For the first time since 1997 -- and only the third time ever -- a Christian album is No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
TobyMac lands his first chart-topper, "Eye on It," as it bows with 69,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It simultaneously debuts at No. 1 on our Christian Albums chart.
The last time a Christian set led the Billboard 200 was on the Nov. 1, 1997, chart, when LeAnn Rimes ' "You Light Up My Life -- Inspirational Songs" spent its third and final week at No. 1. (It debuted in the top slot on Sept. 27.) That effort -- which included a fair amount of inspirational tunes (hence its title) -- also led our Christian Albums tally for a whopping 35 weeks.
Before that, the only other Christian effort to crown the Billboard 200 was Bob Carlisle's "Butterfly Kisses (Shades of Grace)." It notched a pair of weeks at No. 1 earlier in 1997 (June 28-July 5), fueled by its hit title track, Father's Day gift-giving and an appearance by Carlisle on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." The album was also a monster on the Christian Albums list, spending 20 frames at No. 1.
"Eye on It" also bows at No. 1 on the Digital Albums chart, with 35,000 downloads sold (or, 50% of its overall debut). A significant chunk of the set's sales (27%) were driven by Christian retailers and bookstores.
Previous to TobyMac's achievement this week, we've had some recent close calls at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. In 2011, Casting Crowns ' "Come to the Well" and Red's "Until We Have Faces" both debuted and peaked at No. 2, while this year, David Crowder Band's "Give Us Rest" also topped out in the runner-up slot.
As for TobyMac himself, he isn't a stranger to hits on the Billboard 200: "Eye On It" is his ninth entry and third top 10. As part of the trio DC Talk, he claimed five more hit albums on the tally, including the No. 4 set "Supernatural" in 1998.
Elsewhere in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 this week, hip-hop super group Slaughterhouse bows at No. 2 with "Welcome to Our House" (52,000). The act's self-titled debut studio album, released in 2009, bowed and peaked at No. 25 with an 18,000 start. Since then, the act (comprising Royce Da 5'9", Joe Budden, Crooked I and Joell Ortiz) moved from eOne Records over to Shady/Interscope for the release of its latest set.
Last week's No. 1, Trey Songz' "Chapter V," falls to No. 3 with 41,000 (down 69%) while the "Now 43" compilation slips a rung to No. 4 with nearly 41,000 (down 9%).
Alanis Morissette celebrates her sixth top 10 album as "Havoc and Bright Lights" enters at No. 5 with 33,000. It's the singer/songwriter's first album since leaving Maverick/Warner Bros. Records after spending her entire U.S. career there. The new album was released through Collective Sounds via RED Distribution and also debuts at No. 1 on the Independent Albums chart.
Morissette's last album, 2008's "Flavors of Entanglement," debuted and peaked at No. 8 with a 70,000 launch.
Morissette's latest set rounds out the three new arrivals in the top 10 as the rest of the region contains holdovers from last week. Maroon 5's "Overexposed" is steady at No. 6 with 31,000 (down 4%), 2 Chainz' "Based On a T.R.U. Story" falls five to No. 7 with 29,000 (down 38%), and Carrie Underwood's "Blown Away" rides an iTunes sale price 21-8 with 28,000 (up 85%). The latter was promoted by Apple for $6.99 and featured prominently in an email blast and in the iTunes Store. (Underwood's Twitter account also sent out a missive about the sale to her 700,000-plus followers on Sept. 2.)
Rounding out the top 10 are fun.'s "Some Nights," which rises 11-9 (25,000; up 3%), and Adele's "21," which climbs 12-10 (23,000; down 2%). "Some Nights" has been absent from the top 10 for two months, while "21" returns after only a one-week vacation.
"21" has now earned 79 nonconsecutive weeks in the top 10 -- the third-longest run in the top 10 since 1963 (when our mono and stereo album charts combined into one tally). Only Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." (84 weeks) and "The Sound of Music" (109) soundtrack logged longer top 10 runs.
Over on the Digital Songs chart, Taylor Swift rules for a third week at No. 1, with "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" selling another 253,000 downloads (down 17%). Maroon 5's "One More Night" holds at No. 2 (193,000; down 1%), and fun.'s "Some Nights" rises one rung to No. 3 (163,000; down 4%).
Flo Rida's "Whistle" drops 3-4 (161,000; down 10%), Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen's "Good Time" is steady at No. 5 (125,000; down 13%), and Phillip Phillips' "Home" jumps 8-6 (115,000; up 6%).
Justin Bieber's "As Long As You Love Me" (featuring Big Sean) drops one slot to No. 7 (115,000; down 12%), Neon Trees' "Everybody Talks" rises 10-8 (102,000; up 3%), and Cher Lloyd's "Want U Back" remains at No. 9 (101,000; down 6%). Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" rounds out the top 10, sliding down three notches to No. 10 (98,000; down 6%).
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Sept. 2) totaled 4.9 million units, down 3% compared with the sum last week (5 million) and down 26% compared with the comparable sales week of 2011 (6.7 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 197.4 million, down 4% compared with the same total at this point last year (206.6 million).
Digital track sales this past week totaled 22.6 million downloads, down 4% compared with last week (23.5 million) and up 1% stacked next to the comparable week of 2011 (22.4 million). Year-to-date track sales are at 916.3 million, up 6% compared with the same total at this point last year (868.3 million).
Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2011 when: Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter IV" held at No. 1 for a second week with 219,000, despite a robust 77% drop in sales. The highest debut came from George Strait's "Here for a Good Time," which bowed at No. 3 with 91,000.