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Studdard album debuts at No. 1

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Alicia Keys
Josh Groban
Rod Stewart

LOS ANGELES, California (Billboard) -- Second-season "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard bowed atop the U.S. pop album charts with his debut, "Soulful," the only new release to make the top 10 in a week that featured much-hyped releases from such artists as Musiq, Westside Connection, Kelis and the Offspring.

"Soulful" (J Records) sold 416,500 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan data for the week ended December 14, and becomes the third "American Idol" -related album to open at No. 1.

But his 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 (1.8 million after 35 weeks).

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, nearly every album in the top 10 saw sales rise. The sole exception was last week's chart topper, "The Diary of Alicia Keys" (J). The set dropped to No. 2 on a 45 percent sales dip to 324,000 copies, bringing its 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 percent boost to 261,000 copies as it rose one place to No. 3; the six-week total now stands at 1.4 million.

Sales of Toby Keith's "Shock'n Y'all" (DreamWorks) rose 15 percent to 245,000 copies in its sixth week (1.6 million to-date), but the title fell two places to No. 4. Josh Groban's "Closer" also fell two places, to No. 5, on a 27 percent jump to 238,000 copies (five-week total 1.2 million).

OutKast's "Speakerboxx/The Love Below" (Arista) received a 21 percent boost to 215,000 copies, but dropped 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 six-place leap to No. 7, Rod Stewart rocketed 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 percent sales burst to 204,000 copies, bringing its eight-week haul to 1.11 million. The first installment in his series rose 14 places to No. 46.

Sales of "Metamorphosis," the Buena Vista debut from teen star Duff, rose nearly 31 percent to 201,000 copies, yet the album fell two places to No. 8. It has sold 1.65 million copies in 16 weeks.

"The Very Best of Sheryl Crow" (A&M) maintained its No. 9 post for the second week, with sales up 32 percent to 174,000 copies (836,000 in six weeks). Britney Spears' "In the Zone" (Jive) dropped three places to No. 10, although sales were up about 5 percent to 158,000 copies (1.15 million in four weeks).

With sales of 156,000 copies, R&B singer Musiq landed 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), entered 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 landed 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), arrived at No. 21 (116,000 copies sold).

With a No. 27 opening, Kelis scored 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 entered at No. 30 with its seventh album, "Splinter" (Columbia; 88,000 copies sold). Previous effort "Conspiracy of One" bowed at No. 9 with 125,000 copies in November 2000.

Other notable entries this week included 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).

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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