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Christian singer Chris Tomlin tops Billboard album chart

Chris Tomlin poses backstage after winning Best Contemporary Christian Music Album at the 54th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, Californ
Chris Tomlin poses backstage after winning Best Contemporary Christian Music Album at the 54th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, Californ

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Christian singer-songwriter Chris Tomlin topped the Billboard 200 album chart on Wednesday as his album, "Burning Lights," became the fourth Christian album to top the charts.

Tomlin, 40, who scored his first mainstream No. 1 album, sold 73,000 units in its first week, according to figures compiled by Nielsen SoundScan.

It was the first time a Christian album rose to No. 1 since hip-hop and pop artist tobyMac's "Eye on It" in September 2012.

Billboard credited Tomlin's strong performance to sales related to churches and a college Christian conference in Atlanta that drew about 60,000 attendees. Some 40 percent of all sales came from those sources, Billboard said.

Rap-rockers Hollywood Undead's "Notes from the Underground" entered the charts at No. 2, selling some 53,000 units.

The soundtrack to the big screen adaptation of Broadway musical "Les Miserables," last week's top album, came in third.

This week's chart, which tracks sales through January 13, did not reflect any boost in sales the album might get from the film's three Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, including best comedy or musical.

Country-pop star Taylor Swift's "Red" placed fourth, down one spot, while the soundtrack to the musical film "Pitch Perfect" was fifth, two positions higher than last week.

Album sales for the past week totaled 5.09 million, down less than 1 percent from the same week last year. Year-to-date album sales of 11.35 million represent a 4 percent rise compared to the first two weeks of last year.

A total of 28.83 million songs were downloaded last week, an increase of 1 percent compared to the same week last year.

That figure should get a big boost next week after pop star Justin Timberlake released his first new song, "Suit & Tie" featuring rapper Jay-Z, in five years on Sunday night.

The song topped the U.S. iTunes chart within hours of its release. Timberlake will also release a new album, "The 20/20 Experience," later this year.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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