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System of a Down, Toby Keith Top Chart

Los Angeles hard rockers, country star sell big

The first half of System of a Down’s double album, Mezmerize, dominated the album chart this week, selling 453,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. (The second disc, Hypnotize, arrives in late fall.) This is the first album of new material from the Los Angeles metal band since 2001’s Toxicity, which debuted at Number Two with less than half that number sold — albeit September 2001 was not a great time for CD sales. Multiplatinum country star Toby Keith’s tenth studio album, Honkytonk University, came in at a strong but distant Number Two, moving 283,000 units. This is actually a weaker performance than his last two albums, 2002’s Unleashed and 2003’s Shock’n Y’all, which, powered by angry American anthems in the wake of 9/11, both debuted in the top spot.

At Number Three is pop diva Mariah Carey’s The Emancipation of Mimi, which refused to quit in its sixth week, selling a robust 173,000 copies. But last week’s Number One, Dave Matthews Band’s sixth studio effort, Stand Up, lost some steam and dropped three places to Number Four (158,000). Power pop band Weezer’s long-delayed fifth record, Make Believe, went the same route, moving a mere 76,000 CDs in its second week to fall seven spots to Number Nine.

The other major debut this week came from Kem, whose sophomore album, Album II, opened at Number Five (140,000). This is the big time for the Detroit R&B singer: His debut, 2003’s Kemistry, made the Top Twenty on the Hip-Hop/R&B chart, but failed to crack the pop chart. But rounding out the Top Ten is an even bigger surprise: the return of Eighties hair rockers Def Leppard. Their eighteen-track best-of compilation, Rock of Ages: The Definitive Collection, sold 67,000 copies to take the Ten spot.

More notable (and fresher) debuts came from Brooklyn rapper Memphis Bleek, whose fourth album, 534 — which features M.O.P., Young Gunz and a new track from the “retired” Jay-Z — moved 60,000 CDs to come in at Number Eleven, a solid but lukewarm showing from an artist tapped by Hova himself. And “hick-hop” newcomer Cowboy Troy took his debut, Loco Motive, to Number Fifteen (51,000).

Slinking down the chart this week were former industrial powerhouse Nine Inch Nails’ comeback album, With Teeth, which lost enough momentum in its third week to fall seven spots to Number Twelve (57,000). And Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas’ solo debut, …Something to Be, fell five places out of the Top Ten to Thirteen, moving 55,000 in its fourth week out. Who Is Mike Jones?, the debut from Houston hip-hop breakout Mike Jones, also fell — nine spots to Number Eighteen (49,000). And Bruce Springsteen’s acoustic album, Devils & Dust, did half of its last-week sales (34,000) to drop from Number Ten to Twenty-Nine after just a month.

But the biggest losers this week were Nashville artist Dierks Bentley, whose sophomore effort Modern Day Drifter plummeted from Number Six to Thirty-Three (30,000) in its second week, and Warper Tour regulars the Starting Line, whose second album Based on a True Story sunk all the way from the Eighteen to Seventy-Seven (13,000).

Next week, expect System of a Down to continue ruling the chart. And watch out for Chicago rapper Common, whose Kanye West-produced album Be looks to be his second resurrection.

This week’s Top Ten: System of a Down’s Mezmerize; Toby Keith’s Honkytonk University; Mariah Carey’s The Emancipation of Mimi; Dave Matthews Band’s Stand Up; Kem’s Album II; American Idol: Season 4 — The Showstoppers; 50 Cent’s The Massacre; Gwen Stefani’s Love, Angel, Music, Baby; Weezer’s Make Believe; Def Leppard’s Rock of Ages: The Definitive Collection.

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