Nicki Minaj finally hits No. 1 on U.S. album chart

Wed Feb 9, 2011 6:33pm EST
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By Keith Caulfield

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Nicki Minaj claimed the top spot on the U.S. pop album chart for the first time on Wednesday as her debut release jumped two places in its 11th week, and coincidentally passed the one million mark at the same time.

The flamboyant R&B singer sold 45,000 copies of "Pink Friday" during the week ended February 6, according to Nielsen SoundScan data.

The album debuted at No. 2 following its November 22 release, and has spent its entire chart life in the top 10; its tally rose to 1.035 million copies.

Minaj's patient wait for her turn at No. 1 is a rare sight. For the most part, an album is No. 1 only because it debuted there. It's unusual for a set to climb to the top. Case in point: in 2010, there were 30 albums that hit No. 1, but just one -- Lil Wayne's "I Am Not A Human Being" -- actually rose to the top. Wayne debuted at No. 2 purely on download sales, tumbled to No. 16 the following week, and rose to No. 1 t he next once the CD version went on sale.

Before "Friday's" ascent to the top, the last album to take longer to rise to No. 1 was in April 2005, 2005, when Ray Charles' "Genius Loves Company" finally hit the top in its 25th week bolstered by its Grammys success.

Minaj's gain could be attributed to sustained impact from her "Saturday Night Live" guest turn on January 30, in addition to some surprising viral love from Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez. The latter ladies can be found -- separately -- on YouTube rapping to the "Pink Friday" cut "Super Bass." The two most popular clips have racked up more than 2 million views in the five days they've been online.

Last week's No. 1, Amos Lee's "Mission Bell," slid to No. 26 with 15,000.

Christian rock band Red debuted at No. 2 with its "Until We Have Faces," which sold 43,000 copies -- a bigger start than the 39,000 that greeted its second album, 2009's "Innocence & Instinct," upon its No. 15 entry.   Continued...