For five weeks, Mary J. Blige and Jamie Foxx have waged a civil game of cat and mouse for the Billboard albums chart's ultimate prize.
The balanced contest — Blige's The Breakthrough opened at #1, Foxx's Unpredictable settled into the top spot for the following two weeks and Mary J. evened the score with last week's #1 — continues its seesawing action as Unpredictable outsells The Breakthrough by fewer than 2,500 copies to reclaim #1.
Sales of Foxx's second album were clocked at more than 97,000, according to the latest SoundScan numbers, while Blige's The Breakthrough sold close to 95,000 copies for the chart's #2 ranking.
As has been the case since late December, the remainder of Billboard's Top 200 doesn't provide much bonus excitement. With the exception of James Blunt's Back to Bedlam, there hasn't been significant movement in the chart's top 10.
Eminem's Curtain Call: The Hits climbs one position to #3 with sales of 74,000 plus, while last season's "American Idol" winner, Carrie Underwood, slips to #4, selling more than 73,000 copies of her debut Some Hearts.
The career retrospective The Legend of Johnny Cash climbs five spots to #5 with nearly 55,000 discs sold (a 37 percent boost), and Nickelback's All the Right Reasons finishes sixth with close to 50,000 scans. Chris Brown's self-titled debut follows at #7 with nearly 49,000 sales, while Notorious B.I.G.'s Duets: The Final Chapter slips three spots to #8, selling 43,000.
Blunt, a chart-topper in the U.K. whose album was released on these shores more than a year ago, finds himself among Billboard's top 10 albums for the first time. Back to Bedlam, which has sold more than 425,000 copies to date, has been inching its way up the chart since October, and claims the #9 spot with 41,000 sold. Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi netted sales of 40,000 to stay in Billboard's top 10.
Only two discs made their Top 200 debut this week. Gospel singer Juanita Bynum's A Piece of My Passion opens at #55 with 16,000 copies sold while Too Short's Pimpin' Incorporated claims the #80 slot with 11,000 scans.
Neil Diamond's latest, the Rick Rubin-produced 12 Songs, was the week's biggest gainer. On the heels of Diamond's recent appearance on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," the album enjoyed a 259 percent sales jump, surging from #119 to #22 with more than 27,000 copies sold. The soundtrack to the Golden Globe-winning films "Walk the Line" and "Brokeback Mountain" also experienced sales gains — "Walk the Line" was up 19 percent to finish at #29 with 23,000 copies sold while "Brokeback Mountain" scored the chart's #54 spot thanks to a 124 percent sales increase. Matisyahu's Live at Stubb's experienced a 26 percent spike in interest, reaping sales of 22,000 and jumping 11 chart positions to #33. Sales of Nine Inch Nails' With Teeth were up (30 percent to finish at #117 with 8,000 copies sold), as were Avenged Sevenfold's City of Evil (up 17 percent to take #63 with 15,000 sold) and Death Cab For Cutie's Plans (up 26 percent to claim #39 with 20,000 sold).
See [article id="1521331"]"The Metamorphosis Of Jamie Foxx"[/article] for a feature on the actor's move to music. And check out [article id="1517359"]"Throwback With Mary J. Blige"[/article] for more on Blige's Breakthrough.