It was a history-making week on several counts for Taylor Swift, as the country-pop vocalist’s new “Red” took the No. 1 spot on the national album chart with the biggest debut sales frame in a decade.
Swift’s fourth Big Machine studio album — her third consecutive No. 1 collection — reaped 1.21 million copies out of the box, according to Nielsen SoundScan data for the week ending Oct. 28. The last album to sell more in its first week was Eminem’s “The Eminem Show,” which moved 1.32 million in May 2002.
Sales of “Red” more than doubled first-week numbers for 2012’s previous debut champ, Mumford & Sons’ “Babel,” which shifted 600,000 in September.
Among 2012 releases, only One Direction’s “Up All Night” has sold more than “Red,” scanning 1.31 million — in 33 weeks.
Swift, who claimed the eighth-largest debut in SoundScan history, became the first female musician to log a pair of million-selling debuts since the metrics firm began tracking sales in 1991. Her last album “Speak Now” sold 1.04 million when it bowed in October 2010.
The only other female performers to notch a million-selling debut in the SoundScan era are Britney Spears (“Oops! … I Did It Again,” 1.31 million, May 2000) and Norah Jones (“Feels Like Home,” 1.02 million, February 2004). Spears is the only female act to outdo Swift’s one-week total; “Oops!” was released in the music biz’s biggest-ever sales year.
“Red” is the first million-selling debut since Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” racked up nearly 1.11 million in May 2011. However, Gaga’s total was inflated by 440,000 copies blown out at 99 cents on Amazon.com; SoundScan has since deemed new albums priced under $3.49 ineligible for its chart. No such deep discounting besmirched Swift’s total.
Standing in the shadow of Swift’s enormous release was Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar’s first official album “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” (Top Dawg), which moved in at No. 2 with a formidable 241,000-unit score, the largest debut by a new act this year. The rising hip-hop star had already attracted attention with a pair of mixtapes, and has collaborated with such luminaries as Dr. Dre, Drake and Lil Wayne.
Previous week’s No. 1 album, country singer Jason Aldean’s “Night Train” (Broken Bow), lost 72% of its steam and dropped to No. 3 with a 116,000-unit week. Mumford’s “Babel” (Glassnote) slipped two notches to No. 4 with 53,000 (off 27%); the U.K. folk-rock group’s sophomore set will top 1 million next week.
Classic crooner Tony Bennett stuck with a winning formula, and “Viva Duets” (Columbia) — on which the singer joins forces with Latin stars like Marc Anthony, Chayanne and Thalia — soared in at No. 5 behind a 36,000-copy stanza. Last year, the 86-year-old performer became the oldest artist to take No. 1 on the album chart with “Duets II.”
Blues-rocking Texas singer-guitarist Gary Clark Jr. marked an impressive launch with his first full-length set “Blak & Blu” (Warner Bros.), which tracked 35,000 to take No. 6. The Austin musician’s album was prefaced earlier this year with a widely-praised EP, “The Bright Lights.”
Rock unit Stone Sour racked up its third top 10 release with “House of Gold & Bones Part 1” (Roadrunner), which started at No. 7 on a 31,000-unit foundation. The Des Moines band’s peak to date came in 2010, when “Audio Secrecy” debuted at No. 6.
Country powerhouse Lady Antebellum’s seasonal “On This Winter’s Night” (Capitol Nashville) celebrated a No. 9 entry, tracking 25,000. Holiday collection succeeds two No. 1 releases by the trio, “Need You Now” (2010) and “Own the Night” (2011).
The week’s other top 10 holdovers were Pink’s “The Truth About Love” (No. 8, 25,000 sold, down 19%) and Brandy’s “Two Eleven” (No. 10, 22,000, off 65%).
Country music will play a role in next week’s chart picture, as Toby Keith’s “Hope On the Rocks” will vie with “Red” for sales supremacy.