Bruno Mars Scores First No. 1 Album On Billboard 200, Atoms For Peace at No. 2
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As forecasted last week, Bruno Mars claims his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200, as Unorthodox Jukebox jumps one slot to the top of the tally. The set, largely fueled by Amazon MP3 sale pricing, sold 95,000 copies in the week ending March 3, for a gain of 96% compared with the previous week (according to Nielsen SoundScan).

On Tuesday, Feb. 26, the digital retailer offered a bevy of albums for just $1.99, including Mars’ latest and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ The Heist.

Discounted sales of Unorthodox Jukebox and The Heist -- and all of last week’s other Amazon MP3 $1.99-priced titles -- count toward their weekly total because the albums have been out for more than four weeks. Billboard doesn’t count sales of albums priced for less than $3.49 in their first four weeks of release.

After their one-day $1.99 offering, the price of both Unorthodox Jukebox and The Heist rose to $3.99 for the rest of the week. (Both were still being sold for $3.99 as of March 5.)

Unorthodox Jukebox might not have been No. 1 this week, had it not been for Amazon MP3. Of its total sales week, 64,000 were downloads. That’s about 46,000 more than what the album has been selling in weekly downloads, on average, during the past two months (18,000).

So, subtract Unorthodox’s estimated Amazon MP3 gain of 46,000 for the week and we’re left with 48,000. That would be slightly less than what the No. 2 album sells this week: the debuting Amok from super group Atoms for Peace (50,000).

Atoms for Peace consists of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, producer Nigel Godrich, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea, drummer Joey Waronker and percussionist Mauro Refosco. While Mars blocks Atoms for Peace from a No. 1 debut this week, the electronic/rock act can take solace in a No. 1 bow on Rock Albums, Independent Albums and Dance/Electronic Albums.

Last week’s No. 1, Mumford & Sons’ Babel, falls to No. 3 with 43,000 (down 31%).

The Heist climbs 16-4 with 42,000 (up 89%) after the set’s sale pricing at Amazon MP3 and the duo’s performance on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” (March 2). It’s the album’s largest sales week and highest chart rank since its debut at No. 2 with 78,000 (Oct. 27, 2012).

The three albums at Nos. 2-4 on the Billboard 200 this week are all distributed by independent distribution companies. In turn, it’s the first time since Nielsen SoundScan started powering the chart in 1991 that three of the top four albums are independently distributed. Atoms for Peace’s Amok and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ The Heist are distributed by Alternative Distribution Alliance while Mumford & Sons’ Babel goes through RED Distribution.

At No. 5 this week is the debuting Hillsong United, the youth ministry of the Australian Hillsong Church. The group’s Zion enters with 34,000 sold, marking the first top 10 for the Hillsong church and its best sales week. Its previous high came when 2011’s Aftermath (by Hillsong United) debuted and peaked at No. 17 off a 27,000 start.

Zion also naturally bows at No. 1 on the Christian Albums chart, the seventh No. 1 for the Hillsong organization.

The Now 45 compilation slips 4-6 on the Billboard 200 with 33,000 (down 13%), the Lumineers’ self-titled album falls 5-7 with 30,000 (down 13%), Josh Groban’s All That Echoes slides 3-8 with 29,000 (down 29%), and Rihanna’s Unapologetic is steady at No. 9 with nearly 29,000 (up less than 1%).

Jumping four slots to No. 10 is Adele’s 21, selling 27,000 with a gain of 17%. While the album doesn’t feature her Academy Award-winning song “Skyfall,” the set clearly benefits from Adele’s performance of the tune on the Oscars (Feb. 24). This is the 2-year-old album’s first time back in the top 10 since the Nov. 3, 2012, chart, when it ranked at No. 9.

As for the song “Skyfall,” after a full week of impact post-Oscars, the song charges 32-10 on the Digital Songs chart, selling 105,000 downloads in the week ending March 3 (up 88%). The title song of the James Bond film logs its best sales week since the tally dated Dec. 1, 2012 (120,000), reflecting the first full week “Skyfall” was in U.S. theaters.

Adele’s performance on the Academy Awards was her first on TV -- or anywhere -- in more than a year. She last sang onstage during the BRIT Awards on Feb. 21, 2012.

At No. 1 on the Digital Songs chart is Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop” (featuring Wanz), ruling for an eighth consecutive week (326,000; down 10%).

Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” skips 3-2 with 231,000 (up 1%), while Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” cools a bit, moving 2-3 with 228,000 (down 23%).

Demi Lovato scores her best sales week yet for a song download, as her new “Heart Attack” debuts at No. 4 with 215,000. Her previous best frame was when “Skyscraper” bowed with 176,000 downloads at No. 2 (July 30, 2011).

Rihanna’s “Stay” (featuring Mikky Ekko) falls 4-5 with 211,000 (down 1%), and Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” moves 5-6 with 142,000 (down 6%). Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie” (featuring Jay-Z) holds at No. 7 (141,000; up 5%), and & Britney Spears’ “Scream & Shout” falls 6-8 (122,000; down 12%). Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble.” is stationary at No. 9 with 121,000 (down 9%).

Overall album sales in this past chart week (ending March 3) totaled 5.8 million units, up 6% compared with the sum last week (5.5 million) and down 9% compared with the comparable sales week of 2012 (6.3 million). Year-to date-album sales stand at 50.4 million, down 7% compared with the same total at this point last year (54.3 million).

Digital track sales this past week totaled 26.1 million downloads, down 3% compared with last week (26.9 million) and down 4% stacked next to the comparable week of 2012 (27.1 million). Year-to-date track sales are at 253.4 million, down 2% compared with the same total at this point last year (258 million).

Next week’s Billboard 200 competes with the same week in 2012 when: Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball debuted at No. 1 with 196,000 sold, just barely beating the No. 2 set, Adele’s 21 (195,000).