It’s been an oddly major year for indie artists. Back in January, Vampire Weekend made history when their Contra album debuted at #1 on the Billboard albums chart. And now, it’s the Arcade Fire‘s turn to take the top spot … and they did it in an even bigger fashion than anyone could’ve imagined.
Their The Suburbs album sold more than 156,000 copies — some 30,000 more than VW managed to move in their first week — to bow at #1 on next week’s Top 200. They’re the highest opening numbers for any indie album since Pearl Jam’s Backspacer (which was released on their own Monkey Wrench label but sold exclusively through mega-retailer Target, indie stores and online) sold 189,000 copies in September 2009, and bested debuts by the likes of the Shins, whose Wincing the Night Away sold 118,000 copies to debut at #2 in January 2007, and Radiohead , who signed to indie ATO Records to release the physical edition of their In Rainbows album in 2008, and sold 122,000 copies to bow at #1.
The Suburbs is also the first #1 debut in the 20-year history of venerable Durham, North Carolina, indie Merge Records. They came close in 2007 when the Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible debuted at #2 (behind a Notorious B.I.G. greatest-hits album). It was such a big week for the band that their first album — 2004′s Funeral — reentered the chart at #175, with sales of more than 3,000 copies.
Following behind the Arcade Fire is Eminem, who sold more than 152,000 copies of his massive Recovery album to land at #2. Em’s probably not sweating it though … Recovery will pass the 2 million mark in total sales this week. Last week’s chart champs Avenged Sevenfold fall to #3, as their Nightmare album sold more than 45,000 copies.
Houston legend Bun B scored the week’s second-highest debut, as his Trill O.G. album sold nearly 41,000 copies to open at #4. Rick Ross‘ Teflon Don is in at #5, with sales of 39,000 copies.
Rounding out the top 10 is Lady Gaga‘s brand-new Remix album, which sold more than 39,000 to land at #6; Justin Bieber‘s My World 2.0 (#7, more than 37,000 copies sold); Drake‘s Thank Me Later (#8, more than 31,000 copies sold); Lady Antebellum‘s Need You Now (#9, nearly 29,000 copies sold); and Buckcherry‘s new All Night Long (#10, nearly 28,000).
Outside the top 10 were debuts by Ryan Star (no, not that one) at #31, Secondhand Serenade (#42) and Los Lobos (#47).