Keys to victory with huge week


Alicia Keys made it 4-for-4 in No. 1 debuts and scored the best sales week for a female solo artist in almost four years.

"As I Am" (J) topped the Billboard 200 with 742,000 units sold in the U.S. for the week ending Nov. 18, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It's the biggest weekly haul for a solo female since Norah Jones' "Feels Like Home" shifted 1 million copies in February 2004.

Keys becomes only the third act to have their first four albums debut atop the chart. DMX's first five discs started at No. 1 between 1998 and 2003, while Britney Spears did it with her first four album between 1999 and 2003.

In a week where every top 10 album shifted more than 100,000 units, Josh Groban's "Noel" (143/Reprise) zooms up four spots to No. 2 with 223,000. Celine Dion's "Taking Chances" (Columbia), her first new pop album in four years, opens at No. 3 with 214,000. The multilabel, multiartist "Now 26" collection is new at No. 4 with 208,000, the third-lowest opening tally for the "Now" line.

Garth Brooks' "The Ultimate Hits" (Pearl) slips two rungs to No. 5 (204,000), while Eagles' "Long Road Out of Eden" (Eagles Recording Co.) drops four places to No. 6 (197,000). Led Zeppelin's two-disc retrospective "Mothership" (Swan Song/Atlantic) debuts at No. 7 on 136,000, 25% of which came digitally.

Last week's chart-topper, Jay-Z's "American Gangster" (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam) dives to No. 8 with 131,000, while Carrie Underwood's "Carnival Ride" (Arista Nashville) falls four notches to No. 9 on 113,000. Chris Brown's "Exclusive" (Jive) falls sin slots to No. 10 in its second week (110,000).

A wide-ranging quartet of acts bow just outside the top tier: Comedian Dane Cook's "Rough Around the Edges: Live From Madison Square Garden" (Comedy Central, No. 11, 90,000), the Killers' rarities collection "Sawdust" (Island, No. 12, 82,000), George Strait's "22 More Hits" (MCA Nashville, No. 13, 80,000) and James Taylor's debut for Starbucks' Hear Music imprint, "One Man Band" (No. 16, 63,000).

Album sales are up 17.9% from last week's to 11.72 million but down 6.2% from the same week last year.

Jonathan Cohen is senior editor at Billboard. Billboard analyst Keith Caulfield in Los Angeles contributed to this report.