'Idol' Fever, Playoff Appearance Help Daughtry Finally Get To #1

After nine weeks on the charts, rocker's LP squeaks past 'Dreamgirls.'

Sometimes, it doesn't matter how you get somewhere, as long as you get there. Just ask Chris Daughtry, the fourth-place finalist on the fifth season of Fox's "American Idol."

It may have taken two months, but the chrome-domed singer and the eponymous rock group he fronts have finally made it to the top of the Billboard albums chart. With 65,400 copies sold during the album's ninth week in stores, Daughtry ended the two-week reign of the "Dreamgirls" soundtrack, which features musical contributions from the film's stars, Beyoncé Knowles, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy.

It was a close contest: Daughtry outsold "Dreamgirls" by a mere 134 copies, according to the latest SoundScan totals, quite possibly assisted by Daughtry's performance of the national anthem before the playoff game between the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints on January 21.

Daughtry's feat also marks a first in "American Idol" history, as he becomes the first of the show's contestants to take the chart's #1 spot not in the two weeks immediately following his album's release. After debuting at #2 with 259,000 sold nine weeks ago, his album has fallen out of top 10 just once, when it finished at #11 four weeks ago.

To put things in perspective, album sales are currently at a low ebb: With just over 60,000 copies sold, "Dreamgirls" shattered a three-year-old record last week, becoming the chart's lowest-selling #1 album since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales figures in 1991. However, things were slightly better this week: For the first time this year, overall Top 200 sales exceeded the previous week's total; sales were up by approximately 21,000 units.

Following "Dreamgirls" at #3 on the new chart is the "Jump In!" soundtrack, which accompanies the made-for-TV movie that debuted on the Disney Channel earlier this month and features "High School Musical" star Corbin Bleu. At #4, British singer Corinne Bailey Rae's self-titled LP enters Billboard's top 10 for the first time -- after some 31 weeks on the chart -- climbing 28 positions on 55,000 scans. Sales of the disc -- which has been nominated for three Grammys, including Record of the Year and Best New Artist -- soared 155 percent in the wake of Rae's January 16 appearance on "Oprah."

Akon's Konvicted slips three spots to #5 on 51,600 sales, as Justin Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds also slides, ending up at #6 on 42,000 copies sold. Now That's What I Call Music! 23, featuring tracks from Timberlake, Fergie, Snoop Dogg, Christina Aguilera and others, holds at #7 with nearly 36,000 copies sold, and Nickelback's All the Right Reasons ascends two spots to #8 with 35,400 scans. Carrie Underwood's Some Hearts returns to the top 10 at #9, followed by Beyoncé's B'Day, with nearly 33,000 sales.

Just six new releases debut on the new chart -- nearly all of them from long-established artists if not archival releases. At #32 is Diana Ross' latest, I Love You, selling 21,200 copies. Frank Sinatra's Romance: Songs From the Heart enters at #36 with 19,000 scans, and Al Green's Definitive Greatest Hits follows at #46 with sales of 16,000.

America's Here and Now opens at #52 with 14,400 sold, while the soundtrack to "Daddy's Little Girl," which boasts tracks by R. Kelly, Brian McKnight, Anthony Hamilton and others, debuts at #72 with sales of 11,000. Thrivemix 03, a collection compiled by DJ Skribble and Vic Latino, finishes at #101 with 7,800 scans.