Powered by a massive media blitz, Bono and the boys saw their latest effort, No Line on the Horizon, sell 484,000 copies in its debut week, per Nielsen SoundScan, easily topping reigning chart champ Swift's Fearless.
Wonder if Sting bought a copy?
U2 scored the biggest debut since Britney Spears' Circus (505,000 copies) in December and Swift's Fearless (592,000) in November. It's also the biggest March debut since 50 Cent's The Massacre sold more than 1.1 million first-week copies in 2005.
Horizon was a huge seller online, thanks in part to an iTunes exclusive version and a $3.99 special download deal at Amazon.com.
Stretching back to 1987's The Joshua Tree, U2 missed the top spot just once, with 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind (No. 3). Horizon now makes it seven total No. 1 discs, tying Led Zeppelin for the second most by a group. The Beatles lead all comers with 19. (Horizon also gave U2 its 10th No. 1 in U.K., where they're tied for third most.)
Horizon, the band's first release since 2004's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, also marks the group's longest gap between studio albums. (That won't be the case next time: U2 has already promised a new album this fall.)
Swift's Fearless, which dominated 11 of the last 17 charts, fell to No. 2 on 52,000 copies.
Alt-country warbler Neko Case scored a career-high No. 3 bow, selling 44,000 copies of Middle Cyclone. Her 2006 disc Fox Confessor Brings the Flood opened at No. 54, while her three previous solo albums failed to chart.
Other notable debuts included Total Dance 2009 at No. 13 and The Watchmen soundtrack at No. 36.
Thanks to U2, total sales are up 2 percent from last week though down 9 percent compared to the same week last year when Janet Jackson's Discipline topped the charts.
Here's a recap of the Top 10:
1. No Line on the Horizon, U2
2. Fearless, Taylor Swift
3. Middle Cyclone, Neko Case
4. The Fame, Lady Gaga
5. Dark Horse, Nickelback
6. Intuition, Jamie Foxx
7. The Fray, The Fray
8. I Am…Sasha Fierce, Beyoncé
9. Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack, various
10. Paper Trail, T.I.