Country star notches first million-selling week since 2008

Taylor Swift, who turns 21 on Dec. 13, received an early birthday gift last week from the American public: a million-selling No. 1 album.

As widely anticipated, the country-pop singer’s “Speak Now” (Big Machine) bowed at the top in its first week in stores, according to Nielsen SoundScan figures for the week ended Sunday, Oct. 31, selling 1.04 million copies.

Album was the first title to move in with out-of-the-box sales of 1 million since Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter III” in mid-2008.

According to SoundScan, “Speak Now” accounted for 18% of all industry album sales for the week; removing catalog titles from the equation, the set represented 28.4% of all album sales.

The “Speak Now” figures benefited from an extra day of sales for the album: It arrived in stores Oct. 25, a day before the music industry’s regulation Tuesday street date.

Price point almost certainly played a factor in its big debut — title was tagged as low at $8 by merchants including Target (which is marketing an exclusive deluxe edition of the set at full price) and Amazon.com.

The rest of the business chose to stay out of the way of the Swift juggernaut. The Oct. 26 release schedule featured no collection likely to challenge her supremacy; the week’s only other top 10 arrival, Michael Buble’s “Hollywood: The Deluxe EP” (No. 10, 26,000 sold), was an eight-song demi-sequel to his 2009 release “Crazy Love.”

Other Swift titles received a chart lift as “Speak Now” rolled out of stores. Singer’s sophomore studio album “Fearless” — on the chart nearly two years, with more than 6 million sold to date — gained 41% and rose 27 slots to No. 38 on the chart. Her 2007 EP “The Holiday Collection” returned at No. 29.

Swift is only the second country artist and the third woman to sell more than a million units in one week since SoundScan started tracking record sales in 1991.

Garth Brooks’ “Double Live” scanned 1.08 million in 1998, setting a sales record at the time. Britney Spears’ second release “Oops! … I Did It Again” topped 1.32 million in 2000, while Norah Jones’ “Feels Like Home,” the 2004 follow-up to her Grammy-winning “Come Away With Me,” shifted 1.02 million.

The record for one-week sales is still held by boy band N’ Sync, whose 2000 set “No Strings Attached” toted up 2.42 million.

As Swift entered the week with sales in seven figures, the rest of the U.S. top 10 had to be satisfied with five-digit tallies.

Previous week’s No. 1, Sugarland’s “The Incredible Machine,” fell to No. 2 with a 56% decline, selling 89,000.

Holding down slots in the top five were Kings of Leon’s “Come Around Sundown” (No. 3, 67,000 sold, down 63%), Lil Wayne’s “I Am Not a Human Being” (No. 4, 43,000, down 33%) and Eminem’s “Recovery” (No. 5, 38,000, down 12%).

Hanging on in the top 10 were Elton John and Leon Russell’s “The Union” (No. 6, 37,000, down 54%), “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” (No. 7, 31,000, down 35%), Rod Stewart’s “Fly Me to the Moon” (No. 8, 30,000, down 62%) and Darius Rucker’s “Charleston, SC 1966″ (No. 9, 27,000, down 26%).

New titles by Neil Diamond and Jason Aldean attempt to challenge the Taylor-centric chart this week.

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