They can play faster, sound rougher, take an extended hiatus, and even lose a longtime member, and still Metallica can't seem to do any wrong in the eyes of their fans.
Despite an abbreviated sales week, St. Anger, Metallica's first album of new material in five years, sold more than 417,000 copies in its first week, according to SoundScan, to top next week's Billboard albums chart. When it became apparent that the songs had been leaked online before the original June 10 release date, Elektra Records pushed up the album's availability five days to June 5 (see "Metallica To Unleash Their Anger Earlier Than Planned").
The titanic metallers' previous albums Reload (1997) and Load (1996) also debuted at #1, with sales of 417,000 and 680,000, respectively. Their double covers LP, Garage Inc., came in at #2 in 1998, with sales of more than 426,000.
Newly tarted-up Jewel will follow Metallica at #2 with 0304. The shift to dance-pop on her fourth LP didn't change her first-week take that much, however. 0304's total of 143,000 is just 3,000 more than what its predecessor, This Way, pulled in its opening week two years ago.
Fans responded to Train's decree "Calling All Angels," allowing the band's third album, My Private Nation, to place at #6. The follow-up to 2001's double-platinum Drops of Jupiter sold more than 86,000 copies.
Train will be trailed on the chart by country quartet Lonestar, whose first greatest-hits collection sold more than 86,000 copies to come in at #7.
Featuring 50 rare and unreleased tracks from skate-punk scenesters such as the Used, Less Than Jake, Simple Plan, NOFX and others, the double LP Warped Tour 2003 will take the #21 spot; while Sugar Ray's In the Pursuit of Leisure will drop in at a disappointing #29. With its fifth album the band will make its poorest chart showing since its 1997 breakthrough LP, Floored. John Mellencamp's Trouble No More, consisting of covers of blues and folk tunes by Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie and Son House, among others, will find a home at #31.
Albums that complete next week's top 10 are 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin', which moves a spot down to #3 (98,000) and cracks the 5 million mark in the process; Evanescence's Fallen, also taking a step back, at #4 (90,000); the soundtrack to "2 Fast 2 Furious," advancing three places to #5 (88,000) with a 13,000-copy boost to coincide with the film's release; the soundtrack to "Lizzie McGuire," slipping two spots to #8 (80,000); former top LP Led Zeppelin's How the West Was Won sinking eight places to #9 (75,000); and Kelly Clarkson's Thankful falling from #4 to #10 (74,000).
On the heels of their performance at the MTV Movie Awards, T.A.T.U.'s 200 KM/H in the Wrong Lane will make a significant leap forward. A medley that merged "All the Things She Said" with their latest single, "Not Gonna Get Us," helped almost double the album's weekly sales and push it from #127 to #71.
With the momentum of a cover of "Drift Away" featuring Dobie Gray, who himself had a top 10 hit with the song in 1973, Uncle Kracker's No Stranger to Shame has been advancing steadily up the chart. Having vacated placements in the #138 and #116 spots, the second solo album by Kid Rock's DJ will re-enter the top 100 at #92.
Other notable chart debuts include Ultimate Smash Hits, featuring contributions by Avril Lavigne, P. Diddy and Pink, at #55; Americana singer/songwriter Gillian Welch's Soul Journey at #107; Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan's solo debut at #127; Dolly Parton's Ultimate Dolly Parton at #130; and the Eels' Shootenanny! at #145.