50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin' has spent four of its six weeks at Number One, but perhaps more impressive is that the record has sold nearly 3.3 million copies in that span, blowing away the notion that late-winter releases can't be blockbusters. The record sold 279,000 copies this past week, according to SoundScan, again besting Norah Jones' Come Away With Me, which put up a healthy 243,000. R. Kelly's Chocolate Factory moved up a notch to Number Three behind sales of 129,000.
While no debut was strong enough to badger its way to Number One, the Top Fifty was dotted with new arrivals. Punk ensemble A.F.I. made their major-label shift with plenty of noise. After several independent releases, the band's Dreamworks debut, Sing the Sorrow, scored a Number Five debut with sales of 96,000. Other strong numbers were predictably put up by hip-hop and R&B artists: Killer Mike's Monster arrived at Number Ten, with 80,000 copies sold, and Blackstreet's Level II sold 53,000 at Number Fourteen. Folk rocker Ben Harper scored a Number Nineteen debut with Diamonds on the Inside, selling 46,000. DIY trailblazer Ani DiFranco continues to move merch without major-label support or interference. Her latest, Evolve, debuted at Number Thirty, with sales of 35,000.
Christian rock (particularly from Ohio) has become a simmering phenomenon on the back burner. On the previous week's chart, God-fearing rock ensemble Third Day sold 53,000 copies of their Offerings II: All I Have to Give to debut at debuted at Number Eighteen. This week's pious pop poster boys are Relient K, who sold 30,000 copies of Two Left's Don't Make a Right . . . But Three Do, at Number Thirty-eight.
Several new releases eked into stores this week, but the new crop doesn't look to have a contender for Number One, likely leaving 50 Cent and Norah Jones to duke it out once again for next week's Number One. However, next week's chart will tell if the hoopla surrounding Dixie Chicks' frontwoman Natalie Maines has any effect on the country trio's sales. The band's latest, Home, sold a strong 124,000 copies this past week to come in at Number Four.
This week's Top Ten: 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin'; Norah Jones' Come Away With Me; R. Kelly's Chocolate Factory; the Dixie Chicks' Home; A.F.I.'s Sing the Sorrow; the Chicago soundtrack; Fabolous' Street Dreams; Kid Rock's Cocky; Evanescence's Fallen; and Killer Mike's Monster.
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