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On the Charts: Mary J. Blige Not "Stronger" Than Susan Boyle

December 30, 2009 12:00 AM ET

The Big News: For the second consecutive time, Mary J. Blige had to settle for a Number Two debut as the diva's Stronger With Every Tear was outsold by Susan Boyle's I Dreamed a Dream on the Billboard Top 200. Stronger sold 330,000 copies, but it wasn't in the same weight class as I Dreamed a Dream, which moved an additional 510,000 copies to remain Number One. Boyle ended the week with 2,968,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and has easily passed the triple platinum plateau by now.

In 2007, Blige's Growing Pains also took second place in its debut week despite selling an impressive 629,000 copies (it fell to Josh Groban's Noel, which moved 759,000 copies). Andrea Bocelli's My Christmas finished at Number Three and 284,000 copies, guaranteeing over two million copies sold before its inevitable post-Christmas drop next week. Alicia Keys' The Element of Freedom came in fourth, followed by Taylor Swift's Fearless at Five and another 224,000 copies.

Debuts: Other than Blige, only three other new LPs managed to infiltrate the Top 100. The Young Money collective's We Are Young Money — the supposed companion disc of Lil Wayne's Rebirth — sold 142,000 copies to place Number Nine. Mudvayne's self-titled disc entered at 50, while the soundtrack for Nine bowed at 87. Much further down, Dave Matthews Band's live document Europe 2009 snuck in at 183.

Last Week's Heroes: Last-minute shoppers helped prevent any albums from experiencing massive percentage drops. Boyle's I Dreamed a Dream only saw a 23 percent decline on her record-smashing sales from the previous week, while The Element of Freedom's sales only fell 33 percent, a much better figure than the 50-75 percent range most albums fall in their second week. The biggest gainer on the chart was Eminem, who saw his Relapse leap from 94 to 11 thanks to 128,000 people who got a Refill.

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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