Collection is first digital-only release to hit No. 1

Becoming the first digital-only release to reach the apex of the U.S. album chart, the all-star set “Hope For Haiti Now” bows at No. 1 this week.

Collection – featuring performances by Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Stevie Wonder and other stars featured on Friday’s multi-network benefit broadcast – moved 171,000 downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan figures for the week ending Jan. 24.

Number is especially astonishing because the sales were accrued essentially in just 48 hours. Album was made available at iTunes and other download services on Saturday, and SoundScan’s chart week closes Sunday.

“Hope” track “Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour),” performed on the telebeneit by Jay-Z, Rihanna and U2’s Bono and the Edge, tracked 132,000 units on its own.

All proceeds from the album and “Stranded” go to the Red Cross, UNICEF and other orgs involved in the Haiti earthquake relief effort.

Potent debut left Susan Boyle’s “I Dreamed a Dream” (Syco/Columbia) hanging at No. 2. Scottish singer’s collection still gained 12%, selling 86,000 units. Boyle’s cumulative sales now exceed 3.3 million.

Grammy hopeful Lady Gaga’s “The Fame” (Interscope) sees a one-rung uptick to No. 3; 62,000-unit week was good for the move, despite a small 3% decline from last week.

Two other debuts round out the national top five. Spoon’s “Transference,” issued by the indie label Merge, enters at No. 4; the Austin, Texas-based band’s set tracked 53,000. EMI’s “2010 Grammy Nominees” package, 16th annual compilation drawn from the awards nods, moves in at No. 5, shifting 49,000.

Last week’s No. 1 album, Vampire Weekend’s “Contra” (XL), drops five slot to No. 6; the Brooklyn act dropped 65% behind sales of 43,000.

Pop/R&B singer Alicia Keys’ “The Element of Freedom” (J Records) slides two positions to No. 7, off 16% with 40,000 sold. Party rocker Ke$ha’s “Animal” (Kemosabe/RCA) falls five notches to No. 8, down 47% with 35,000 sold. The Black Eyed Peas’ “The E.N.D.” (Interscope) marks a 7% gain in its 33rd chart week to inch up one position to No. 9, with a 35,000-unit stanza.

While Taylor Swift’s “Fearless” (Big Machine) slips two slots to No. 10, selling 32,000 (off 5%), the pop-country sensation tallied an online milestone of her own this week. Singer’s new “Today Was a Fairy Tale,” from the forthcoming pic “Valentine’s Day,” sold 325,000 downloads, giving her the best first week digital sales by a female artist to date.

Country trio Lady Antebellum’s new sophomore album “Need You Now” leads candidates for a top 10 debut on next week’s chart.

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