'Love Is the Answer' sells 180,000 copies

In a week characterized by surprisingly soft numbers on a flood of new releases, Barbra Streisand brushed back challenges by younger thrushes and led eight new albums into the U.S. top 10 with her ninth No. 1 album, “Love Is the Answer.”

Streisand’s ballad-dominated Columbia collection, co-produced by pianist Diana Krall and Tommy LiPuma, sold 180,000 copies in its debut stanza, according to Nielsen SoundScan figures for the week ended Sunday. Her last chart-topper, “Higher Ground,” was released in 1997.

The veteran 67-year-old performer boosted sales for the set with an appearance on “Oprah” and a stint on the QVC shopping network and benefited from copious press coverage of her show at New York’s intimate Village Vanguard.

The “Twilight”-stoked popularity of Nashville-based rock act Paramore continued, as the band’s third studio album, “Brand New Eyes” (Fueled by Ramen), entered at No. 2. Fronted by powerhouse vocalist Hayley Williams, the group collected first-week sales of 175,000.

Lacking a breakout single, Mariah Carey’s much-delayed “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel” (Island), opened in third for the week, on sales of 168,000. The figure represents a considerable drop from her previous album, “E=MC2,” which debuted at No. 1 last year with sales of 463,000. Granted, fans waited three years for “E=MC2″ after her “Emancipation of Mimi” became 2005’s bestselling album, giving the latter release the added boost of anticipation.

Pennsylvania melodic rockers Breaking Benjamin rolled in at No. 4 with their fourth studio collection “Dear Agony” (Hollywood), powered by sales of 134,000.

Regrouped grungesters Alice in Chains found old fans loyal: Now featuring vocalist William DuVall in the late Layne Staley’s vocal chair, the Seattle unit bowed at No. 5 with “Black Gives Way to Blue” (Virgin). The act’s first studio collection in 14 years sold 126,000.

Rapper Jay-Z’s “The Blueprint 3″ (Roc Nation) slipped out of the top five, declining 34% and falling four slots to No. 6, with 89,000 discs sold.

Madonna’s valedictory Warner Bros. set “Celebration” boarded the chart at No. 7. The greatest hits collection, which succeeds 2008’s soft-selling “Hard Candy” in the marketplace, scanned 72,000.

Country firecracker Miranda Lambert’s third album “Revolution” (Columbia Nashville) arrived at No. 8, corralling 66,000 units.

Following in the footsteps of Disney star Miley Cyrus (whose EP “Time of Our Lives” fell to No. 11 this week), Mouse-bred vocalist Selena Gomez made her top-10 bow at No. 9 with “Kiss and Tell.” The teen-pop album on Hollywood debuted with 66,000 sold.

Last week’s No. 1 album, Pearl Jam’s “Backspacer” (Monkeywrench), dropped to No. 10 on a 69% decline in sales; the Seattle rockers’ set moved 58,000 in its second week.

Next week’s chart will see debuts by country singer Toby Keith, balladeer Michael Buble, boy-band vets Backstreet Boys and costumed hard rock icons KISS.

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