Norah Jones Tops A Mil At #1; Kanye West Settles For #2

Grammy artists enjoy big bumps during record sales week.

Seeing as how her debut album has sold over 8 million copies, Norah Jones might feel right at home knowing that her new effort, Feels Like Home, will debut at #1 on next week’s Billboard albums chart with just over 1.02 million copies sold, according to SoundScan figures released Wednesday (February 18). For the rest of the world, however, her first-week sales are astronomical.

Not since Eminem — whose The Eminem Show sold over 1.3 million copies during its first week in June 2002 — has an artist debuted with seven digits. The closest competitor is 50 Cent, whose Get Rich or Die Tryin’ debuted in February 2003 with over 872,000 copies sold.

If not for Norah, Kanye West would have easily topped the heap with his debut album, College Dropout. The earnest, eclectic effort sold nearly 441,000 copies in its first week to arrive at #2.

Jones’ tremendous debut can be credited to strategic marketing in addition to old-fashioned public demand. Come Away With Me was still in the top 30 when her new album arrived, so Jones has not left the public eye since it became a hit. The release of Feels Like Home was set up with large features in major magazines and newspapers and appearances on “The Tonight Show” and “Today.” National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” which reaches an audience of 10 million, aired a 13-minute segment on Jones on February 10. Jones also benefited from her “returning champion” appearance on this month’s Grammy Awards telecast, where she presented the Best New Artist trophy to Evanescence. But Feels Like Home wasn’t just an American phenomenon — the disc debuted at #1 in at least 15 other countries, Jones’ publicist said.

Valentine’s Day week is typically one of the strongest weeks for sales outside of the Christmas season, according to Nielsen SoundScan figures, and that factor combined with Grammy Awards fervor to create SoundScan’s biggest non-holiday-season sales week since the organization started tracking record sales in 1991. Between February 9 and February 15, over 17 million albums were sold in the U.S.

Many artists who appeared on the Grammy Awards telecast received sales bumps of well over 100 percent. Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below received a 146 percent boost from their performances of “The Way You Move” and “Hey Ya!” on the show. On next week’s albums chart, the duo will climb two spots to #4 with almost 275,000 in sales.

Other acts to benefit from the Grammy Awards include Beyoncé, whose Dangerously in Love will leap 11 slots to #12 with over 99,000 in sales (a 101 percent increase); Michael McDonald, whose Motown will jump 20 spots to #14 with over 93,000 units shifted (an increase of 166 percent); and Luther Vandross, whose Dance With My Father will soar from #61 to #28, selling almost 58,000 copies — 191 percent more than the previous week. The White Stripes’ Elephant scored a 206 percent increase and will fly from #105 to #44 with over 41,000 sold. Christina Aguilera, Black Eyed Peas, Foo Fighters and Warren Zevon also enjoyed sales boosts of over 100 percent in the Grammys’ wake.

Kenny Chesney’s When the Sun Goes Down, Josh Groban’s Closer and Harry Connick Jr.’s Only You will place at #3, #5 and #6 on next week’s chart with sales of 350,000, 230,000 and 220,000 respectively. Grammy winners Evanescence will hold fast at #7 with nearly 183,000 in sales, an increase of over 82,000 from the previous week, while Twista’s Kamikaze will move from #3 to #8 with more than 151,000 copies sold. After debuting at #2 last week with A Crow Left of the Murder, Incubus will drop to #9 with nearly 125,000 sold, while the compilation 2004 Grammy Nominees will cap off the top 10 with sales of just over 120,000.

A number of artists will cash in with chart debuts next week. Melissa Etheridge’s Lucky will enter the chart at #15 with almost 92,000 copies sold. Pantera survivors Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul will clock in at #38 with nearly 45,000 copies sold of New Found Power, the first disc from their new band Damageplan. Fewer than 100 copies separate Damageplan from the soundtrack to “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” which will enter at #39. The disc includes songs by Duran Duran, Elton John, Junior Senior and Australian diva Kylie Minogue, whose own new album, Body Language, will debut at #42 with over 43,000 sold.

Former Ruff Ryder Drag-On will debut at #47 with nearly 37,000 copies moved of his latest, Hell & Back. Ex-Hole frontwoman Courtney Love’s solo debut, America’s Sweetheart, sold nearly 33,000 copies and will enter at #53. Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, who rose to fame in Nirvana with Love’s late husband, Kurt Cobain, will chart at #68 with the self-titled debut by his heavy metal side project, Probot. The disc, which sold just over 27,000 copies, features a wide range of ’80s thrash and doom metal singers including Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister and Voivod’s Snake.