copies in its four weeks of release. At the rate it is selling, it should soon surpass Streisand's 2009 album Love Is the Answer (521,000 sold) to become her best selling effort since 2003's The Movie Album (694,000).
Weezer collects its seventh top 10 album, as Everything Will Be Alright In the End bows at No. 5 with just over 34,000. It's the group's first studio release since 2010's Hurley started one rung lower, but with 45,000.
Rock legend Stevie Nicks nets her sixth top 10 solo album, as her quasi-archival release 24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault set starts at No. 7 (33,000). The set consists of newly-recorded material that was written and recorded in demo versions in earlier years. 24 Karat Gold follows Nicks' In Your Dreams, which debuted (and peaked) at No. 6 back in 2011 (52,000 sold in its first week).
Alex & Sierra, the third-season winners of The X Factor, debut at No. 8 with their first album, It's About Us (27,000). The duo is the third act from the U.S. version of The X Factor to notch a top 10 album, following Emblem3 (Nothing to Lose, No. 7 in 2013) and Fifth Harmony (Better Together EP, No. 6 in 2013). Alex & Sierra are also the highest-charting winners of any season of The X Factor. First season champ Melanie Amaro has yet to release an album, and second season winner Tate Stevens saw his self-titled set peak at No. 18 in 2013.
Keyshia Cole is the final debut in the top 10, as her sixth studio effort, Point of No Return, bows at No. 9 with 25,000. All six of her albums have hit the top 10, and Point of No Return follows 2012's Woman to Woman, which debuted and peaked at No. 10 (96,000 opening week).
Sam Smith's In the Lonely Hour closes out the top 10, climbing 12-10 with 24,000 (up 21 percent).
Over on the Digital Songs chart, Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" returns to No. 1 (2-1) after after a two-week break from the top, selling 171,000 downloads (down 10 percent). It bumps Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" down to No. 2 with 169,000 (down 17 percent).
Maroon 5's "Animals" rises 5-3 with 114,000 (down 1 percent), Tove Lo's "Habits (Stay High)" jumps 8-4 with 99,000 (up 12 percent) and "Bang Bang," by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj, steps 6-5 with 94,000 (down 11 percent).
Jason Derulo's "Trumpets" continues to blare its way up the list, as it toots 10-6 with 80,000 (up 3 percent). Florida Georgia Line's latest new track, "Sippin' On Fire," debuts at No. 7 with 79,000. Iggy Azalea's "Black Widow," featuring Rita Ora, falls 7-8 with 77,000 (down 13 percent).
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Oct. 12) totaled 4.47 million units, up 3 percent compared with the sum last week (4.35 million) and down 7 percent compared with the comparable sales week of 2013 (4.80 million). Year to date album sales stand at 184.53 million, down 14 percent compared to the same total at this point last year (214.78 million).
Digital track sales this past week totaled 16.88 million downloads, down 7 percent compared with last week (18.17 million) and down 15 percent stacked next to the comparable week of 2013 (19.78 million). Year to date track sales are at 883.54 million, down 13 percent compared to the same total at this point last year (1.01 billion).
Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2013 when: Pearl Jam's Lightning Bolt debuted at No. 1 with 166,000 sold. The previous week's leader, Miley Cyrus' Bangerz, fell to No. 2 with 72,000 (down 73 percent).