All you need to know about this week's pop charts? To paraphrase the Buggles: Now hits killed the Radiohead star
After several weeks of sluggish sales, capped by last week's dubious milestone of having the worst selling number one debut in the SoundScan era, music sales made like the mercury and went way up, led by Now That's What I Call Music! Vol. 22, which crashed the charts ahead of solo albums by Radiohead's Thom Yorke and UGK's Pimp C.
The latest installment in the pop hits series sold 398,000 copies to easily stake out the top slot for the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen SoundScan, finishing more than 300,000 ahead of the runner-up, Yorke's The Eraser.
This marks the biggest first-week sales since the Dixie Chicks' Taking the Long Way sold more than 500,000 back in May. It's also more than four times as many copies as Johnny Cash's American V: A Hundred Highways sold last week for its chart-topping berth (Cash's disc dropped to six this week).
Featuring hit tracks by Daniel Powter, Kelly Clarkson, KT Tunstall, Three 6 Mafia, Nick Lachey and Rihanna, among others, Now! 22 outperformed its predecessor, which opened with 334,000 copies in April at number two. Both Now! 19 and 20 opened in the top spot in 2005.
Though not offering much competition for the top spot, Yorke claimed second place on sales of 90,000 of his debut solo effort, The Eraser (which has been dubbed Kid B by some music wags).
Proving that it's not always hard out there for a pimp, Pimp C hustled his way to number three as Pimpalation sold 87,000. The Texas rapper, one-half the veteran duo UGK with Bun-B, is better known to mainstream fans for appearing on Jay-Z's "Big Pimpin' " and T.I.'s recent UGK remake "Front Back."
Muse scored the fourth and final Top 10 entry at nine. The U.K. band's latest, Black Holes and Revelations, sold 48,000.
The rest of Top 10 were holdovers: Nelly Furtado's Loose at four, Gnarls Barkley's St. Elsewhere at five, the High School Musical soundtrack at seven, Rascal Flatts' Me & My Gang at eight and Rihanna's Girl Like Me at 10.
The Dixie Chicks' Taking the Long Way, which never dropped below number four in its first seven weeks, fell seven spots to 11. Still, the disc has been one of the year's top performers, selling nearly 1.4 million copies so far.
Cheyenne Kimball, MTV's latest teen reality star, opened at number 15, selling 40,000 copies of The Day Has Come, which features the hit single "Hanging On."
Also making strong showings: Diplomats' rapper JR Writer's History in the Making at number 25 with 29,000 and Early November's triple-disc The Mother, the Mechanic & the Path at 31 with 26,000 copies.
Other noteworthy debuts included Seether's One Cold Night at 50, Rhymefest's Blue Collar at 61, Sufjan Stevens' The Avalanche: Outtakes & Extras From the Illinois Album! at 71, All That Remains' Fall of Ideals at 75 and Format's Dog Problems at 84.
Finally, as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest continued to make a booty call at the box office, the soundtrack remained solid on the charts, climbing to number 22 with sales of 30,000.
Total CD sales were up 3 percent from the week previous yet down 9 percent from the same week last year. Overall, sales for 2006 are still off the 2005 pace by 5 percent.
Here's a recap of the Top 10 albums:
1. Now That's What I Call Music! Vol. 22, various
2. The Eraser, Thom Yorke
3. Pimpalation, Pimp C
4. Loose, Nelly Furtado
5. St. Elsewhere, Gnarls Barkley
6. American V: A Hundred Highways, Johnny Cash
7. High School Musical soundtrack, various
8. Me & My Gang, Rascal Flatts
9. Black Holes and Revelations, Muse
10. Girl Like Me, Rihanna