Country singer Tim McGraw had a whopper of a week, debuting at Number One and setting a career-high debut sales record. McGraw’s Live Like You Were Dying sold 766,000 copies, besting his last album, 2002’s Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors, which originally debuted at Number Two and sold 602,000 copies in its first week. McGraw’s batch of pop-country tunes outsold this week’s Number Two album, R. Kelly’s double-disc Happy People/U Saved Me, by almost double. The troubled Chicago crooner still debuted big, selling 403,000 copies.
With the top of the chart dominated by country music, rappers showed up in force. This week’s top ten included impressive debuts by rappers Young Buck and Mase, who charted at Number Three and Four, respectively. Buck’s album Straight Outta Cashville sold 261,000 copies and established him as a bona fide member of 50 Cent’s G-Unit posse. Mase’s Welcome Back sold 188,000 copies.
Reigning chart superstar Ashlee Simpson continued her sales streak, though her album Autobiography was shoved from Number Two last week to this week’s Number Six slot. The bevy of rap debuts may have lowered her chart rank but Simpson’s sales held steady and she unloaded 134,000 copies. Autobiography was trumped again by the compilation Now That’s What I Call Music! 16 which occupied the Number Five spot, selling 187,000 copies in its fifth week on the charts. Last week, the two albums battled for the top two positions and, until now, have flip-flopped for the entirety of their chart time.
This week may have been heavy of high-selling debuts, but the other remarkable chart action has been downward. The fleet of new releases pushed down formerly high-charting albums including Ryan Cabrera’s Take It All Away, which slid from Number Eight to Number Seventeen this week. Jailed rapper Shyne’s Godfather Buried moved from Number Seven to Number Nineteen. And Mobb Deep’s Amerikaz Night Mare now holds the Number Thirty-Six slot, down from Number Fourteen last week.
Unless Iceland’s iconoclast Bjork connects with a mass audience on her latest album, Medulla, this week’s country/hip-hop chart clash may continue next week. Expect Tim McGraw and R. Kelly to continue to sell well. And the return of the soulful Jill Scott, with Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2, might give hip-hop an extra chart boost.
This week’s Top Ten: Tim McGraw’s Live Like You Were Dying; R. Kelly’s Happy People/U Saved Me; Young Buck’s Straight Outta Cashville; Mase’s Welcome Back; Now That’s What I Call Music! 16; Ashlee Simpson’s Autobiography; Prince’s Musicology; Maroon 5’s Songs About Jane; Usher’s Confessions; and Big and Rich’s Horse of a Different Color.