On the Charts: Susan Boyle Makes History With Top-Selling Debut

December 2, 2009 12:00 AM ET

The Big News: In a week that featured new releases by Rihanna, Adam Lambert, Lady Gaga and Shakira, it was a 48-year-old British woman plucked from absolute obscurity a year ago who topped the Billboard Top 200 in its most competitive week of the year. Susan Boyle's I Dreamed a Dream far exceeded any expectations in the U.S., selling 701,000 to give The Britain's Got Talent runner-up the best-selling debut week of 2009, and the best-selling week for a debut album by a female artist in the history of the Nielsen SoundScan era. Boyle beat out Eminem's Relapse, which sold 608,000 copies in its opening week in May, to become the year's biggest seller.

The charts place Andrea Bocelli's My Christmas at Number Two in the Black Friday slugfest with another 218,000 copies. Lady Gaga's The Fame Monster came in at Number Five, while sales of The Fame landed at Number Six, giving Gaga a combined sales figure of 325,000. Despite the controversy at the AMAs, Adam Lambert also had a strong showing in his debut week as For Your Entertainment came in at Number Three, selling 198,000 copies. Rihanna's comeback album Rated R debuted at Number Four, selling 180,000 copies — 12,000 more copies than Good Girl Gone Bad shifted in its debut week back in 2007.

Debuts: Last week's other big name release, Shakira's She Wolf, didn't fare nearly as well as its competitors — likely due in part to its release overseas in October — entering the charts at 15 and selling 89,000 units in its domestic debut week. Other new albums that'll show up in stockings this year were rapper Birdman's Priceless at 29, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' massive Live Anthology at 46 and Tom Waits' Glitter & Doom Live at 56.

Last Week's Heroes: John Mayer's tenure atop the charts was short lived as Battle Studies fell from Number One in its debut to 13 in its second week with the influx of new releases. There were also a lot of Black Friday-induced trends throughout the charts this week, mostly courtesy of the big chain retails stores. Miley Cyrus' Walmart-only Time of Our Lives EP saw its sales jump 385 percent over last week as the EP climbed from 26 to Number Seven. And Target stores must have been giving away copies of Prince's Lotusflow3r with the purchase of a new flatscreen because the Purple One's exclusive three-disc set saw its sales go from 621 copies last week to in excess of 7,200 copies this week, landing it back in the Top 200 at Number 129.

Next week, we'll find out if Boyle can sustain her incredible sales even after the holiday boom has ended.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories


Mariah Carey | 1995

Serendipity stuck when Mariah Carey rediscovered the glitchy Tom Tom Club hook, a sample of which is the heart of this upbeat slice of dance pop. "I had the melody idea for 'Fantasy' and I was listening to the radio and heard 'Genius of Love,' and I hadn't heard it in a long time," Carey said. "It reminded me of growing up and listening to the radio and that feeling the song gave me seemed to go with the melody and basic idea I had for 'Fantasy.' I initially told [co-writer] Dave Hall about the idea, and we did it. We called up the Tom Tom Club and they were really into it."

More Song Stories entries »