December 10, 2008 / 7:32 PM / 9 years ago

Britney Spears is ringmaster with "Circus" album

<p>Pop star Britney Spears performs during the 60th Bambi media awards ceremony in the southwestern German town of Offenburg November 27, 2008. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay</p>

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Britney Spears’ new album debuted at No. 1 in the United States and five other countries, her label said on Wednesday, and promoters have added extra dates for the faded pop star’s comeback world tour.

“Circus,” the sixth studio album for Spears, sold 505,000 copies in the United States during the week ended December 7, one of the biggest debuts of the year. She becomes the only artist in tracking firm Nielsen SoundScan’s 17-year history to have four albums sell 500,000 copies or more in their first week.

The album also hit No. 1 in Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico and Switzerland, said Jive Records. It made the top 10 in seven other countries, including Britain where it opened at No. 4.

The Metacritic.com website, which assembles reviews from multiple sources, gave “Circus” an overall score of 66 out of 100. The New York Times said “her new songs are crisp, cunning dance-pop.”

In the United States, Spears has reached No. 1 five times. But her previous album “Blackout” -- released in November 2007 in the midst of her lengthy public breakdown -- debuted at No. 2 with 290,000 copies.

Spears, 27, last week announced she would begin her first world tour in five years next March in New Orleans.

North American fans snapped more than 400,000 tickets since they went on sale on Saturday, promoter AEG Live said, and 12 shows have been added to the itinerary.

Spears became a worldwide phenomenon when she burst onto the pop scene 10 years ago. But her life careened out of control in 2007 and she made headlines for shaving her head, being rushed to hospital for psychiatric care, losing custody of her sons and partying without panties.

In the past nine months, Spears has pulled her life around with her father overseeing every aspect of her daily routine as her court-appointed conservator.

Music industry watchers were waiting for album and concert sales figures to establish whether Spears could retain the appeal she once held for millions of fans around the world.

Record sales have been falling across the board for several years, ticket prices are rising and Spears has done only a handful of live performances since 2005.

Jive Records is a unit of Sony Corp’s Sony Music Entertainment.

Editing by Dean Goodman and John O'Callaghan

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