All the pre-fab luster that presumably surrounds the Dixie Chicks is just part of the trick, as the trio takes its cue from another pioneering blonde that fused first-rate musical chops with things that sparkle: Dolly Parton. Because the Chicks have succeeded in Nashville, they're frequently lumped in with much of the fodder that fills the country music charts from glamourpusses to stetson-wearing beefcakes. It's a mistake. That the trio has insurgently slipped the banjo back into country music is an accomplishment that other Music City mavericks haven't been able to accomplish. That the Chicks' two albums (since the arrival of sparkplug singer Natalie Maines) have sold more than 10 million copies apiece despite the group's genuine acoustic leanings is even more so.
With their new album, Home, the Dixie Chicks again challenged pop-minded country listeners to break up with them. Home is their most wood-and-wire-driven recording since the pre-Maines bluegrass circuit days. And despite dancing closer and closer to country music's rural roots, the group managed to sell 780,000 copies of Home, according to SoundScan, a tally that trails only Eminem's The Eminem Show for best single week number of the year. It's also a number that dwarfs their previous Number One, 1999's Fly, which sold 341,000 in its first week. And no matter how you define your country music, Home's Week One sales puts the Chicks in a club with the likes of Shania (barely country) and Garth (white collar country).
The Eminem Show, last week's chart-topper, fell to Number Two with sales of 176,000. Avril Lavigne's Let Go refuses to do just that, hanging in at Number Three on a 20,000 sales spike to 150,000. Two other strong debuts splashed into the Top Ten: Coldplay broke the 40,000 Britpop ceiling with A Rush of Blood to the Head, which sold 141,000 copies at Number Five, topping Eve, whose Eve-olution jumped in at Number Six with sales of 123,000.
The Labor Day holiday provided a bit of a boost for other albums, as Pink's Missundaztood (Number Sixteen) and P.O.D.'s Satellite, which doubled its sales from last week to jump from Eighty-four to Number Thirty-six both enjoyed sales jumps. And the MTV Video Music Awards provided a bit of a push for the Vines' Highly Evolved, which moved from Number Forty to Number Thirty-three, and the Hives' Veni Vidi Vicious, which climbed from Number 104, back into the Top 100, at Number Ninety.
Hearty debuts were also scattered beyond the Top Ten. Lil' Flip sold 68,000 copies of his Undaground Legend at Number Twelve. Queens of the Stone Age's Songs for the Deaf moved 50,000 units at Number Seventeen, and BBMak's Into Your Head and Montgomery Gentry's My Town jumped in at Numbers Twenty-five and Twenty-six, respectively. And Aimee Mann continues to do just fine on her own, selling a very strong 31,000 of her oh-so-indie Lost in Space, which debuted at Number Thirty-five, which topped major-label fare like Slipknot side project Stone Sour's Stone Sour (Number Forty-six, 26,000 copies sold) and Jimmy Fallon's Bathroom Wall (Number Forty-seven, 25,000).
Next week don't expect a lotta change. Without a flagship release of note this week, the top of the charts will look largely the same, as the Chicks look poised to top 1 million copies sold and hold onto Number One, for at least another week.
This week's Top Ten: Dixie Chicks Home; Eminem's The Eminem Show; Avril Lavigne's Let Go; Nelly's Nellyville; Coldplay's A Rush of Blood to the Head; Eve's Eve-olution; Bruce Springsteen's The Rising; James Taylor's October Road; Clipse's Lord Willing; and Now That's What I Call Music! 10.