Well, there's really no denying it now: [artist id="501686"]Britney Spears[/artist] really is back! Back to selling tons of records, at least.
Her Circus album will debut at #1 on next week's Billboard albums chart, selling just under 505,100 copies. It's Spears' fifth album to debut at #1 on the chart, and it sold nearly twice as many copies as last year's Blackout album, which was denied the top spot on the chart by the Eagles' Long Road Out of Eden.
Circus' first-week sales total is certainly big, but it's only the sixth biggest opening of 2008, behind albums like Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III, AC/DC's Black Ice, Coldplay's Viva la Vida, Taylor Swift's Fearless and T.I.'s Paper Trail. Still, it outpaced the first-week numbers of some of Brit's pop peers, including Beyoncé's I Am ... Sasha Fierce, Mariah Carey's E = MC2 and Miley Cyrus' Breakout.
Interestingly enough, the Brit-sanity was so high among album buyers that Blackout also managed to return to the charts, selling more than 4,600 copies to land at #198.
Spears' manager, Larry Rudolph, told The Associated Press that the success of Circus really does signify Brit's triumphant return. "At the end of the day, I think she is America's pop princess, and the world's pop princess, and this just reconfirms it to everyone who doubted it," he said. "Professionally, she's feeling great. ... It's great for her to hear that she's got a #1 album again."
Those sentiments were seconded by in a statement from Jive Records, Britney's label. "We're absolutely thrilled for Britney," the statement reads. "The response to Circus is a testament to how great the album is, and to how connected and supportive Britney's fans are to her and her music."
[artist id="2389485"]Swift[/artist]'s Fearless lands in the #2 spot on the albums chart for the second-straight week, selling 193,500 copies. Beyoncé's Sasha Fierce is at #3, with sales of more than 152,800 copies. Last week's chart champ, [artist id="1230523"]Kanye West[/artist]'s 808s & Heartbreak, drops to #4, with sales of close to 141,700 copies. [artist id="760446"]Nickelback[/artist]'s Dark Horse rounds out the top five, selling 133,400 copies.
The rest of the top 10 features the "Twilight" soundtrack at #6; the week's other big-name debut, [artist id="1240040"]Akon[/artist]'s Freedom at #7; the soundtrack to "High School Musical 3" at #8; the ubiquitous hits collection Now That's What I Call Music! 29 at #9; and David Cook's self-titled effort at #10.
Aside from Circus and Freedom (which sold 110,600 copies), other notable debuts on next week's chart include [artist id="15723"]Scarface[/artist]'s Emeritus (#24, with 42,000 copies sold), Neil Young's Sugar Mountain: Live at Canterbury House 1968 (#40, with 26,400 copies sold) and the soundtrack to [artist id="1236911"]Beyoncé[/artist]'s new movie, "Cadillac Records" (#66, with 15,600 copies sold).