"Oprah" visit helps Groban soar to No. 1
NEW YORK (Billboard) - After seven weeks on the chart, Josh Groban's holiday set "Noel" has nabbed the top spot on the Billboard 200.
The 143/Reprise album ascends from No. 2 to No. 1, selling 405,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. The 81 percent increase was fueled in part by Groban's surprise appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" last week.
"Noel" is the first Christmas-themed set to top the chart since Kenny G's 1994 album "Miracles," and the 405,000-unit tally marks Groban's best sales week ever.
Alicia Keys' "As I Am" (J) flip-flops with "Noel," slipping from No. 1 to No. 2 with a 53 percent sales decrease to 349,000. The hits compilation "Now 26" climbs a notch from fourth rung to No. 3 with 234,000. Garth Brooks' "The Ultimate Hits" (Pearl) moves up from No. 5 to No. 4 with 192,000 (a 6 percent drop in sales), and the Eagles' "Long Road Out of Eden" (Eagles Recording Co.) follows suit, ascending from sixth position to No. 5 with 184,000 (down 7 percent).
The soundtrack to Disney's "High School Musical 2" rockets from No. 14 to No. 6 with a 130 percent sales increase to 183,000; with that, the set surpasses Daughtry's self-titled set as the top-selling album in 2007.
Carrie Underwood's "Carnival Ride" (Arista Nashville) climbs from ninth spot to No. 7 with 141,000 and a 25 percent sales bump, while Celine Dion's Columbia album "Taking Chances" falls from No. 3 to No. 8, its sales sliding 40 percent to 128,000. Inching up from No. 10 to No. 9, Chris Brown's "Exclusive" (Jive) sells 121,000 (a 10 percent sales gain).
Jordin Sparks, who was crowned the winner on "American Idol" earlier this year, starts at No. 10 with her self-titled 19 Recordings/Jive set, moving 119,000. It's the lowest start and smallest sales debut on the chart for any of the show's winners.
Keith Urban's first best-of collection, Capitol's "Greatest Hits," debuts at No. 11 with 117,000. It's the Aussie country singer's fourth consecutive album to start in the top 11, dating back to 2002's "Golden Road," which also entered at No. 11. MercyMe's "All That Is Within Me" (Columbia) lands at No. 15 with 84,000.
Only two other albums bow inside the top 50 on the Billboard 200: Philly rapper Freeway's "Free at Last" (G-Unit/Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam) starts at No. 42 with 36,000, and the soundtrack to "Enchanted" (Disney) debuts at No. 48 with 31,000.
This week's top 11 albums all sold more than 100,000 copies each, helped by the first week of the post-Thanksgiving shopping season. But sales this week (13.94 million units) are down 18.1 percent from the year-earlier week (17.02 million). This week's sum is up 19 percent from last week's.
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