Soulful ivory-tickler Alicia Keys has released just three albums over the course of her career — the most recent, Unplugged, was recorded three months ago during the singer/songwriter's intimate set at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Featuring duets with Common, Mos Def, Damian Marley and Maroon 5's Adam Levine, the LP hit stores last week and, according to the latest SoundScan figures, surpasses Canadian rockers Nickelback to open atop Billboard's albums sales chart.
For Keys, Unplugged's chart-topping finish continues a pattern. She's now three-for-three when it comes to #1 debuts.
Back in 2003, Keys' The Diary of Alicia Keys opened on top with more than 618,000 in sales, and her debut, 2001's Songs in A Minor, also took Billboard's blue ribbon with 236,000 scans. Which brings us to Unplugged. With sales of close to 196,000, the LP outsold last week's retail kings, Nickelback, by over 25,000 copies — dropping the Chad Kroeger-led quartet's All The Right Reasons to #2.
Keys' offering was one of just three new releases to creep into Billboard's top 10, bucking the recent trend of dominating debuts. Southern California honky-tonker Gary Allan's Tough All Over opens at #3 with sales falling just shy of the 100,000 mark, while comeback kid Ricky Martin's Life assumes the #6 slot with sales for his disc coming in at nearly 73,000. The Black Eyed Peas surge ahead five chart positions to #4 with close to 90,000 copies of Monkey Business scanned, followed at #5 by Kanye West's Late Registration with 83,000 copies moved.
Sheryl Crow's Wildflower slips two rungs to #7 with 59,000 scans, just ahead of eighth-place finisher Twista's The Day After and Gretchen Wilson's All Jacked Up, in at #9. Young Jeezy rounds out the big 10 thanks to over 54,000 scans of his disc, Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101. Two albums from last week's top-10 took something of a week-two dive on the chart: Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine falls from #7 to #14 with over 48,000 scans and Franz Ferdinand's You Could Have It So Much Better plummets 19 spots to #27 with sales of nearly 35,000.
After Alicia, Gary and Ricky, the biggest debut showing was turned in by Story of the Year, whose In the Wake of Determination opens at #19 on the chart with nearly 42,000 scans. Sevendust's Next follows at #20 with 41,000 copies sold. Danger Doom's The Mouse and the Mask surfaces at #41 with sales nearing 25,000, followed by Dolly Parton's Those Were the Days at #48 (over 21,000) and British vocalist/pianist Jamie Cullum's Catching Tales at #49 (nearly 21,000).
Dru Hill's Hits collection opens at #71 with 15,000 plus scans, while the collaborative Roadrunner United project, The All-Star Sessions, finished at #76 with close to 15,000 copies sold. Warren G neared 15,000 scans with his latest LP, In the Mid-Nite Hour, to claim the chart's #79, and Default's One Thing Remains debuts at #89 with close to 14,000 scans.
On October 11, Frankie J's The One, which is edging closer and closer to platinum status, was reissued as an expanded DualDisc, with Frankie's soulful take on Extreme's "More Than Words" as well as three other bonus tracks — one being "Suga Suga," a collaborative tune featuring rapper Baby Bash. The disc also contains video footage of Frankie on the road along with some of his music videos. Well it seems as though all those extras were enough to get some of the J-Man's fans to fork over more cash, as The One leaps from the chart's #175 this week to #84. The album experienced a 98 percent retail spike, amounting to close to 14,000 in sales. The One was originally released in March.
"Elizabethtown" Sales Up
The soundtrack to Cameron Crowe's latest film, "Elizabethtown," arrived in stores on September 13 — a whole month before moviegoers could watch Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom fall in love after a chance encounter on an airplane. While sales of the disc were sluggish at first, interest in the soundtrack — featuring contributions from Nancy Wilson, Tom Petty, Elton John, Ryan Adams and My Morning Jacket — surged a whopping 377 percent, landing the album on Billboard's top 200 for the first time — at #125. Last week more than 10,000 copies of the soundtrack were carried away from stores, up from 2,000 the week prior.
[This story was originally published at 9:48 a.m. ET on 10.19.2005]