We (well, I) assumed that Susan Boyle was going to rule the top of the album chart for the remainder of the holiday season. Well, guess I was mistaken. SuBo cedes the top spot on this week’s chart to a resurgent Taylor Swift. Despite Boyle’s 5% gain in sales, Taylor jumps over her with a 29% increase in sales for Speak Now. It holds the #1 spot with 259,000 copies sold. Additionally, the 2.6 million copies Taylor has sold so far puts her in spitting distance for the title of #1 selling album of 2010. She’s about 400,000 copies behind #2 Lady Antebellum and about 600,000 copies behind Eminem at the top. There are two weeks left in the calendar year, and with a strong showing on next week’s chart, it’s not unfathomable that she can jump Lady A.

Expecting Michael Jackson’s Michael to make a splashy debut on the chart? Well, guess again. The first posthumous album of unreleased material from the King of Pop starts off at #3 with 228,000 copies. It’s not the greatest of numbers, especially given the hype that the album received. Actually, I’d argue a new album from MJ would’ve put up better numbers if he were still alive.

A sprinkling of new albums dot this week’s chart. In addition to MJ’s album, R. Kelly’s well-reviewed Love Letter drops in at #6 with a healthy 154K, while Diddy’s Dirty Money project starts at #7 with Last Train to Paris. The celeb-studded, long-delayed album begins with a shade under 101K.  Other debuts include the new album by American Idol runner-up Crystal Bowersox (#28, 58K-almost double what the album by Season 9 winner Lee DeWyze sold), the latest effort by R&B everyman Tank (#35, 44K), and the latest effort from Ciara, which begins at a middling #44 with 37K. Looks like the bloom’s off that rose, although had it debuted in a non-holiday season week, that number might have been enough to put it in the Top Ten.

With the tracking period reflecting the last full week before Christmas, it’s no shock that just about every album on the chart increases in scans from the week before. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the biggest percentage decline comes from T.I.’s No Mercy. It drops from #4-#21 with a 56% drop in sales. Fairly typical for a rap album in it’s second week, but it’s one of only nine albums on the chart with more than a 25% drop in sales.

Taylor is the one to beat next week, although several of this week’s new releases should debut with between 100-120K. Look for Jamie Foxx, Keyshia Cole and Keri Hilson to all start around that mark (and in that order), although it’s anyone’s guess where they’ll place on the actual chart, seeing as shoppers look to be out in full force for the remainder of the week.

Here’s this week’s Top 20 albums

1) Speak Now, Taylor Swift
2) The Gift, Susan Boyle
3) Michael, Michael Jackson
4) O Holy Night, Jackie Evancho
5) Glee: The Music-Xmas, Glee Cast
6) Love Letter, R. Kelly
7) Last Train to Paris, Diddy-Dirty Money
8) Pink Friday, Nicki Minaj
9) Born Free, Kid Rock
10) Glee: The Music Vol. 4, Glee Cast
11) Loud, Rihanna
12) My Worlds Acoustic, Justin Bieber
13) Illuminations, Josh Groban
14) The Beginning, The Black Eyed Peas
15) Teenage Dream, Katy Perry
16) Nothing Like This, Rascal Flatts
17) Merry Christmas II You, Mariah Carey
18) My World 2.0, Justin Bieber
19) My Kinda Party, Jason Aldean
20) My Christmas, Andrea Bocelli

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