Studdard Takes 'Soulful' To No. 1

Second-season "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard bows atop The Billboard 200 with his J Records debut, "Soulful." The album sold 416,500 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, to becom

Second-season "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard bows atop The Billboard 200 with his J Records debut, "Soulful." The album sold 416,500 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, to become the third "American Idol" -related album to open at No. 1.

In a week that featured much-hyped releases from such artists as Musiq, Westside Connection, Kelis and the Offspring, the television-bred Studdard owns the only top-10 debut. And, despite rising sales, albums by Toby Keith, Josh Groban, OutKast, Hilary Duff and Britney Spears all slip a little this week on the chart.

Studdard's solid numbers failed to top the first-week sales of runner-up Clay Aiken's RCA debut, "Measure of a Man." Aiken's set opened with 613,000 copies and has sold 1.7 million in nine weeks. In May, inaugural "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson's debut, "Thankful" (RCA) bowed at No. 1 with sales of 297,000 copies.

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, nearly every album in the top-10 saw sales rise. The sole exception is last week's chart topper, "The Diary of Alicia Keys" (J). The set drops to No. 2 on a 45% sales dip to 324,000 copies, which brings the set's two-week total to 961,000 copies.

The 14th volume in the "NOW That's What I Call Music!" series (Universal/EMI/Zomba/Sony) saw a 40% boost to sales of 261,000 copies. The gain sends the compilation album up 4-3, and gives it a to-date sales total of 1.4 million.

Sales of Keith's "Shock'n Y'all" (DreamWorks) rose 15% to 245,000 copies (1.6 million to-date), but the title falls 2-4. Groban's "Closer" drops 3-5 this week on a 27% jump to 238,000 copies.

OutKast's "Speakerboxx/The Love Below" (Arista) received a 21% boost to 215,000 copies, but drops one position to No. 6. The two-CD set, fueled by hit singles "Hey Ya!" and "The Way You Move" featuring Sleepy Brown, has sold 2.36 million units in 12 weeks of release.

With a 13-7 leap, Rod Stewart rockets back into the top-10 with "As Time Goes By: The Great American Song Book Vol. II." In a week of many media appearances for Stewart -- including "Good Morning America!" and "The Late Show With David Letterman" -- the J Records set saw an 84% sales burst to 204,000 copies, bringing its to-date sales to 1.11 million.

Sales of "Metamorphosis," the Buena Vista debut from teen star Duff, were up nearly 31% to 201,000 copies, yet the album falls 6-8. In 16 weeks, the set has sold 1.65 million copies.

"The Very Best of Sheryl Crow" (A&M) maintains its No. 9 post for the second week, with sales up 32% to 174,000 copies (836,000 to-date). Spears' "In the Zone" (Jive) drops from No. 7 to round out the top-10, although sales were up about 5% to 158,000 copies (1.15 million to-date).

With sales of 156,000 copies, R&B singer Musiq lands at No. 13 with his latest, "soulstar" (Def Jam). His 2002 album "juslisen" opened at No. 1 on 260,000 copies.

The second Westside Connection album, "Terrorist Threats" (Priority), enters at No. 16 with sales of 136,000 copies. The gangsta rap supergroup, featuring Ice Cube, Mack 10 and WC, made its entrance in 1996 with "Bow Down," an album that arrived at No. 2 with 145,000 copies.

R&B vocalist Avant lands at No. 18 with "Private Room" (Geffen; 128,000 copies sold), while the latest from hip-hop act Big Tymers, "Big Money Heavyweights" (Cash Money/Universal), arrives at No. 21 (116,000 copies sold).

With a No. 27 opening, Kelis scores the best chart week of her career with "Tasty" (Star Trak/Arista). Featuring hit single "Milkshake," the third album from the Neptunes-bred R&B vocalist sold 93,600 copies. Her 2002 debut for Virgin Records, "Kaleidoscope," peaked at No. 144 and has sold 233,000 copies to date. Her follow-up, "Wanderland," was not given an official U.S. release.

Pop-punk act the Offspring enters at No. 30 with its seventh album, "Splinter" (Columbia; 88,000 copies sold).

Other notable entries this week include the second effort from Hoobastank, "The Reason" (Island; No. 45), Nick Cannon's self-titled Jive album (No. 83) and the self-titled debut from Fefe Dobson (No. 111).

The Billboard 200 and all of Billboard's charts dated Dec. 27, 2003, will be posted tomorrow (Dec. 18) on