Every year around this time, malls get invaded with folks who generally only get to music shops once or twice annually. Most likely, they’re picking out a gift for mom or dad, grandma or grandpa, or a kid. This week’s Billboard chart certainly bears that theory out, as the list is flooded with artists who either have strong fuddy-duddy appeal, or kid-friendly singers.

Susan Boyle bounces back to the top spot on the chart with her holiday album, The Gift. SuBo’s sales increase 3% over the prior week with a handsome sum of 272,000 units. This pushes The Gift over the 1 million-sold threshold in only its’ fourth week of release. That’s pretty darn impressive, but even more impressive is that the artist with the #2 album, Taylor Swift, crosses the 2-million sold barrier in only six weeks. The country/pop titan adds another 182,000 units to what’s already the third highest sum of 2010.

As the number of big releases slows down, the chart sees significantly less in the way of debuts than it has in the past several weeks. The highest new entry comes from the “Glee” cast. Their fourth soundtrack album starts at #5 with 128,000 sold. It’s just a hair behind…”Glee”‘s Christmas album, which ranks #4 with 129,000 sold. How many people are gonna look at their music collections (or their iTunes libraries) a year or two from now and ask themselves “now, why do I have these songs again?”.

It’s a fairly disappointing first week for several artists. The Black Eyed Peas’ new album, The Beginning, starts at a middling (for them) #6 with just under 119,000 units sold. While that shouldn’t be a cause for alarm right off the bat (Fergie’s solo album debuted with similarly mediocre numbers and went on to sell several million copies after spinning off hit after hit), it’s worth noting that the BEP’s last album, The E.N.D., started with a total that was almost triple that number just a year and a half ago.

The Peas’ fortunes are glowing compared to those experienced by a couple of other acts. R&B singer Chrisette Michele’s last album, 2008’s Epiphany, debuted at #1 with a total north of 80,000 units. Her latest effort, Let Freedom Reign, starts at #25 with just over half that total. A ridiculously crowded slate of new R&B albums and a piss-poor setup by her label, Def Jam, probably contributed to that number. But at least she’s not Soulja Boy. The “rapper”‘s latest album, The DeAndre Way, bows all the way down at #90 with a paltry 13,000 units sold. I hope Soulja Boy made some good investments with that “Crank That” money, because his 15 minutes look like they’re about to be up.

With the busy Thanksgiving weekend out of the way, sales take an expected tumble. Only a handful of albums see increases over the prior week, and most of them are Christmas albums (there are now 6 of them in the Top 20) or they were the beneficiary of the Grammy nominations that were announced last week. Song of the Year nominee Ray LaMontagne sees his latest set re-enter the chart with a 47% increase over the prior week, and upticks are also seen by Best New Artist nominees Florence & the Machine (and I actually contributed to that particular total last week), and Grammy nomination show performers Bruno Mars and Train.

Next week, SuBo’s reign will continue. The only new release of note will be the latest from T.I., and that’s shaping up to be something of a disappointment with first week totals expected to hover around the 150,000 range. Think the public finally got fed up with him getting tossed in the pokey every 6 months? Lil Wayne, take notes!

This week’s Top 20 albums:

1) “The Gift” Susan Boyle
2) “Speak Now” Taylor Swift
3) “O Holy Night” Jackie Evancho
4) “Glee Christmas Album” Glee Cast
5) “Glee: The Music Vol. 4” Glee Cast
6) “The Beginning” Black Eyed Peas
7) “My Beautiful Dark, Twisted Fantasy” Kanye West
8) “Pink Friday” Nicki Minaj
9) “Illuminations” Josh Groban
10) “Loud” Rihanna
11) “My Worlds Acoustic” Justin Bieber
12) “Merry Christmas II You” Mariah Carey
13) “Born Free” Kid Rock
14) “My Christmas” Andrea Bocelli
15) “Get Closer” Keith Urban
16) “Nothing Like This” Rascal Flatts
17) “Love Me Back” Jazmine Sullivan
18) “Noel” Josh Groban
19) “Teenage Dream” Katy Perry
20) “My Kinda Party” Jason Aldean

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