Week Ending July 15, 2012. Albums: This Will Surprise You

Paul Grein
Chart Watch (NEW)

Ask a few musically aware people to guess which album by a group or duo has sold the most copies in any one week so far this year. I bet very few people will get it right. Here's the right answer: Zac Brown Band's Uncaged, which enters The Billboard 200 at #1 this week with sales of 234K copies. The runners-up (and your most likely wrong guesses) are Linkin Park's Living Things (223K), Maroon 5's Overexposed (222K), Van Halen's A Different Kind Of Truth (187) and One Direction's Up All Night (176K).

Uncaged sold more than 100K more copies than Frank Ocean's Channel Orange, which may be this year's most buzzed-about album. Uncaged even sold more digital copies than Channel Orange, which was an iTunes exclusive. Uncaged sold 139K digital copies (to rank #1 on Top Digital Albums). Channel Orange sold 128K digital copies. (More on Ocean in a minute.)

Uncaged is second only to Carrie Underwood's Blown Away among country albums so far this year. Underwood's album sold 267K in its first week.

All three of Zac Brown Band's albums rank in this week's top 20. You Get What You Give leaps from #51 to #16 in its 95th week. The Foundation vaults from #73 to #19 in its 190th week. This is the latter album's highest ranking since August 2010.

The 234K start for Uncaged represents a substantial gain over You Get What You Give, which debuted at #1 in October 2010 with sales of 153K. The Foundation opened in November 2008 with sales of 44K. It finally peaked at #9 in May 2010.

The Foundation jumps to #1 on Top Catalog Albums. It's the first country album to head that chart since Taylor Swift's Sounds Of The Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection topped the chart for four weeks in 2009-2010. It's the first non-holiday country album to accomplish the feat since George Strait's 50 Number Ones did it in May 2009.

The Foundation has sold 3,021,000 copies to date (counting 63K for a Cracker Barrel-exclusive version). You Get What You Give has sold 1,555,000.

Uncaged also enters Top Country Albums at #1, displacing Kenny Chesney's Welcome To The Fishbowl. Turnabout is fair play: Chesney's Hemingway's Whiskey booted You Get What You Give out of the top spot (after a single week) in October 2010.

Frank Ocean's Channel Orange enters The Billboard 200 at #2 with first-week sales of 131K. (The tally includes about 3K CDs. Though the album was an iTunes exclusive, retailers were authorized to sell them as soon as they got them.)

Ocean has been amassing credits for the past four years. Still, many music fans first became aware of Ocean earlier this month when he published an open letter on his Tumblr blog recounting feelings he had for a man starting four years ago when he was 19. He used the blog to thank the man for his influence, and also thanked his mother and other friends, saying "I don't know what happens now, and that's alrite. I don't have any secrets I need kept anymore...I feel like a free man."

Ocean references his sexuality on three songs on Channel Orange: "Bad Religion," "Pink Matter" and "Forrest Gump."

While Ocean didn't put a label on his sexual orientation, it's hard not to read his moving statement as an act of coming out. This is the second time in two months that an "out" artist has landed high on the chart. In May, Adam Lambert became the first "out" gay male artist to land a #1 album, Trespassing.

Channel Orange nearly equaled Chris Brown's Fortune for the biggest one-week sales of the year by an R&B album. Fortune sold 135K copies last week. Channel Orange outsold Usher's Looking 4 Myself, which sold 128K in its first week last month. This puts Ocean neck-and-neck with two of the biggest male stars in R&B.

Channel Orange enters the U.K. chart at #2.

Ocean first cracked the Hot 100 as a songwriter in December 2009 with Justin Bieber's "Bigger," a song from Bieber's debut EP My World. He first cracked the chart as a lead artist in July 2011 with "Novacane," a song from his mix-tape Nostalgia, Ultra. He first cracked the chart as a featured artist in January 2012 on "No Church In The Wild" by Kanye West/Jay-Z, a song from their #1 album Watch The Throne.

Ocean is a member of the hip-hop collective Odd Future, which debuted and peaked at #5 in March with The Odd Future Tape Vol. 2. Early forecasts called for Channel Orange to sell in the 40K-50K range. That would have been about on par with the Odd Future album or Goblin by fellow Odd Future member Tyler, The Creator. But Channel Orange sold about three times as many copies as those albums.

Ocean is the second artist with that unusual surname to reach the top 10. Billy Ocean had two top 10 albums in the mid-1980s, Suddenly and Love Zone.

