Pharrell or LeToya? Which artist could dethrone Now That's What I Call Music! 22, ending the compilation's two-week reign atop Billboard's albums chart?
In My Mind, the long-awaited, much-delayed solo debut from Pharrell Williams — one-half of the hit-making production team the Neptunes — was a popular pick for #1. And with nearly 142,000 copies snatched up its first week in stores, the disc came close to the top. But in the end, Pharrell had to settle for third place.
LeToya, the debut solo LP from LeToya Luckett, an original member of Destiny's Child who co-wrote and performed the group's gold-certified singles "Bills, Bills, Bills" and "Say My Name," outsold Now by 14,000 copies to finish the week with close to 165,000 scans — and a chart-topping opening.
According to the latest SoundScan totals, Pharrell fell shy of second place by a mere 9,000 copies. The #2 position belongs to the 22nd installment in the Now franchise — an album featuring tracks by Rihanna, Chamillionaire, Chris Brown, Nick Lachey and Kelly Clarkson — which moved 151,000 units its third week out.
LeToya and Pharrell's debut outings are joined in the top five by one other new release: Tom Petty's Highway Companion. The third solo album from the Heartbreakers frontman bows at #4 after selling more than 112,000 copies its first week in stores. Petty's disc steps in just in front of Gnarls Barkley's St. Elsewhere, down one to #5 with 54,000 scans.
The soundtrack to the Disney Channel original movie "High School Musical" can't be stopped, and takes the chart's #6 opening this week with just under 47,000 sales. Rihanna's A Girl Like Me follows at #7 with 46,000-plus scans, while Nelly Furtado's Loose slips one spot to #8 with close to 45,000 sales. The Pussycat Dolls' PCD climbs one spot to #9, selling more than 44,000 units. Rascal Flatts' Me & My Gang rounds out the top 10 with nearly 44,000 scans.
In all, 17 fresh releases make the top 200 — including Jurassic 5's Feedback, which takes the #15 slot on the upcoming chart with sales nearing 34,000. Livin' It Up! the latest from former Van Halen mainman Sammy Hagar and his Wabos, surfaces further down the chart at #50 with 16,000 first-week sales. Flogging Molly's Whiskey on a Sunday bows at #67 with 14,000 copies sold, while rapper Trae's Restless debuts at #87 with 10,000 scans. Gym Class Heroes open at #93, selling more than 9,000 copies of As Cruel as School Children.
Michael Franti and Spearhead's Yell Fire! opens at #125, with sales coming in at 7,000 and then some. The New York Dolls' One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, the seminal punk band's first album in 32 years, follows at #129 with 7,000 sales — just in front of Pastor Troy's By Choice or by Force, which lands at #130 with 22 fewer scans. Stellar Kart's We Can't Stand Sitting Down debuts at #135 with 7,000 scans. The soundtrack to Lian Lunson's film "Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man" — chock full of some of Cohen's most revered cuts performed by artists including U2, Nick Cave and Rufus Wainwright — claims the #176 slot with 5,000 sales.