Mary J. Blige bid adieu to 2005 in grand fashion with the release of The Breakthrough, her seventh studio LP. Although the R&B songstress was facing stiff competition from Oscar-winning actor/Grammy-nominated singer Jamie Foxx and one of rap's most respected figures, the late Notorious B.I.G., Blige claims the Billboard albums chart title belt for the third time in her career, according to the latest SoundScan figures.
The Breakthrough earns the distinction of being Mary J.'s best week-one sales performer with 727,000 copies sold. 2003's Love & Life debuted atop the albums chart with sales of 286,000, while 1997's Share My World, which also opened at #1, sold just over 240,000 copies.
The Breakthrough, which features duets with Jay-Z, Bono and Raphael Saadiq, crushed Foxx's second-place-finishing Unpredictable, which moved close to 598,000 copies. Biggie's latest posthumous outing, Duets: The Final Chapter — a disc boasting collaborations between the departed hip-hop legend and Tupac, Eminem, Jay-Z, Diddy and Blige, among others — opens at #3, scoring nearly 438,000 sales.
The Blige, Foxx, and Biggie albums dropped during a monumental week for album sales overall, though only one other new release — Ryan Adams' 29, which opens at #144 with 26,000 copies sold — hit the chart.
Gift-giving procrastinators rushed out to record stores, giving Billboard's Top 200 a 4.6 million shot in the arm. Total sales for the 200 biggest-selling albums came in at nearly 13.9 million, up from last week's 9.4 million. All but 11 albums (five of which were released the previous week and suffered the inevitable second-week sales slump) on the latest chart experienced sales increases, ranging from 3 percent to as much as 97 percent.
Eminem's Curtain Call: The Hits slipped from #1 to #4, but surged 33 percent to finish with close to 430,000 sales. The greatest-hits disc has scored nearly 1.2 million scans in three weeks of release. Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts clings to the top 5 thanks to a 48 percent sales spike that pushed total sales of the "American Idol" winner's debut over 1.5 million. Finishing at #6 is Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi, which jumps 52 percent in sales with 290,000 copies sold. Mimi has moved 4.8 million copies since its April release.
The 20th Now That's What I Call Music! collection claims the chart's #7 slot with 283,000 scans, followed at #8 by Kenny Chesney's The Road and the Radio with sales of 269,000. Nickelback's All The Right Reasons shot up 38 percent with 265,000 scans to take the #9 slot. And the original "Idol," Kelly Clarkson, rounds out the top 10 with 230,000 plus copies of her newest album, Breakaway, flying off store shelves. Her disc enjoyed a 27 percent upswing in retail interest.
The chart is riddled with numerous sales landmarks, giving several artists the one gift on their list that Santa couldn't make good on. Madonna's Confessions on a Dance Floor cleared the million-sold milestone, landing at #17 with week-six sales of 158,000. Fall Out Boy's From Under the Cork Tree takes the chart's #18 spot, with 157,000 plus scans — enough to push the "TRL" heartthrobs past 1.5 million copies sold. Hilary Duff's Most Wanted collection, which claims #36, crossed the million line with 97,000 scans. And Green Day's American Idiot, in at #20, scored sales of 145,000 during the Christmas sales rush, helping total sales of the disc to pass 5 million.
Check out the feature "Throwback With Mary J. Blige" for more on her musical Breakthrough.