Taylor Swift, Susan Boyle Remain Music Industry's Top Winners in 2009

British belter Susan Boyle's debut album for Sony's (SNE) Sony Music Entertainment, I Dreamed A Dream, is now in its sixth week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Dream moved 137,000 copies during the final sales week of 2009, making Boyle's final album-sales tally for the calendar year 3.1 million copies to become 2009's no. 2 top-selling album. Not too shabby for a woman who nobody had heard of until this spring, when her dowdy appearance was mocked by Simon Cowell and the audience of Britain's Got Talent before she'd even opened her mouth to sing.%%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%% For the first time since 2006, two albums finished out the calendar year selling at least 3 million copies. The year's top-selling album was Taylor Swift's album Fearless, from Vivendi's (VIVEF) Universal Music Group, which sold 3.2 million copies. (Fearless, released on November 11, 2008, sold 1.6 million copies during the 2008 chart year.)

Two-Singer Horse Race

The Boyle-Swift horserace provided a bittersweet victory for the music industry, which stayed in the doldrums in 2009. New albums by one-time guaranteed hitmakers Mariah Carey and Shakira didn't break the 500,000 mark, and albums considered both commercial and critical successes -- Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown, Maxwell's BLACKsummersnight -- didn't break the million-sold mark. And highly anticipated products were delayed: albums by Lil Wayne, who had the top-selling album of 2008, and Usher leaked online before release dates for either could be nailed down.

But given that 2008 was the first year in memory in which no album broke the 3-million mark -- Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III sold 2.88 million -- Boyle's and Swift's sprint to the finish line reveals that there are still artists who motivate consumers to pay for their albums in stores' music sections or the iTunes Store.

Slow Sales

The rest of this week's album chart is pretty sleepy. Only Dream breaks the six-figure mark. But a debut this week could end Boyle's reign next week: Newcomer Ke$ha, whose blippy single "Tik Tok" has topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks, released her debut album Animal yesterday.

Based on first-day sales data, Animal and Dream could wind up in a neck-and-neck battle for the top spot, one industry insider says. Animal is No. 1 on the iTunes Store's album chart, representing some digital sales, a fraction of overall sales. "Tik Tok" sold 610,000 digital copies in the last chart week and continued to sell strongly this week, moving 394,000 copies.

Either way, Sony comes out on top. Animal was released by RCA, another arm of Sony Music Entertainment.

The top 10 albums, with sales in parentheses:
1. Susan Boyle, I Dreamed A Dream (137,000 copies)
2. Lady GaGa, The Fame (82,000)
3. Alicia Keys, The Element Of Freedom (80,000)
4. Mary J. Blige, Stronger (62,000)
5. Taylor Swift, Fearless (60,000)
6. Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel soundtrack (51,000)
7. Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D. (47,000)
8. Lady GaGa, The Fame Monster (44,000)
9. Owl City, Ocean Eyes (44,000)
10. Glee: The Music, Volume 2 (44,000)

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