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Country duo Sugarland’s new album strikes sour note on U.S. chart

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The economy may be showing signs of recovery, but the music industry just keeps getting sicker. On Wednesday, the country duo Sugarland set a dubious new record by debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart with the lowest tally since Nielsen SoundScan started tracking retail sales in May 1991.

sugarlandThe group’s Wal-Mart-exclusive CD/DVD combo pack “Live on the Inside” sold just 76,000 copies during the week ended August 9. The previous record was set in May, when R&B singer Chrisette Michele’s second album “Epiphany” reached the top with 83,000.

Only three other albums have debuted at No. 1 with fewer than 100,000 copies: rapper Fabolous’ “Loso’s Way” last week with 99,000 copies, Johnny Cash’s “American V: A Hundred Highways” in 2006 with 88,000, and the Notorious B.I.G.’s “#1′s” in 2005, also with 99,000.

Michael Jackson actually outsold Sugarland last week with his 1993 set “Number Ones,” the year’s second-best selling album behind Taylor Swift’s 2008 release “Fearless.” His hits set moved 98,000 copies, taking its tally so far this year to about 1.47 million. But “Number Ones” is ineligible for the Billboard 200, which generally ranks only albums less than 18 months old. All current and catalog releases are grouped on Billboard’s Top Comprehensive Albums chart, which Jackson has ruled for six non-consecutive weeks. The Swift album, meanwhile, has sold just over 1.5 million copies.

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