Well, folks: we’re about to wrap up the chart year. There’s only one week left, and industry watchers are on the edge of their collective seats, wondering if music sales will actually increase over the year before. As we headed into late fall, that looked like a sure thing, as sales of albums were trending at about 4% over 2010. However, a 4th quarter schedule devoid of blockbuster releases a la Taylor Swift and Kanye West last year has narrowed the gap to just over 1%. At any rate, flat is the new up, and anything other than a decrease has to be cause for some celebration. Right?

One of this 4th quarter’s bright spots has been Michael Buble’s Christmas. While not ringing up Josh Groban-type numbers, the holiday album from the Canadian crooner posts another week at #1 on the album charts, with 467,000 copies sold. With this week’s number, Buble jumps over Lady GaGa’s Born This Way to claim the title of this year’s second biggest-selling album. He has a long way to go to catch Adele, the owner of this year’s #1 title, however, and unless something fantastically catastrophic happens, I don’t see Buble selling 3.3 million copies of his album in the coming week to close the gap.

Speaking of Adele, 21 holds strong at the #2 spot, shifting another 399,000 copies this week. Incredibly, this is 21‘s best sales week in it’s 44-week history, and it’s pretty much guaranteed to move into the #1 spot again next week, as Christmas albums tend to not be in vogue after December 26th.

December’s generally a barren month for new releases, and there are only two noteworthy debuts on this week’s chart. Young Jeezy’s long-delayed TM 103: Hustler’s Ambition starts at #3 with an impressive (to me, anyway) 233,000 units. It’s only slightly off the 260,000 that Jeezy’s last full-length, The Recession, posted in it’s first week back in 2008-an eternity in pop music these days. Meanwhile, Common’s new album, The Dreamer/The Believer, starts at #18 with 69,000 copies. His previous album, Universal Mind Control, started with 82,000. It’s entirely possible that UMC’s bad press caused fans to stay away from this album-although most people say it’s a return to form for the rapper.

January looks to start as desolately in 2012 as it did in 2011, with no albums expected to ring up even average sales until January 17th, which is when the next Kidz Bop CD is scheduled to drop. Tim McGraw’s new album drops the following week, and then a few weeks after, we head into Grammy season. Although we’ll be competing with some weeks when the country dealt with fairly treacherous weather, these next weeks promise to be some of the quietest on record unless the Adele juggernaut keeps rolling.

Here’s this week’s Top 20:

1) Christmas | Michael Buble
2) 21 | Adele
3) TM 103: Hustler’s Ambition | Young Jeezy
4) Under The Mistletoe | Justin Bieber
5) Take Care | Drake
6) Own The Night | Lady Antebellum
7) Talk That Talk | Rihanna
8) Here & Now | Nickelback
9) El Camino | The Black Keys
10) Now That’s What I Call Music 40 | Various Artists
11) Clear As Day | Scotty McCreery
12) Mylo Xyloto | Coldplay
13) El Concerto: Live At Central Park | Andrea Bocelli
14) My Kinda Party | Jason Aldean
15) Lioness: Hidden Treasures | Amy Winehouse
16) Sorry For Party Rocking | LMFAO
17) 19 | Adele
18) The Dreamer/The Believer | Common
19) My Life 2: The Journey Continues | Mary J. Blige
20) Ceremonials | Florence & The Machine

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