Mariah Carey's great year just got its topper. Along with the flood of awards, chart records and accolades she's gotten for The Emancipation of Mimi, Carey took the lead over 50 Cent in a close race for the year's best-selling album. With just a few reporting days left, Mimi slipped ahead of 50's The Massacre by 32,000 copies. In the latest numbers from Nielsen SoundScan, Carey has sold 4.866 million copies to 50's 4.834 million.
Mimi, which spawned a nomination for Album of the Year along with seven other Grammy nods (see "Mariah Carey, Kanye West, John Legend Lead Grammy Nominees "), was released in April. Given the recent travails in Carey's career — including the flop film/soundtrack "Glitter" and a $30 million buy-out of her previous record contract — the singer's latest LP was not tipped to be one of the year's top sellers. Assuming she holds the lead through the end of the year, Carey would become the first female solo artist to top the year-end sales figures since Alanis Morissette did it in 1996 with Jagged Little Pill. Former "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson was on pace to finish in third place for 2005 with Breakaway, which sold 3.4 million copies.
In addition to the hit "We Belong Together," which topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for 14 weeks, The Emancipation of Mimi also spawned Carey's 17th #1 single, "Don't Forget About Us," which helped push the singer into second place behind the Beatles' all-time record of 20 #1 hits.
While Carey and 50 were living large, though, the rest of the music business took a sales dip. Overall sales of CDs and digital album downloads were down about 7 percent, according to a Reuters report. Album sales from January through the week ending December 25 were 602.2 million, down from 650.8 million during the same period last year.
SoundScan did have some good news for the music industry, reporting that digital singles sales exploded to more than 332 million, a nearly 150 percent jump over the same period last year.
For more on The Emancipation of Mimi, check out the feature "Mariah Carey: Free At Last?"