Mos Def Scores Highest-Ever Chart Debut With New Danger; Usher Holds Fast

George Strait, Usher hold on to top two spots for second week in a row.

They don't call him "The Mighty Mos Def" for nothing.

The Brooklyn MC scored his highest-ever chart debut with his second solo album, The New Danger, selling more than 95,000 copies to open at #5 on next week's Billboard albums chart. Mos' last album, Black on Both Sides, bowed at #25 back in October 1999, selling more than 53,000 copies, according to SoundScan.

But Mos Def's best wasn't good enough to overtake Celine Dion, whose Miracle debuts at #4; the collaboration between Dion and photographer Anne Geddes sold more than 107,000 copies. Nelly's Suit jumps two spots to #3, selling more than 143,000 copies, while its counterpart, Sweat, holds steady at #12 on just over 62,000 copies.

The top two albums in the country remain unchanged.

The ubiquitous Usher continues to benefit from the re-release of his Confessions album, which sold another 176,000 copies to stay at #2. And country's George Strait holds on to the #1 spot, as his greatest-hits collection, 50 Number Ones, sold more than 189,000 copies.

Hilary Duff's self-titled album holds at #6, selling more than 85,000 copies. And in a rare top-10 tie, SoundScan reports that Green Day's American Idiot and Good Charlotte's The Chronicles of Life and Death sold an identical 73,484 copies to share the #7 spot. Tim McGraw is #9 for a second straight week, moving more than 67,000 copies of his Live Like You Were Dying album.

Sum 41's semi-serious Chuck debuts at #10, selling more than 65,000 copies, giving the guys their highest-ever chart debut. But the taste of victory must be semisweet: Their last album, 2002's Does This Look Infected?, opened lower (at #32) but sold more (76,000 copies). Pop vets Duran Duran open at #17, selling more than 54,000 copies of their new album, Astronaut.

Other notable debuts on next week's chart include Amy Grant's Greatest Hits: 1986-2004 at #48; the emo-riffic Straylight Run's self-titled debut at #100; the soundtrack to Jennifer Lopez's "Shall We Dance?" at #184; and indie rockers Pinback's Summer in Abaddon at #196.

Nitpicking At Nelly's Numbers

Next week's chart will show the largest difference yet between Nelly's Suit and Sweat: nine places and more than 81,000 copies separate the two simultaneously released albums. While the sales of Sweat fall just slightly and the album retains its #12 position, Suit actually has increased its weekly total for the past two weeks, by 17 percent last week and 3 percent in the week prior. After both albums have been out for over a month, Suit's sales are nearing 1 million (more than 940,000), while Sweat's top out at more than 675,000, approximately 71 percent of its companion.

Hardcore Nelly fans probably own both halves of the St. Lunatic's musical double-feature, as evidenced by the albums occupying the top two places on the chart the week after their September 14 release. But even five weeks ago, Suit bettered Sweat by more than 50,000 copies.

However, less committed fans are probably finding more songs that they like on Suit, making it continually outshine Sweat.

As the titles imply, Sweat is the dirtier, grittier half, whose sexually suggestive first single, "Flap Your Wings," served as its introduction. Suit, meanwhile, is a smoother, more refined R&B affair, and, given Usher's success with Confessions, that seems to be the sure-shot formula in 2004. As such, Suit's two singles, "My Place," and "Over And Over," are outperforming Sweat's first two, "Flap Your Wings" and "Tilt Ya Head Back," at radio. It also doesn't hurt Suit's cause to have country superstar Tim McGraw on "Over and Over," giving the track that all-important crossover appeal. The tune is among the most-added at top 40 pop stations — and it's also the one receiving the biggest increase in spins by the stations that already have it on their playlists.

Besides McGraw, Suit also features contributions by Pharrell Williams, Jaheim, Snoop Dogg and Anthony Hamilton, a cast that packs more retail clout than Sweat's guest roster of Lil' Flip, Murphy Lee, Fat Joe and Christina Aguilera.

It's Beginning To Sound A Lot Like Christmas

It's not even close to Thanksgiving, the traditional start of the holiday season, and already Christmas albums have arrived on the chart. Perennial far-out favorites the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Mannheim Steamroller just dropped Lost Christmas Eve and Christmas at #26 and #54, respectively. More holiday-themed albums will undoubtedly surface in the weeks to come, each looking to rank among the more successful ones, such as 1998's Home For Christmas by 'NSYNC, which sold more than 2.6 million copies, and Christina Aguilera's 2000 LP My Kind of Christmas.

On The Move

Velvet Revolver's recent newsmaking escapades — a rescheduled free show in Hollywood on Thursday that was supposed to take place last Tuesday (October 12), but city officials wouldn't allow them to play atop the Hustler Store — helped their debut, Contraband, jump up eight spots to #31. Sales should continue to bode well for the rockers throughout their five-week fall tour, which kicked off Saturday.

With a second single, "Mr. Brightside," following "Somebody Told Me," the Killers' Hot Fuss, will also make a significant stride from #45 to #35.

Hanging Out And Hanging On

Other than the Cinderella story that is Maroon 5's Songs About Jane, there aren't many albums able to reside in the Top 40 for more than a year after their release, but Switchfoot's Beautiful Letdown might give the funky fivesome some worry. After 76 weeks on the chart, the fourth album by the San Diego quartet will occupy the #33 spot, following previous positions at #36, #38.

The Black Eyed Peas' 69-week-old Elephunk, isn't much further behind, up one spot this week to #37.

This story updated on October 10 at 4:21 p.m. ET