By David Jenison
Britney Spears lived up to her album’s billing. Michael Jackson did not.
Spears was definitely In the Zone–and in the record books–as her latest debuted atop the album chart. Jackson, meanwhile, capped a week in which he was arrested on child-molestation charges with his Number Ones falling way short of number one.
More on the former King of Pop in a bit; first, let’s talk about the reigning pop princess. With In the Zone opening at number one, Spears became the first female artist in chart history to land four straight albums in the top slot. Considering she’s only released four albums, Spears currently boasts a perfect record. No wonder Madonna gave her such a big smooch!
With 609,000 copies sold last week, per Nielsen SoundScan, Zone scored the best first-week sales for a female artist so far this year. Britney’s latest is behind only 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (872,000 copies) and Clay Aiken’s Measure of a Man (613,000 copies) for 2003’s biggest debut weeks. Even more impressive, Zone tallied the fifth-best week ever for a female artist and gives Spears three of the top five spots, including the current record holder, 2000’s Oops! I Did It Again with 1.3 million.
In the Zone also debuted at number one in France, Korea, Mexico and Argentina and registered Top 10 bows in Germany, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Japan, Austria, Holland, Switzerland and Ireland. The singer’s next world tour kicks off in March.
Though offering no competition for the top spot, Blink-182’s eponymous disc opened at three with 313,000. The new disc, featuring the lead single “Feeling This,” comes with six new videos on a bonus DVD. Following at number five with 280,000 copies was the Beatles’ Let It Be…Naked, a rerelease of the 1970 original minus Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound production.
Last week’s top release, Jay-Z’s The Black Album, slipped to number four, while the 50 Cent-led G-Unit crew climbed to number two with Beg for Mercy.
The rest of the Top 10 were holdovers: Josh Groban Closer at six, Tupac: Resurrection at seven, Now That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 14 at eight, Toby Keith Shock’n Y’All at nine and OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in the 10 spot.
Jackson, meanwhile, didn’t even sniff the Top 10. Released November 18, the same day Santa Barbara officials searched Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, Number Ones moved 121,000 copies to open at 13. The greatest-hits collection, likely to be Jackson’s final release on Epic Records, contains just one new track, “One More Chance,” written by R. Kelly (himself the target of kiddie porn charges in Illinois and Florida), which has been languishing on the singles charts.
The sales don’t even come close to Jackson’s underperforming Invincible, which debuted at number one in 2001 with 366,000 and has sold about 2 million total since, a fraction of what Jackson did in his Thriller days. Jackson’s previous greatest-hits collection, HIStory, debuted at number one in 1995.
Checking in behind Jackson was the Dave Matthews Band’s three-disc Central Park Concert. Recorded last September, the disc sold 111,000 copies at 14. Korn’s Take a Look in the Mirror, which encountered major difficulties getting to stores in time after upping the release date to last Friday, got creamed, only selling 96,000 copies to open at 19.
Other albums making a serious sales dent included the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Greatest Hits at 21, Bad Boy’s 112’s Hot and Wet at 22, Linkin Park’s Live in Texas at 23, LeAnn Rimes’ Greatest Hits at 24 and Reba McEntire Room to Breathe at 25.
Further down the charts, Cyndi Lauper covers album, At Last, landed at 38; Tori Amos’ retrospective Tales of a Librarian came in at 40; Timbaland & Magoo’s Under Construction Part II debuted at 50; and Al Green back-to-soul album I Can’t Stop bowed at 53.
Two new Christmas albums also cracked the charts. Whitney Houston One Wish: The Holiday Album, featuring new takes on “Little Drummer Boy” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” debuted at 58. Meanwhile, Ashanti’s Christmas, which covers holiday classics like “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World,” only managed a 167 debut.
Here’s a recap of the Top 10 albums for the week ended Sunday:
1. In the Zone, Britney Spears
2. Beg for Mercy, G-Unit
3. Blink-182, Blink-182
4. The Black Album, Jay-Z
5. Let It Be…Naked, the Beatles
6. Closer, Josh Groban
7. Tupac: Resurrection, 2Pac
8. Now That’s What I Call Music! Vol. 14, various
9. Shock’n Y’All, Toby Keith
10. Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, OutKast