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Alicia Keys tops SoundScan charts

'As I Am' moves 742,000 copies

Alicia Keys posted a career-best sales week — and the second biggest of the year for any artist — in the frame ended Sunday, Nov. 18, moving 742,000 copies of her disc “As I Am” (J Records) in its first week in release, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

All four of Keys’ albums have hit the top spot.

In this case, though, she posted the best one-week sales for a female artist in three years and seven months. Only Kanye West’s “Graduation,” which sold 957,000 copies in its first week in September, has a higher tally this year.

Keys promoted the album with a concert appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” the morning of the album’s release and last month on “The Tonight Show.”

Her performance at Nov. 18’s American Music Awards, combined with post-Thanksgiving shopping, could produce second-week numbers in the same stratosphere.

In a year that has seen album sales struggle for nearly 11 months, it was undoubtedly refreshing for the industry to see all top 10 titles register sales of more than 100,000.

Celine Dion’s “Taking Chances” (Columbia) sold 214,000 in its first stanza to take third place. In the fourth spot with 206,000 sold, the 26th edition of the “Now” hits collection posted the third lowest opening-week figure in its nine-year history.

The Led Zeppelin overview “Mothership” (Swan Song/Atlantic) sold 136,000 copies to debut at No. 7 in the hedgerow. Set went on sale the day the Led Zep catalog was offered digitally for the first time; 25% of “Mothership’s” sales were downloads.

Comedian Dane Cook opened at No. 11, selling 90,000 copies of “Rough Around the Edges: Live From Madison Square Garden” (Comedy Central).

Familiar material filled many of the other rookie entries. The Killers’ collection of B-sides, soundtrack tunes an previously unfinished numbers, “Sawdust” (Island), sold 82,000 copies to open at No. 12. George Strait’s “22 More Hits” (MCA Nashville) moved 80,000 (No. 13). James Taylor’s live CD-DVD “One Man Band,” his first release for Starbucks’ Hear Music, sold 63,000 (No. 16).

Boyz II Men’s venture into Detroit in the 1960s, “Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA” (Decca), sold 42,000 (No. 27). At Nos. 30 and 33, selling 33,000 copies each, were Trisha Yearwood’s “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love” (Big Machine) and the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Greatest Hits, Vol. 1, The Singles” (Warner Bros.)

Other top 40 debuts were Seal’s “System” (Warner Bros.), which sold 30,000 (No. 35), and Duran Duran’s “Red Carpet Massacre” (Epic), which moved 29,000 (No. 36).

Last week’s No. 1, Jay-Z’s “American Gangster” (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam), slid 70% to 131,000 sold, dropping to No. 8.

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