One's a charismatic American R&B singer and fledgling thespian with a beaming smile that makes thousands of teen girls' hearts flutter like the wings of a butterfly caught in a hurricane. The other's a Canadian big-band crooner with a funny-sounding last name and a legion of soccer-mom fans at his behest. But there wasn't enough room for both artists at the top of next week's Billboard albums chart, so one of them would have to settle for second place.
For Ne-Yo, a #1 opening would give him a perfect record: two for two. For Michael Bublé, it would end a years-long flirtation with the chart's coveted peak position. And with a mere 39,000 in sales separating them, it was a close contest, to be sure — just not close enough for Bublé. Repeating the success of his 2006 debut, In My Own Words, which sold more than 301,000 copies during its first week of release to bow at the chart's #1 spot, Ne-Yo once again lays claim to Billboard's apex, having scanned more than 251,000 copies of his sophomore set, Because of You.
According to the latest SoundScan totals, Ne-Yo ends pop-punk princess Avril Lavigne's two-week run at #1, leaving Bublé's Call Me Irresponsible in the proverbial dust. Bublé's 2005 LP, It's Time, debuted at #7, with close to 93,500 units snatched up; his latest outing racked up sales of more than 212,000 to finish at #2.
Next week's chart is chock-full of new releases — 18 in all, with six of those offerings cracking the top 10. Coming in at a distant third, with nearly 93,000 in week-one sales, is the latest disc from Rush, Snakes & Arrows, followed at #4 by Lavigne's The Best Damn Thing, which sold 86,300 copies during its third week in stores. Tori Amos' new one, American Doll Posse, opens at #5 with 54,000 scans, just in front of Miranda Lambert's latest, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which sold just 1,000 fewer copies. Amos' 2005 LP, The Beekeeper, also debuted at #5 but with much stronger sales of 82,600.
Falling two chart positions to #7 this week is the self-titled debut set from "American Idol" season-five finalist Chris Daughtry's rock group, Daughtry, which sold 50,000-plus copies, pushing overall sales of the disc past the 2.4 million mark. Country artist Blake Shelton's Pure BS is the last of the newcomers to breach the chart's top 10, finishing at #8 with 48,500 scans, while the 24th installment in the Now That's What I Call Music! compilation series drops five spots to #9, selling 46,400 copies. Rounding out the top 10 is Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts, which generated sales of 43,900.
The Reminder, the third full-length solo outing from Broken Social Scene associate Feist, opens at #16, having sold a reported 31,000 copies. The live version of the soundtrack to the Disney Channel original movie "High School Musical," last year's unexpected blockbuster hit, opens at #28; High School Musical: The Concert sold more than 21,800 copies its first week out. Meanwhile, the soundtrack to "Spider-Man 3," featuring contributions from Snow Patrol, the Killers, the Flaming Lips and others, pops up at #33 with 20,800 scans, followed at #36 by "High School Musical" star Corbin Bleu's debut, Another Side, which scanned 17,900 units.
Garage rockers Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's newest, Baby 81, finishes within the chart's top 50 at #46, having sold 14,500 copies during its first week of sales. Angélique Kidjo's latest, Djin Djin, surfaces at #61, with 11,000 copies sold, while formerly extinct alt-rockers Dinosaur Jr.'s first new studio album in more than a decade, Beyond, claims the chart's #69 slot with 10,000-plus scans. The Fall of Troy's Manipulator debuts at #76, with 9,500 units sold, while American heartland singer/songwriter Jon McLaughlin's Indiana finishes at #81 with sales of 8,800.
Elvis Costello returns to Billboard's top 200 at #110, with his retrospective, The Best of Elvis Costello: The First 10 Years, selling 7,200 units. Christian rockers Building 429's Iris to Iris claims the #140 slot with 5,500 copies sold. "American Idol" season-three finalist Kimberley Locke's sophomore LP, Based on a True Story, opens at #160 with 4,800 in sales. In related news, Bon Jovi's appearance last week on the current season of "Idol" paid off big, as the band's 2005 release, Have a Nice Day, returns to the chart after more than seven months off, thanks to a 333 percent sales boost that landed the LP at #113, with 7,000 units scanned.