LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Weeks ago -- on paper, at least -- the new Black Eyed Peas album seemed a safe bet for a No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
But no, the funk group could manage only a No. 6 start for "The Beginning," which sold just 119,000 copies during the week ended December 5, according to Nielsen SoundScan data issued Wednesday. That's a sharp drop from the launch of its previous album, "The E.N.D.," which debuted at No. 1 in June 2009 after selling 304,000 copies in its first week.
Chalk up some of "The Beginning's" soft start to the good-but-not-great response to its lead single "The Time (Dirty Bit)," which jumped five places to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Last year when "The E.N.D." came out, the Peas were basking in the glow of "Boom Boom Pow," which was spending its 11th week at No. 1 on the Hot 100.
Meanwhile Susan Boyle returned to No. 1 with "The Gift," which sold 272,000 copies. Last week's champ, Kanye West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," slid to No. 7 with 108,000 copies, a hefty drop of 78%.
The other newcomer in the top 10 was the "Glee, the Music Volume 4" soundtrack at No. 5 with 128,000 copies. Further down, Jazmine Sullivan's second album "Love Me Back" came in at No. 17 and Chrisette Michele's third effort "Let Freedom Reign" launched at No. 25.
Taylor Swift's former chart-topper "Speak Now" rose two to No. 2 with 182,000, Jackie Evancho's "O Holy Night" was also up two, to No. 3, with 145,000, and the "Glee" Christmas album soared six to No. 4 with 129,000.
Nicki Minaj's "Pink Friday" dropped six to No. 8 with 103,000 in its second week. Josh Groban's "Illuminations" jumped three to No. 9 with 78,000 and Rihanna's "Loud" rose four to No. 10 with 77,000.
Overall album sales totaled 9.22 million units, off 10% from the previous week and down 9% compared to the comparable sales week of 2009. Year to date album sales stand at 281.24 million, down 13% compared to the same total at this point last year.