As is usually the case in January, few major albums are released in the first few weeks of the year. Now, as we get back to normal -- post-holidays -- we see an influx of seven new albums in the top 10 of the Billboard 200. That's the most debuts within the top 10 since the May 21, 2011, chart, when eight new titles arrived in the region.
But before we get to the debuts, the chart is still crowned by Adele's "21." It sits tight at No. 1 for an 18th nonconsecutive week (116,000; up 22%, according to Nielsen SoundScan). The set's sales gain is owed in part to how a deluxe version of the set was reissued at Target stores last week and carried an advertised price of $13.99.
Now -- time for the new entries. A whopping seven debuts dot the top 10, led by country superstar Tim McGraw. His "Emotional Traffic" drives in at No. 2 with 68,000 sold. McGraw's last studio effort, 2009's "Southern Voice," bowed at No. 2 with 137,000 sold.
"Emotional" is the singer's 14th top 10 album on the Billboard 200 and 13th No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart. All of his studio sets have topped the country tally, save for 2002's "Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors," which debuted and peaked at No. 2.
Metal band Lamb of God's new "Resolution" debuts at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 (52,000), securing its third top 10 album. The act's last studio set, 2009's "Wrath," bowed at a career-high No. 2 with 68,000 sold.
The "2012 Grammy Nominees" compilation album enters at No. 4 with 52,000 (a tiny bit behind Lamb of God), marking the 11th top 10 for the long-running annual series. The franchise launched with the "1995 Grammy Nominees" set. Collectively, the albums (excluding the occasional Latin- or rap-themed offshoot) have sold 7.7 million copies in the United States. The last three sets have moved between 220,000 and 281,000 each -- making it safe to assume "2012" will ultimately shift about as many copies as well.
Singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson notches her best sales week and highest-charting album ever as "Human Again" takes a bow at No. 5 with 40,000. Until this week, her best frame came when her last set, 2009's "Everybody," bowed and peaked at No. 18 with 23,000 sold. The new album's current single "Ghost" rises from No. 22 to No. 21 on the Triple A airplay chart this week (viewable at billboard.biz/charts).
Kellie Pickler's "100 Proof" gives the former "American Idol" contestant her third straight top 10 -- and her highest-charting album yet -- as her third release debuts at No. 7 with 27,000. Her first two albums, 2006's "Small Town Girl" and 2008's self-titled set, both debuted and peaked at No. 9.
Seal's "Soul 2" album arrives at No. 8 with a little more than 27,000, marking the singer's highest-charting effort since 2003's "Seal IV" debuted and peaked at No. 3. The new release is a sequel to his 2008 covers album, which has sold 547,000 and reached No. 13 on the tally.
Rounding out the top 10 is Christian singer Kari Jobe, whose sophomore release, "Where I Find You," starts at No. 10 with 25,000. Her self-titled 2009 debut topped out at No. 63 in early 2011, after debuting at No. 67 back on Feb. 28, 2009. On our Christian Albums chart, the new album debuts at No. 1. It follows the No. 3 peak of her eponymous debut.
Just outside the top 10, the all-star charity compilation "Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan" debuts in two different slots on the list this week. The 73-track physical version (the digital version contains 76 songs) debuts at No. 11 with 22,000 while the Starbucks-exclusive 31-track edition starts at No. 39 with 10,000. Sales of the albums and the individual song downloads benefit Amnesty International.
As for the top 10's two other holdovers from last week: "Kidz Bop 21" falls 2-6 (33,000; down 43%) and Drake's "Take Care" slides 4-9 (26,000; down 9%).
Over on the Digital Songs chart, we have a new No. 1, as Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" zooms from No. 3 to the top with 225,000 downloads sold (up 29%). On the Mainstream Top 40 airplay chart (known as Pop Songs on Billboard.com) the track rises 24-20 in its third week on the list.
Last week's No. 1, David Guetta's "Turn Me On" (featuring Nicki Minaj), falls to No. 3 with 162,000 (down 18%). The tune could rebound in the coming week, as its official music video premiered on Jan. 31.
Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain" rests at No. 2 for another week (167,000; down 10%) while Tyga's "Rack City" also holds at No. 4 (142,000; down 4%). Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa's "Young, Wild & Free" rises three spots to No. 5 (128,000; down 4%), Flo Rida's "Good Feeling" falls a slot to No. 6 (121,000; down 15%), and Rihanna's "We Found Love" (featuring Calvin Harris) falls a rung to No. 7 (114,000; down 18%).
LMFAO's resilient "Sexy and I Know It" moves 7-8 (113,000; down 16%), Jessie J's "Domino" is steady at No. 9 (111,000; down 9%), and Pitbull's "International Love" (featuring Chris Brown) jumps 17-10 with 108,000 (up 21%).
Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending Jan. 29) totaled 5.4 million units, up 7% compared with the sum last week (5.1 million) and up 2% compared with the comparable sales week of 2011 (5.3 million). Year-to-date album sales stand at 21.3 million, up 2% compared with the same total at this point last year (20.8 million).
Digital track sales this past week totaled 26 million downloads, down 7% compared with last week (27.9 million) and up 5% stacked next to the comparable week of 2011 (24.7 million). Year-to-date track sales are at 115.2 million, up 6% compared with the same total at this point last year (108.3 million).
Next week's Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2011 when: Nicki Minaj's "Pink Friday" ascended from No. 3 to No. 1 in its 11th week on the chart, selling 45,000 (up 18%). Red's "Until We Have Faces" bowed at No. 2 with 43,000, and Ricky Martin's "Musica + Alma + Sexo" started at No. 3 with 32,000.