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On the charts: Toby Keith's No. 1 debut sets record low

October 13, 2010 |  2:02 pm

A Pop & Hiss look at what's selling -- and what isn't.


At the top: The U.S. pop charts have had an influx of country the last two weeks, as Toby Keith's "Bullets in the Gun" is the second-straight Nashville representative to lead the tally. "Bullets" hits with about 71,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan, a celebratory landing that comes with an asterisk. 

The number, according to Billboard, is the lowest-ever debut for a No. 1 album since SoundScan began tracking data in 1991. While there have been smaller sales tallies posted by albums that rose to the pole position -- including 60,000 copies sold by Justin Bieber's "My World 2.0" earlier this year -- Keith's figure is a new low for an album that debuted in the top spot. 

The Billboard archives reveal that Keith's 2009 effort entered at No. 3 with 90,000 copies sold. His latest sells just a few thousand more than Kenny Chesney's "Hemingway's Whiskey," which in its second week moves down to No. 2. The latter's two-week sales total now stands at 249,000.  

Weezy's big drop: Though it may be unfair to consider Lil Wayne's "I Am Not A Human Being" an official follow-up to mega-seller "Tha Carter III," it's still a release that merits some close watching. The album was first issued only to online retailers, who had a two-week head start on the effort, which supposedly consists of tracks intended for the indefinitely postponed "Tha Carter IV." Thus far, "Human Being" has sold 133,000 digital copies, and falls from its No. 2 position last week to No. 16.

The online-first experiment, however, arrives with a caveat. The physical CD release, which was unleashed to stores yesterday, carries with it an additional three tracks, and how sales play out over the next couple weeks should indicate how willing or unwilling consumers are open to such tiered projects. An even bolder experiment will come this holiday season, when Kanye West releases his "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" in November after giving away much of it for free.

The next pop star? The debut from young R&B crooner Bruno Mars, "Doo-Wops & Hooligans," lands at No. 3, having sold 53,000 copies in its first week. The artist went into the sales week with the No. 1 single in the U.S., and his "Just the Way You Are" has sold more than 1.7 million downloads, according to Billboard. The producer/artist won a mainstream audience after offering vocal turns on songs from the likes of Far East Movement, Travis McCoy and B.o.B., among others, but is entering a market that's increasingly uninterested in translating smash singles into big-selling albums. For instance, Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" has spawned hit after hit, but after seven weeks has sold just 470,000 copies -- no slouch, of course, but not a runaway sure thing. 

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Toby Keith. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times