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NEW YORK (Billboard) - In a week without a top 10 debut, teen country star Taylor Swift reclaimed her crown on the U.S. pop album charts on Wednesday, but overall sales sank in the second-to-last full week before Christmas.
Swift's second release, "Fearless," rose one place to the top after selling 249,000 copies during the week ended December 14, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album debuted at No. 1 five weeks ago with 592,000 and has shifted 1.5 million so far.
Last week's chart-topper, Britney Spears' "Circus," slipped to No. 2 with 200,000, a hefty 60% drop from its opening round. Beyonce's "I Am ... Sasha Fierce" held at No. 3 with 159,000.
Overall album sales were up 14% from the previous week, at 12.93 million units. However, sales slid 28% from the year-ago period, when Josh Groban's "Noel" led the field for a fourth week with 669,000 copies. Year to date, sales are off 14.4% compared to 2007, marking the fourth consecutive down year for the music industry. Compared to the same week in 2006, sales slid 45%.
As was the case this time last year, new entries were largely hip-hop and R&B efforts, and the artists suffered sharp declines. The top debut was Musiq Soulchild's "onmyradio" at No. 11 with 91,000 copies. The soul/R&B singer has two prior No. 1s, most recently "Luvanmusiq," which opened to 149,000 copies in March 2007.
Entering at No. 12 was Common's "Universal Mind Control" with 82,000. His previous album "Finding Forever," also a 2007 chart-topper, debuted with 155,000 copies.
Brandy's Epic Records debut "Human" bowed at No. 15 with 73,000; her Atlantic Records swan song, "Afrodisiac," hit No. 3 with 131,000 copies in 2004. Avant's fifth, self-titled album debuted at No. 26 with 52,000. His previous release, "Director," reached No. 4 in 2006 with 123,000 copies.
Back to the top tier, Canadian rock band Nickelback's "Dark Horse" rose one to No. 4 with 156,000. The soundtrack to the hit vampire romance "Twilight" was also up one, to No. 5, with 132,000.
Kanye West's "808s & Heartbreak" fell two places to No. 6 with 127,000. The multi-artist hits compilation "Now 29" jumped two places to No. 7 with 114,000 units. AC/DC's former chart-topper "Black Ice" rose three places to No. 8 with 110,000. The soundtrack to Disney's "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" slipped one to No. 9 with 107,000. "American Idol" champ David Cook's self-titled major-label debut held at No. 10 with 104,000.