If rapper 50 Cent is Billboard's sovereign king, then singer Faith Evans is most certainly the album chart's queen.
50 Cent's five-week term as the albums chart's superpower came dangerously close to its end as First Lady, the latest batch of tunes from Evans, scored sales of more than 157,000 during its first week of release. Unfortunately for Faith, The Massacre managed to outperform her new disc by over 7,000 copies, finishing with sales of just over 165,000 and securing 50 the chart's first-place position for a sixth-consecutive week, even as sales of the mammoth record waned 22 percent.
But for 50, the race to 3 million isn't over yet. The Massacre is just short of the finish line, with mere inches to go, with a six-week total of over 2,980,000 copies sold. So much for the sophomore slump.
The winner of the second-place ribbon on the previous week's chart, alterna-folker Beck's Guero, fell just one spot to #3, despite sustaining a painful second-week sales hit of 50 percent. The record sold close to 81,000 copies during week two, according to the latest SoundScan totals. Right behind Beck is the 18th edition of the popular Now That's What I Call Music! franchise, featuring contributions from the likes of U2, Chingy, Nelly, Hoobastank and Destiny's Child. Just fewer than 77,000 copies of the compilation disc left store shelves during that album's fourth week at retail — sales that helped the release climb from the chart's #5 slot to #4.
Pleasure & Pain, the latest offering from soulful R&B quartet 112, slipped from #4 to #5 when second-week sales of the disc took a 48 percent nosedive. But 112's LP did manage to move nearly 61,000 copies, besting actor/rapper Will Smith's Lost and Found — which also makes its second straight appearance in the chart's top 10 at #6 — by not even 600, a tough break for the Fresh Prince.
At #7 on the chart, up three spots from its station the previous week, are pop-punk patriarchs Green Day, with American Idiot recording just under 59,000 scans. Released 29 weeks ago, American Idiot has either made the top 10 or hovered close to the brink consistently since its initial debut. Right behind Billie Joe and company's album stands incarcerated rapper Beanie Sigel's The B.Coming. It finished at #3 on the prior week's chart with a first-week sales showing of close to 131,000. Week two? Not so good. The disc suffered a 56 percent retail plummet, scoring sales of just over 57,000.
Finishing at #9 is rock-and-roll princess Lisa Marie Presley with Now What. The disc from the King offspring clocked first-week sales of more than 56,000, sneaking just in front of wave-riding guitar-strummer Jack Johnson's In Between Dreams, which recorded sixth-week sales of close to 55,000.
The Killers' Hot Fuss holds strong to #11, with sales eclipsing the 53,500 mark during its 43rd week of release. Gospel singer Donnie McClurkin's latest collection of soulful tracks, Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, garnered the week's third-best debut, selling just over 52,000 copies to finish at #12. Frankie J's The One follows at #13, with close to 50,000 scans. Comedian Larry the Cable Guy's Right to Bare Arms claims the chart's #14 slot, selling 48,000 plus copies during its second week. And in at #15 is Gwen Stefani's Love, Angel, Music, Baby, with just under 48,000 albums sold.
Other notable debuts on next week's chart include R&B songstress Brandy's Best of Brandy, at #27 with 26,000 plus scans and Hot Hot Heat's Elevator, selling just over 21,000 copies to come in at #34.
Less notable, perhaps, were the debut showings of Music From "The O.C.": Mix 4, which features a collection of cuts heard on the lavish teen soap, including Beck's "Scarecrow," the Futureheads' "Decent Days and Nights" and Modest Mouse's "The View." That album charted at #56 with sales of 16,000 plus. Corrosion of Conformity's In the Arms of God came in at #108 with sales of just under 9,000, while A Static Lullaby's Faso Latido finished at #129 with sales of 7,600 and change. Adema checked in at #152 with Planets, Reel Big Fish hooked #155 with We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy, and the latest from Mike Patton's Fantômas, Suspended Animation, finished at #158.
Sales of the Bravery's self-titled album fell 53 percent in its second week on shelves, knocking the synth-rockers down 29 chart positions to #57. It was the same second-week story for the Game's West Coast Resurrection, which features some of the rapper's earliest material. That album, too, suffered a 53 percent sales dip, dropping from #53 to #113.
Fantasia: A Strong Seller
Sales of "American Idol" alum Fantasia's Free Yourself have been declining steadily since the album's release four months ago. But the fourth season of the hit reality show has no doubt helped keep Fantasia in the Billboard top 50. In fact, her album even got a bit of a boost this week. It's probably no coincidence that Fantasia's performance last week on the show's results episode was followed this week by a 10 percent sales increase. Free Yourself sold close to 28,500 copies, giving it the chart's #25 ranking.
Happy Birthday, Joss
The chart's biggest winner, by far, has to be English pop star Joss Stone. The singer, who turned 18 on Monday, received an unexpected birthday present this week — in the form of soaring album sales for both her 2004 disc, Mind, Body & Soul, and her 2003 release, The Soul Sessions.
Both albums experienced sales spikes of at least 150 percent (in Mind, Body & Soul's case, 170). The Soul Sessions scored the #123 spot on the chart, with sales of that record coming in at just over 8,000. Mind, Body & Soul took the #18 slot, leaping an impressive 58 chart positions, thanks to sales of more than 36,000. A spokesperson for Stone attributed the increases to the singer's April 4 appearance with "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."