The British are -- no, wait, they've already come.
The Billboard 200 album chart was topped Wednesday by two young U.K. acts making themselves at home in America. Ed Sheeran entered the tally at No. 1 with his new album, "x," followed by Sam Smith, who logs a second week at No. 2 with his acclaimed debut, "In the Lonely Hour."
Featuring collaborations with high-profile producers including Rick Rubin and Pharrell Williams, Sheeran's "x" sold 210,000 copies in the week that ended June 29, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That's the fourth-biggest opening number so far this year, wrote Billboard's Keith Caulfield, trailing chart starts by Coldplay's "Ghost Stories," Eric Church's "The Outsiders" and Brantley Gilbert's "Just as I Am."
In a recent interview with The Times, Sheeran -- scheduled to play Staples Center on Aug. 27 -- said he thought his career was "on the right trajectory." But he added that he's already looking ahead to the next step: stadium concerts.
Smith, meanwhile, sold 67,000 copies of "In the Lonely Hour," bringing the soul singer's two-week total to 233,000.
"With Sheeran and Smith at Nos. 1 and 2," Caulfield pointed out, "the Billboard 200's top two rungs are occupied by British soloists for the first time in more than 20 years."
The last time that happened was in 1993, when Eric Clapton's "Unplugged" and Sting's "Ten Summoner's Tales" topped the chart.
Behind the Brits, the Oakland rapper G-Eazy entered the tally at No. 3 with "These Things Happen." Other acts with new albums starting in the top 10 include the metal band Mastodon and the jam-band veterans Phish.
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