50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin' is marching towards 4 million served, selling another 234,000 this past week, according to SoundScan, to hang onto Number One for the third straight week. And though her Grammy glow has faded somewhat, Norah Jones' Come Away With Me continues to sell well, moving 176,000 copies, spending its third straight week at Number Two.
The remainder of the Top Ten looked largely as it did a week ago, with some minor shuffling. Evanescence's Fallen is shaping up to be the year's strongest rock rookie. The debut album by the Arkansas band debuted at Number Seven three weeks ago, and, rather than making a quick exit, the album has begun to climb, reaching Number Five with sales of 85,000. Sean Paul's Dutty Rock is the week's only Top Ten first-timer, breaking in at Number Nine (with sales of 62,000) after nineteen weeks of release. And though the sales week closed before the Oscar winners were announced, anticipation for the show seems to have boosted Eminem's stock. The 8 Mile soundtrack climbed from Number Twenty-nine to Number Ten with sales of 55,000, and the rapper's The Eminem Show jumped from Number Eighteen to Number Twelve with sales of 50,000. Those two albums were the only Top Fifty entries to enjoy a sales increase from the previous week.
While most albums only suffered slight sales dips (Fallen only fell 7,000 copies and Kid Rock's Cocky moved 15,000 units fewer than the previous week), the first signs of Dixie Chicks backlash were present on this week's chart. The band's Home only dropped from Number Four to Number Seven, but the its sales went into free fall compared to other Top 100 albums: from 124,000 to 72,000.
Debuts weren't scarce, but they also weren't particularly inspiring. (Hed) PE's Blackout was the week's strongest newcomer at Number Thirty-three with sales of 28,000, followed by the Allman Brothers Band's first new album in nearly a decade, Hittin' the Note, which sold 25,000 at Number Thirty-seven. Just squeezing into the Top 100 was Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks' Pig Lib, arriving at Number Ninety-seven with sales of 11,000. And scoring one for the independents was Cody Chesnutt's The Headphone Masterpiece. The ambitious two-CD rock/soul debut received reams of kind press, none of which translated into sales. A video and a few appearances with the Roots (including a visit to David Letterman's show) later and Masterpiece slipped onto the charts at Number 128 months after its release, with sales of 8,000.
Next week's chart will be an interesting barometer for the remainder of the sales year, because Linkin Park's Meteora arrived in record stores yesterday. The album was kept under tight watch during its creation and wasn't shipped out to reviewers in hopes of curbing potential leaks and bootlegging. Should the album succeed, such security measures might become the norm for high-profile releases. The flip side is that Korn's Untouchables, which stiffed last summer, might have been a forecast of things to come -- namely the end of new metal's reign. Meteora is a lock for a Number One debut, but if it doesn't stay there for a few weeks, Limp Bizkit, Puddle of Mudd and Co. might have a rough 2003.
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 Chicago soundtrack; Evanescence's Fallen; Kid Rock's Cocky; the Dixie Chicks' Home; Fabolous' Street Dreams; Sean Paul's Dutty Rock; and the 8 Mile soundtrack.