It was a back and forth battle but in the end, the Eagles rule at the top of the Billboard charts this week, beating out Ms. Spears. It was a squeaker though and not a slight one either.
First, you had the obvious symbolism. Though Brit did rack up close to 300,000 in sales for Blackout (which is much smaller than she used to sale but a lot for nowadays), she didn't get the cherished number one spot for her comeback record. Expect to see plenty of stories that dig into the significance of a bunch of old hippies/boomers (albeit, the ones with the best-selling album of all time) beating out the paparazzi queen for bragging rights.
Earlier in the week, it looked like she was indeed going to get that prize. Walmart was the exclusive seller of the Eagles record Long Road Out of Eden and though they looked to be the actual top seller for the week, because they weren't releasing the album outside of the store (though the Eagles website sold it too), Billboard at first said that they were ineligible to be on their charts. That would mean that the best-selling album in the country would not actually be number one on Billboard.
The problem with this was two-sided- for Billboard, it made them look false if they can't report the real top-seller while for the Eagles, they were robbed of the top spot because of the Walmart deal. What was worse (again for both sides) is that it wasn't even close in terms of sales- the Eagles record was slated to have sold more than double what Spears had. So in a dramatic last minute turnaround, Billboard worked out a deal where they would allow the sales figures for the Eagles to stick though they were sold exclusively through one place. In the article covering this decision, they were quick to apologize to retailers for this but in the end, they really didn't have much choice- again, they would have looked like fools giving the top spot to a record that wasn't even close to being the biggest seller of the week.
Brit's fans may cry foul but them's the breaks in the biz- of course, it didn't help here that she was press-shy at release time while the Eagles have always had savvy management (Henley went as far to say that they partnered with Walmart to sell as many records as possible). If it's any consolation, the Eagles themselves are saying that this looks to be their last record. Then again, they've said that before...