Alicia Keys' record is perfect.
The soul-singing pianist's second album, Diary of Alicia Keys, stayed on the high road taken by her debut and will land at #1 on the next Billboard 200 albums chart. The LP sold more than 618,000 copies last week, according to SoundScan figures released Wednesday (December 10), beating out its nearest competitor by more than 400,000 copies.
Keys' first-week total is even more impressive than having two consecutive albums debut at the top. The whopping sum puts her third on the list of the year's highest debuts, behind 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin', which sold more than 872,000 copies in its first week, and Linkin Park's Meteora, which moved more than 810,000. With an enticing first single, "You Don't Know My Name," Keys' new album, the only debut in the top 20, ranks higher than those by Clay Aiken and Britney Spears. And while her last album, Songs in A Minor, went on to sell more than 5.6 million copies, it took three weeks to sell as many copies as Diary did in its first six days.
After five weeks in stores, Toby Keith's Shock'n Y'all moves up four spots to #2 after selling another 213,000 copies, bringing his total number sold close to 1.4 million. Clean-cut crooner Josh Groban's second album, Closer, takes third place with more than 187,000 copies sold, followed by Now That's What I Call Music! 14, whose numbers have hit the million mark, assisted by the more than 186,000 copies sold last week.
Britney Spears also earned the distinction of having sold over a million copies of her new album, In the Zone. Spears' fourth album sold more than 150,000 copies in its third week to pass the million mark, but she might want to consider breaking out the pink Champale instead of Cristal, since her last album, 2001's Britney, reached that milestone in two weeks, and its predecessor, 2000's Oops ... I Did It Again, got there in just one.
No Doubt lead the pack of greatest-hits and holiday-themed albums with their The Singles 1992-2003, which lays claim to the #8 spot after a #2 debut a week ago. Augmented by the album's only new song, their hit-single cover of Talk Talk's "It's My Life," Gwen and friends moved more than 143,000 copies of their latest LP. Sheryl Crow's hits set, The Very Best of Sheryl Crow, immediately follows at #9 with more than 131,000 copies sold to move up six spots.
The rest of the top 10 finds Outkast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below moving up five to #5 (178,000); Hilary Duff's Metamorphosis slipping two to #6 (153,000); and Jay-Z's The Black Album falling nine to #10 (124,000).
Jazz crooner Harry Connick Jr.'s Christmastime selections Harry for the Holidays enjoyed a sales spike, moving from #23 to #12 with an 18 percent increase in sales. With only slightly more in weekly sales but a seven-slot jump on the chart, Now That's What I Call Christmas: The Signature Collection places #17.
Missy Elliott's This Is Not a Test! and Puddle of Mudd's Life on Display, two highly anticipated LPs, take big-league nosedives out of the top 20 after only their second week on sale. Elliott's follow-up to last year's Under Construction slips 13 spots to #26 with a 54 percent drop-off in sales. Its two-week total stands at just over 210,000 copies. PoM, meanwhile, plunge even further, from #20 to #36. After a 47 percent decrease in weekly sales, the band's follow-up to 2001's 3.5 million-selling Come Clean has sold a total of only 160,000.
While supposed "sure things" are falling, a pair of albums are surprisingly soaring. Michael McDonald's cover album of Detroit classics, Motown, leaps ahead 16 to #36; and the soundtrack to "Love Actually," featuring cuts from Kelly Clarkson, Dido and Norah Jones, climbs 14 to #39.
The only notable debut comes courtesy of rising dancehall star Elephant Man. Good to Go, the major-label debut from this Rasta man named for his abnormally large features, sold more than 31,000 copies to bow at #74.