Talk about an upset.
Next week's Billboard albums chart is about who finished fifth as much as who claims the #1 spot. A chart-topping debut has eluded Jessica Simpson once again, as sales of the singer/actress' fifth album, A Public Affair, came in at just under 101,000. Meanwhile, Bob Dylan proved that an illustrious career is often accompanied by a loyal fanbase.
SoundScan reported first-week sales for the iconic singer/songwriter's first studio LP in five years, Modern Times, at nearly 192,000 — outselling his nearest challenger by more than 74,000 copies. It's the first time in 30 years that Dylan has held the top spot — he previously reached #1 with 1974's Planet Waves, 1975's Blood on the Tracks and 1976's Desire.
Simpson, who debuts at #5 on the chart with 101,000 sales, can look on the bright side: While A Public Affair didn't surpass opening-week sales of 2001's Irresistible (which bowed at #6 with over 119,000 scans) or 2004's Rejoyce: The Christmas Album (152,000 copies sold to debut at #16), the record did chart higher than any of the singer's previous outings — In This Skin bowed at #10 in 2003, while 1999's Sweet Kisses claimed the #65 spot.
It was a debut-heavy week for the Billboard 200, with a total of 19 fresh releases making the cut and 12 of those breaking into the top 50. Five new LPs — including Dylan's and Simpson's — cracked the top 10.
Sandwiched between last week's #1 — Danity Kane's self-titled debut, which slips to #2 with more than 117,000 sales — and Christina Aguilera's Back to Basics — down one to #4 with 101,000 units sold — is T.I. protégé Young Dro, who opens at #3 with his Best Thang Smokin'. The latest release from Method Man, 4:21 ... The Day After, debuts at #8 on the chart with 62,000 sales, while the Roots' Game Theory bows at #9 with 61,000 first-week scans.
Two soundtracks and one chart veteran round out the top 10, with "The Cheetah Girls 2" moving another 80,000 units for the #6 spot, Outkast's Idlewild scoring 78,000-plus scans for #7 and Nickelback's All the Right Reasons selling 60,000 copies to sit at #10 during its 48th week on the chart.
Too Short's Blow the Whistle comes in at #14 with close to 40,000 scans. Ray LaMontagne's Till the Sun Turns Black opens at #28 with 28,000 in sales, followed at #30 by Crossfade's Falling Away, which sold just 300 fewer copies. Hatebreed's Supremacy takes the #31 spot with more than 27,000 sales, while Tego Calderón's The Underdog/ El Subestimado claims #43 with 21,000-plus copies sold. Pete Yorn's Nightcrawler finishes at #50 with 20,000 scans, and Paula DeAnda's self-titled inaugural offering claims #54 with 18,000 units snatched up.
Beenie Man's Undisputed opens at #65 with 15,000 sales, Old Crow Medicine Show's Big Iron World occupies the #125 spot with more than 7,000 scans, and Dream Theater's Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with the Octavarium Orchestra follows at #134 with nearly 7,000 copies sold.
But the week's biggest non-debut leap goes to James Blunt's Back to Bedlam, which soars from #59 all the way to #17, probably helped by his strong showing at last week's VMAs (see "Underdog Night At The VMAs: Panic, Gnarls, Blunt, Chamillionaire Win Big").