This week’s Billboard album chart doesn’t contain much in the way of surprises. Susan Boyle continues her reign atop the list with another 243,000 units sold of The Gift. In five weeks, SuBo has shifted 1.4 million copies of her second album, and it should easily obtain double platinum status by year’s end. Susan is followed by Taylor Swift at #2 (201,000) and what’s looking like the Christmas success of 2010, the “Glee” holiday album at #3 (193K).

The week’s highest debut comes courtesy of T.I. The beleaguered rapper manages a #4 start, selling 159,000 copies of his No Mercy. It’s by far the slowest start for a T.I. album since his second album, Trap Muzik. No Mercy is his seventh studio release. Those numbers have got to be somewhat disappointing-given this number and the relatively light sales (comparatively speaking) of the two Lil Wayne albums that were released while he was incarcerated, it’s not looking like jail’s a good move for rappers. So don’t expect big numbers on the next DMX or Ja Rule releases-not that anyone would expect those, anyway.

T.I. scores the best first week in a week of disappointingly performing releases. Brit soul singer Duffy, whose last album won a Grammy and was certified Platinum, starts at #62 with her sophomore effort, Endlessly. Meanwhile, Natasha Bedingfield, whose last two albums have sold quite strongly, can only manage a #89 debut for her latest, Strip Me. Perhaps most sad is the #100 debut of the latest album by rap legend Redman, entitled Reggie. Red’s been the victim of some serious label bullshit over the years and despite a string of solidly selling albums, has never really gotten his due. Hopefully after this, Red can get off of Def Jam and rebuild his commercial prospects somewhat.

On the other side of the coin, there’s the Tron-Legacy soundtrack. The Daft Punk-helmed score to the latest movie remake starts impressively at #10 with 71K. This makes it one of this year’s highest-starting soundtracks not of the Glee variety, and also marks Daft Punk’s best start on the U.S. album charts.

Slow & steady wins the race with a lot of albums these days, it seems. Some projects get off to slow starts, but tend to pick up after scoring repeated hit singles or other high profile looks. Case in point? Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream. The pop tart’s latest album got off to a much slower start than was anticipated given the success of “California Gurls” and the title track. However, three months into the album’s release, Teenage Dream is still hanging out at #16 on the charts, has spun off a third #1 single in “Firework”, is closing in on Platinum, and has also (somewhat improbably) scored a Grammy nomination. Bruno Mars’ Doo-Wops & Hooligans is also making a turnaround. With a second hit single in his pocket with “Grenade” and a slew of recognition for his various songwriting and production projects, Bruno’s bounced back up to #27 on this week’s chart after a soft opening. He should be Gold by Grammy time. Albums like these caution against losing hope as soon as an album’s release if the numbers aren’t up to projections.

As we close the door on the year, there are only two weeks left. Next week’s chart should be a battle between SuBo (yet again), Taylor Swift (also yet again) and the new one by Michael Jackson. All three will start north of 200K, and all have chances at hitting 250K. R. Kelly is also slated to start with a surprisingly strong bow (top 5) with his latest album, Love Letter. For the MJ project, that number actually comes across as sort of disappointing, given the hype that’s surrounded it. However, as we’ve seen these past few weeks, it’s not wise to go up against the phenomenon that is Susan Boyle.

Here’s this week’s Top Twenty albums:

1) The Gift, Susan Boyle
2) Speak Now, Taylor Swift
3) Christmas Album, Glee Cast
4) No Mercy, T.I.
5) O Holy Night, Jackie Evancho
6) Pink Friday, Nicki Minaj
7) Illuminations, Josh Groban
8) Glee: The Music-Vol. 4, Glee Cast
9) Loud, Rihanna
10) Tron: Legacy Soundtrack, Daft Punk
11) My Worlds Acoustic, Justin Bieber
12) Nothing Like This, Rascal Flatts
13) My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West
14) Born Free, Kid Rock
15) The Beginning, The Black Eyed Peas
16) Merry Christmas II You, Mariah Carey
17) Teenage Dream, Katy Perry
18) Just Charlie, Charlie Wilson
19) My Kinda Party, Jason Aldean
20) My World 2.0, Justin Bieber

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