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American Idol Season 2: All-Time Classic American Love Songs (RCA) makes its debut at #3 this week, joining Idol alumna Kelly Clarkson (also RCA), who is back up to #2.

IDOL BOAST!

With Two of the Top Three Albums, Simon Fuller and RCA Score Big
If you thought the mass audience would be sick of this whole American Idol thing by now, you were wrong, bunky. Oh, it’ll go away eventually, like every other transient fad in pop culture from hula hoops to pet rocks, but for now, the franchise has a stranglehold on the tube and this week’s HITS album sales chart.

American Idol Season 2: All-Time Classic American Love Songs (RCA) makes its debut at #3 this week, joining Idol alumna Kelly Clarkson (also RCA), who is back up to #2. Both trail Shady/Aftermath/Interscope’s 50 Cent, who returns to the top spot, but then, Fitty is a franchise of his own—we can hardly wait to read his book. What’s next? 50 Cent lunch boxes? His DVD + CD combo came in at #25, by the way.

Virgin Entertainment Group’s Jerry Suarez was obviously impressed: "American Idol is a true phenomenon. Whatever Randy Jackson says goes in my stores. The Clarkson album continues to sell, the compilation got off to a wild start and I’ve decided to celebrate the release of the new Justin Guarini by adopting his ’fro. The only thing I’m missing is Simon Cowell’s Greatest Insults collection."

But what Simon Fuller hath wrought isn’t the only story this week. There’s the enduring appeal of Cher, whose WSM best-of holds at #5, and the continued strength of a newer household name, Blue Note’s Norah Jones, right behind the grand dame at #6 (on a 9% sales increase).

There’s also the latest rock resurgence, powered by Wind-up coed band Evanescence (#4, + 7%), Warner Bros.Linkin Park (#7) and V2’s White Stripes, who moved another 50k while holding at #16. Better get used to that red and white color scheme, cuz Jack & Meg are gonna be around for some time to come.

And let’s not forget Disney's Lizzie McGuire soundtrack, which goes #18-9 on a 45% jump, showing comparable momentum to the Mighty Ducks. This is one franchise Disney probably shouldn’t sell.

Rounding out the Top 10 are dueling divas Madonna (WB) at #9 and Celine Dion (Epic), who is apparently making money as fast in Vegas as hubby Rene Angeli can lose at the blackjack tables.

Also making their initial splashes are Arista’s Bone Crusher (#13), Elektra/EEG’s Lil’ Mo (#15), Def Soul/IDJ’s Kelly Price (#20), Rhino’s Best of the Monkees (#46) and Next week, look for big debuts from Maverick’s Matrix Reloaded and Universal’s Jack Johnson.

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