Justin Bieber's Believe enters The Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 374K. The number is off a bit from the overly rosy 400K-440K projections that were floated last week. Even so, it's the biggest first-week sales tally by any album so far this year. And it's the biggest one-week sales tally of Bieber's career. There's just one potentially awkward wrinkle. The album displaces the latest by Bieber's mentor, Usher. The R&B star's Looking 4 Myself drops to #6 after an uncharacteristically soft debut (128K) at #1 last week. That was Usher's slimmest first-week sales tally since 1997.
Of course, it's a little unfair to compare to the two artists, who are at different points in their careers. Usher first cracked the top 10 (with My Way) in January 1998—when Bieber was three years old.
Remarkably, this is the second time that Bieber has bumped Usher out of the #1 spot. In April 2010, My World 2.0 returned to #1, displacing Raymond V Raymond (which had interrupted its run on top). The two artists must not mind competing because this is the second time they've released albums just one week apart.
Bieber is the first artist in chart history to land four #1 albums or EPs while still in his teens. Believe follows My World 2.0, the EP Never Say Never: The Remixes and Under The Mistletoe. And Bieber has nearly 18 months to add to this tally. He won't turn 20 until March 1, 2014.
Two artists landed three #1 albums while still in their teens. Britney Spears scored with …Baby One More Time, Oops!...I Did It Again and Britney, all by age 19. Miley Cyrus scored with Hannah Montana 2/Meet Miley Cyrus, Breakout and the Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack, all by age 16. (The Fine Print: The initial Hannah Montana TV soundtrack in 2006 also reached #1, but I didn't count it because it wasn't marketed as a Cyrus album.)
In addition, Bieber is only the second Canadian artist to land four #1 albums. He follows Neil Young, who scored with the 1972 classic Harvest and also with three albums with Crosby, Stills Nash & Young: Déjà vu, 4 Way Street and So Far. Young was 21, not much older than Bieber is now, in 1967 when he first charted with Buffalo Springfield.
Michael Buble is runner-up among Canadian acts for the most #1 albums. The charismatic crooner has had three: Call Me Irresponsible, Crazy Love and Christmas.
Believe also enters The Official U.K. chart at #1. Bieber is the youngest artist ever to have a "transatlantic #1"—an album that reached #1 in both the U.S. and the U.K. The record was formerly held by fellow Canadian Avril Lavigne, who was 19 when she topped the charts in both countries in 2004 with Under My Skin.
The 374K start for Believe marks Bieber's biggest sales week to date. It tops My World 2.0, which sold 291K in its second week. It's the biggest first-week tally by any album since Take Care by fellow Canadian artist Drake sold 631K in its first week in November. It's the biggest one-week tally for an album by a teen star since Fearless by Taylor Swift (then 18) debuted with sales of 592K in November 2008.
Here are the runners-up to Believe for the biggest first-week sales tallies of 2012: Madonna's "bundle"-boosted MDNA (359K), Carrie Underwood's Blown Away (267K), Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (253K) and John Mayer's Born And Raised (219K).
The 374K tally for Believe includes 139K digital copies, which it puts it at #1 on Top Digital Albums. That's the biggest one-week digital tally in history for a teen act. The old record was held by Swift's Fearless, which sold 129K in its debut week.
Kenny Chesney's Welcome To The Fishbowl debuts at #2. It's his 10th top five album. Chesney is one of only six country artists to land 10 or more top five albums in the history of The Billboard 200. Garth Brooks leads the pack with 13, followed by Tim McGraw with 12; George Strait and Toby Keith, with 11 each; and Alan Jackson, also with 10.
Fishbowl enters Top Country Albums at #1, displacing Josh Turner's Punching Bag (the title suddenly seems apt). This is Chesney's 11th #1 country album.
Fiona Apple's The Idler Wheel Is Wiser… debuts at #3. It's Apple's highest-charting album to date. Extraordinary Machine, her last album (and her only previous top 10 album), reached #7 in October 2005. Apple first charted in September 1996 with Tidal.
(The full title of Apple's current album is The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do. Incredibly, this isn't Apple's longest album title. The full title of 1999's When The Pawn… stretched to a staggering 90 words. Do you get the impression she's paid by the word? I bet she always got an A in English class—and was a bit of a smart-aleck.)
Smashing Pumpkins' Oceania debuts at #4. It's the band's seventh top 10 album; its sixth to crack the top five. The band first cracked the top 10 in August 1993 with Siamese Dream. The band first charted in August 1991 with Gish.
The Rock Of Ages soundtrack jumps from #9 to #5 in its third week. It's the third soundtrack from a movie or TV show directed by Adam Shankman to reach the top 10. It follows Hairspray (#2 in 2007) and Glee: The Rocky Horror Glee Show (#6 in 2010). Rock Of Ages is #1 on Top Soundtracks for the third week. (If you haven't seen it, the movie is a hoot.)
