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Kelly Clarkson new album sales are OK but not great

March 18, 2009 |  6:37 pm

There may be no second acts in American lives, but there's always another act for an American idol.

“American Idol’s” first champ, Kelly Clarkson, returned to the top of the U.S. pop charts with her new album "All I Ever Wanted" bowing at No. 1, an encouraging start after disappointing sales of her last 2007 effort, “My December.” The new album sold 255,000 copies in its first week in stores in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan data released to Billboard.

While the new album falls short of the first-week figures of “December,” which bowed with 291,000 copies, “All I Ever Wanted” is in line with Clarkson's first-week sales history, suggesting fans weren’t permanently put off by the rough publicity surrounding her previous work and canceled 2007 tour dates.

"All I Ever Wanted” has been positively received by critics, many who noted it represents a return to lighter pop-rock after the harder, more serious “December,” an album Clarkson released after a public dispute with her record label, RCA, over its direction.

"As long as someone like Kelly comes back with great material … the story’s a good story,” said Tom Corson, general manager of Sony BMG's RCA Music Group, the label that's releasing the album. "She’s proud of this record and focused on it, and that’s the news -- not what happened a few years ago.”

The release of “All I Ever Wanted” began with a highly targeted online media campaign three months ago. Beginning in December, RCA started posting artwork, song lyrics and audio clips relating to the new album on Clarkson's official website, treating each snippet as a mini event.

Then a bigger, more TV-focused leg of the marketing campaign kicked in last week. Clarkson returned to perform on “American Idol” and was the music guest on “Saturday Night Live.” This upcoming Friday, she’ll take the couch on “The Oprah Show,” a promotion that should help to prevent a major dip in second-week sales.

“All I Ever Wanted” carried a first-week price of $9.99 at mass retailers such as Best Buy, but will increase to $13.99 for its second week. Unlike many major releases these days, the album was not heavily discounted for online sales. Universal Music Group's Interscope Records, for example, sold “No Line” for $3.99 as a digital download during its first week of release earlier this month at

“We don’t play that game,” said Corson, declining to elaborate.

Clarkson's fans, at least, were certainly eager for the album's lead single, “My Life Would Suck Without You,” which sold sold more than 1.15 million digital downloads and hit No. 1 when it was released in January. The song, slightly reminiscent of her 2004 breakout smash, "Since U Been Gone,” helped tee up album sales for "All I Ever Wanted."

So far, it looks as if RCA Music Group's marketing strategy is working, and sales of "All I Ever Wanted" will not be marred by the underperforming 2007 album.

“She certainly hit our first-week sales expectations,” said Chris Smith, a senior music buyer at Best Buy. “Her second week doesn’t look to be going the direction most records go from a trending perspective. She’s still maintaining a sales base that is higher than our expectations.”

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Ida Mae Astute / ABC via Getty Images