By Grady Smith
Updated April 04, 2012 at 05:02 PM EDT
Tuskegee Lionel Richie


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You gave her all your luvin’, gave her your luv — and now Madonna is sitting pretty atop the Billboard 200, for the eighth time!

Madge’s latest album, MDNA, sold 359,000 copies in its first week, which was well ahead of her last effort (2008’s Hard Candy started with 280,000), and the pop star’s best sales week since her successful 2000 set Music bowed with 420,000.

MDNA marks Madonna’s fifth straight No. 1 debut; if she can keep up the momentum and manage one more, she will tie Barbra Streisand as the female artist with the most chart-topping albums. (Streisand, who turns 70 this month, has had nine.)

Interestingly, Madonna achieved these MDNA numbers without a hit single currently making waves. The first track released from MDNA, “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” a cheer-pop dance tune featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., debuted at No. 10 on the Hot 100 but quickly faded. Her followup, “Girl Gone Wild,” is just now beginning its run. So what’s behind her big sales uptick? First off, her performance during the Super Bowl halftime show put Madonna in front of 113 million(!) viewers. On top of that, U.S. ticket buyers for Madonna’s upcoming world tour had the option of receiving a copy of MDNA with their purchase; a similar strategy helped propel both Bon Jovi’s Lost Highway and Tom Petty’s Mojo to No. 1.

Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

In second place was yet another 50-something: Lionel Richie, whose latest set Tuskegee gave him his best sales week since 1986. The album, which boasts countrified versions of Richie’s classics featuring artists like Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, and Shania Twain, sold 199,000 copies in its first seven days. To put that in perspective, consider this: Richie’s last album, 2009’s Just Go, sold 95,000 copies total to date.

The country community showed Richie remarkable solidarity in the months leading up to Tuskegee‘s release. Way back in November, the CMAs put together a Lionel Richie medley, in which the star joined fellow African-American country star Darius Rucker on stage. This past weekend, Richie sang with Blake Shelton at the ACM Awards.

In between those two shows, he’s been on a nonstop publicity tour: Richie has appeared on Today, on The Voice alongside Christina Aguilera , on his own CMT special, and he has performed on both Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Late Show with Dave Letterman. He has also been announced as a mentor on ABC’s upcoming singing competition Duets alongside Jennifer Nettles, with whom he also duets on Tuskegee. As Richie says in this week’s edition of EW, on stands Friday, “When I walked in the door [to make a country album], Nashville showed up.”

Among other debuts, rock band Shinedown notched its second Top 10 album and best sales week ever, as Amaryllis started off at No. 4 with 104,000. Fellow rockers The Used moved 32,000 copies of their new set Vulnerable, good enough for an eighth-place ranking. Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection, an expanded version of her hit Teenage Dream album, helped the disc jump from 31-7 in its 84th week. All told, Teenage Dream‘s multiple versions have sold 2,141,000 copies.

Adele held strong at No. 3, selling 121,000 more copies of 21. In fifth, last weekend’s chart topper, The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond dropped by a big 64 percent (a slightly steeper drop than the film faced at the box office over the weekend) with 64,000.

One Direction’s Up All Night, meanwhile, dipped by only 16 percent in its third week — selling 46,000 albums in sixth place. The boy band plummeted 69 percent last week after their terrific debut frame, and this tiny drop suggests that they may turn out to be more than a flash-in-the-pan chart success.

With a high-profile gig on last weekend’s Kids’ Choice Awards and a performance slot on this weekend’s Saturday Night Live, boy band fever may continue to spread across America (One Direction’s single “What Makes You Beautiful” did rise 11-9 on this week’s Hot 100), and I wouldn’t be shocked if Up All Night actually increased its sales in the weeks to come. The album has sold 276,000 copies thus far.

Check out the full Top 10 below:

1. Madonna, MDNA – 359,000

2. Lionel Richie, Tuskegee – 199,000

3. Adele, 21 – 121,000

4. Shinedown, Amaryllis – 106,000

5. Various Artists, The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond – 64,000

6. One Direction, Up All Night – 46,000

7. Katy Perry, Teenage Dream – 33,000

8. The Used, Vulnerable – 32,000

9. Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball – 28,000

10. Various Artists, Now 41 – 25,000

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