'Wrecking Ball' reps veteran's 10th career chart-topper

In a slim yet significant victory, Bruce Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball” shoved Adele’s “21” out of the No. 1 slot on the U.S. album chart this week.

The New Jersey rocker’s highly politicized new Columbia set tracked 196,000 copies out of the box, according to Nielsen SoundScan data for the week ending March 11. That tally was enough to garner Springsteen his 10th chart-topping album and third consecutive No. 1 studio album (succeeding 2009’s “Working On a Dream” and 2007’s “Magic”).

Springsteen – who pushed Taylor Swift’s “Fearless” out of the top position in ’09 – just nipped the still-robust “21,” outselling it by less than 1,400 units.

Adele’s Grammy winner, also a Columbia title, moved 195,000 units last week, good for No. 2 on the chart. “21” had held the top chart position since the beginning of the year and logged 23 non-consecutive weeks there. The title has sold 1.7 million since its Grammy triumph in February and 8 million to date domestically.

Two releases make debuts near the bottom of the top 10 this week.

Country singer Luke Bryan’s EP “Spring Break 4 – Suntan City” (Capitol Nashville) bows at No. 9 with a 30,000-unit debut frame. It’s the singer’s third top 10 entry, and succeeds his No. 2 album of 2011, “Tailgates & Tanlines.”

Songwriter-fiddler Andrew Bird’s “Break It Yourself” (Mom + Pop) arrives at No. 10 with a 26,000-unit score. It’s the former Squirrel Nut Zippers member’s first top 10 collection in a solo career that stretches back to 1998.

Several releases posted enormous gains as beneficiaries of aggressive one-day, 25-cent discounting by the Google Play and Amazon MP3 digital stores.

They included “Now 41″ (No. 3, 152,000 sold, up 234%), Lady Antebellum’s “Own the Night” (No. 4, 108,000, up 437%), Coldplay’s “Mylo Xyloto” (No. 5, 100,000, up 567%), Drake’s “Take Care” (No. 7, 58,000, up 97%) and Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter IV” (No. 8, 36,000, up 173%).

Lowball sales strategy ducked a SoundScan prohibition of deep discounting, established late last year after Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” entered at No. 1 thanks to 99-cent pricing by Amazon. New titles must now be priced above $3.49 to attain chart position, but all the albums that made moves last week are more than four weeks old.

Completing the top of this week’s chart, the late Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Hits” (Arista/Sony) fell four slots to No. 6 on a 70,000-unit week.

Hot U.K. boy band and “X Factor” grads One Direction should make a strong debut on next week’s chart.

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