One benefit of January's sluggish album sales is that oddball types get to call themselves chart-toppers. Last year it was the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and now it's Norah Jones' turn. The jazzy pop singer sold another 112,000 copies of Come Away With Me, according to SoundScan, to hold onto the Number One position for the third consecutive week.
Elsewhere in the Top Ten, Avril Lavigne's Let Go continues to be a whopping sales success that can't quite grab a Number One. The record slipped a slot to Number Three with sales of 91,000. Meanwhile, like Jones's record, the soundtrack to Chicago has been faring well with all that jazz. The album climbed from Number Four to Number Two with a sales jump of 9,000 copies to 92,000.
The rest of the Top Ten was all about holding patterns, save Kid Rock's Cocky, which has resembled a rhyming brawler with less bravado in his name: Rocky. The album has been on the charts sixty-two weeks and was long pointed to as a prime example of a major-label flop. After the gargantuan success of the multi-platinum Devil Without a Cause, Cocky was to have been a sure thing for the holiday season 2001. Instead it stiffed, debuting at a modest Number Six that November, with sales of 218,000. Beating the promotional drum did diddley, draping the album in the post-9/11 patriotic colors of red, white and blue didn't either. By its second week the record was out of the Top Ten, and by the following summer it was out of the Top 100. But Cocky and Rock battled back through a second holiday season, and now, propelled by "Picture," a huge hit with a guest spot by Sheryl Crow, the album has slugged its way to Number Seven, a mere slot below its highest position sixty-two weeks ago. And consistent weekly sales like last week (59,000 copies) -- as opposed to the industry-preferred big first-week splash -- have put the album's tally at 2.3 million to date . . . hardly worthy of the casket ordered a year ago.
Elsewhere on the charts, Jesus and sissy music fared well. The gospel collection, Worship Together: I Could Sing of Your Love Forever bounded from off the charts to Number Thirty-nine (with sales of 21,000) over the past two weeks. Mannheim Steamroller soothed their way to a Number Seventy-two debut with Romantic Melodies, probably pulling in many of the same 13,000 consumers as Ultimate Yanni at Number Seventy-four.
In a more pop-oriented stripe, Beyonce's little sis Solange debuted at Number Forty-nine with the prematurely-titled Solo Star.
Next week could be a bit of a toss-up. Come Away With Me has been sitting comfortably at Number One, in part due to a lack of competition. It's a safe bet that Lou Reed's not-so-mainstream Poe-project, The Raven, won't make the same ripples as 2002 releases by other middle-aged rockers like David Bowie and Elvis Costello. But if more than a 100,000 fans remember and miss the Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Corgan's Zwan could prove to be another oddball Number One. And there's always issues of momentum, something Chicago and its accompanying soundtrack has in spades. And there's always Avril . . .
This week's Top Ten: Norah Jones' Come Away With Me; the Chicago soundtrack; Avril Lavigne's Let Go; the Dixie Chicks' Home; Jennifer Lopez's This Is Me . . . Then; the 8 Mile soundtrack; Kid Rock's Cocky; Missy Elliott's Under Construction; Aaliyah's I Care 4 U; and Ja Rule's The Last Temptation.