Taylor Swift is making this look easy. The country starlet (and one of our Female Pop MVPs of 2009) will notch her fifth week in a row at the top of the Billboard top 200, after moving another 71,600 units on a grim sales week when almost every album in the top 30 suffered double-digit percent losses.
As consumers wait for the year's first wave of big new releases to hit shelves next week, most of the top 10 found the usual suspects just trading places, according to figures provided by Nielsen SoundScan. Swift steamed toward sales of 2.3 million for her Fearless album, while Nickelback bumped up three spots to #2 on sales of 52,500 of their Dark Horse. Kanye West (likely to 50 Cent's consternation) held steady at #3 with 808s & Heartbreak (50,500). Beyoncé's I Am ... Sasha Fierce dipped two spots to #4 (49,400), as the "Twilight" soundtrack ticked up one to #5 (42,900), and Britney Spears' Circus held its ground at #6 (40,300).
The rest of the top 10 is largely unchanged: Keyshia Cole's Different Me at #7 (36,900), Jamie Foxx's Intuition at #8 (33,700) and Now That's What I Call Music! Vol. 29 at #9 (29,900). Akon drops one spot to #10 on sales of 26,900 for his Freedom.
A couple of artists bucked the downward trend, among them the surging Lady Gaga (whom we named one of the top Female Pop Rookies of 2009), who was only off 7 percent for the week, after notching 21,200 in sales for her album The Fame, which jumped from #26 to #14. Frequent blogger Katy Perry's One of the Boys leaped from #23 to #15 on sales of 19,800. Kings of Leon saw just a 5 percent drop for Only by the Night, pushing them from #33 to #17 on sales of 19,400. After more than 10 months on the charts, MGMT's Oracular Spectacular drilled up 19 spots to #38 on sales of 11,900. That means the psychedelic duo are two spots ahead of Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy, which continues its downward spiral after just seven weeks on the chart, dropping another 10 spots to #40 on sales of 11,600.
And though we speculated that, with vinyl sales alone, blog faves Animal Collective might make the charts in another slow week, it seems that the lack of reporting from the many indie stores that sold out the 4,500 copies of the band's Merriweather Post Pavilion in just a few days blocked the group from charting. If it's any consolation, though, fellow indie insurgent Bon Iver continue an unlikely march up the charts with For Emma Forever Ago, leaping 26 spots to #64 on sales of 7,900.
But lack of mainstream distribution didn't stop The T-Wayne Show mixtape, featuring T-Pain and Lil Wayne, from crashing the charts at #152 on sales of 3,400. And MTV's pick for one of the rock names to watch in 2009, Kevin Rudolf, pushed up almost 20 spots with In the City, which hit #145, after falling off the charts for more than a month.
Things will finally get a bit of a shake-up next week, when the soundtrack to the eagerly anticipated Notorious B.I.G. biopic, "Notorious," hits the charts, along with a Mariah Carey best-of ballads CD and a new Gretchen Wilson album.