Springsteen charts ninth No. 1 debut

Swift's 'Fearless' drops to second spot

Bruce Springsteen delivered his ninth No. 1 disc with the debut of “Working on a Dream.”

Album sold 224,000 copies in the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen Soundscan, hitting the mark that was widely expected among industry observers.

Disc posted the lowest opening week among Springsteen’s three albums with the E Street Band this decade. “Magic” sold 335,000 copies in its opening stanza 15 months ago, and “The Rising” sent off 525,000 in August 2002.

“Working on a Dream” has debuted at No. 1 in 16 countries, among them Canada, the U.K., Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and New Zealand. It has been certified platinum in four countries and gold in nine others.

Domestic sales period ended prior to his performance at halftime of Sunday’s Super Bowl, which should keep his tally high next week.

“Working on a Dream” is the third album for which Springsteen has kicked promotional efforts into high gear, agreeing to print and TV interviews. In addition, iTunes offered a free download of the title track a month before the release of the album, and Amazon streamed the video of the new album’s “Life Itself.” Springsteen also appeared at the We Are One concert in Washington, D.C., just days before the disc’s release.

When Springsteen and the E Street Band made an effort to reconnect with audiences by increasing his promotional appearances ahead of the release of “The Rising,” it was a novel move — one that now appears to be necessary for any veteran star hoping to have a commercial impact.

The rest of the top 10 fell between the 55,000 sold by Taylor Swift’s “Fearless” at No. 2 and the 28,000 for Britney Spears’ “Circus.” Storms and power outages throughout the country have been blamed for the low sales results this week. Two albums debuted in the top 10: The “2009 Grammy Nominees” various artists disc from Rhino sold 33,000 to open at No. 6, and Franz Ferdinand’s “Tonight: Franz Ferdinand” (Domino) sold 31,000 (No. 9).

The Grammy disc was one of four various artists series to debut in the top 50 this week.

Other top 50 debuts were “WWE The Music Vol. 9” (Columbia), selling 25,000 (No. 13); Pat Green’s “What I’m For” (BNA), 18,000 (No. 18); Hoobastank’s “Fornever” (Island), 15,000 (No. 26); the “Wow Gospel 2009,” compilation, selling just 22 fewer copies (No. 27); and Radio Disney’s “Kid Jams Vol. 11” (Disney Buena Vista), 12,000 (No. 41).

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