Return to form: With "Backspacer," Pearl Jam scores its first No. 1 album in 13 years, Billboard reports. The set sold 190,000 copies in its first week in stores, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It's Pearl Jam's first release outside the major label system, but the band wasn't exactly going the DIY-route. In a move that surprised fans, Pearl Jam lined up with big box retailer Target for the exclusive release.
Long associated with an anti-corporate stance, Pearl Jam avoided major fan criticism by still allowing the album to be sold at indie shops and Apple's iTunes store. While "Backspacer" failed to land on the chart with the same impact of 2006's self-titled effort, which opened with 279,000 copies, it is on par with Target's other recent exclusive. Earlier this year, Prince went with the retailer, and ended up with the album "LotusFlow3r" landing at No. 2 after selling 168,000 copies.
Diva tales: It's another solid week for Whitney Houston. Her "I Look to You" is at No. 4 this week, selling 66,000 copies. That's a dip from last week, when she sold 156,000 copies -- a post-"Oprah" sales bump -- but brings her total to 620,000 copies sold to date. That's good news for Houston as the industry heads into the holiday season. With depressed sales making it relatively easy for a brand-name artist to stay in the top 20, Houston should be on target to rack up a bevy of Grammy nominations if she can maintain a consistent sales base.
Expect her to be joined on the chart next week by another diva -- Mariah Carey. Digital downloads of Carey's "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel" are expected to be solid, as the album is currently retailing at Amazon.com for a budget price of $5.99. But album sales may not be a real indicator for the success of "Angel," as it's a truly ad-supported release, coming complete with sponsored liner notes.