Nicki Minaj finally hits No. 1 on U.S. album chart

Wed Feb 9, 2011 6:33pm EST

Singer Nicki Minaj arrives at the 2010 American Music Awards in Los Angeles November 21, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Singer Nicki Minaj arrives at the 2010 American Music Awards in Los Angeles November 21, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Danny Moloshok

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LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Nicki Minaj claimed the top spot on the U.S. pop album chart for the first time on Wednesday as her debut release jumped two places in its 11th week, and coincidentally passed the one million mark at the same time.

The flamboyant R&B singer sold 45,000 copies of "Pink Friday" during the week ended February 6, according to Nielsen SoundScan data.

The album debuted at No. 2 following its November 22 release, and has spent its entire chart life in the top 10; its tally rose to 1.035 million copies.

Minaj's patient wait for her turn at No. 1 is a rare sight. For the most part, an album is No. 1 only because it debuted there. It's unusual for a set to climb to the top. Case in point: in 2010, there were 30 albums that hit No. 1, but just one -- Lil Wayne's "I Am Not A Human Being" -- actually rose to the top. Wayne debuted at No. 2 purely on download sales, tumbled to No. 16 the following week, and rose to No. 1 t he next once the CD version went on sale.

Before "Friday's" ascent to the top, the last album to take longer to rise to No. 1 was in April 2005, 2005, when Ray Charles' "Genius Loves Company" finally hit the top in its 25th week bolstered by its Grammys success.

Minaj's gain could be attributed to sustained impact from her "Saturday Night Live" guest turn on January 30, in addition to some surprising viral love from Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez. The latter ladies can be found -- separately -- on YouTube rapping to the "Pink Friday" cut "Super Bass." The two most popular clips have racked up more than 2 million views in the five days they've been online.

Last week's No. 1, Amos Lee's "Mission Bell," slid to No. 26 with 15,000.

Christian rock band Red debuted at No. 2 with its "Until We Have Faces," which sold 43,000 copies -- a bigger start than the 39,000 that greeted its second album, 2009's "Innocence & Instinct," upon its No. 15 entry.

Ricky Martin returned to the Billboard 200 for the first time in about six years with the mostly-Spanish studio set "Musica + Alma + Sexo," which started at No. 3 with 32,000. His last effort, 2005's "Life," began at No. 6 with 73,000. "Musica" is the highest charting primarily-Spanish language set since Selena's No. 1 album "Dreaming Of You" spent its first three chart weeks lodged in the top three in 1995.

At No. 4, Bruno Mars' "Doo-Wops & Hooligans" rose one slot (32,000), while Rihanna's "Loud" jumped eight to No. 5 (29,000; up 15%). "Kidz Bop 19" was up three to No. 6 (28,000), Jason Aldean's "My Kinda Party" jumped five to No. 7 (27,000), and Taylor Swift's "Speak Now" slipped one to No. 8 (27,000 also).

Closing out the top 10 were Pink's "Greatest Hits ... So Far!!!" up two to No. 9 (25,000), and Eminem's "Recovery" up four to No. 10 (just under 25,000). It's a tight top 10 -- Nos. 3-10 are separated by just 6,696 units.

Overall album sales totaled 5.5 million units, up 4% compared to previous week, but down 18% compared to the comparable sales week of 2010. Year to date sales stand at 26.3 million, down 14% compared to the same total at this point last year.

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