Alicia Keys seemed to arrive out of nowhere in July 2001 when her debut album, Songs in A Minor, sold 235,000 copies in its first week to chart at Number One. Two years and gazillion sales later, Keys has returned to the top, and her new album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, is off to an even stronger start than its predecessor. By a lot. Diary sold 618,000 copies, according to SoundScan, almost tripling the sales of the Number Two album, Toby Keith's Shock N Y'all, which sold 213,000 copies.
Diary was the only newcomer in the Top Ten, and one of only three in the Top Fifty -- Trace Adkins' Comin' on Strong sold 62,000 at Number Thirty and Michael Buble's self-titled album sold 47,000 at Number Forty-seven. And overall sales in the Top 200 were down -- from 8.9 million to 7.9 million -- for the first time since November 2nd. Though top-shelf releases are sparse between now and Christmas, sales should still remain fairly strong for another two weeks as CDs continue to be plucked as stocking stuffers.
Speaking of the holidays, among the numerous Christmas albums ushered into the season, one seems to have found its feet this year. Harry Connick Jr.'s Harry for the Holidays made a quiet debut in early November, selling 27,000 copies at Number Thirty-nine. The album has enjoyed snowballing sales and over the past two weeks jumped from Number Thirty to just outside the Top Ten at Number Twelve, with sales of 113,000 last week.
Next week's chart offers an R&B showdown. American Idol-winner Ruben Studdard looks to post strong sales for his solo debut, Soulful. And Musiq's Soulstar has a longshot's chance, though it will likely need to do even better than his last record, Juslisen, which scored a Number One debut a year ago, with sales of 260,000.
This week's Top Ten: Alicia Keys' The Diary of Alicia Keys; Toby Keith's Shock N Y'all; Josh Groban's Closer; Now That's What I Call Music! 14; OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below; Hilary Duff's So Yesterday; Britney Spears' In the Zone; No Doubt's Singles Collection; Sheryl Crow's Very Best of Sheryl Crow; and Jay-Z's The Black Album.