With her first album in five years, Monica may be "So Gone," but she's certainly not out.
The R&B singer's third album, After the Storm, will take the top spot on next week's Billboard albums chart, having sold more than 185,000 copies, according to SoundScan. Produced by Missy Elliott, the follow-up to 1998's The Boy Is Mine was originally titled All Eyez on Me, an appropriate first thought given its first-week standing.
After the Storm just barely weathered the heat from the previous #1 LP, Luther Vandross' Dance With My Father. While still recovering from a serious stroke, Vandross moved just 3,000 fewer copies than Monica last week to take the #2 spot.
The next three albums will simply recede a place to make room for chart newcomer Monica. Metallica's St. Anger will show up at #3 (with 137,000 copies sold), Radiohead's Hail to the Thief drops to #4 (95,000) and Annie Lennox's Bare comes in at #5 (92,000).
With the exception of new albums, no top-40 LP sold more last week than it did the week before. In fact, only eight albums in the top 200 significantly increased their weekly pulls, yielding a 1.3 million-copy dip in total sales of all charting albums.
Linkin Park made some chart progress, meaning they retained more of their previous week's sales than their peers, thanks to "Faint." As the second single off Meteora is one of the most played new songs at radio, the LP will move up six spots to #15. Sean Paul's Dutty Rock made a similar leap, from #23 to #17.
Joe Budden's self-titled debut, meanwhile, seemed to come undone. After bowing in at #8, the buzzed-about MC lost eight places and roughly 45,000 in sales.
Rounding out next week's top 10 are 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin', advancing one place to #6 (84,000); high-ranking mainstay Norah Jones' Come Away With Me, moving up three spots to #7 (77,000); Evanescence's Fallen, climbing three places to re-enter the top 10 at #8 (77,000); the soundtrack to "2 Fast 2 Furious," reversing three notches to #9 (72,000); and Kelly Clarkson's Thankful, ascending three places to #10 (67,000).
Type O Negative completes next week's top 40 debuts with their sixth album, Life Is Killing Me. The follow-up to 1999's World Coming Down will come in at #39, with more than 27,000 in sales.
Other notable chart debuts include the various-artists compilation Reggae Gold 2003, featuring contributions from Sean Paul, Wayne Wonder and Beenie Man, at #43; Long Island, New York, indie rockers Brand New's Deja Entendu, at #63; Dave Matthews Band violinist Boyd Tinsley's solo album, True Reflections, at #97; Finger Eleven's eponymous third album at #157; pop-punk quartet Rufio's second LP, MCMLXXXV, at #168; Scottish mopers Mogwai's fourth album, Happy Songs for Happy People, at #182; and A Tribe Called Quest's Hits, Rarities and Remixes at #190.