'Red' notches a hat-trick of chart-topping weeks

Taylor Swift’s “Red” maintained its grip on the top of the U.S. album chart for a third consecutive frame this week, marking another personal best for the country-pop singer and becoming just the third album to log more than two consecutive weeks at No. 1 in 2012.

Swift’s fourth Big Machine studio album sold 196,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan data for the week ending Nov. 11. It’s the first of the wildly popular vocalist’s releases to take No. 1 for that length of time out of the box; its 2010 precursor “Speak Now” slipped from the pinnacle after two weeks.

Only one other 2012 release has seen equal longevity at the top this year: Mumford & Sons’ “Babel,” which settled in for three weeks in a row in September and October. The biggest title of 2011, Adele’s phenomenal “21,” occupied the slot for an amazing 10-week run at the beginning of the year.

Bowing with 1.2 million sold two weeks ago, “Red” has toted up a total of 1.74 million copies, further cementing the collection’s status as the bestselling album issued this year.

The newest iteration of the “Now That’s What I Call Music” franchise came aboard at No. 2 with a 99,000-unit debut week. The 44th edition, distributed by Capitol, compiles recent pop hits by Psy, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Pink and Flo Rida, among others. “Now 43″ debuted at No. 1 in August.

The week’s top holdover was Rod Stewart’s “Merry Christmas, Baby” (Verve), which locked in at No. 3 despite a 17% drop, shifting 74,000.

Two other new releases crowded into the top five. Ne-Yo’s “R.E.D.” (Motown) bowed at No. 4, scanning 66,000. It’s the fifth consecutive top-10 debut for the R&B singer (and newly minted Motown A&R exec), and his highest chart performance since “Year of the Gentleman” reached No. 2 in 2008.

Boston rockers Aerosmith took No. 5 with “Music From Another Dimension” (Columbia), which climbed onto the chart with 63,000 sold. It’s the veteran group’s seventh top-10 album, and its first set of all-original material since 2001’s “Just Push Play,” which peaked at No. 2. Band’s R&B recital “Honkin’ On Bobo” entered at No. 5 in 2004.

Week’s only other top-10 debut came courtesy of Christian act Third Day, whose “Miracle” (Provident) graced the chart at No. 10, selling 29,000. It’s the Georgia act’s fourth consecutive top-10 release.

Other albums holding onto their top-10 turf included Jason Aldean’s “Night Train” (No. 6, 48,000 sold, off 32%), Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” (No. 7, 41,000, down just 6%), Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares” (No. 8, 41,000, off 75%) and Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” (No. 9, 40,000, down 36%).

Another youthful act is looking to dislodge Swift’s hold on No. 1 next week: U.K. boy band One Direction’s sophomore album “Take Me Home” hit stores this week. Group’s debut “Up All Night” trails “Red” among the year’s bestselling releases at 1.34 million.

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