The Big News: With several big-name female artists competing for Number One, Barbra Streisand pulled out a stunning victory to claim the top spot of the Billboard Top 200 as a last minute surge helped Love Is the Answer sell 180,000 copies, according to Neilsen SoundScan. Early predictions had Paramore's Brand New Eyes claiming victory this week, but when the last barcode was swiped, Hayley Williams and company finished at Number Two with 175,000 copies. Mariah Carey had to settle for Number Three as Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel pushed 168,000 units.
It was Streisand's first Number One album since 1997's Higher Ground, while Paramore improved greatly on Riot!'s Number 20 debut in 2007. Things weren't as pleasant for Carey, however: After 2008's E=MC2 gave the diva the best first-week sales of her career with 463,000 copies, Carey's oft-delayed Memoirs came crashing back to normalcy with only 168K. In fact, E=MC2 sold more copies in its second week (182,000) than Memoirs sold in its debut.
In all, the entire Top Five was made up of debuts breaking the 100K threshold, as Breaking Benjamin's Dear Agony and Alice in Chains' first album in 14 years Black Gives Way to Blue sold 134,000 and 126,000 copies respectively.
Debuts: You know it's a competitive sales week when Madonna only manages to enter the charts at Number Seven, where the Material Girl's greatest-hits compilation Celebration landed in its first week by selling 72,000, beating out both Miranda Lambert's Revolution (Eight) and Selena Gomez & the Scene's Kiss and Tell (Nine.) Other notable rookies include AFI's Crash Love at 12 with 52,000 copies, the Avett Brother's I And Love And You at 16, Lynyrd Skynyrd's Gods & Guns at 18 and Ghostface Killah's Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry at 28.
Last Week's Heroes: With the major influx of new releases, there was lots of shakeup in the Top 10, with Pearl Jam's Backspacer falling from Number One to Number 10 in the span of seven days. A trio of albums that have ruled the upper echelon of the charts the past month — Jay-Z's The Blueprint 3, Miley Cyrus' Time of Our Lives EP and Whitney Houston's I Look to You — all found themselves out of the Top Five for the first time, landing at Six, 11 and 13.
Next week, we'll see if this all-star pack of divas can fight off the Kiss Army as Sonic Boom hit Walmart shelves yesterday.