R. Kelly Fights Off Slim Thug And Bow Wow To Hold #1

Pied Piper spends second week on top of Billboard's albums chart.

The hip-hop might of Slim Thug and the no-longer-lil' Bow Wow proved no match for the R&B flava of R. Kelly, who holds Billboard's coveted coronet for a second week. But as the latest SoundScan figures reveal, holding on to the albums chart's #1 spot was no small feat.

While second-week totals for the soulful Pied Piper's latest offering, TP.3 Reloaded, plunged more than 70 percent, Kelly's sales prowess was still potent enough to yield close to 140,000 scans — 10,000 more than Slim Thug's Already Platinum.

With close to 129,000 copies sold, the Houston MC's disc flirted with a #1 run, but in the end it just didn't possess TP.3's sales stamina. Wanted, the latest full-length from hip-hop heartthrob Bow Wow, finished at #3, selling close to 120,000 copies during its first week on shelves. Missing #1 by nearly 20,000 scans, Wanted gives Bow Wow the second-strongest debut of his career; 2003's Unleashed also opened at #3, selling more than 120,000 copies, while 2002's Doggy Bag debuted at #11 (320,000 copies) and 2000's Beware of Dog debuted at #8 (101,000).

The latest LPs from Coldplay and Mariah Carey both slipped a single chart position but continue to generate steady sales. X&Y, the British rock troupe's third offering, sold close to 100,000 copies — not even 200 more than Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi — during its sixth week at retail, earning the #4 spot.

Warped Tour rock act the All-American Rejects score the week's third-highest debut showing with Move Along. The record sold just over 90,000 copies, securing the band a career-best opening as well as Billboard's #6 spot. Missy Elliott's Cookbook finishes at #7 with 65,000 plus units scanned — just ahead of Monkey Business, the latest from the Black Eyed Peas. The Ying Yang Twins' United State of Atlanta drops four to #9 after suffering a 38 percent slip, resulting in sales of close to 62,000 copies.

Country veteran George Strait takes Billboard's 10th-place ribbon, selling more than 58,000 copies of his Somewhere Down in Texas; Strait pulled #10 out from under the Foo Fighters, outselling their In Your Honor by a mere three copies.

Sales of #12 finisher Gwen Stefani's Love, Angel, Music, Baby simply won't slow down. The No Doubt frontwoman earned more than 56,000 scans this time around, besting Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway by just 78 copies. A 22 percent sales boost, amounting to more than 51,000 scans, pushes the Gorillaz's Demon Days up four to #14, followed by Mike Jones' Who Is Mike Jones?, which rounds out the top 15 with 50,000 units scanned.

There were several other noteworthy debuts that ranked outside of the top 15, starting with Dipset's Diplomats & DukeDaGod Present: More Than Music, which opens at #22 with close to 38,000 copies sold. The album features tracks from hip-hop heavyweights including Cam'ron and Juelz Santana. The soundtrack to "Hustle & Flow," featuring Trillville, Webbie, and Boyz N Da Hood, takes the #31 slot, with nearly 29,000 scans. Fatty Koo's House of Fatty Koo debuts at #64, selling more than 15,000 copies, while Son Volt's Okeman and the Melody of Riot opens at #89 with 11,000 scans. The Black Dahlia Murder's Miasma debuts at #118 with more than 9,000 copies sold, followed by Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo's grunge-rock opus, Covering the Bases, at #123, with more than 8,700 units scanned.

Falling "Idol"

It's been nine weeks since the release of American Idol Season 4: The Showstoppers, the compilation disc featuring vocal contributions from season-four finalists Anwar Robinson, Constantine Maroulis, Nikko Smith, Nadia Turner and Bo Bice along with victor Carrie Underwood. In those weeks, sales of the album — which started strong, debuting at #6 with close to 83,000 scans — have gone south, but slowly. This week, the record takes the #138 spot, with sales of just 7,500 and change.

"American Idol" has become one of television's biggest hits, with this past season marking another ratings success for the franchise. Coupling its TV popularity with the sellout crowds the American Idols Live Tour has been drawing, it seems rather odd that the LP has moved only 260,000 copies since its release. Historically, though, the "Idol" comps haven't been chart dominators.

American Idol Season 3: Greatest Soul Classics, released in 2004, spent only 10 weeks among the top 200 albums despite the presence of tracks fronted by Fantasia, Diana DeGarmo and La Toya London; that album has sold just 263,000 copies in total. It took just 15 weeks for 2003's American Idol Season 2: All-Time Classic American Love Songs — featuring cuts from Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, Kimberley Locke, Corey Clark, Joshua Gracin and Trenyce — to vanish from the Billboard 200, selling 645,000 copies in the two years since its debut. And the season-one compilation American Idol Greatest Moments spent 13 weeks on the chart and has sold over 641,000 copies since its release.

When comparing these figures to the million-plus sales totals for albums from Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken and Fantasia, it would appear that many of the show's millions of viewers take a pass on the post-series roundups and hold out until the "Idol" finalists release their solo records.

(Alleged) Crime Doesn't Pay

While it's often the unfortunate truth that high-profile charges can help accelerate an artist's album sales, it doesn't appear to be working out for Philadelphia rapper Cassidy, who was arrested in June — two weeks before his album dropped — in connection with the shooting death of a 22-year-old man. Since his arrest, Cassidy has been detained in a Philadelphia prison, denied bail twice.

While Cassidy's latest, I'm a Hustla, debuted at #5, the album has taken a turn for the worse in the two weeks since it first charted. I'm a Hustla fell to #22 its second week out and suffered a 42 percent sales slide this week, settling into the #44 spot with fewer than 22,000 copies sold.

(Check out chapters one through five of R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet" on MTV Overdrive.)

For an in-depth feature on Coldplay, see "Coldplay: The Quiet Revolution." And read "Mariah Carey: Free At Last?" for more on Mimi's Emancipation.