With a hackneyed release schedule, Eminem's The Eminem Show has done the unthinkable: the record became the first album to sell more than a million copies in its second "week" of sales. After selling a chart-topping 285,000 copies in a single day a week ago, The Eminem Show sold 1.3 million to thoroughly embarrass the rest of this week's chart, which is among the ugliest of the year. As a matter of fact, it would take albums from Number Two through Twenty-five to join forces to produce a comparable tally to the 1.3 million, which marks the first time this year that a record has reached seven-figure sales in a single week.
Other than Mr. Slim Shady, how bad is it out there? Real bad. P. Diddy's We Invented the Remix, at Number Two, was the only other record to break six figures, moving 117,000 units. The rest of the Top Ten was primarily just a game of musical chairs from the previous week, though Sheryl Crow's C'mon, C'mon broke into the Top Ten, pushing from Number Eleven to Number Seven, with sales of 66,000. Where are the debuts you ask? Well, they aren't in the Top Fifty, and they barely scratched the Top 100. The T Bone Burnett-produced soundtrack to The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood sold 11,000 copies to squeeze in at Number Ninety-nine.
With the top of the charts in such a state of disarray, there seems to be no better time to cast a peek at the bottom of the charts, where some smaller campers had set up tents that have slowly transformed into towns, without the benefit of the first-week sales hammer. First, there's the trilogy of garage-y critics' faves that have slowly been piling up sales to match the robust nature of their press folders. The buzz around the Hives is slowly pushing the band towards the mainstream. The Swedish garage band's second album, Veni Vidi Vicious, has been available for nearly two years, and this week it elbowed its way into the Top 100, jumping from Number 115 last week to Number Seventy-seven behind sales of 13,000. The Strokes' debut, Is This It, has dived back towards the Top 100, sneaking from Number 151 two weeks ago to Number 105 this week, with sales of 10,000. And the White Stripes remain an unlikely Top 100 fixture at Number Eighty-six, selling 12,000 copies of White Blood Cells last week. With reissues of the duo's first two records due next week, and a new album later this year, Meg and Jack White look poised to make the biggest first-week splash of the three bands.
And there's still bluegrass. O Brother inertia continues to work well for Alison Krauss and Union Station. The group's latest release, New Favorite, remains a Top 200 mainstay behind sales of 7,000. The album has now spent thirty-six weeks inside the Top 200, with sales in excess of 500,000.
Also of interest has been a relatively new practice of marketing albums by veterans with an "event release" cache. Van Morrison, Elvis Costello and Tom Waits each released albums in the past month, and each registered the highest first-week sales of their careers. Morrison's Down the Road debuted at Number Twenty-five on May 19th with sales of 36,000; and Waits placed a pair of albums, Blood Money and Alice, at Numbers Thirty-two and Thirty-three, respectively, with sales of 32,000 each. Costello's When I Was Cruel did even better, bounding in at Number Twenty in late April with sales of 39,000. While this hardly constitutes a siege upon the top of the charts, the figures certainly stand out, and suggest that either a middle-aged generation is re-connecting with their heroes of yesteryear, or that a new generation is being hooked by marketing that suggests that these still-vital fiftysomethings (or close to it, in Costello's case) are producing the closest thing we have to alternative rock in this fledgling century. And those four records are not making quick exits. Blood Money (Number 109), Alice (Number 116) and When I Was Cruel (Number 113) are still hovering right around the Top 100 with weekly sales around 10,000, while Down the Road is at Number Fifty-one with sales of 20,000.
So back to the top: Next week will likely find all other albums again standing in Slim Shady's shadow. But for those keeping an eye on the future of Top Ten, you can take off the shades. Releases by Korn and Papa Roach will likely place a band-aid on a year of high-profile record sales that have been hit by a truck. But, without some sort of long-term hero, the bleeding will then continue.
This week's Top Ten: Eminem's The Eminem Show; P. Diddy's We Invented the Remix; Ashanti's Ashanti; Cam'ron's Come Home With Me; Celine Dion's A New Day Has Come; Marc Anthony's Mended; Sheryl Crow's C'mon, C'mon; Kenny Chesney's No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems; Now That's What I Call Music! 9; and Musiq's Juslisen.