Kanye West #1, Nicki Minaj #2 On Billboard Album Sales


 

As expected, Kanye West and Nicki Minaj arrive in the Nos. 1 and 2 slots, respectively, on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

Mr. West sold 496,000 of his “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” while Minaj moved 375,000 of her “Pink Friday” debut according to Nielsen SoundScan.

West’s 496,000 gives him his fourth straight No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 and the fourth-best sales week of 2010. It’s also a better launch than the 450,000 that greeted his last set, 2008’s “808s & Heartbreak.” As for Minaj, she racks up the second-best sales week for a female hip-hop act. Only Lauryn Hill has done better, when “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” started at No. 1 with 423,000 in 1998.

Many chart-watchers were keeping tabs of West’s presence in both the Amazon MP3 and iTunes stores last week. Amazon offered “Fantasy” for the entire week at just $3.99, while iTunes did not promote the album on the front of its store until Saturday (27) — five days after its Monday release.

West’s “Fantasy” starts with 224,000 downloads — 45% of the album’s overall first week. While SoundScan does not disclose retailers’ specific numbers — so we don’t know how much of that 224,000 is owed to Amazon MP3 or any other service — that number ranks as the fourth-biggest digital week for any set.

It’s behind only the debuts of Coldplay‘s “Viva La Vida” (288,000 in 2008), Taylor Swift‘s “Speak Now” (278,000 this year) and Eminem‘s “Recovery” (255,000 this year). It’s notable that those albums all had larger overall first-week sales figures — each began with well over 700,000 — making West’s digital debut more impressive because of its ratio of digital-to-physical copies.

Last week’s No. 1 album, Susan Boyle‘s “The Gift,” slips to No. 3 with 263,000 (down 21%), while Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” feels the heat from her NBC Thanksgiving TV special, rising five spots to No. 4 with 241,000 (up 64%). Jackie Evancho‘s “O Holy Night” falls three rungs to No. 5 with 142,000 (down 41%) while Rihanna‘s “Loud” drops three as well to No. 6 with 141,000 (down 32%).

Justin Bieber‘s Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club-exclusive set, “My Worlds Acoustic,” strums in at No. 7 with a 115,000 start. It’s the teen’s third top 10 entry in a little over a year. His first came with his debut album, “My World,” which arrived at No. 6 on the list dated Dec. 5, 2009.

My Chemical Romance‘s “Danger Days: the True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys” bows at No. 8 with 112,000 — the rock band’s second top 10 album. The act’s last studio set, 2006’s “The Black Parade,” started with 240,000 at No. 2.

The fifth and final debut in the top 10 this week comes from Ne-Yo‘s “Libra Scale,” which weighs in at No. 9 with 112,000 (just a hair behind My Chemical Romance). It’s the fourth release for the singer/songwriter, but begins with his lowest debut sales week. His first album, 2006’s “In My Own Words,” opened at No. 1 with 301,000 while its follow-up, 2007’s “Because of You,” also began at No. 1, but with 251,000. His third set, 2008’s “Year of the Gentleman,” came in at No. 2 with 250,000.

Rounding out the top 10 is the “Glee” Christmas album, which jingles down two slots to No. 10 with 108,000 (down 33%).

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