April 9, 2009 / 12:17 AM / 10 years ago

Keith Urban tops U.S. pop chart

Recording artist Keith Urban plays a song during a news conference before the Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida February 15, 2009. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Country singer Keith Urban scored his first No. 1 album on the U.S. pop chart on Wednesday with “Defying Gravity,” although his sales were unable to defy the relentless decline in the music industry’s fortunes.

The album, the fifth of his career, sold 171,525 copies in its first six days of release through Sunday, according to his Capitol Records Nashville label. He edged out Prince, who sold 168,420 copies of his 3-CD package “LotusFlow3r.”

Urban’s previous release, “Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing,” entered the Billboard 200 at No. 3 with 270,000 copies in 2006, when the star was in rehab. He also peaked at No. 3 with 2004’s “Be Here,” which opened to 267,000 copies. Capitol Records Nashville is a unit of closely held EMI Group Ltd.

“It’s an incredible feeling to have a No. 1 record,” Urban said in a statement. “But equally moving is knowing that this particular record, that comes from such a joyous, loving and hopeful place, is connecting with so many people.”

Urban, 41, who was born in New Zealand but raised in Australia, has been married to actress Nicole Kidman since 2006. They faced a critical early test later that year when he went into rehab for three months to deal with unspecified drug problems.

He begins a world tour in Connecticut on May 7. One of his opening acts will be 72-year-old country icon Glen Campbell.

Prince’s “LotusFlow3r” was sold exclusively through Target Corp stores. His previous album, “Musicology,” started at No. 3 with 191,000 copies.

Few artists have been immune to the decline in the music industry. U.S. album sales have fallen for seven of the past eight years, and sales so far in 2009 are off 13 percent from the same period last year. The industry has been hobbled by Internet piracy and competition from other forms of entertainment such as video games, and growth has slowed in the once-bright digital arena.

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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