Simon Vozick-Levinson
May 13, 2009 AT 07:15 PM EDT

Apologies for the backhanded compliment, but I didn’t expect Chrisette Michele to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this week. Not that I don’t appreciate her R&B singer-songwriter style, which can be lovely at times — I just didn’t realize things had changed so much since her first album opened all the way down at No. 29 two years ago. Actually, on second thought, maybe they haven’t changed all that much. Michele’s new chart-topper, Epiphany, sold just 83,000 copies, which is the lowest sales total for a No. 1 debut since Nielsen SoundScan started keeping track 18 years ago. At least she outdid the 81,000 units moved by No. 3 finisher Ciara‘s Fantasy Ride, the album that I would have predicted to win this week.

Meanwhile, Ben Harper and Relentless7 came in at No. 9 with 34,000 copies sold of their White Lies for Dark Times. Metalcore bros The Devil Wears Prada, who have to deserve some sort of award for least creative band name ever, made it to No. 11 with 31,000 of their With Roots Above and Branches Below. And that was it for Top 20 debuts, crushing my half-serious dream that St. Vincent’s Actor, which hit stores the same week as all those other albums, might somehow squeak its way in there. Guess it was never meant to be…but I’ll take one more opportunity to politely suggest that you buy that album if you like indie rock, because it is awesome. Anyway: Any thoughts on this week’s albums chart?

More from EW’s Music Mix:
Ciara talks Fantasy Ride, responds to Beyonce rip-off gossip: “All I can do is laugh”

Bob Dylan tops the albums chart in a slow week
Rick Ross outperforms Asher Roth on the charts

addCredit(“Ciara: Derek Blanks”)

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