Carrie Underwood's first album in two-and-a-half years hit the stores last week and it looks as if she never took a break. In fact, Underwood didn't release a single in the entire year of 2011 (although she still managed to reach No. 1 on the Country charts last year with her duet "Remind Me," which appeared on Brad Paisley's This Is Country Music album). But getting married and taking a little time off certainly didn't hurt the demand for new music from the Oklahoma songstress. Blown Away, her fourth studio album, debuted at No. 1 after its first week in release, selling over 267,000 copies.
According to Billboard and Nielsen SoundScan, Blown Away more than doubled the sales of its nearest competitor, Norah Jones' Little Broken Hearts.
Blown Away is Underwood's third consecutive No. 1 album, following 2009's Play On and 2007's Carnival Ride. Her first album, Some Hearts, never hit the top spot on the Billboard 200, but it did get to No. 2. However, the album went on to be Underwood's biggest seller to date, notching nearly 7.2 million units sold since its release in November 2005. With hits like "Jesus, Take The Wheel" and "Before He Cheats," it remains a steady seller.
In fact, all of Underwood's albums remain strong movers, but this week saw a little more movement than usual. Some Hearts and Play On enjoyed the bandwagon effect and returned to the Billboard 200, both selling in excess of 3,000 copies. Not too far behind, Carnival Ride also sold a respectable 2,000 copies.
Underwood has been in heavy rotation promoting the new album, appearing on talk shows like "The Late Show with David Letterman," "Good Morning America," and "The Ellen Degeneres Show." She also performed the first single "Good Girl" at the Country Music Association Awards last month and the title track, "Blown Away," on the show that launched her career, "American Idol," last week during their Top 5 results show.
"Good Girl" is currently in the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart as well as in the Top 20 on the country chart.
Sales from Blown Away will cement Underwood's lead on album sales in the U. S. among "Idol" graduates for a little while longer. She's had the lead now for a couple years, but Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson was making a run at the lead with her latest release, Stronger, the album having topped 776,000 in sales to date. Overall, with the latest weekly sales, Underwood has sold over 12.8 million albums, while Clarkson has sold 11.5 million.
Underwood's three albums and Clarkson's Stronger weren't the only "American Idol" alum albums in the Billboard 200. Other "Idol" releases in the Billboard 200 were Scotty McCreery, whose Clear As Day album sold another 6,000 copies, Daughtry's Break The Spell (3,000 in sales), and Mandisa's What If We Were Real, which re-entered the Billboard chart at No. 200.
Also appearing on the albums chart was The Music of Smash, the soundtrack for the hit NBC Television series. Season 5 runner-up Katharine McPhee is featured on 7 of the album's 13 tracks (9 of the 18 on the Deluxe Edition available at Target stores). The album, which dropped the same day as Underwood's Blown Away, debuted at No. 9.
With her strong first week sales, Underwood's latest looks to be a sure platinum-seller. All of her preceding releases have gone at least double platinum. Play On has sold the least (to date), posting just over 2.1 million in sales.
(photo credit: Keith Hinkle, Wikimedia Commons)