By Simon Vozick-Levinson
June 29, 2010 at 08:49 PM EDT

Image Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagicEveryone knows Eminem is a big commercial draw, but it’s looking like his new album is even huger than most observers realized. Industry tip sheet Hits Daily Double is projecting that his new Recovery sold a spectacular 753,870 copies in its first week on shelves (h/t Rap Radar). The official week-one tally from Nielsen SoundScan won’t be available ’til tomorrow morning, so that number could change slightly. Assuming Hits is more or less on target, though, Eminem will have scored 2010’s biggest sales week by a very healthy margin.

This may sound familiar: Eminem’s previous effort, Relapse, similarly had the biggest opening week of 2009 at the time of its release. Relapse accomplished that feat with 608,000 copies sold. If Recovery has added an extra 150,000 on top of that — in an industry that has become no more conducive to blockbuster record sales in the past year — that’s simply astonishing. So how did he do it?

For starters, “Not Afraid” was a smarter choice for Recovery‘s first single than anything used to roll out Relapse. The No. 1 smash’s thoughtful, self-aware tone signaled a brand new phase for Eminem, whether or not the album actually lived up to that impression. Perhaps more importantly, Recovery comes at a time when fans have had an extra year to absorb the fact that Eminem is back. Maybe some casual fans who held off buying Relapse in its first week because they were still getting used to the idea of a sober Marshall Mathers are now more fully on board.

Still, neither of those factors fully accounts for how Recovery could improve so notably on Relapse‘s already remarkable opening number. What do you think is behind this? Did you buy one album but not the other? All theories are welcome in the comments.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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