Norah Jones bows atop The Billboard 200 with the largest opening week in more than two years. The singer’s Blue Note album “Feels Like Home” sold an incredible 1.02 million units in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, scoring the best opening week since ‘N Sync’s “Celebrity” (Jive) sold 1.88 million in 2001. Additionally, “Feels Like Home” registers the second-best SoundScan week ever by a female artist.
Britney Spears is the only woman to sell more albums in one week. Her second effort, “Oops … I Did It Again” (Jive), arrived with 1.32 million back in 2000. “Feels Like Home” gives Jones her second No. 1 on The Billboard 200. Her debut, “Come Away With Me,” has sold 8 million copies since its release in 2002.
Yet the latest from Jones wasn’t the only title that Valentine’s Day shoppers were eager to purchase. Chicago-bred hip-hop artist Kanye West may be a distant second to Jones, but he still sold a mighty 440,000 copies of his long-awaited debut, “The College Dropout” (Roc-A-Fella). The album’s “Slow Jamz,” which features Twista and Jamie Foxx, and also appears on Twista’s Atlantic album “Kamikaze,” went to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 last week. While this is his first album, West is no newcomer, as he’s produced such hits as Jay-Z’s “03 Bonnie & Clyde” and Alicia Keys’ “You Don’t Know My Name.”
With retail traffic increased last week due to Valentine’s Day and the Feb. 8 telecast of the Grammy Awards, overall U.S. album sales exceeded 17 million units. It’s the biggest week ever registered outside of November or December — when sales are inflated due to the holiday season — since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991. Sales are up 35.9% from last week, and up 24.6% from the comparable week last year. The top-11 albums on the chart this week each top 100,000 copies, bringing year-to-date sales up to 13% more than the comparable period in 2003.
Last week’s chart-topper, Kenny Chesney’s “When the Sun Goes Down” (BNA), falls to No. 3 on a relatively light sophomore week drop. Sales are down 36% to 350,000 copies, giving the country star a two-week total of 900,000 copies. The album leads Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart for the second straight week.
OutKast’s double-CD “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” (Arista) cashes in on its album of the year win at the Grammys. Sales of the set more than double, up 147% to 275,000 copies. The boost gives the release a 6-4 jump in its 21st week on the chart.
Josh Groban’s “Closer” (Reprise) falls one slot to No. 5 despite a 34% sales increase to 231,000 copies. Valentine’s Day was kind to Harry Connick Jr., as his latest betters its first-week total. His “Only You” (Columbia) drifts one position to No. 6, yet sales are up 58% to 220,000 copies, giving him a two-week total of 360,000 copies.
Fresh from its best new artist Grammy win, Evanescence earns an 82% sales burst for its Wind-Up debut “Fallen.” The album sells 183,000 copies in its 50th week on the chart, and the set holds its No. 7 position.
Twista’s “Kamikaze” falls 3-8, suffering a small 12% sales dip to 151,000 copies. This brings his to-date total to 637,000 copies.
“A Crow Left of the Murder” from rock act Incubus slides 2-9, suffering a 62% dip to 125,000 copies. In two weeks, the album has sold 456,000 copies.
The “2004 Grammy Nominees” compilation album, released by BMG Strategic Marketing, is up 13-10 on an 85% sales gain to 120,000 copies. Other albums that enjoy a major benefit from the Grammy telecast include Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love” (Columbia), which moves 23-12 on a 101% gain to 99,000 copies, Coldplay’s “A Rush of Blood to the Head” (Capitol), which moves 47-40 on a 71% gain to 44,000 copies, and the White Strips’ “Elephant” (V2), which rockets 105-44 on a 206% gain to 41,000 copies.
A number of notable albums have their debut on this week’s chart. Melissa Etheridge’s “Lucky” (Island) lands at No. 15 with 92,000 copies, damageplan’s “New Found Power” (Elektra) arrives at No. 38 with 45,000 copies, the Capitol soundtrack to “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” enters at No. 39 with 45,000 copies, Kylie Minogue’s “Body Language” (Capitol) bows at No. 42 with 43,000 copies, Drag-On’s “Hell and Back” (Virgin) bows at No. 47 with 37,000 copies and Courtney Love’s “America’s Sweetheart” (Virgin) enters at No. 53 with 33,000 copies.