Ocean is very likely to receive a Grammy nomination as Best New Artist. Other likely finalists include Gotye, One Direction, Lana Del Rey and fun. Other acts who may be in the running, depending in part on eligibility, include Carly Lee Jepsen (but only if her first U.S. album is released by the Sept. 30 eligibility cut-off date), 2011 American Idol champ Scotty McCreery, Ellie Goulding, and country songwriter-turned-recording star Brantley Gilbert.

Justin Bieber's Believe holds at #3 for the third straight week. The album advances to #8 on the year-to-date chart. If Believe maintains this momentum, this will be the third year in a row that the teen heartthrob will have an album in the year-end top 10. My World 2.0 was the #4  best-seller of 2010. Under The Mistletoe was #8 for 2011. Bieber's single "Boyfriend" is also in the top 10 for the year-to-date. The song has sold 2,717,000 copies, which puts it at #10 on the Nielsen SoundScan's year-to-date digital songs chart.

Katy Perry's "Wide Awake" displaces Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" from the #1 spot on Hot Digital Songs. "Wide Awake" sold 205K copies this week, compared to 203K for "Call Me Maybe." Perry is the first artist to top the Digital Songs chart twice in 2012. She scored in February with "Part Of Me." Will "Wide Awake" also hit #1 on the Hot 100, or will "Call Me Maybe" prevail for the sixth straight week? You'll find out later today when we post Chart Watch: Songs.

Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 albums.

The Top Five: Zac Brown Band's Uncaged debuts at #1 (234K). It's the band's third top 10 album; its second #1…Frank Ocean's Channel Orange debuts at #2 (131K). It's Ocean's first top 10 album on his own… Justin Bieber's Believe holds at #3 for the third week in its fourth week (45K). It has been in the top five the entire time… Chris Brown's Fortune drops from #1 to #4 in its second week (45K)…Maroon 5's Overexposed dips from #4 to #5 in its third week (44K). It has been in the top five the entire time.

The Second Five: Linkin Park's Living Things dips from #5 to #6 in its third week (37K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time… One Direction's Up All Night rebounds from #11 to #7 in its 18th week (36K). This is its 17th week in the top 10…Adele's 21 rebounds from #9 to #8 in its 73rd week (35K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time…Katy Perry's Teenage Dream drops from #2 to #9 in its 99th week (34K). This is its 11th week in the top 10… Kenny Chesney's Welcome To The Fishbowl drops from #8 to #10 in its fourth week (32K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time.

Three albums drop out of the top 10 this week. All were beneficiaries of last week's 99 cent sale at AmazonMP3. Gotye's Making Mirrors drops from #6 to #37. fun.'s Some Nights drops from #7 to #18. The Black Keys' El Camino plummets from #10 to #58.

Hank Williams Jr.'s Old School New Rules debuts at #12, which is his highest ranking to date. Williams was just 15 when he first made the top 20 in April 1965 with the Your Cheatin' Heart soundtrack. That movie was a bio-pic about Williams' legendary father, Hank Williams. This 47-year span of top 20 albums is among the longest by a country artist in history. Elvis Presley's top 20 albums span more than 52 years, from Elvis Presley (March 1956) to Christmas Duets (December 2008). (Presley wasn't a core country artist, but he was embraced by the format.)

Williams has had two other top 20 albums: That's How They Do It In Dixie: The Essential Collection (#16 in 2006) and 127 Rose Avenue (#19 in 2009).

Williams, 63, has lived more than twice as long as his father, who died of alcohol poisoning at age 29 on New Year's Day 1953. Williams was voted Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Assn. in 1987 and 1988. He was the first male solo artist to win that coveted award twice.

P.O.D.'s Murdered Love bows at #17. It's the band's fifth top 20 album, though it failed to follow the previous four into the top 10…Rock Of Ages drops from #20 to #30 in its sixth week. It's #1 on Top Soundtracks for the sixth straight week.

One Direction's Up All Night: The Live Tour is #1 for the seventh week on Top Music Videos. It sold 15,000 copies this week, bringing its seven-week total to 210K.

Ice Age: Continental Drift was #1 at the box-office over the weekend. The animated 3-D movie was the fourth installment in the popular series. John Powell composed the soundtrack.

Coming Attractions: Nas' Life Is Good is expected to debut at #1 next week with sales in the 125K range. Look for Kidz Bop Kidz' Kidz Bop 22 to debut at #3 with sales of about 60K. The Dark Knight Rises soundtrack will probably debut right around #9, with sales of about 28K. Pierce The Veil's Collide With The Sky will either just make or just miss the top 10, with sales of about 27K. Also due:   Matisyahu's Spark Seeker, HellYeah!'s Band Of Brothers and The Farm, Inc.'s The Farm, Inc.