By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U2's controversial free album on Apple's iTunes had a less than stellar performance once released for commercial sale, coming in at No. 9 in its first week on the Billboard 200 album chart on Wednesday.
Country group Florida Georgia Line far outperformed the Irish rockers by selling 197,000 copies of "Anything Goes" in its first week for the top spot on the chart, compared with U2's 28,000 units sold, according to sales figures compiled by Nielsen SoundScan.
"Songs of Innocence," the 13th studio album from U2, became the largest album release in history after being made available for free in September on Apple Inc's iTunes online store to half a billion iTunes users.
Billboard does not count sales of albums priced under $3.49 for its weekly album chart listings.
U2's lead singer Bono apologized last week to users who objected to receiving an automatic download of the band's latest album, after thousands complained they did not want the album and that it took up precious storage space on Apple devices.
Florida Georgia Line is the third consecutive country music act to top the chart after Jason Aldean, who landed at No. 1 with "Old Boots, New Dirt," and Blake Shelton, who notched the top spot with "Bringing Back the Sunshine" two weeks ago.
Aldean's album dropped to No. 2 this week, while Shelton's record dropped from No. 6 to No. 15.
Other new debuts in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart this week include veteran rocker Bob Seger at No. 3 with "Ride Out," and You+Me, the duo formed by pop singer Pink and folk artist Dallas Green from City and Colour, at No. 4 with "Rose Ave."
Rapper The Game debuted at No. 7 with "Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf," former Google employee-turned-rapper Hoodie Allen landed at No. 8 with "People Keep Talking" and British singer Jessie J rounded out the top 10 with "Sweet Talker."
For the week ended Oct. 19, total album sales clocked in at 4.4 million units, down 6 percent from the comparative week in 2013, while year-to-date album sales tallied at 199.93 million, down 14 percent from the same point last year, Billboard said.
(Editing by Mary Milliken and Lisa Shumaker)