By Simon Vozick-Levinson
December 10, 2008 at 12:00 PM EST

My apologies for the outburst in my headline up there, but this demands an emphatic exclamation. First-week sales results just came out for Britney Spears’ new album, and not only did she debut at No. 1 (no huge surprise there) — she did it by selling 505,000 copies. That’s a pretty huge number in the midst of a retail downturn. It also makes Britney the first artist in history to have released four albums that have each sold 500,000 or more copies in week 1. (She was previously tied for this stat with Tupac, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and, uh, Garth Brooks, each of whom notched three 500,000 debuts.) I know Britney wasn’t too keen on the word “comeback” in her MTV doc the other night, but what else are you supposed to call this?

In any case, we should be happy for Britney. Circus is a solid example of what she does best, even if it’s not quite as good as last year’s Blackout (which debuted with an underwhelming 290,000 sold). And this is more than enough to qualify for a new edition of’s Britney Moments Gallery, which Leah Greenblatt has just whipped up for the occasion. Anyone else impressed by this turn of events?

More on Britney Spears:
Britney Spears: From media sideshow to Circus triumph
Circus got a solid B review from EW
Tim Stack mulled over the “Circus” video
EW pondered six possible futures for Britney, post-Circus
Review: Britney Spears’ Blackout