Groban's 'Noel' pulls off a Christmas rarity


UPDATED 5:31 p.m. PT Nov. 28

Christmas is coming, the golden goose is getting fat.

Plenty of holiday shoppers have music on their lists as Thanksgiving week's 11 best-selling albums top the 100,000-unit mark and a holiday collection leads the Billboard 200 for the first time in 13 years.

Popera king Josh Groban's "Noel" reaches the summit in its seventh chart week thanks to a welcome boost from a celebrated wish-granter. The album moved more than 400,000 units for the frame ending Nov. 25, an 81% increase fueled by his surprise visit to "The Oprah Winfrey Show." It marks Groban's best sales week ever.

"Noel" is the first Christmas album to reach the summit since Kenny G's "Miracles" in 1994. That instrumental collection has gone on to sell more than 8 million copies.

Only one disc debuts in the top 10 this week, and it's from a familiar source. The "American Idol" juggernaut strikes again as defending champion Jordin Sparks bows at No. 10. But it's not all joy in "Idol"-ville: "Jordin Sparks" marks the lowest first-week sales for an "Idol" champ -- a Grinchly 121,000 units fewer than 2004 winner Fantasia Barrino.

Aussie country heartthrob Keith Urban's "Greatest Hits," his first compilation disc, bows at No. 11.

The holiday cheer is muted, however, when compared with the same frame last year. Buyers snapped up 13.94 million units last week, down 18.1% from the same week in 2006 (17.02 million). The total is up 19% from last week, though.

Meanwhile, who says sequels can't match the original? Disney's "High School Musical 2" soundtrack danced past Daughtry's self-titled debut to become the top-selling disc of 2007 in the U.S. at 2.3 million units. The original "High School Musical" was the biggest album of 2006, shifting more than 3.7 million. And expect the "HSM2" beast to snarl some more when the DVD arrives Dec. 11.

Last week's chart boss, Alicia Keys' "As I Am," passed the million-unit mark in its second frame.

Also in the top 10, Carrie Underwood's "Carnival Ride" (Arista Nashville) climbs from No. 9 to No. 7 with 141,000 and a 25% sales bump, while Celine Dion's Columbia album "Taking Chances" falls from No. 3 to No. 8 following a 40% sales decrease to 128,000. Inching up from No. 10 to No. 9, Chris Brown's "Exclusive" (Jive) sells 121,000 (a 10% climb).

Only two other albums bow inside of the top 50 on the Billboard 200: Philly rapper Freeway's "Free at Last" (G-Unit/Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam) starts at No. 42 with 36,000 and the soundtrack to "Enchanted" (Disney) debuts at No. 48 with 31,000.

This week, the top 11 albums all sold more than 100,000 copies, helped by the first week of the post-Thanksgiving shopping season. However, sales this week (13.94 million units) are down 18.1% from the same week last year (17.02 million). This week's sum is up 19% from last week's.

Katie Hasty of in New York and Billboard analyst Keith Caulfield contributed to this report.