Nas' "Hip-Hop Is Dead" entered the national album chart at No. 1 this week with sales of 355,000, but that robust figure can be credited in part to the year's biggest record-buying surge. In the week leading up to Christmas, the Top 200 albums sold a combined 13.1 million copies, a 42% increase over the previous high mark of the year, 9.2 million in the week ending Dec. 17, according to Nielsen/SoundScan.
Among the albums enjoying the largest sales growth last week were some prominent Grammy nominees, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Stadium Arcadium" (82,000, a 107% increase over the previous week), Justin Timberlake's "FutureSex/LoveSounds" (230,000, 98%), Corinne Bailey Rae's self-titled debut (94,000, 89%) and Mary J. Blige's "Breakthrough" (22,000, 81%).
With new releases scarce in December, the only other debuts in the Top 50 were Bow Wow's "Price of Fame," No. 9 with sales of 262,000, and RBD's "Rebels," No. 43 with sales of 94,000.
The brisk pace is expected to continue this week as consumers hit the year-end sales and cash in the gift cards they received for Christmas. Possible beneficiaries whose albums were released Tuesday include Omarion, Matisyahu and Switchfoot.