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

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.


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