With two simultaneously released albums, Nelly pushes everyone out of his way on The Billboard 200 this week, taking over the chart’s top two slots. The St. Louis-based rapper’s “Suit” took No. 1 on U.S. sales of 396,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, while “Sweat” enters one slot back with 342,000.
Combining sales of both (737,000), the Derrty/Fo’ Reel/Universal sets narrowly surpass the opening of 2002 “Nellyville,” which bowed at No. 1 with sales of 714,000; it has sold 6.2 million to date.
Nelly is the first act to debut in the top two slots of both the big chart and Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, where “Suit” and “Sweat” bow at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. He also joins Guns N’ Roses, which is the only other act to debut simultaneously in The Billboard 200’s top two positions.
In 1991, GNR’s “Use Your Illusion II” bowed at No. 1 with 770,000 copies and “Use Your Illusion I” surfaced at No. 2 with 685,000. Together, the Geffen albums have sold 10.9 million units to date.
With Nelly taking the lion’s share of retail thunder, the rest of The Billboard 200’s top 10 entries experienced sales declines. Last week’s chart-topper, Alan Jackson’s “What I Do” (Arista Nashville), takes a 1-7 dive on a 60% fall to sales of 72,000 copies in its second week.
Fellow former country chart-topper Tim McGraw is experiencing a slower slide, as his latest Curb set “Live Like You Were Dying” falls 2-3 on a 21% drop to 121,000. Ray Charles’ “Genius Loves Company” (Concord/Hear Music) falls 3-4 on a 16% dip to 113,000 units.
The 16th installment of the “NOW That’s What I Call Music!” (Universal/EMI/Sony Music/Zomba) series holds at No. 5 for the third week as sales dropped 21% to 101,000. Ashlee Simpson is No. 6 for a third week with her Geffen debut “Autobiography,” even though sales fell 15% to 75,000 copies.
Despite falling sales, two acts manage see their albums rebound into the top tier this week. A 4% drop to 64,000 units still merits Maroon5 an 11-8 move with “Songs About Jane” (Octone/J), while Usher rises 12-10 with his LaFace/Zomba set “Confessions” as sales dipped 4% to 61,000 copies sold.
Following a smashing No. 4 debut last week, Anita Baker’s “My Everything” (Blue Note) drops to No. 9 on a 51% fall to 63,000 units.
Among the acts debuting in the top 50 this week is Megadeth, which enters at No. 18 with “The System Has Failed” (Sanctuary). Sales of 46,000 copies didn’t quite match those of the veteran metal group’s 2001 set “The World Needs a Hero,” which bowed at No. 16 on 61,000 copies; it has sold 214,000 to date.
Los Angeles-based Irish punk/pop act Flogging Molly grabs a career best showing on The Billboard 200 with “Within a Mile of Home” (Side One Dummy), which debuts at No. 20 on sales of 38,000 units. The album also takes the top slot on Billboard’s Top Independent Albums chart.
Bowling For Soup latest Jive set, “A Hangover You Don’t Deserve,” grabs a No. 37 opening on sales of 22,000 copies. The Wichita Falls, Texas-based rock act sold only 4,000 copies in the first week of 2002’s “Drunk Enough To Dance,” which didn’t appear on The Billboard 200 until seven months later when it peaked at No. 129; it has sold 280,000 units to date.
With its first album featuring original members Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith since 1989, Tears For Fears returns to The Billboard 200 with “Everybody Loves a Happy Ending.” The group’s inaugural set on the New Door label enters at No. 46 on sales of 20,000 copies.
The late Dean Martin has the chart’s greatest gainer as Capitol/EMI’s “Dino: The Essential Collection” saw a 25% rise to 13,000 units sold and is boosted 104-84. With album track “Lady” getting play in a series of Gap commercials, Lenny Kravitz’s “Baptism” (Virgin) saw gains of 31% to 10,000 copies and jumps 129-105 on the chart.
Overall U.S. album sales were up 2% to 10.4 million units, about 3% lower than the same week last year. Year-to-date sales are beating those of 2003 by about 7% with 442 million units.