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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A pair of New Zealand comedians who play struggling musicians on a cult hit television show officially graduated to stardom on Wednesday when their debut album opened at No. 3 on the U.S. pop chart.
The self-titled album from Flight of the Conchords, who have their own show on cable channel HBO, sold 52,000 copies in the week ended April 27, according to tracking firm Nielsen SoundScan.
In the process, they outsold pop idol Ashlee Simpson, whose new album opened at No. 4 with 47,000 copies. "Bittersweet World" marks her first release that did not go to No. 1.
Mariah Carey outpaced everyone with sales of 182,000 copies for her reigning chart-topper "E=MC2."
Flight of the Conchords consists of Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, whose quirky comedy series has won a devoted following. The show is set in New York, where their bumbling bid for stardom is met with apathy by club owners and the public. Along the way, they recount their experiences in witty folk ditties. HBO has renewed the show for a second season.
Earlier this year, Flight of the Conchords won the comedy Grammy for their EP "The Distant Future," which reached No. 116 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Both albums were released by Seattle-based Sub Pop Records, which is perhaps best known for its success with grunge-rock trio Nirvana. The label is owned by Warner Music Group Corp.
The new album's chart performance easily sets a new record for a New Zealand act, surpassing the No. 12 peak for pop-rock trio Crowded House's self-titled 1986 debut.
(Reporting by Dean Goodman)