The Big News: The holiday sales binge came to a loud and sudden halt last week as 24 of the Top 25 albums in the Billboard Top 200 experienced sales decreases of more than 50 percent. Susan Boyle's record-breaking I Dreamed a Dream retained the Number One spot for a sixth consecutive week even as sales of her debut dropped 73 percent. Still, I Dreamed a Dream sold 137,000 copies last week according to Nielsen SoundScan, enough to push the Britain's Got Talent sensation past the three million copies sold mark.
Sixty-two weeks after its release, Lady Gaga's The Fame reached its highest point on the Top 200, coming in at Number Two thanks to 82,000 copies sold. Factor in the additional 44,000 copies the standalone The Fame Monster sold to end the week at Number Nine and Gaga nearly ended the reign of Boyle. A pair of albums by divas, Alicia Keys' The Element of Freedom and Mary J. Blige's Stronger With Each Tear, finished at Three and Four respectively in their second week on the charts. Taylor Swift's Fearless rounded out the Top Five.
Debuts: The lone artist to hit the chart in the Top 200 was Straight No Chaser's Six Pack EP down at 181, so let's take a deeper look at the huge percentage drops in the upper tier. In the Top 35 of the Billboard 200, only three albums managed to avoid a 50 percent or greater sales drop, and fittingly all three were soundtracks: Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squeakuel at Seven, Nine at 26 and the Avatar score at 31. The week's biggest loser: Andrea Bocelli's My Christmas, the seasonal disc of choice in '09, experienced a mind-blowing 94 percent sales drop from the previous week. Still, Bocelli's disc went double-platinum in its time riding Boyle's coattails.
Last Week's Heroes: I Dreamed a Dream ends 2009 and enters 2010 as the best-selling debut ever by a female artist in the SoundScan era and Boyle the first artist in the history of Billboard to debut and spend six consecutive weeks at Number One on the charts. Plus, 10 years from now, we'll be noting that I Dreamed a Dream was the first Number One album of this new decade.