Even though Tim McGraw had his best sales week ever, his latest album didn’t move enough copies to dethrone Shania Twain’s “Up” from the top of either The Billboard 200 or the Top Country Albums tally. Twain’s Mercury set holds the No. 1 post on both charts for a second week after selling another 623,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Meanwhile, “Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors” (Curb) sold 602,000 copies and bows at No. 2 on both charts.
McGraw’s newest rocketed past his first-week numbers for “Set This Circus Down,” which debuted in May 2001 at No. 2 on The Billboard 200 on sales of 223,000 copies. To date, that album has sold more than 2 million copies. In the weeks preceding its release, “Dancehall Doctors” spawned “Red Rag Top,” a top-10 single on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks tally.
Increased retail traffic over the holiday weekend earned the Eminem-fueled soundtrack to “8 Mile” (Shady/Interscope) a 40% sales gain to 390,000 copies, and the set holds for another week at No. 3 on The Billboard 200. And even though the 11th edition of the “NOW That’s What I Call Music!” (Sony/Universal/EMI/Zomba) series saw a 19% increase to sales of 375,000 units, McGraw’s debut forces the compilation to slide two positions to No. 4 on the chart.
Arriving at No. 5 on sales of 366,000 copies is Tupac Shakur’s latest posthumous release “Better Dayz” (Interscope). While the album debuts No. 1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip Albums chart, “Better Dayz” fell short of the 427,000 first-week sales of last year’s “Until the End of Time,” which has sold nearly 2 million copies to date.
Jennifer Lopez’s latest, “This is Me … Then” (Epic), bows at No. 6 on The Billboard 200 after selling 314,000 copies. Released one week prior to the opening of her latest movie, “Maid in Manhattan,” the album’s sales were more than double that of the first-week tally of her “J to Tha L-O! The Remixes,” which debuted in February at No. 1 on the chart.
Faith Hill’s “Cry” (Warner Nashville) enjoyed a massive 155% sales explosion to 230,000 units following her Thanksgiving night NBC special. The former No. 1 album jumps 15-7 in its seventh week on The Billboard 200.
Paul McCartney’s “Back in the U.S. — Live 2002” (Capitol) lands the former Beatle back on the chart at No. 8 thanks to sales of 224,000 copies. While his recent studio album “Driving Rain” peaked at No. 26, “Back in the U.S.” looks to be a popular holiday gift, as McCartney’s recent tour was one of the biggest of the year, raking in $126.2 million in gross ticket sales.
Avril Lavigne’s “Let Go” (Arista) received a 99% sales increase to 224,000 copies and holds on at No. 9, while Christina Aguilera’s RCA set “Stripped” rounds out the top-10 on sales of 181,000 units, a 71% gain over last week.
Snoop Dogg’s latest, “Paid Tha Cost To Be Da Bo$$” (Priority), barks its way onto The Billboard 200 at No. 12 and No. 3 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums on sales of 174,000 copies. That first week total is a major decline from the 397,000 copies his “The Last Meal” moved in January 2001; to date that set has sold 1.98 million copies.
System Of A Down’s “Steal This Album” (American/Columbia) sold 166,000 copies in its first week to arrive at No. 15 on The Billboard 200. The feat is impressive considering that the album is a collection of reworked outtakes from the sessions for the band’s last studio set, “Toxicity,” which were leaked earlier this year on the Web. “Toxicity” debuted in September 2001 at No. 1 and has since sold 2.7 million copies.
“Dru World Order” (Def Soul), R&B act Dru Hill’s first new release in four years, sold 122,000 copies to debut at No. 21 on The Billboard 200, quite a bit below the No. 2 entry of the group’s last, “Enter the Dru,” in November 1998. In urban markets, “Dru World Order” performed exceptionally well, and enters at No. 2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
“Birdman,” the debut from Universal rapper Baby aka The #1 Stunna sold 108,000 copies to dock at No. 24 on The Billboard 200, while veteran hip-hop act the Roots debut at No. 28 with “Phrenology” (MCA).
Sum 41’s “Does This Look Infected” delivered the band’s best week with sales of 77,000 copies to put the young pop-punk act’s latest Island release onto The Billboard 200 at No. 32. In August 2001, the group’s “All Killer No Filler” moved 74,000 copies, which bumped the set to its peak of No. 13 in its 11th week on the chart.
Elsewhere on the tally, Barbra Streisand has a respectable entry at No. 38 with her Columbia set “Duets,” while rapper Busta Rhymes has his worst-ever debut at No. 43 with “It Ain’t Safe No More” (J Records). His last album, “Genesis,” arrived a year ago at No. 7 on the chart.