For the second week in a row, Alan Jackson's Drive paves the way for the top 200 albums in the country. The country singer's latest album will again sit atop the Billboard 200 albums chart, with sales of more than 230,000 copies, according to SoundScan figures released Wednesday (January 30). Much of the LP's success can be attributed to Jackson's fast-rising single, "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)," a tune he wrote after the events of September 11.
Although the weekly tally dropped by more than 200,000 copies, Drive was still the frontrunner, coming in ahead of next week's #2 album, Creed's Weathered, by more than 110,000 copies. Following an eight-week run at the top before being bested by Drive, Weathered sold more than 119,000 copies last week.
This week's figures mark the first time since the holidays that a handful of albums actually saw a sales increase, and Ludacris' Word of Mouf is the highest-charting album among the modest pack to lay claim to that feat. The Atlanta rapper's second major-label release experienced a sales bump of more than 6,000 copies to take a step up the chart to #4, with more than 81,000 copies sold.
Other albums in next week's top 20 to show retail improvement include Puddle of Mudd's Come Clean and the soundtrack to the film "I Am Sam." The first band signed to Fred Durst's Flawless Records augments last week's figures by more than 5,000 to advance a place to #17, no doubt thanks to the crossover radio play of Come Clean's second single, "Blurry," which has been receiving spins on Hot AC and Pop stations. Meanwhile, the 17-song soundtrack to the Sean Penn-Michelle Pfeiffer flick, composed of Beatles covers by Aimee Mann ("Two of Us"), Rufus Wainwright ("Across the Universe") and Eddie Vedder ("You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"), among others, will come in at #20, with nearly 8,000 more in sales.
Stagnancy pervades the rest of the top 20, as most albums will change position by only one place if at all while encountering a minor decrease in sales. Rounding out the top 10 will be Nickelback's Silver Side Up, dropping a place to #5; Ja Rule's Pain Is Love, maintaining a #6 home; Nas' Stillmatic, holding at #7; Usher's 8701, stable at #8; Pink's Missundaztood, steady at #9; and the soundtrack to "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" stepping up a slot to #10.
Much larger leaps occur further down the chart, led by Hoobastank's self-titled debut, which will advance 15 places to #25 thanks to a sales increase of almost 10,000. New York rockers the Strokes, behind their "Saturday Night Live" performance on January 19 and the success of the single "Last Nite" at radio, will occupy the #33 position, making a 30-slot jump with a sales boost of more than 11,000 copies.
The biggest chart vault, however, comes courtesy of pop singer Mandy Moore, who contributes four songs to the soundtrack for "A Walk to Remember," a film in which she also stars. With the movie now in theaters, the 13-track LP will rocket 125 places to #56, while nearly tripling last week's sales figures. Moore's media prominence has also helped her self-titled third album re-enter the top 200 at #186, with more than 7,000 in sales.
Nine Inch Nails' first live album, And All That Could Have Been, will debut on next week's chart in two positions. A limited-edition deluxe package of the LP containing the live album, recorded during 2000's Fragility 2.0 Tour, as well as Still, a companion disc of alternate studio takes comes in at #26, with more than 33,000 sold; while the live album alone will land at #37, moving 28,000 copies.
Other notable debuts include Bad Religion's The Process of Belief at #49; the country-rock compilation Goin' South, Volume 2 at #122; and Houston MC Lil Keke's Platinum in Da Ghetto at #123.