Singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette is the new queen of the Billboard 200 albums chart, with her fourth release, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, debuting, as expected, at #1.
According to SoundScan, the company that tracks music sales, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, Morissette's follow-up to 1995's 25 million-plus-selling Jagged Little Pill, sold 469,055 copies in the week ending this past Sunday -- enough to break the record for one-week sales by a female solo artist.
Fueled by the success of the first single, "Thank U" (RealAudio excerpt), Morissette's label, Maverick Recording Company, reports that, worldwide, the album sold 2.2 million copies in its first week of release.
The record for the largest one-week sales total for a solo female artist had been set in late August by Fugees vocalist Lauryn Hill's solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which moved 420,000 copies in its first week. Hill, in turn, had grabbed the record from Maverick-founder Madonna's electronica-fueled Ray of Light, which sold 371,000 copies in its debut in the week ending March 8. Hill's album currently is lodged in the #10 spot; Madonna's is at #47.
Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie was expected to break Hill's record, but much of the album's pre-release buzz involved predictions that it might sell up to 800,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release. Had it done so, it would have broken this year's one-week sales record, held by punk-rappers the Beastie Boys' Hello Nasty, which sold 681,572 copies in its debut week.
Maverick co-CEO Freddy DeMann issued a statement that he was very happy with Morissette's first-week numbers but was still looking at the bigger picture.
"[W]e're running a marathon, not a sprint. It's the number at the finish line that counts, and I can assure everyone that that number will be beyond all our wildest expectations," the statement read.
Coming in behind Morissette at #2 this week were Irish-rockers U2's Best Of: 1980 to 1990. The set, which features a new version of the B-side "The Sweetest Thing," sold 237,000 copies in its first week of release. U2 were followed at #3 by rapper Jay-Z's Vol. 2 ... Hard Knock Life, which had been at #1 the past five weeks -- a record this year for a hip-hop release -- based on the strength of such singles as "Money Ain't a Thang" (RealAudio excerpt).
Pop-songstress Celine Dion came in at #4 with These Are Special Times, a holiday-themed album that moved 126,000 copies in its first week of release. Following that were a pair of hip-hop releases: the soundtrack to rap-video director Hype Williams' first film, Belly, debuting at #5; and No Limit rapper Mia X landing at #7 with her second full-length album, Mama Drama, which sold 99,000 copies.
Just south of the top 10, eclectic-folkie Beck bowed at #13 with Mutations, with 75,000 copies sold. Further down the chart, rappers Crucial Conflict came in at #38 with Good Side, Bad Side and R&B-trio Total's sophomore effort, Kima, Keisha & Pam, settled in at #39.
Meanwhile, British pop-giants Oasis' Masterplan, a collection of B-sides and rarities that includes "Acquiesce" (RealAudio excerpt), debuted at #51; the Rugrats soundtrack, which features ska-rockers No Doubt's performance of Elvis Costello's "I Throw My Toys Around," docked at #87; and the John Lennon Anthology, a four-CD set of previously unreleased material from the late Beatle, landed at #99.
Notable debuts on the bottom half of the chart include Swedish alt-pop act the Cardigans' Gran Turismo at #151 and jam-band Rusted Root's self-titled sixth album at #165.
In live-album news, Hanson's Live From the Albertane landed at #32 after selling 41,000 copies, while the Rolling Stones' No Security checked in at #34 after moving 38,000 copies. Further down the chart, ska-rockers 311's Live moved 23,000 copies to land at #74 and disco-pop legends the Bee Gees hit #109 with One Night Only.
There's only so much room in the upper echelons of the Billboard 200 albums chart, and with so many albums debuting big this week, some of last week's players dropped dramatically. R.E.M.'s Up, their first album sans original-drummer Bill Berry, dropped from #3 to #16 in its second week of release, while hippie jam-rockers Phish saw their Story of the Ghost slip from #8 to #65.
Similar fates awaited R&B singer Faith Evans' Keep The Faith, which dropped from #6 to #24, and Fugees rapper Pras, whose Ghetto Supastar tumbled from #55 to #97.
It wasn't all bad news for chart veterans, however. Motown legends the Temptations reaped the rewards of the recent NBC mini-series chronicling their career as a greatest-hits album, entitled The Ultimate Collection, debuted at #137 and Phoenix Rising, their latest release, climbed from #59 to #44.
Also seeing significant chart movement this week was former House of Pain frontman Everlast. Whitey Ford Sings The Blues, his first post-House of Pain album, jumped from #79 to #54 on sales of 31,000; a big leap from last week's sales of 19,000, it brings his total to 114,000. As alternative-rock radio and MTV continue to push the album, an eclectic mix of such folk-rock songs as "What It's Like" (RealAudio excerpt) and straight-up rap songs like "Money (Dollar Bill)," its sales have markedly increased each week since its Sept. 8 release.
The rest of the top 10: 'N Sync, 'N Sync (#6); Dru Hill, Enter The Dru (#8); and Shania Twain, Come On Over (#9).