Alicia Keys Earns Fifth No. 1 Album On Billboard 200
Alicia Keys crowns the Billboard 200 for the fifth time in her career, as her fifth studio album, Girl On Fire, debuts atop the list with 159,000 sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Keys previously led the list with her first four albums (three studio sets and a live release). Her last album, 2009's The Element of Freedom (her fourth studio set), launched at No. 2 with 417,000. Its hefty sales were buoyed by its week-before Christmas release date (Dec. 15). However, it was blocked from No. 1 by Susan Boyle's I Dreamed a Dream, which was in its fourth week at No. 1 (with 661,000).
The launch of Girl On Fire is the smallest of any Keys album -- falling lower than that of her 2005 Unplugged set (196,000). That said, the album's start is what industry sources had forecasted a week ago, when insiders suggested it would bow with about 145,000 to 170,000.
One forecast that didn't pan out was that of Rod Stewart's Merry Christmas, Baby posing a threat to Keys' No. 1 debut. It sold 117,000 last week -- down less than 1% -- and rises 6-3. The album's climb as its sales decline is relatively mild compared with those found on the rest of the chart.
As the new Billboard 200 reflects the week after the Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend, the bulk of the titles on the chart experience steep declines. (Sales are always down the week after what's generally one of the busiest shopping weeks of the year. This week, album volume fell by 23%.)
For example, in the top 100 this week, not counting debut and re-entries, only 13 albums post a gain. Thus, a number of albums with drops in sales move up the chart: The Now 44 set jumps 15-11, though it's down 28%, while Scott McCreery's Christmas With Scotty McCreery leaps 21-12, despite an 18% decline.
Starting next week we should see most of the titles on the chart stabilize and increasingly gain more sales as we march toward Christmas.
Back on this week's chart, Keys' Girl On Fire is the lone debut in the entire top 20. The chart's second-highest entry is way down at No. 29, where Timeflies' One Night EP bows with 24,000.
In the top 10, Taylor Swift's Red is steady at No. 2 (137,000; down 26%), One Direction's Take Me Home slips 3-4 (92,000; down 48%), and Phillip Phillips' The World From the Side of the Moon moves 4-5 (74,000; down 56%). Rihanna's first No. 1 album, Unapologetic, slides to No. 6 with 72,000 (down 70%) in its second week.
Michael Buble's Christmas rebounds 16-7 with 66,000 (up 24%), marking the 2011 set's first visit to the top 10 since it wrapped a five-week run at No. 1 on the Jan. 7 chart.
Lady Antebellum's On This Winter's Night also rises, moving 19-8 with 59,000 (up 13%), as does Blake Shelton's holiday effort Cheers, It's Christmas (18-9 with 53,000; up 1%). Rounding out the top 10 is Kid Rock's Rebel Soul, dipping 5-10 in its second week (46,000; down 68%).
Over on the Digital Songs chart, we have a new No. 1, as Will.i.am's "Scream & Shout" (featuring Britney Spears), jumps from No. 66 to the top with 196,000 downloads sold (up 483%). The song debuted on last week's tally with five days of sales, as it was released Nov. 21. The newest chart data reflects its first full sales week (ending Dec. 2), along with impact felt from its music video's premiere on The X Factor (Nov. 28).
"Scream & Shout" is Will.i.am's second No. 1 on the Digital Songs chart as a solo artist (but first as a lead), following his featured turn on Usher's "OMG" in 2010. He's also notched five leaders as a member of the Black Eyed Peas. For Spears, it's her seventh No. 1 on the 8-year-old tally.