For the last month or so, everyone in the music industry has been abuzz about Kanye West and 50 Cent — or more specifically, the epic sales campaign the two waged during the weeks leading up to the September 11 release of their latest LPs, 'Ye's Graduation and Fif's Curtis.
And last week the results came in, with West the undisputed victor (see "Kanye West's Sales Triumph, By The Numbers: He Thumped 50 Cent In Almost Every Market" and "Kanye West Pounds 50 Cent In First Week Of Album Showdown"). But who'd come out on top after week two? Would West's sales continue to eclipse 50's, or would the tables turn, resulting in a come-from-behind coup?
Well, neither ended up being the case, and the results stayed pretty much the same: Sales of Graduation were significantly stronger than those generated by Curtis, and interest in both sets waned. According to the latest SoundScan totals, sales for West's latest dipped 76 percent, while Curtis suffered a 79 percent sales cut. What this all means, basically, is there's a new name in the #1 position on next week's Billboard albums sales chart, and that name is Reba.
What's even more surprising than the bubbly, fire-fleeced country sweetheart and former star of the now-canceled CW sitcom "Reba" surpassing the two biggest hip-hop releases of the year so far? The fact that the album is the first #1 of McEntire's 30-year career.
McEntire's Reba Duets — which features collaborations with artists like LeAnn Rimes, Kelly Clarkson, Rascal Flatts, Don Henley, Justin Timberlake, Faith Hill and Kenny Chesney — sold more than 300,500 copies during its first week in record stores to claim the chart's peak position. Reba's previous best was a #2 bow for 1994's Read My Mind. That drops West's Graduation to #2 with close to 226,000 scans and 50's Curtis to #3 with 143,000 sold. (In just two short weeks, Graduation has sold nearly 1.2 million copies.)
Right behind 50 at #4 this week is the new one from Barry Manilow, The Greatest Songs of the Seventies, which sold 113,000 units. Along with Reba, Manilow was one of 30 newcomers to next week's top 200, and one of six to debut in the top 10. Following Chesney's Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates (which falls to #5 with 112,200 copies sold) and the soundtrack to the Disney Channel original movie "High School Musical 2" (at #6 with 99,400 scans) at #7 is the latest from James Blunt, All the Lost Souls; the disc sold a reported 92,400 copies.
Next, bowing at #8, is Ultimate Victory, the new one from Chamillionaire, with 79,000 in first-week sales. The #9 spot belongs to KT Tunstall's Drastic Fantastic, with week-one scans clocked at 49,700, and, rounding things out with a #10 opener, it's Twista's Adrenaline Rush 2007, which sold 40,700 units.
Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder's first crack at going solo, the soundtrack to Sean Penn's "Into the Wild" flick, debuts at #11, selling 39,300-plus copies. With 38,300 scans, the latest from emotive Finnish metallers H.I.M., Venus Doom, follows at #12, while Motion City Soundtrack's Even If It Kills Me opens at #16, selling 33,000 copies. The Very Best of Diana Krall bows at #19, while Celtic punks the Dropkick Murphys claim the #20 position with The Meanest of Times, which scanned more than 28,200 copies.
Meanwhile, Gloria Estefan's 90 Millas comes in at #25, having generated more than 23,700 scans, and at #26, with 23,600 sold, it's former Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler's latest solo effort, Kill to Get Crimson. One Chance, the debut album from "Britain's Got Talent" winner Paul Potts, follows at #30 with 22,100 sold, and New Found Glory's cinema-themed covers collection, From the Screen to Your Stereo Part II, pops up at #42 with 15,500 sold.
Playlist, Babyface's latest, finishes in the #48 slot, having sold 13,700 units, while Between the Buried and Me's Colors trails in the #57 spot with sales of 12,600. Right behind them at #58 is Thousand Foot Krutch's The Flame in All of Us, which sold 12,500 copies. Rise to Power, the second studio LP by Miami rapper Rick Ross, follows at #62 with 11,600 copies scanned and bagged, while death metallers the Black Dahlia Murder's Nocturnal opens at #72 with 9,600 sold. Train frontman Pat Monahan's first solo outing, Last of Seven, bows at #82 with 8,200 scans.
The Donnas return to the top 200 at #89, having sold 7,600 copies of their new one, Bitchin', while metal act Suicide Silence's The Cleansing cleared 7,000 scans, earning them the chart's #94 opening. Gospel outfit Trin-I-Tee 5:7's T57 debuts in the #102 position with 6,700 sold, while Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew: Spirit If... claims the #113 spot with just over 6,000 copies grabbed up.
Gospel artist Byron Cage's Live at the Apollo: The Proclamation opens at #118 with 5,700 copies sold, while Ministry's swan song, The Last Sucker, comes in at #130, selling 5,000 units. Doom-metal force High on Fire's Death Is This Communion comes in at #142 with 4,500 scans, followed five spots down at #147 by German metallers Rammstein's live offering, Völkerball, which sold close to 4,500 copies. And last but not least, finishing out the week at #173, it's the debut solo album from Havoc, one-half of the hip-hop duo Mobb Deep; The Kush sold 3,900 units its first week in stores.