Michael Jackson Tops the Charts

Invincible gives King of Pop another Number One

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Whether it lived up to its name is up for debate, but Michael Jackson's Invincible scratched out 366,272 copies sold in its first, according to SoundScan, to give the King of Pop a week to reign at Number One; not bad, but not Bad. Jackson has been a sportless target of late, as reports of inflated budgets and of the lukewarm reception for his album's lead single have created saucer-eyed anticipation for a stumble of gargantuan proportions. But Invincible's numbers just don't create much of a fuss. On one hand, they're down nearly 25,000 from Jackson's last recording of new material, 1995's HIStory. On the other, sales are down in general this year, and the two-disc HIStory also came loaded with a bonus hits disc. So by not smashing records (which no one really expected) and not failing completely (which more than a few expected) Jackson has almost managed to avoid making news; his tally feels like a sixty-two home run season, respectable but hardly revelatory in the context of recent competition.

That said, Jackson still managed to whip the competition, and said competition was hardly scarce. This week's chart offers a helpful Record Sales 101 class. Chapter One: The Single. Enrique Iglesias has a successful one, "Hero," from his new album Escape (Number Two, with sales of nearly 270,000). Lenny Kravitz doesn't have one, and his Lenny felt the drought, missing the Top Ten altogether (Number Twelve, with sales south of 100,000).

And speaking of singles, the chart's most inexplicable entry seems to be the Backstreet Boys' Hits: Chapter One, which debuted at Number Four with nearly 200,000 copies sold. Between selling tens of millions of their three albums and the tens of millions of Now That's What I Call Music! records sold (all seven volumes feature BSB hits), a collection of the boy band's hits is hands down the most extraneous release of the week, a driving disc for listeners not old enough to drive.

The impending holidays are also beginning to make their mark, as four holiday records -- Mannheim Steamroller's new age-y Christmas Extraordinaire (Number Seventeen), Barbara Streisand's Christmas Memories (Number Thirty-two), and Destiny's Child's 8 Days of Christmas (Number Sixty) -- all logged strong tallies.

Elsewhere on the charts, Nickelback's Silver Side Up, Mary J. Blige's No More Drama, Maxwell's Now and Ginuwine's Life each surged past 1 million copies sold.

Next week promises the surest chart-topper in weeks, as Britney Spears unleashed her third album, Britney, this week. The album is a virtual lock on Number One, leaving the fun in guessing what her sales tally will be. Her 1.3 million debut with Oops! . . . I Did It Again last year is the highest debut for a female artist, and second only to Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP for a solo artist. While 'N Sync's Celebrity showed a slight dip in first week sales this year compared to their smoking start with No Strings Attached last year, Britney may enjoy the windfall of some early-bird holiday shoppers, as November tends to spark sales spikes.

This week's Top Ten: Michael Jackson's Invincible (366,272 copies sold); Enrique Iglesias' Escape (267,301); DMX's The Great Depression (213,780); the Backstreet Boys' Hits: Chapter One (197,391); Enya's A Day Without Rain (161,233); Nickelback's Silver Side Up (123,203); God Bless America (117,159); Ja Rule's Pain Is Love (114,719); Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory (110,408); and Incubus' Morning View (110,301).

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