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Springsteen's Latest Leaves Mariah, Rob Thomas In The Dust

Devils & Dust secures Billboard's #1 spot its first week out.

Well, they don't call him the Boss for nothing.

Bruce Springsteen's newest release, Devils & Dust -- the stripped-down follow-up to 2002's September 11-inspired The Rising -- will enter Billboard's albums chart at #1, with first-week sales of over 222,000, according to the latest SoundScan totals. The second straight Springsteen opus produced by Brendan O'Brien (Train, Pearl Jam) and the Boss' 13th studio LP, Devils & Dust soared past recent chart-toppers Mariah Carey and Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas, proving once again why New Jersey's favorite son is a bona fide rock legend.

Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi clings to the chart's #2 spot with an impressive third-week total of close to 197,000 scans. Even though the pop diva's comeback disc experienced a 13 percent sales plunge, Mimi still managed to outperform the self-titled first crack from Bobby Valentino -- the R&B crooner signed to Ludacris' Disturbing Tha Peace label -- who opens at #3 with first-week sales of nearly 180,000 and scores the week's biggest debut album.

The second-week-sales bug sunk its teeth into Thomas, who bumped Mariah from #1 on the previous week's chart with his first solo release, Something to Be, but falls three positions to #4 this time around. Waning retail interest -- sales of the album nosedived 42 percent -- resulted in second-week scans of little more than 145,000.

Smooth R&B looker Amerie's sophomore album, the Rich Harrison-produced Touch, is the chart's #5 finisher, with a first-week showing of close to 124,000 copies sold. The soulful songstress bested retail powerhouse 50 Cent's The Massacre by not quite 10,000 units; 50's multiplatinum LP, which slips from the top five for the first time since its release nine weeks ago, sold more than 114,000 copies.

Taking #7 on the chart is Delicious Surprise, the new one from country-music diva Jo Dee Messina. That album sold nearly 99,000 copies during its first week at retail. Right behind Messina lands rapper Mike Jones' Who Is Mike Jones?, which suffered a 55 percent sales decline during its second week of release, netting scans of less than 81,000. The self-titled debut from Il Divo -- "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell's boy-band amalgamation -- will come in at #9, with a second-week showing of slightly more than 74,000.

Rounding out the top 10 is Gwen Stefani's Love, Angel, Music, Baby, continuing its domination with sales of more than 71,000 copies its 23rd week in stores.

Artists having big first weeks on the next Billboard chart include piano man Ben Folds with Songs for Silverman, which will open at #13 with sales of 50,000 and change. R&B six-piece Mint Condition return after more than six years of retail hibernation with Livin' the Luxury Brown, moving close to 20,000 copies to claim the chart's #45 position its first week out. Right behind Mint, debuting at #46 with just 54 fewer scans, another blast from the past: electro-rockers New Order with Waiting for the Sirens' Call, their first full-length since 2001's Get Ready.

For Gavin, Bice Is Nice

Singer/songwriter and Clive Davis protégé Gavin DeGraw probably owes the 61 percent sales boost enjoyed by his acoustic album, Chariot Stripped, to "American Idol" token rock dude Bo Bice. The long-trussed Bice belted out "I Don't Want to Be," a cut from DeGraw's disc, during last week's performance episode. With sales of close to 11,000, Chariot Stripped lunged 54 spots from #146 to #92. Digital or online sales of the track itself, through Web sites like iTunes, soared a whopping 94 percent.

Strength Of Singles

For two bands on this week's chart, the success of their singles -- and the subsequent success of the videos shot for those tracks -- seems to be aiding album scans.

MMHMM, the latest from Christian pop-punkers Relient K, was released in early November but made its top 200 debut this week, coming in at #190. A 15 percent sales jump helped move more than 5,100 copies of the disc off shelves last week. The band's single, "Be My Escape," is heating up rock radio, and Relient K's companion video has become an MTV rotation regular.

Maybe it's the critical praise London art-punkers Bloc Party have been getting for their Silent Alarm, or it could even be the popularity of the record's first single, "Banquet" -- either way, Bloc Party have been holding their own on the chart. The album comes in at #144, thanks to a 10 percent increase in retail interest that pushed sales just past the 7,000 mark.

A Lot Like Album Sales

It appears that every single one of the 10,000 people who threw down their hard-earned cash to see Ashton romance Amanda on the big screen loved the music from the movie too. Sales of the soundtrack to the film "A Lot Like Love" -- which were clocked at 7,000 plus -- shot up 105 percent, scoring the disc a #141 chart debut. The soundtrack was released close to a month ago, and the week before it sold a mere 3,500 copies.