Ne-Yo Rises Above Hawthorne Heights With A Landslide 'Billboard' Win

Jay-Z protégé debuts at #1; Hawthorne Heights' latest comes in a distant third.

Last week's fabricated "beef" between R&B upstart Ne-Yo and emo-pop quintet Hawthorne Heights -- a campaign that pitted urban rhythm against rock angst and the major-label machine against the D.I.Y. ethos -- didn't end in the rock band's favor.

While it isn't clear just who or what started the competition (see [article id="1525227"]"Hawthorne Heights' Anti-Ne-Yo Campaign 'A Joke,' Label Claims"[/article]), Ne-Yo has certainly finished it, taking #1 on Billboard's albums chart with his debut offering, In My Own Words. With week-one sales clearing the 301,000 mark, Ne-Yo (22-year-old Jay-Z protégé Shaffer C. Smith) topped the competition in a race to the Billboard finish line that wasn't a grueling marathon so much as a refreshing jog.

According to the latest SoundScan figures, Ne-Yo's closest rival was last week's #1 album, the soundtrack to the Disney Channel original movie "High School Musical," which drops to #2 with sales nearing 128,000 (see [article id="1525204"]"What Is 'High School Musical' And How Did It Get To #1?"[/article]).

Hawthorne Heights' If Only You Were Lonely finished at #3, generating first-week sales of close to 114,000 and earning Hawthorne's label, Victory Records, one of its strongest debut showings.

The latest from country crooner Alan Jackson, Precious Memories, opens at #4, earning more than 107,000 scans during its first week in stores. That was enough to bump Mary J. Blige's The Breakthrough -- with scans nearing 81,000 -- down one spot to #5.

In at #6 is the retrospective collection The Legend of Johnny Cash, which experienced a 88 percent increase in sales during the week leading up to Sunday's Academy Awards, where Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon were up for acting Oscars for their performances in the Cash biopic "Walk the Line" -- and Witherspoon took Best Actress for her portrayal of June Carter Cash (see [article id="1525410"]"Oscar Wrap-Up: A Best Picture Party Crasher, Virgin Winners ... And A 'Pimp' "[/article]). The "Walk the Line" soundtrack also enjoyed a sales boost, jumping 156 percent and climbing 34 chart positions to #11 with nearly 57,000 scans. And sales of Johnny and June's 16 Biggest Hits soared 188 percent to end the week with nearly 9,000 copies sold and a #126 finish.

You Hear It First:

Jay-Z's Picks

Step back in time as Def Jam's president introduces Ne-Yo, Teairra Marí and Rihanna.

Jack Johnson and Friends' Sing-a-Longs and Lullabies for the Film "Curious George" hangs tight in the top 10, finishing at #7 with sales of over 73,000. Following her appearance last week on "American Idol," sales of Carrie Underwood's debut offering, Some Hearts, swelled 18 percent, moving close to 73,000 units and securing the reigning Idol an eighth-place finish. James Blunt's Back to Bedlam slips four spots to #9 with nearly 67,000 scans, while Andrea Bocelli's Amore falls three chart positions to #10 with 59,000 sales.

While Ne-Yo and Hawthorne Heights were clearly the new releases to keep an eye on this past week, the Billboard album sales chart has a number of fresh entries, including a fair share of live discs. Kid Rock's concert LP Live Trucker bows at #12 with 56,000-plus scans, while the latest from Hank Williams III, Straight to Hell, claims the #73 slot with over 14,000 sales. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band's Hammersmith Odeon, London '75 opens at #93 with close to 12,000 sales.

The latest from Old 97's frontman Rhett Miller, The Believer, scores the #138 spot, with week-one sales of nearly 8,000, and the new one from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's Bizzy Bone, Thugs Revenge, emerges at #168 with 6,000 scans. Elvis Costello teamed up with the Netherlands' Metropole Orkest for the live album My Flame Burns Blue, and cracks the chart at #188 with close to 6,000 sales, while Bayside's Acoustic live LP checks in at #200 with over 5,000 copies sold.