Norah Jones Breaks McPheever, Beats ‘Idol’ Runner-Up To #1

Madonna, Lily Allen also generate impressive first-week sales.

If you’re suffering from a scorching case of McPheever, it might interest you to know that there’s actually an antidote for the condition: 405,000 cc’s of Norah Jones.

“American Idol” fifth-season runner-up Katharine McPhee had a genuine shot at Billboard‘s peak position, with her eponymous debut album hitting record-store shelves last week. But ultimately, McPhee couldn’t quite contend with the likes of Jones. The singer/songwriter’s third studio LP, Not Too Late, ran away with the title belt, opening at #1 with more than 405,000 sales, according to the latest SoundScan figures.

McPhee’s LP finished a distant second on Billboard‘s albums sales chart, selling close to 116,000 units — a respectable total, but not nearly enough to top the chart this time around. Comparatively, Jones’ inaugural offering, 2002′s Come Away With Me, bowed at #139 with 9,700 copies sold; it wasn’t until 46 weeks later that the album would hit #1, shifting 108,000 copies. Two years later, Jones’ Feels Like Home debuted at #1, selling an imposing 1,022,000 copies.

Interestingly enough, Daughtry — the self-titled debut from fellow “Idol” finalist Chris Daughtry’s rock collective — follows McPhee at #3, with 77,000 scans. Meanwhile Taylor Hicks, the self-titled debut from the man who surpassed them both for the “American Idol” title last year, slips further out of the chart’s top 50. That disc finished this week at #76 after selling just 12,000 copies during its eighth week of release — and 800,000 copies fewer than Daughtry overall. Strange how that works out, isn’t it?

Just one other album opened in the latest chart’s top 10, finishing at #4 with sales reported at 71,000: A New Journey, from the six female Irish artists who make up Celtic Woman. Last week’s #1, Pretty Ricky’s Late Night Special, drops 53 percent and four spots to #5 with 62,000 week-two scans. Akon’s Konvicted follows at #6 with more than 56,000 copies sold, while the soundtrack to “Dreamgirls” — featuring musical contributions from the film’s stars, Beyoncé, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy — slips one spot to #7, selling another 56,000 units its ninth week in stores.

The Shins’ Wincing the Night Away drops six spots on the chart to #8 this week, with more than 53,000 sales — just in front of Robin Thicke’s The Evolution of Robin Thicke, which finishes ninth with nearly 52,000 scans. Rounding out the top 10 is the 2007 Grammy Nominees compilation, which boasts 23 tracks from this year’s award contenders, including Gnarls Barkley, John Mayer, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Justin Timberlake and James Blunt; the album sold close to 48,000 copies, robbing Harry Connick, Jr.’s Oh, My Nola of a top-10 opening. Instead, Nola debuts at #11, with 44,000 scans.

In all, 23 new releases managed to crack Billboard‘s top 200, including Madonna’s live LP, The Confessions Tour, which comes in at #15 after selling more than 40,000 units. Lily Allen’s Alright, Still follows at #20 with sales of more than 34,000. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s Some Loud Thunder opens at #47 with close to 19,000 scans, while Paolo Nutini’s These Streets bows at #48 with 18,000 sold. The Alkaline Trio return at #64 with their latest, Remains, selling more than 13,000 copies. And Dave Koz’s At the Movies finishes at #86 on the chart, moving 11,000 units.

Endless Highway: The Music of The Band, a collection of Band covers by artists including Guster, My Morning Jacket, Jack Johnson and Death Cab For Cutie, comes in at #129 with 7,000 copies snatched up. Goin’ South Platinum Edition, a compilation featuring Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Marshall Tucker Band, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Molly Hatchet, opens at #145 with 6,200 scans. Young Love’s Too Young To Fight It opens up at #169 with 5,300 copies sold, while Sean Price’s Jesus Price Supastar finishes at #196 with sales of 4,700. And closing out the chart at #200 is Skinny Puppy’s Mythmaker, which sold 4,600 copies.

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