One-quarter of the way through 2002 and if there has been an underlying theme to the charts thus far, it's anything goes. Thus Ashanti's self-titled debut, the surprise chart-topper for the past three weeks was unseated by Kenny Chesney's No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems, the second stetson-capped release to debut Number One this year. Chesney's latest sold 235,000, according to SoundScan, to handily best Ashanti, which sold 143,000 copies in falling to Number Two. Chesney's rise to the top secures the present as one of the strongest periods for country music sales since the early Nineties hat act boom. The record follows a late-2001 Number One debut by Garth Brooks' Scarecrow, Alan Jackson's lengthy stint on top with Drive and the surprise appearance on top by the bluegrassy O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. And the rest of the genre is looking healthy, or at least healthier than much of the rest of the charts. Drive remains in the Top Twenty-five. Albums by Brad Paisley, Toby Keith and Tim McGraw, all of them a year old, are still lodged in the Top 100.
The charts were peppered with other solid debuts. The soundtrack to Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones caught a flyer from the anticipated summer blockbuster and sold 73,000 copies to bow in at Number Six. Rapper Cee-Lo's Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections scanned 57,000 copies for a Number Eleven spot. And Wilco's fourth record, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot performed admirably. The album, which a former Warner Bros. talent scout said "wasn't a piece of shit," certainly didn't sell like said portion of fecal remnant: Foxtrot bowed in at Number Thirteen with sales of 56,000. Even vet Elvis Costello broke in strong at Number Twenty with When I Was Cruel, which sold 39,000 units.
In addition to the flurry of newcomers, there were a few other signs of life on the charts. System of a Down's Toxicity sprung back to life, boosting its sales to 52,000, nearly 20,000 more than last week, likely sparked by a re-release of the album with a bonus DVD. The jump pushed the record from Number Thirty to Number Fourteen. Enrique Iglesias' Escape, John Mayer's Room for Squares, Enya's A Day Without Rain were all Top Fifty entries that enjoyed sales spikes.
This week's Top Ten: Kenny Chesney's No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems; Ashanti's Ashanti; Celine Dion's New Day Has Come; Sheryl Crow's C'mon C'mon; Now That's What I Call Music! 9; Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones; The Scorpion King; O Brother, Where Art Thou?; Josh Groban's Josh Groban; and Pink's Missundaztood.