Ruben Bounces Alicia

"Idol" champ puts debut at Number One

December 17, 2003 12:00 AM ET

American Idol winner Ruben Studdard sold 416,000 copies of his debut album Soulful, according to SoundScan, to give the TV show its third chart-topping alum.

While Studdard's numbers easily trounced the week's Number Two album, Alicia Keys' The Diary of Alicia Keys (which sold 342,000 to bring its two-week total to 961,000), they inevitably invite comparison to those of his Idol runner-up Clay Aiken, who set the bar higher when he sold 613,000 copies of his Measure of a Man two months ago.

Still, it's hard to complain about sales of Soulful's magnitude, and the record was something of a Pied Piper this week, leading the rush of holiday sales spikes. Not counting the eight newcomers to the Top Fifty, only five albums didn't experience a sales increase from the previous week, with sales for the Top 200 taking a monstrous shot north from 7.7 million last week to 10.4 million. Twenty-four of those albums posted six-figure sales.

As for the other newcomers, Musiq didn't quite match the Number One performance of his last album, but his Soulstar still sold 156,000 copies at Number Thirteen. Reunited rap trio the Westside Connection's Terrorist Threats (Number Sixteen, 136,000 copies sold), Avant's Private Room (Number Eighteen, 128,000), the Big Tymers' Big Money Heavy (Number Twenty-one, 116,000), Kelis' Tasty (Number Twenty-seven, 94,000) and the Offspring's Splinter (Number Thirty, 88,000) also posted strong first-week sales.

Next week's chart should feature similarly big sales, as holiday shoppers scramble to stuff stockings with music.

This week's Top Ten: Ruben Studdard's Soulful; Alicia Keys' The Diary of Alicia Keys; Now That's What I Call Music! 14; Toby Keith's Shock N Y'all; Josh Groban's Closer; OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below; Rod Stewart's The Great American Songbook, Volume II; Hilary Duff's So Yesterday; Sheryl Crow's Very Best of Sheryl Crow; and Britney Spears' In the Zone.

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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