I have good news and bad news about Adele's 21, which drops from #3 to #7 in its 70th week. It's the first album to spend its first 70 weeks in the top 10 since Bruce Springsteen's Born In The U.S.A., which spent its first 84 weeks in the top 10 from June 1984 to January 1986. Alas, the #7 ranking equals its lowest ranking to date. (It previously dipped this low in the week ending Nov. 27.) Also, the album sold 48K this week. It's the first time the album's sales have slipped below 50K. Its previous low was 56K four weeks ago.
One Direction's Up All Night logs its 15th straight week in the top 10. In addition, the boy band's DVD, Up All Night: The Live Tour, is #1 for the fourth week on Top Music Videos. It sold 22,000 copies this week, bringing its four-week total to 160K.
Luke Bryan's Tailgates And Tanlines rebounds from #13 to #9 in its 46th week. The album has sold 1,204,000 copies, which is more than Bryan's last two albums combined.
Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" holds at #1 on Hot Digital Songs for the sixth straight week. Only one other song has had as many weeks at #1 so far this year. That's "We Are Young" by fun. featuring Janelle Monae, which was the top-seller for seven weeks. Will "Call Me Maybe" hold at #1 on the Hot 100? Probably, but you'll find out for sure later today when we post Chart Watch: Songs.
Here's the low-down on this week's top 10 albums.
The Top Five: Justin Bieber's Believe debuts at #1 (374K). It's Bieber's fourth #1 album or EP; his sixth to reach the top 10…Kenny Chesney's Welcome To The Fishbowl debuts at #2 (193K). It's Chesney's 10th top 10 album… Fiona Apple's The Idler Wheel Is Wiser debuts at #3 (72K). It's Apple's second top 10 album...Smashing Pumpkins' Oceania debuts at #4 (53K). It's the band's seventh top 10 album…The Rock Of Ages soundtrack jumps from #9 to #5 in its third week (49K).
The Second Five: Usher's Looking 4 Myself drops from #1 to #6 in its second week (48K)…Adele's 21 drops from #3 to #7 in its 70th week (48K). It has been in the top 10 the entire time… One Direction's Up All Night drops from #6 to #8 in its 15th week (41K). The former #1 album has been in the top 10 the entire time… Luke Bryan's Tailgates & Tanlines rebounds from #13 to #9 in its 46th week (28K). This is its seventh week in the top 10…Rush's Clockwork Angels drops from #2 to #10 in its second week (27K).
Five albums drop out of the top 10 this week. Josh Turner's Punching Bag drops from #4 to #17, Ed Sheeran's + drops from #5 to #29, Neil Young & Crazy Horse's Americana drops from #7 to #28, Alan Jackson's Thirty Miles West drops from #8 to #11 and Waka Flocka Flame's Triple F Life: Fans, Friends & Family drops from #10 to #26.
The soundtrack to the Disney Channel TV movie Let It Shine vaults from #29 to #12 in its second week…Dirty Heads' Cabin By The Sea debuts at #18. Dirty Heads is the second "Dirty" act to land a top 20 album. Dirty Vegas' eponymous album hit #7 in June 2002. (I feel dirty just writing this item.)
Glen Hansard's Rhythm And Repose debuts at #21. This is Hansard's first top 30 album on his own. He teamed with Marketa Irglova to write and record the Once soundtrack (#7 in March 2008) and The Swell Season's Strict Joy (#15 in November 2009).
The Brave soundtrack debuts at #33. The animated Disney Pixar movie was #1 at the box-office over the weekend. The soundtrack features Patrick Doyle's original score and vocal tracks by such acts as Julie Fowlis and Birdy with Mumford & Sons…The soundtrack to Project X re-enters the chart at #34, thanks to the release of the movie's DVD. The soundtrack reached #12 in March.
Journey's 1988 album Greatest Hits drops from #28 to #40 in its 220th week on the chart. It holds at #1 on the Top Catalog Albums chart for the second straight week; the 11th week overall. "Don't Stop Believin'" is the big finale in the aforementioned Rock Of Ages.
The Black Keys' Brothers drops from #55 to #66 in its 109th week. The album has sold 1,082,000 copies, nearly half of them digital. The album this week becomes the 26th album to sell 500K digital copies.
Coming Attractions: Linkin Park's Living Things is expected to debut at #1 next week, wtih sales in the 230K range. Look for Maroon5's Overexposed to debut at #2, with sales in the 200K range. Maybach Music Group's Self Made Vol. 2 will probably at #4, with sales of about 80K. R. Kelly's Write Me Back will open near #6, with sales of about 63K. Also due: The Offspring's Days Go By, Pentatonix's PTX, Vol. 1 and Blues Traveler's Suzie Cracks The Whip.