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On the Charts: Alicia Keys' "Freedom" Can't Boot Boyle

December 23, 2009 12:00 AM ET

The Big News: In most weeks, Alicia Keys would certainly have topped the Billboard Top 200 with strong first-week sales of 417,000. But Keys' The Element of Freedom couldn't overcome the towering sales monolith that is Susan Boyle, and Keys debuted at Number Two, marking the first time since her 2001 debut album Songs in A Minor that one of the singer's studio albums didn't top the charts in its first week.

And then there's Susan Boyle. The Britain's Got Talent runner-up has already broken several chart records in I Dreamed A Dream's now-four week reign atop the chart, and the album showed no signs of slowing down as it sold another 661,000 copies this week according to Nielsen SoundScan numbers — a 14 percent increase from last week. With 2,460,000 in sales after only a month, Boyle has the top-selling album of 2009, besting Michael Jackson, Taylor Swift and Eminem. Swift's Fearless broke the 5 million sales mark this week, selling another 239,000 copies to place fourth on the Top 200. Andrea Bocelli's My Christmas hung around at Number Three while the newly engaged Carrie Underwood's Play On took Number Five.

Debuts: With the holiday spending spree behind us, only two new albums managed to make a dent on the charts: Keys and Robin Thicke's Sex Therapy: The Experience, which sold 123,000 copies to place at Number Nine. For Keys, Element of Freedom's debut week of 417,000 copies represents a sizable drop from the 742,000 units As I Am sold in its first week in 2007.

Last Week's Heroes: Curious how Chris Brown's Graffiti fared after all the die-hards scooped it up in its debut week? Not that terribly. Graffiti's sales dropped a bearable 47 percent in its second week, selling 54,000 copies as it fell from Seven to 28. And many artists crossed the platinum mark: Lady Gaga's The Fame officially broke into two million territory, Swift went quintuple platinum, Michael Buble's Crazy Love crossed a million and Underwood's Play On found itself a mere 2,300 copies away from accomplishing the same.

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Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

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