Between Grammy momentum, a holiday weekend, Valentine's Day and a bumper crop of new releases, this week's chart resembles one from four years ago, before a sales chill set in on the music industry. Norah Jones led the charge selling a whopping 1 million copies of her second album, Feels Like Home, according to SoundScan.
Jones' tally marks only the ninth time an album has posted seven-figure sales during its debut week on the charts and only the second time the mark has been reached by a solo female artist (Britney Spears' Oops! I Did It Again moved 1.3 million copies in its first week). And Home's big splash didn't hurt Jones' previous album, Come Away With Me, one bit; her debut climbed to Number Eighteen with sales of 80,000, and that's after 103 weeks of release.
Though Jones' Home more than doubled the next best-selling album, sales were wildly up from last week's chart, a 3 million-copy spike in the Top 200 from 5.1 million to 8.1 million. Rap super-producer Kanye West could have landed at Number One any other week so far in 2004 with his recording debut, College Dropout, which sold 441,000 copies at Number Two. Nine other albums registered six-figure sales, notable among them Harry Connick's Only You. Perhaps some of Jones' singer/pianist magic rubbed off on the vet, but Connick's latest, which made a strong debut last week at Number Five with sales of 139,000, became that rare album to increase sales in its second week, selling 220,000 copies.
Grammy boosts were also big, helping OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, which jumped from 111,000 copies sold to 275,000, Evanescence's Fallen, which spiked from 101,000 to 183,000 and the White Stripes' Elephant, which zipped from Number 105 (sales of 13,000) to Number Forty-four (41,000). Similar jumps were also made by the Black Eyed Peas' Elephunk (Number Fifty-two) and Warren Zevon's The Wind (from outside the Top 200 on last week's chart to Number Seventy-four).
Actually the only records that didn't partake in the sales increase frenzy were last week's newcomers, who suffered the typical Week Two drops. Kenny Chesney's When the Sun Goes Down (Number Three, 350,000 copies sold), Incubus' A Crow Left of the Murder (Number Nine, 125,000), the Barbershop 2 soundtrack (Number Thirty-six) and Five for Fighting's Battle for Everything -- all of which were in their second sales week -- were four of only six albums in the Top Fifty to post sales decreases. And Courtney Love's America's Sweetheart debunked a pair of theories: All publicity is good publicity, and always leave them wanting more. Despite a very public drug possession trial and a six-year layoff since her last record, Love's new record made an unimpressive Number Fifty-three debut with sales of 33,000.
While this week's chart was full of good news, it doesn't look to be long lasting. The bottom will likely fall out next week as the Grammy glow dims. And this week no potential blockbusters were ushered into record stores, leaving Norah Jones a clear patch for another week at Number One.
This week's Top Ten: Norah Jones' Feels Like Home; Kanye West's College Dropout; Kenny Chesney's When the Sun Goes Down; OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below; Josh Groban's Closer; Harry Connick's Only You; Evanescence's Fallen; Twista's Kamikaze; Incubus' A Crow Left of the Murder; 2004 Grammy Nominees.