Norah Jones recorded a phenomenal follow-up record and the word of mouth was just astonishing. The sales just kept building throughout the week. I can’t remember the last record that had a sales curve like this one. Nothing but up."
——Kevin Hawkins, Tower

HOME RUN!!

Roc-A-Fella’s Kanye West Debuts at #2, But It’s All About Blue Note’s Norah Jones at the Top, as She Shatters the Million Mark
A million Norah Jones fans can’t be wrong.

That’s the number of buyers who plunked down good money for the Blue Note chanteuse’s Feels Like Home album, which debuted at #1 in a week that was up 20%, thanks to Jones, the Grammys and Valentine’s Day. It’s the highest first-week total for a female artist since Britney SpearsOops I Did It Again notched 1.3 million on its first week of release May 16, 2000.

Tower Records' Kevin Hawkins, who used his abacus to tally the totals, was blown away: "Just astounding. Norah Jones recorded a phenomenal follow-up record and the word of mouth was just astonishing. The sales just kept building throughout the week. I can’t remember the last record that had a sales curve like this one. Nothing but up."

In addition, Jones’ debut effort, Come Away With Me, stormed back into the Top 20 at #18, with a 100% sales boost.

The new album was particularly boosted by VH1 exposure, which has had the first single, "Sunrise," in a Gung Ho rotation of 50 spins a week, world-premiering the video at the beginning of the month. A "Hear Music First" promotion allowed VH1.com fans to stream the whole record the week before release and pre-purchase the album.

Roc-A-Fella/IDJ producer-turned-rap star Kanye West proved no slouch, as his College Dropout bowed at #2, with almost 450k in first-week sales.

Added Hawkins: "Kanye West also had a huge week that would have been a #1 debut in almost any other week of the year."

Last week’s #1, BNA/RLG’s Kenny Chesney, was #3, while Arista Grammy darlings OutKast reaped the benefits of their ubiquity, with a 177% rise and a #4 finish.

The rest of the Top 10 was rounded out by Columbia/CRG’s Harry Connick Jr. (#5, +67%), 143/Reprise crooner Josh Groban (#6, +34%), Wind-up Best New Artist winners Evanscence (#7, +90%), Atlantic/Atl G’s Twista (#8), Epic/Immortal’s Incubus (#9) and A&M/Interscope’s Sheryl Crow (#10, +38%).

In all, a total of 13 titles topped 100k.

Other chart newcomers included Island/IDJ’s Melissa Etheridge (#14), Elektra/EEG rockers Damageplan (#37), Capitol’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy ST (#41) and Kylie Minogue (#42).

Besides OutKast, Grammy exposure also helped boost a number of other titles to three-digit weekly sales gains, including BMG Entertainment’s 2004 Grammy Nominees (#11, +103%), Columbia/CRG’s Beyonce (#12, +115%), Motown/Universal’s Michael McDonald (#13, +177), J Records’ Luther Vandross (#33) and V2’s White Stripes (#43).

In addition, J RecordsRod Stewart (#32, +82%) and RCA’s Clay Aiken (#44, +86%) profited from both Valentine’s Day, a spillover from Jones fans and, in Aiken’s case, the new season of American Idol.

Concluded Hawkins: "It was a fabulous week of sales. This year, it feels like the Grammy Awards had a positive effect on more titles than ever before. Couple that with Valentine’s Day falling on a Saturday, and you had the perfect storm. It was almost good enough for me to miss this week's episode of My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance."

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