Make it a trifecta for R&B. Beyonce Knowles' solo debut, Dangerously in Love sold 317,000 copies, according to SoundScan, to top the album chart this week. Dangerously continues a run of R&B Number Ones started by Luther Vandross' Dance With My Father two weeks ago; Monica's After the Storm was Number One last week.
Dangerously didn't really have much in the way of competition. Birthday girl Michelle Branch (who turned twenty today) made a strong tally with her second set, Hotel Paper, selling 157,000 copies at Number Two.
But while overall sales were weak (Vandross' Dance was the only other album with six-figure sales), newcomers were hardly scarce. The Three 6 Mafia sold 95,000 copies of Da Unbreakables at Number Four; the Charlie's Angeles 2: Full Throttle soundtrack bounced in at Number Fourteen with sales of 50,000; Gang Starr's Ownerz scored a Number Eighteen bow with sales of 48,000.
Much ado was made of Liz Phair's dealings with the Matrix on her self-titled new album. Amid cries from her lo-fi constituency, Phair put a bit of a sheen on Liz Phair, and told Rolling Stone earlier this year that she wanted to move more units. By a first-week yardstick, the gamble didn't pay off. Liz Phair sold 35,000 copies at Number Twenty-seven, 4,000 fewer than Whitechocolatespaceegg did five years ago.
Top Fifty debuts were also posted by R&B singer Lumidee's Almost Famous (Number Twenty-two, 37,000 copies sold), the Black Eyed Peas' Elefunk (Number Thirty-three, 31,000), Blu Cantrell's Bittersweet (Number Thirty-seven, 29,000), the Mars Volta's De-Loused in the Comatorium (Number Thirty-nine, 28,000) and Willie Nelson's Willie Nelson and Friends (Number Forty-two, 27,000).
Next week should make it four in a row for R&B, as Ashanti's Chapter II will try to continue the winning ways of the singer's self-titled debut, which zipped in from left-field to post a 502,000-copy opening week last year.
This week's Top Ten: Beyonce's Dangerously in Love; Michelle Branch's Hotel Paper; Luther Vandross' Dance With My Father; Three 6 Mafia's Da Unbreakables; Metallica's St. Anger; 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin'; Monica's After the Storm; Evanescence's Fallen; Norah Jones' Come Away With Me; and Annie Lennox's Bare.