The Big News: As you already know, Kanye West beat 50 Cent in their debut-week sales showdown, but the real winner is the music industry. Kanye’s Graduation sold 957,000, the biggest single week tally since 2005, when 50’s The Massacre sold 1.1 million in its debut week. According to Billboard, it’s the 15th biggest sales week since Nielsen began tracking sales in 1991. 50’s Curtis moved 691,000, which, despite losing to Kanye, easily tops the year’s previous top debut (Linkin Park’s 623,000). The only other time since 1991 that the top two albums each sold more than 600,000 each came in September of that year, when Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion I and II sold 770,000 and 685,000 respectively. Country star Kenny Chesney’s latest sold 387,000, finishing number three with a figure that would earn him the number one spot almost any other week. Just to give you an idea what a departure these numbers are from the industry’s endless sales drought: When you add up the top four — including last week’s number one High School Musical 2 soundtrack, which sold 133,000 this week — you get 2.2 million CDs sold, which is more than the top 200 albums combined sold last week.
The Debuts: After the top three, it’s a long drop to the next new record: A third Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack landed at number sixteen, moving a comparatively paltry 27,000 units; Trisha Yearwood’s Greatest Hits debuted at number twenty-two with 22,000; And R&B-boy band B5 sold 19,000 and hit number twenty-seven.
Last Week’s Sales Heroes: Perennial top-tenners, including the HSM2 and Hannah Montana 2 soundtracks, Fergie, and Now! 25 all dropped back a few slots to make room for the newcomers. MySpace-made star Colbie Cailla continues to scale the charts, with a 25 percent jump in sales and a corresponding leap from number fourteen to eight.