SoundScanner: Beyonce Turns The Lights Out On The Competition (XO!), Setting Sales Records On The Way

Hey, did you hear Beyoncé put out a surprise album? Queen Bey majorly shakes up this week’s Top Current Albums chart with her iTunes exclusive, which shattered records at the online retailer and delivered a lump of coal to last week’s chart champ Garth Brooks. Here’s everything you need to know about Beyoncé as well as the rest of this week’s chart news:

Beyoncé soars: And Garth Brooks thought he was going to coast to another week at No. 1. That all changed at midnight on Dec. 13, when Beyoncé decided to drop an album on iTunes out of the clear blue (ivy). The numbers have been touted everywhere, but here they are again: Domestically, Bey’s self-titled set sold 617,000 downloads in just three days and worldwide, the figure was 829,000; both are iTunes records. That marks Beyoncé’s career best start, topping her previous best, B’Day, which began with 541,000. (Her last album, 2011’s 4, opened with 310,000). It also marks the year’s fourth largest debut, behind Justin Timberlake’s first The 20/20 Experience (968,000), Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (792,000) and Drake’s Nothing Was the Same (658,000). So yeah, it worked.

Britney falls: With all the news surrounding Beyoncé’s surprise album, Britney SpearsBritney Jean became the definition of “yesterday’s news.” The album slid 17 spots to No. 21 its second week on the charts, on a 73 percent sales tumble. That put the album behind Katy Perry’s Prism (No. 9, 771,000 total), Lorde’s Pure Heroine (No. 15, 541,000), Lady Gaga’s Artpop (No. 17, 497,000) and Miley Cyrus’ “Bangerz (No. 19, 642,000). Britney Jean has sold 136,000 copies in two weeks and is fading fast.

A Great Big World on top: No disrespect to Tessanne Chin, who was crowned the winner of the 5th season of The Voice this week, but we’re guessing the biggest winner to come out of this season’s show is A Great Big World’s “Say Something.” The Christina Aguilera-featuring duet reclaims the top spot on this week’s Digital Songs chart, selling 233,000 downloads, 46,000 more than second place finisher “Timber” from Pitbull and Ke$ha. The surprise smash has sold 1.03 million downloads so far, and sees sales rise 41 percent over last week. The rest of this week’s Top 10 is rather sleepy, with only minor shifts from last week’s chart.

Clarkson tops ‘Dynasty’: For most of the holiday season, the Christmas album from the Duck Dynasty cast has topped Kelly Clarkson’s holiday effort, Wrapped in Red. That changes this week when Clarkson’s album (No. 3) finally edges out Duck the Halls (No. 6) in total sales, 578,000 to 575,000. (Both album achieved gold sales status this week.) Still, those Duck Dynasty numbers are nothing to scoff at; the Robertsons have sold more copies than Fall Out Boy (470,000 copies of Save Rock & Roll in 35 weeks), Vampire Weekend (374,000 copies of Modern Vampires of the City in 30 weeks) and, well, Kelly Clarkson’s Greatest Hits – Chapter 1 (541,000 copies in 56 weeks), to name a few notable 2013 releases. Next week, in the last surge of Christmas album sales, it will likely top Kanye West’s Yeezus (607,000 sold to date), a fact which we hope no one shares with Mr. West.

Lady A. goes golden: This week, country trio Lady Antebellum’s Golden crosses 500,000 sales, itself becoming, well, golden. The set, released in May, started out at No. 1 and sold 167,000 copies its first week; it has clipped along ever since, and this weekend rests at No. 45. The album sold 13,000 copies this week, bringing its total sales to 511,000.