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'Rainbows' No. 1 for Radiohead

January 10, 2008|Todd Martens | Times Staff Writer

Give music away, and true fans will still buy it.

Radiohead's "In Rainbows" album topped the U.S. sales chart this week, selling 122,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It arrived in stores in the CD format on New Year's Day, nearly three months after the artsy British rock group unleashed the album on the Web at whatever price fans chose to pay, including nothing at all.

It's the album's second week on the chart after some retailers sold it ahead of its street date. It bowed on last week's tally at No. 156, with sales of 9,000 copies, giving "In Rainbows" a two-week total of 131,000 in physical sales. It was the only album last week to sell more than 100,000 copies. Last week's top seller, Mary J. Blige's "Growing Pains," dropped to No. 2 on sales of 89,000 copies.

Although a six-figure debut is nothing to cry about in this era of declining CD sales, it's worth noting that "In Rainbows" gave Radiohead its lowest first-week sales tally since 1997, when "OK Computer" opened at No. 21, according to Billboard. The band's more recent effort, 2003's "Hail to the Thief," entered at No. 3 with 300,000 copies.

The band has declined to announce download figures, and in an interview with The Times last week, Radiohead representatives acknowledged that the Web experiment would have some effect on CD sales.

It was stressed, however, that the "In Rainbows" sales campaign is only beginning. To that end, Radiohead announced Wednesday that it will stage a 22-city North American tour this spring and summer. Dates were not announced, but Los Angeles is on the list of cities the band intends to visit.

Also new on the chart this week is the indie-rock-focused soundtrack to "Juno." The album, featuring music from Sonic Youth, Kimya Dawson, Belle & Sebastian and Cat Power, among others, enters at No. 8 after selling 38,000 copies.

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todd.martens@latimes.com

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