The Big News: Britney Spears’ Blackout got hosed by a last-minute Billboard rule change that allowed the Eagles’ Long Road Out of Eden to take the number-one spot with 711,000 copies sold. The Eagles album is being sold only at Wal-Mart, which would have disqualified it from placing in Billboard — until now. “We know that some retailers will be uncomfortable with this policy, but it was inevitable that Billboard‘s charts would ultimately widen the parameters to reflect changes that are unfolding in music distribution,” says Geoff Mayfield, Billboard‘s director of charts. “We would have preferred to make this decision earlier, but only became aware within the last twenty-four hours that Wal-Mart would be willing to share the data for this title with Nielsen SoundScan.” The new rule, dubbed “The Screw Britney Clause” by industry insiders, denied Brit’s comeback album from the top spot it had earmarked for the entire week. Blackout sold 290,000 copies, which was short of the 350,000 or so it was expected to sell.
Debuts: Besides the Eagles and Spears, the other noteworthy new albums were Avenged Sevenfold’s Avenged Sevenfold at number four, Josh Turner’s Everything Is Fine at number five and, somewhat surprisingly, the Backstreet Boys’ Unbreakable, which sold 81,123 copies on its way to number seven. Tool’s Maynard James Keenan’s side project Puscifier entered at twenty-five. On the indie front, the all-star line-up that is the soundtrack to Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There came in at ninety-five.
Last Week’s Heroes: Carrie Underwood’s Carnival Ride, last week’s champion, relinquished its silver medal to Blackout thanks to the new rule, and ended up with the bronze thanks to 170,100 copies sold. Last week’s number two, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ Raising Sand, held strong at number six with an impressive 81,221 copies sold. In this space next week, we’ll be talking about all the albums displaced by Jay-Z’s American Gangster.