Chris Willman
November 14, 2007 AT 12:00 PM EST

Jay-Z has never had a new album not hit No. 1, and American Gangster didn’t put any stop to that streak. With 422,000 sold in its first week, the non-soundtrack movie tie-in CD became Jay’s 10th disc to top the Billboard 200, tying him with Elvis at second place for greatest number of charttoppers. But Hov’s going to have to come out of retirement a few more times to catch up with the record-holder, the Beatles, who had 19 No. 1 albums. If you’re wondering how this number rates against other Jay-Z debuts, his last one, 2006’s Kingdom Come, debuted with a heftier 688,000. Tongue-waggers will no doubt be wondering how much bigger a bow Gangster might have had if Jay hadn’t had it yanked from iTunes, claiming that he wanted music fans to only be able to buy the whole project, not individual songs.

The other big chart news this week: Country. Loads and loads of country. It was the week of the highly rated CMA Awards, and of this week’s top 20 sellers, no fewer

than eight performed on the CMAs: the Eagles,

Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Reba McEntire, Sugarland, Alison

Krauss, Rascal Flatts, and Josh Turner. And the chart has a ninth

country act, Garth Brooks, who, as previously noted in Hollywood Insider, missed the chance to perform at the show. Now you could argue about whether the Eagles or Krauss/Robert Plant

projects really count as country genre albums, but the fact remains that 45 percent of this week’s general top 20

overlaps with the country album sales chart.

Even though he lost out on appearing on the CMAs, Brooks surely

benefited from the kudocast’s sending twang fans out to the stores en

masse. His two-CD, one-DVD hits collection debuted at No. 2 with

352,000 units. This is Brooks’ first appearance on the charts since his

last studio album, 2001’s Scarecrow. He’s had several retrospective

releases in the meantime, including heavily-discounted boxed sets, which

are believed to have sold in the millions, but they were exclusive to

Wal-Mart, which never released sales figures on them. Some

believe this new hits set, which does include a few freshly-recorded

songs, might have done even better if Brooks’ core audience hadn’t

already been asked to buy and re-buy the country superstar’s

exhaustively exhumed back catalog at Wal-Mart these past few years.

Chris Brown’s Exclusive was in at No. 4 with a very healthy 294,000. Given that

his first album debuted with 155,000 two years ago and went on to sell

about 2 million, it’s no surprise that this follow-up effort — helped by current No. 1 single, “Kiss Kiss” — opened even more

strongly.

Among holdovers, Taylor Swift got the biggest boost, by a long shot.

The 17-year-old country star’s self-titled debut has been charting for just

over a year and had spent many weeks in the top 20, but this is the

first time it’s cracked the top 10, despite scanning 1.5 million copies

so far. It moved up from No. 26 to No. 8 with a sales increase from

26,000 last week to 68,000. For that, you can credit two

major factors and one minor one: She was the belle of the ball (or at

least a singular debutante) on the CMAs telecast, winning the

“Horizon” award (“This is definitely the highlight of my senior year!”

she gushed) and enthusiastically performing her charming

rural-puppy-love single, “Our Song.” Not by coincidence, her album was

just rereleased in a deluxe edition with several new songs and a bonus

DVD. And the minor factor? Her label is quietly crossing her over from

country radio to pop. “Teardrops on My Guitar,” which was a country

smash earlier in the year and sold more than half-million copies as a

digital song, is the most added song on the top 40 format this week.

As for the other country and/or CMA-benefiting acts in the top 20,

the most recent releases had lower-than-expected declines because of

the exposure, while the older ones saw significant gains.

The Eagles fell one slot to No. 2 with 359,000, a very acceptable 49 percent

sales decrease for their monstrous Wal-Mart-only double album. Carrie

Underwood’s Carnival Ride fell from No. 3 to No. 5 in her third week with sales of

121,000 and a modest 29 percent decline. The key gainers: Reba’s duets album,

up three spots to No. 12, and Sugarland, up 15 positions to No. 13.

Other top debuts: rockers Angels & Airwaves, in at No. 9 with

67,000; recent ex-con Cassidy, in the next spot with 63,000; reggaeton

act Wisin & Yandel, a No. 14 bow with 53,000; country quarter

Little Big Town (who also performed on the CMAs, albeit, to their

chagrin, a song from their previous album) at No. 24 with 35,000; and

the non-Jay-Z actual American Gangster soundtrack, a No. 36 entry with 21,000.

Next week, it should easily be Alicia Keys’ As I Am on top, with a big

question mark being how Celine Dion’s stylistic departures will play with

her older audience.

Even though he lost out on appearing on the CMAs, Brooks surelybenefited from the kudocast’s sending twang fans out to the stores enmasse. His two-CD, one-DVD hits collection debuted at No. 2 with352,000 units. This is Brooks’ first appearance on the charts since hislast studio album, 2001’s Scarecrow. He’s had several retrospectivereleases in the meantime, including heavily-discounted boxed sets, whichare believed to have sold in the millions, but they were exclusive toWal-Mart, which never released sales figures on them. Somebelieve this new hits set, which does include a few freshly-recordedsongs, might have done even better if Brooks’ core audience hadn’talready been asked to buy and re-buy the country superstar’sexhaustively exhumed back catalog at Wal-Mart these past few years.

Chris Brown’s Exclusive was in at No. 4 with a very healthy 294,000. Given thathis first album debuted with 155,000 two years ago and went on to sellabout 2 million, it’s no surprise that this follow-up effort — helped by current No. 1 single, “Kiss Kiss” — opened even morestrongly.

Among holdovers, Taylor Swift got the biggest boost, by a long shot.The 17-year-old country star’s self-titled debut has been charting for justover a year and had spent many weeks in the top 20, but this is thefirst time it’s cracked the top 10, despite scanning 1.5 million copiesso far. It moved up from No. 26 to No. 8 with a sales increase from26,000 last week to 68,000. For that, you can credit twomajor factors and one minor one: She was the belle of the ball (or atleast a singular debutante) on the CMAs telecast, winning the“Horizon” award (“This is definitely the highlight of my senior year!”she gushed) and enthusiastically performing her charmingrural-puppy-love single, “Our Song.” Not by coincidence, her album wasjust rereleased in a deluxe edition with several new songs and a bonusDVD. And the minor factor? Her label is quietly crossing her over fromcountry radio to pop. “Teardrops on My Guitar,” which was a countrysmash earlier in the year and sold more than half-million copies as adigital song, is the most added song on the top 40 format this week.

As for the other country and/or CMA-benefiting acts in the top 20,the most recent releases had lower-than-expected declines because ofthe exposure, while the older ones saw significant gains.The Eagles fell one slot to No. 2 with 359,000, a very acceptable 49 percentsales decrease for their monstrous Wal-Mart-only double album. CarrieUnderwood’s Carnival Ride fell from No. 3 to No. 5 in her third week with sales of121,000 and a modest 29 percent decline. The key gainers: Reba’s duets album,up three spots to No. 12, and Sugarland, up 15 positions to No. 13.

Other top debuts: rockers Angels & Airwaves, in at No. 9 with67,000; recent ex-con Cassidy, in the next spot with 63,000; reggaetonact Wisin & Yandel, a No. 14 bow with 53,000; country quarterLittle Big Town (who also performed on the CMAs, albeit, to theirchagrin, a song from their previous album) at No. 24 with 35,000; andthe non-Jay-Z actual American Gangster soundtrack, a No. 36 entry with 21,000.

Next week, it should easily be Alicia Keys’ As I Am on top, with a bigquestion mark being how Celine Dion’s stylistic departures will play withher older audience.

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