After four weeks of unadulterated retail domination, it looked as though Josh Groban's impressive run at #1 might come to a close with the release last week of Mary J. Blige's eighth studio offering, Growing Pains. And why not? After all, this is Mary J. we're talking about -- you know, the "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul," who has sold more than 40 million records worldwide.
It wouldn't have been much of a stretch to assume Blige's latest would be the record that finally dethroned Groban's holiday collection, Noël, on Billboard's top 200. But, of course, Blige's album hasn't been touted all month long by Oprah as the "one Christmas CD every family should have," like Groban's has. That glowing endorsement aired once again in a rerun of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on Monday.
Despite Blige's track record -- three of her albums have debuted at #1, most recently 2005's The Breakthrough, which scanned more than 727,000 units -- and widespread name recognition, after the dust of the last-minute shopping rush settled, Blige's LP bowed at #2, selling more than 629,000 copies. Groban's Noël sold close to 756,600 units, pushing total sales of the disc past the 3.5 million mark. Groban's is the first Christmas album to ever top the chart for five straight weeks.
The rest of the top 10 is cluttered with some of the year's best-selling releases, including Alicia Keys' As I Am, which drops one spot to #3 with 473,800 copies sold. The Eagles' Long Road Out of Eden follows at #4 with 312,800 scans, while Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus closes out the week with sales of 260,000, enough to land the disc in the #5 position.
The 26th installment in the Now That's What I Call Music! compilation series sits in the #6 spot, having sold another 235,000 units, while Carrie Underwood's Carnival Ride trails at #7, with 215,800 sold. Taylor Swift's eponymous debut holds at #8, with 186,700 scans, and at #9, it's the soundtrack to "High School Musical 2," which sold 184,600 copies. Rounding things out at #10, up two spots from the previous week, is Chris Brown's Exclusive, selling 176,200 units. Overall sales of the disc shot up a whopping 66 percent.
The week before Christmas was a solid one for sales overall: The 200 releases comprising next week's Billboard albums chart topped out at 10.6 million, up from the previous week's sales of 7.2 million. But a mere eight newcomers cracked the top 200 this week, according to the latest SoundScan figures, with only one album -- Blige's -- entering in the chart's top 10. The second-highest charting new release, R&B stud Jaheim's The Makings of a Man, debuts at #11 with 175,900 sold.
Coming in at #15 with 143,400 sold is Lupe Fiasco's new one, Lupe Fiasco's "The Cool," followed at #33 by Kirk Franklin's Fight of My Life, which scanned more than 74,400 units. The soundtrack to director Tim Burton's "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" checks in at #56, after selling nearly 47,000 copies, while WWE Raw's Greatest Hits follows at #68, with 40,300 snatched up. Chingy's Hate It or Love It bows at #84, with 31,500 sold. Lastly, debuting at #163 with about 14,200 scans, it's Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo's first solo outing, Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo.