Riding the Top Ten single "So Sick," Ne-Yo's debut, In My Own Words, took the Number One spot this week, selling 301,000 copies according to Nielsen SoundScan. The twenty-three-year-old R&B prodigy started his career writing hits for the likes of Mary J. Blige and Faith Evans -- including the biggest radio hit of 2004, Mario's "Let Me Love You."
Ne-Yo's arrival knocked last week's kiddie Number One, the soundtrack to the Disney Channel movie High School Musical, down to second place, though the album continued to sell impressively, moving another 128,000 copies. But bad news for other child friendly albums: the ninth installment of the popular Kidz Bop series -- which finds children crooning the latest tunes by Mariah Carey or Weezer -- plunged from Two to Twenty-Three (39,000), while Jack Johnson's soundtrack to the animated film Curious George dropped four spots to Number Seven (73,000).
Instead, this week's Top Ten brought high-wattage debuts from artists across genres. Dayton, Ohio, screamo outfit Hawthorne Heights' sophomore album, If Only You Were Lonely, opened at Number Three, selling 114,000 copies in its first week on the charts. And country stalwart Alan Jackson's Precious Memories, a gospel album sporting traditional hymns, sold 107,000 copies to bow at Number Four. Just shy of the Top Ten, rabble rouser Kid Rock's first release in some time, the live CD Live Trucker, debuted at Number Twelve (56,000).
Elsewhere in the Top Ten, familiar faces continue to dominate. Mary J. Blige's The Breakthrough sustains its selling streak, down just one place to Number Five (81,000), while American Idol Carrie Underwood's country debut, Some Hearts, moves up one spot to Number Eight (73,000).
The trio of Top Ten debuts this week pushed other competitors -- in particular, the recent spate of earnest male crooners -- down the charts. Barry Manilow's adult contemporary chart-topper, The Greatest Songs of the Fifties, suffered the most, dropping eight spots to Number Fourteen (49,000). Adorable British singer-songwriter James Blunt, last week's Number Five, landed at Number Nine, selling 67,000 copies. And opera star Andrea Bocelli's Amore slid three spots to Number Ten (59,000).
Next week, expect New Orleans rapper Juvenile's latest, Reality Check, to debut high. Given Norah Jones' sales history, it's a safe bet that her folksy side project, the Little Willies, will connect with consumers. And don't discount Hasidic reggae sensation Matisyahu, whose debut Youth should crack the Top Twenty.
This week's Top Ten: Ne-Yo's In My Own Words; High School Musical: The Original Soundtrack; Hawthorne Heights' If Only You Were Lonely; Alan Jackson's Precious Memories; Mary J. Blige's The Breakthrough; Johnny Cash's The Legend of Johnny Cash; Jack Johnson and Friends' Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film "Curious George"; Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts; James Blunt's Back to Bedlam; Andrea Bocelli's Amore.