The Big News: As expected, U2’s five-star No Line on the Horizon soared to the top of the charts in its debut week, selling 484,000 copies to give the current Rolling Stone cover stars their second-best U.S. debut ever, more than doubling the sales of 2009’s previous highest-selling debut, Bruce Springsteen’s Working on a Dream. The album fell slightly under industry expectation of a half million copies, but Universal Music Group’s Australian division, who accidentally leaked the LP weeks before its release, might be to blame. While 2004’s How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb sold 840,000 copies its first week (with no recession affecting the industry), No Line‘s totals fall more in line with U2’s career trajectory, as All That You Can’t Leave Behind sold roughly 428,000 copies when it hit the charts in 2000. And it goes without saying, but Taylor Swift’s Fearless was finally knocked off the top spot, coming in at Number Two with a distant 52,000 copies.
Debuts: Another big surprise on the charts was the number three placement of Neko Case’s stellar Middle Cyclone, especially considering Case’s only other previous appearance on the charts was a number 54 debut for 2006’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. Other rookies include the Watchmen soundtrack at 36, Rush‘s Retrospective 3 at 47 and Thin Lizzy’s Still Dangerous plotting jailbreaks at 189.
Last Week’s Heroes: Lady Gaga’s Fame continues its climb, improving on last week’s totals by 30 percent to jump from seven to four. Lamb of God’s Wrath fell from two to 12 and the Jonas Brothers’ 3D Concert Experience dropped three to 15 after both debuted last week. Besides U2’s best-selling week of the 2009 and Fearless, no other album could even muster 50,000 in sales. And how bad are things for Chris Brown? His Exclusive isn’t even generating enough sales to bypass the 2,690 units sold by this week’s 200th-ranked album.