'I Am' takes top slot in CD sales

Beyonce’s two-CD set “I Am … Sasha Fierce” (Music World/Columbia) sold 482,000 copies in its opening session to greatly outdistance the No. 2 finisher, Nickleback’s “Dark Horse,” according to Nielsen Soundscan data for the week ended Nov. 23.

“I Am,” Beyonce’s third album and third chart-topper, follows her solo debut, 2003’s “Dangerously in Love,” which saw first-week sales of 317,000, and 2006’s “B-Day,” which debuted to 541,000 sold. The former Destiny’s Child leader also has the No. 1 single in the country, “If I Were a Boy.”

“Dark Horse,” the Roadrunner Records follow-up to “All the Right Reasons,” which has spent three years on the album sales chart, sold 326,000 to start at No. 2.

David Cook helped pump some life back into the “American Idol” franchise by selling 280,000 copies of his self-titled debut on 19 Recordings/RCA to open at No. 3. Album far outpaced the first-week numbers of 2007 winner Jordin Sparks’ debut, which sold 119,000. “Idol” winners who have posted strong album sales generally have also had a single precede the album’s release, in this case “Light On.”

Il Divo’s “The Promise” (Syco/Columbia) set a personal-best opening sales week of 162,000 to debut at No. 5. Disc surpassed the first-week totals of 2006’s “Siempre,” which sold 108,000 to debut at No. 17. “The Promise” debuted at No. 1 in five countries, including the U.K.

Among other debuts, Dido’s “Safe Trip Home” (RCA) sold 51,000 (No. 13); Mudvayne’s “New Game” (Epic) sold 48,000 (No. 15); Zac Brown Band’s “The Foundation” (Atlantic), buoyed by the No. 1 country single “Chicken Fried,” moved 44,000 (No. 17); “Cities 97 Sampler Vol. 20,” a Minneapolis radio station’s collection of in-studio performances, sold 35,0000 (No. 21); Slim’s “Love’s Crazy” (M3 Productions/Asylum) moved 27,000 (No. 32); Blake Shelton’s “Startin’ Fires” (Warner Nashville) sparked 26,000 (No. 34); and DJ Khaled’s “Ace Hood Gutta” (We the Best Music/Def Jam), hooked up with 25,000 (No. 36).

Last week’s No. 1, Taylor Swift’s “Fearless,” sold 217,000 copies, down 63%, to come in at No. 4.

The first week in which “Twilight” was in theaters resulted in a 17% jump to 125,000 in sales for the soundtrack, taking it down a notch to No. 6.

Of the 39 nondebuts in the top 50, 14 albums posted sales increases from the week before. Half of those were holiday records, among them Faith Hill’s “Joy to the World” (46,000, No. 16); “Elvis Presley Christmas Duets” (29,000, No. 25); Yo-Yo Ma’s “Songs of Peace and Joy” (28,000, No. 26); and Tony Bennett’s “Swinging Christmas,” which has risen 84 slots in two weeks to No. 49, selling 20,000 copies in the week ended Sunday.

First-day sales of Guns N’ Roses’ “Chinese Democracy” were not included in this week’s sales chart despite having a day in the current sales period. The album is being sold exclusively through Best Buy, which tallies sales on a Sunday-Saturday schedule rather than Soundscan’s Monday through Sunday sales period.

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