Even more surprising than Toby Keith's new album, Shock'n Y'all, coming in at #1 on next week's Billboard albums chart is that the combined sales of new records by Ja Rule, P.O.D., Coldplay, Bon Jovi, Wyclef Jean, Fabolous and Ryan Adams couldn't match the flag-waving cowboy's huge first-week draw.
Capitalizing on a buzz created from criticizing Dixie Chick Natalie Maines' controversial remarks about the president, Keith's ninth album, which includes such war-themed fare as "American Soldier" and "The Taliban Song," sold more than 585,000 copies, according to SoundScan. The big first-week sales give Keith his second consecutive #1 album. Last year's Unleashed also took the top slot with more than 338,000 in sales its debut week, and his last three albums each sold progressively more than the last, in excess of 1 million copies.
Gentle-voiced chanteuse Sarah McLachlan will take the #2 slot with Afterglow, her first album in four years. The follow-up to Mirrorball, which came in at #2 in 1999, sold more than 361,000 copies, a greater first-week pull than that of her last two LPs.
Tracks from Mya, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Chingy, R. Kelly and Justin Timberlake, among others, helped the compilation Now That's What I Call Music! Volume 14 sell more than 321,000 copies to take next week's #3 slot; Sheryl Crow's The Very Best of Sheryl Crow, meanwhile, will place at #4, with more than 246,000.
Ja Rule's latest, Blood in My Eye, is obscuring his view of the top, since each of his last four albums placed higher with more weekly sales. Fronted by the single "Clap Back," Murder Inc.'s magnet for controversy sold more than 139,000 copies of his follow-up to The Last Temptation, which landed at #4 with more than 237,000 copies sold in its first week in 2002.
Although not as drastic a slip as Ja Rule's, P.O.D. fell slightly below the benchmark set by their last album. Where 2001's Satellite moved more than 133,000 copies and landed at #6, P.O.D.'s namesake latest album, Payable on Death, moved 105,000 copies to land at #9.
The rest of next week's top 10 finds the current chart champ, Outkast's Speakerboxxx/ The Love Below, falling four places to #5 (148,000); Rod Stewart's As Time Goes By ...: The Great American Songbook, Volume II dropping from #2 to #7 (121,0000); Clay Aiken's Measure of a Man sliding five places to #8 (113,000); and Ludacris' Chicken-N-Beer taking the same number of steps to #10 (87,000).
Recorded at one stop during Coldplay's tour behind last year's A Rush of Blood to the Head, the English quartet's Coldplay Live 2003, with the inclusion of one new song, "Moses," will come in at #13, just ahead of the latest release by Bon Jovi. Consisting of peculiar new versions of hits such as "Wanted Dead or Alive," "I'll Be There for You" and "Bad Medicine," among others, This Left Feels Right sold more than 70,000 copies to come in at #14.
Wyclef's first album for J Records, The Preacher's Son, will place at #22, a disappointing position compared with last year's Masquerade, which landed at #6. Fabolous, meanwhile, is milking his latest LP, Street Dreams, with More Street Dreams Pt. 2 - The Mixtape, an assembly of freestyles, remixes and skits that had been previously released on the mixtape circuit. The 14-track compilation will come in at #28.
Former y'allternative yokel Ryan Adams' return with his first studio album in two years, the decidedly riff-heavy Rock N Roll, will come in at #33; while parts of the album that he wanted to release but his label didn't, the EP Love Is Hell Part 1, can be found at #78.
Other notable chart debuts include Bob Seger's Greatest Hits 2 at #23; 18-year hip-hop veteran Too Short's Married to the Game at #49; the soundtrack to "The Matrix Revolutions" at #69; Peter Gabriel's best-of set Hit at #100; Ultimate Toni Braxton at #119; the solo retrospective of former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant, Sixty Six to Timbuktu, at #134; hand-puppet agitator Triumph the Insult Comic Dog's long-awaited Come Poop With Me at #183; and Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz's remix album, Certified Crunk, at #197.