Country-pop star holds to No. 1

Country-pop star Taylor Swift’s “Red” enjoyed another big pre-Christmas frame last week and held onto the No. 1 slot on the U.S. album chart.

The Big Machine collection gained 25% and maintained its position with 208,000 sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan data for the week ending Dec. 16. It was the album’s fifth non-consecutive week at No. 1; the title has sold nearly 2.6 million copies in just eight weeks.

“Red” held off a strong challenge from Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox” (Atlantic), which bowed at No. 2 with 192,000 shifted. The soulful pop singer’s 2010 debut “Doo Wops & Hooligans” peaked at No. 3. Sophomore album was pushed by a No. 1 single, “Locked Out of Heaven.”

The stanza’s other top 10 debut was the Game’s “Jesus Piece” (Geffen), which marched in at No. 6 with 86,000. The L.A. rapper’s fifth major-label studio release is his lowest-charting set by far: All his previous albums have debuted at either No. 1 or No. 2 on the national chart.

Holiday albums continued to show legs: Michael Buble’s “Christmas” (Warner Bros.) saw a 30% gain, taking No. 3 with 138,000 sold; the 2011 release has sold 435,000 copies this season. Rod Stewart’s current “Merry Christmas Baby” (Verve) dropped two poles to No. 5, racking up sales of 108,000 (down 15%).

Also in the Yuletide running: Blake Shelton’s “Cheers, It’s Christmas” (No. 8, 68,000 sold, down 1%) and Lady Antebellum’s “On This Winter’s Night” (No. 10, 60,000, off 3%).

The week’s other holdovers included One Direction’s “Take Me Home” (No. 4, 127,000 sold, up 19%), Phillip Phillips’ “The World From the Side of the Moon” (No. 7, 68,000, up 4%) and Alicia Keys’ “Girl On Fire” (No. 9, 61,000, off 20%).

End-of-the-year releases by The-Dream and Chief Keef could entice last-minute shoppers and make a mark on the final chart of 2012 in the coming week.

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