'Pink Friday' claims #1 spot after two-and-a-half months in release

A lady in waiting no longer, Nicki Minaj ascended to No. 1 on the U.S. album chart this week, 2½ months after her collection’s release.

The hip-hop diva’s “Pink Friday” (Cash Money) hit the top slot with a 45,000-unit sales week, according to Nielsen SoundScan figures for the week ended Feb. 6. The title has settled into the top 10 since its release in November.

Minaj’s ascent to the apex – a rare event for an album long in release — is qualified by a couple of factors: the lack of any compelling new competitors and the generally dismal level of sales. The total for “Pink Friday” is just 5,000 units above last week’s tally for Amos Lee’s “Mission Bell,” the lowest-selling album of the SoundScan era.

Nashville-based Christian rock band Red took the No. 2 position with its third album “Until We Have Faces” (Essential). Group’s first top 10 set tracked 43,000 copies its first week.

Latin star Ricky Martin reached No. 3 with his first album in six years, “Musica + Alma + Sexo” (Sony Latin), which sold 32,000 out of the box.

Bruno Mars’ “Doo-Wops and Hooligans” (No. 4, 32,000 sold, off 3%) and Rihanna’s “Loud” (No. 5, 29,000, up 15%) complete the top five.In a close horse race, a field of returnees fill out the top 10: “Kidz Bop 19″ (No. 6, 28,000 sold, down 7%), Jason Aldean’s “My Kinda Party” (No. 7, 27,000, up 5%), Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” (No. 8, 27,000, down 13%), Pink’s “Greatest Hits…So Far!!!” (No. 9, 25,000, down 6%) and Eminem’s “Recovery” (No. 10, 25,000, up 18%).

Next week, the 37th “Now That’s What I Call Music” hits compilation should easily lead a weak field of debut releases onto the chart.

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