Taylor Swift holds on to No. 1 spot

'Red' marks sixth week at top of chart, edges latest from T.I.

With still-potent sales during the Christmas run-up, Taylor Swift’s “Red” beat back a challenge from rapper T.I.’s new album and retained No. 1 on the U.S. album chart.

Swift’s best-selling Big Machine album nailed a sixth non-consecutive week at the summit with a 276,000-copy frame, according to Nielsen SoundScan data for the week ending Dec. 23. Set tracked a gigantic 32% gain, and has sold nearly 2.9 million to date.

T.I.’s “Trouble Man: Heavy is the Head” (Atlantic) had to settle for No. 2 with a 179,000-unit debut. The Atlanta performer’s new set bested the No. 4 bow of his last release, 2010’s “No Mercy”; his three previous albums entered at No. 1.

The week’s only other top-10 arrival was the digital version of the “12-12-12” album, drawn from the nationally televised Dec. 12 televised benefit for Hurricane Sandy relief. Despite the star power of Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, the Who and Paul McCartney, it entered at No. 9 with 82,000 sold. A two-CD physical version is due in January.

Reflecting favor with pre-holiday shoppers, the rest of the top 10 witnessed strong performances. Holding over were Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox” (No. 3, 178,000, down just 8% in its second week), One Direction’s “Take Me Home” (No. 4, 177,000, up 39%), Michael Buble’s “Christmas” (No. 5, 148,000, up 7%), Rod Stewart’s “Merry Christmas, Baby” (No. 6, 113,000, up 4%), Phillip Phillips’ “The World From the Side of the Moon” (No. 7, 98,000, up 44%), Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” (No. 8, 93,000, up 56%) and the “Now 44” compilation (No. 10, 80,000, up 36%).

SoundScan’s comprehensive 2012 figures are due next Thursday.