System Of A Down Top Billboard With Mezmerize

Armenian metalers' Mezmerize moves over 450,000 copies its first week out.

Last week, Armenian prog-metal champs System of a Down invited all of America to what’s sure to be one of 2005′s heaviest social gatherings — a strictly “B.Y.O.B.” affair called Mezmerize — and nearly half a million hungry rock fans turned out for the party.

With Mezmerize — the band’s first studio offering in nearly three years — the Serj Tankian-fronted collective earns the second chart-topping debut of its decade-long career, according to the latest SoundScan figures. Just under 453,000 copies of the band’s eclectic, hard-hitting fourth disc soared off record-store shelves during the album’s first week of retail availability, making it System’s biggest debut to date; 2001′s Toxicity netted first-week scans of 222,000 plus, taking Billboard‘s #1 for that week.

Mezmerize isn’t the year’s strongest rock debut (last week, the Dave Matthews Band’s Stand Up sold close to 465,000), but it’s only the first of two releases System have planned to roll out in 2005. The band’s latest is considered half of a double album called Mezmerize/ Hypnotize; the second part is slated for a fall debut.

More than 283,000 students enrolled in Honkytonk University this week, snapping up copies of country star Toby Keith’s latest disc — which helped score him the chart’s #2 spot. Holding on to the chart’s third-place post for a third straight week is the new one from pop diva Mariah Carey, The Emancipation of Mimi, which achieved a week-six showing of 173,000 and change.

Last week’s #1, the Dave Matthews Band’s Stand Up, slips to #4 on the chart, with second-week scans of close to 158,000, reflecting a 66 percent decline in retail strength. Debuting at #5 is Nashville-born, Detroit-based R&B artist Kem and his newest collection of studio tracks, Album II. That record moved more than 140,000 copies during its first week at retail, robbing this season’s “American Idol” finalists of a top-five debut. The latest “Idol” compilation, Season 4: The Showstoppers, comes in at #6 with almost 83,000 copies scanned.

Rapper 50 Cent’s The Massacre continues on its path to 4 million sold, ranking at #7 with close to 81,500 scans. No Doubt frontwoman Gwen Stefani’s solo debut, Love, Angel, Music, Baby, slips one to #8 after 26 weeks at retail. Weezer’s Make Believe slides seven spots to #9, with second-week sales of 75,000 plus.

From out of nowhere, a blast from the past checks in at #10. Def Leppard’s double-disc hits collection Rock of Ages netted first-week scans of close to 66,000, making it one of the week’s biggest surprises. Right behind Def Lep is the new one from Brooklyn, New York, rapper Memphis Bleek, 534, which sold over 60,000 copies to close out its first week at #11, just in front of Nine Inch Nails’ With Teeth, which grabs the #12 spot with close to 57,000 scans.

Rob Thomas’ solo album, Something to Be, clings to the top 20, securing a #13 spot with 55,000 copies scanned during its fifth week in stores. “American Idol” alum Kelly Clarkson’s Breakaway — which continues to drum up retail interest after 25 weeks on the chart — experienced a 20 percent sales thrust this past week, earning the pop star the chart’s #14 slot with more than 54,000 sold. Rounding out the top 15 is Loco Motive, the debut disc from Cowboy Troy, whose sound blends elements of country with hip-hop. The record sold just over 51,000, outperforming sultry R&B songstress Natalie’s self-titled debut by less than 100 copies, relegating her to the chart’s #16.

You Mean They’re Still Making Records?

Limp Bizkit’s latest offering, The Unquestionable Truth (Part 1), continues its gradual slide down Billboard‘s chart, sinking this week to #111 from last week’s #82. The seven-track release from Fred Durst’s rap-rock soldiers sold just under 9,000 copies, for a three-week total of (gulp) 58,000 and then some (see “Limp Bizkit: What Happened?” ). Perhaps the release of the Insane Clown Posse’s The Calm, which debuts at #32, hurt Bizkit sales this week; that disc sold close to 31,000.

Rock Newbies Faring Well

It’s a good time to be a twentysomething rocker with a grudge. Take Fall Out Boy — their new record, From Under the Cork clings to the top 50 at #49, with third-week sales of 21,000 plus. Then there’s My Chemical Romance’s Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, which continues to be one of the chart’s most solid performers. The album experienced a 6 percent sales increase this week and takes #60 with 17,000-plus scans.

The self-titled debut from New York’s the Bravery shot up 35 chart positions to #92, thanks to a 34 percent spike in retail interest. The album sold more than 10,000 copies during its eighth week on the charts. At #109 is the latest from Hawthorne Heights, The Silence in Black and White, which experienced a 35 percent sales increase — perhaps due to the popularity of the band’s latest video, for the song “Ohio Is for Lovers.” That album sold just under 9,000 copies.

May The Sales Force Be With You

The same week that the saga-ending “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith,” was released, the film’s orchestral soundtrack experienced a slight rise in sales — though it falls three chart positions to #28. The John Williams-composed movie music sold more than 38,000 copies in its third week of release. Most impressive.