It took him seven weeks and a little backing from the likes of Oprah Winfrey, but Josh Groban's holiday-themed Noël has claimed the Billboard top 200's peak position — during what was generally a strong week for record sales.
According to the latest SoundScan tally, sales of Noël spiked by 81 percent to 405,000, following the Grammy-nominated baritone's appearance last week on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." While Oprah may have given Groban the push he needed to reach the top, the album's ascent to #1 has been gradual but steady. The disc debuted at #10 the week after its release, scanning 64,000 copies. Ever since, Noël has been inching its way forward, not once falling out of the chart's top 10; last week, the disc assumed control of the #2 slot with 233,300 copies sold — the highest single-week sales the LP had achieved before this week's total. The album is also the first Christmas album to top the albums chart since Kenny G's 1994 effort Miracles: The Holiday Album.
But Groban's latest triumph isn't this week's only Billboard-related bit of news. In fact, perhaps more interesting are the sales generated by Jordin Sparks' self-titled debut. Sparks — the winner of the sixth and most recent season of "American Idol," and who many thought was the most marketable of the show's winners — probably won't be thrilled when she learns her album has turned out the lowest first-week numbers of a debut issued by any of the show's previous winners. Jordin Sparks enters next week's chart at #10 (the sole new release to crack the top 10) with little more than 119,100 sold.
Comparatively, season-one victor Kelly Clarkson's 2003 debut, Thankful, opened at #1 with 297,400 scans, while season two "Idol" Ruben Studdard's 2003 LP, Soulful, also entered at #1, selling 416,600 units. America's third "Idol," Fantasia Barrino, sold more than 239,000 copies of her 2004 debut, Free Yourself, to bow at #8, while season-four champ Underwood's 2005 opus, Some Hearts, opened at #2 with sales of 315,000. The last man standing at the conclusion of the show's fifth season, the salt-and-pepper-pelted Taylor Hicks, sold more than 298,000 copies of his 2006 eponymous debut to enter the chart at #2.
Meanwhile, last week's #1, Alicia Keys' As I Am, slides one spot to #2, with week-two sales of 348,600, while the 26th volume of best-selling hits series Now That's What I Call Music! rises one position to #3 with 234,000 sold. At #4, with 192,000 scans, it's Garth Brooks' The Ultimate Hits, followed at #5 by the Eagles' Long Road Out of Eden with 184,000 units snatched up. Sales of the soundtrack to the Disney Channel's "High School Musical 2" climbs eight spots to #6 with 183,000 sold, thanks to a sales surge of 130 percent; the disc has now eclipsed Daughtry's self-titled LP as the top-selling album of 2007 — so far. Up two spots to #7, with 141,400 scans, is Carrie Underwood's Carnival Ride, followed at #8 by Celine Dion's Taking Chances, which sold 128,000-plus. Chris Brown's Exclusive climbs one spot to #9, having sold another 120,800 copies.
All in all, the chart is sprinkled with 19 new releases, including Sparks' debut offering. Right behind her at #11, with sales of 117,000 and change, is country artist Keith Urban's first best-of collection, Greatest Hits, and coming in at #15, with 83,700 sold, is Christian act MercyMe's All That Is Within Me. Dreaming Out Loud, the debut album from One Republic, enters at #17 with 75,000 scans, while rapper Freeway's Free at Last follows at #42 with 36,000 sold. Next comes the soundtrack to "Enchanted," featuring tracks by Underwood and Jon McLaughlin, at #48 with 31,000 copies, while Empezar Desde Cero, the latest from RBD, bows at #60 with sales reported at 22,500. Amy Winehouse's reissued 2003 debut, Frank, follows at #61 with 22,400 copies sold.
The soundtrack to "This Christmas," which includes songs from Chris Brown, Sparks, B2K, Aretha Franklin and Luther Vandross, sold 21,000 units, coming in at #65. AC/DC's Sight & Sound Collection, a CD/DVD Wal-Mart exclusive, enters at #73 with 18,000 scans, while Nine Inch Nails' Y34RZ3R0R3MIX3D comes in at #77 with sales of 17,000 and change. A collector's edition of the "Hairspray" soundtrack bows at #89, selling 15,000 copies, and Gorillaz return at #165 with their latest, D-Sides collection, which sold 7,500 copies.
Former "American Idol" contender Elliott Yamin's Target-exclusive Christmas offering, Sounds of the Season, enters at #169 with 7,200 sold, while Mike Jones' The American Dream EP checks in at #182 with 6,800 scans. Sebastian Bach's solo LP Angel Down comes in at #190 with 6,400 sold, followed at #198 by K-Paz de la Sierra's Capaz de Todo por Ti, which sold 6,100 units.
Sales of Beyoncé's B'day shot up a whopping 999 percent, selling 73,300 copies and re-entering the chart at #19 (during the previous week, the set sold just 4,000 units). The surge in sales comes on the heels of the singer's recent appearances at the American Music Awards and on "The Tyra Banks Show."