Groban's 'Noel' breaks Billboard 200 record

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It was a Christmas to remember for Josh Groban.

The popera star's "Noel" this week becomes the first holiday album to notch five weeks atop the Billboard 200, passing the record set by "Elvis' Christmas Album" a half-century ago. "Noel" also is the first disc to rule the chart for five weeks in more than two years, since 50 Cent's "The Massacre," which spent six weeks at No. 1 in March and April 2005.

Sales of "Noel" increased 13% during the week ending Dec. 23 to 757,000 units. That pushes Groban's career SoundScan cume to more than 17 million units -- not too shabby for a lad whose career spans just six years and four albums.

The other big chart story of the week is Mary J. Blige's "Growing Pains," which bows at No. 2 as the only newbie to crack the top 10. It makes Blige 8-for-8 in top 10 albums and marks her sixth consecutive set to debut in the top two spots, three of which entered at No. 1. Her first two albums -- 1992's "What's the 411?" and 1994's "My Life" -- peaked at Nos. 6 and 7, respectively.

A pair of new discs from the Atlantic label flirt with top 10 this week: R&B singer Jaheim debuts at No. 11 with "The Makings of a Man," posting a career-high sales week of 176,000, and rapper Lupe Fiasco's "The Cool" starts at No. 15 with 143,000.

Sales during the preholiday week were 25.6 million units, a 42% jump from the previous week, but lagged the same week in 2006 by 18%.

Chart information arrived a day later because of the Christmas holiday. The same will be true next week.

Billboard analyst Keith Caulfield contributed to this report.
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