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“It’s amazing to see someone of Bruce’s legendary stature be able to top the charts with an acoustic album."
——Tower's Kevin Hawkins
BEAUTY AND THE BOSS
Bruce Nips Onetime Labelmate Mariah by a Nose, As Valentino and Amerie Bow in Top 5
 He’s The Boss at retail this week, but just barely. Bruce Springsteen, who appeared to have smooth sailing to the top of the album chart this week with his Devils & Dust (Columbia/CRG), did wind up #1, but only after withstanding a furious rally from a surging Mariah Carey.

Springsteen did 203k and change—a testament to his continuing clout considering that the album (released exclusively on DualDisc) is a stripped-down affair. But Carey hung so close to her former labelmate that we were unable to call a winner until the chart closed Tuesday afternoon. The diva’s comeback opus, The Emancipation of Mimi (Island/IDJ), is showing real staying power in its third week, finishing at 199k, a drop of only 9%, buoyed by a well-timed appearance last week on ABC's daytime female magnet The View.

“It’s amazing to see someone of Bruce’s legendary stature be able to top the charts with an acoustic album,” marveled Tower’s Kevin Hawkins, gunning his Harley. “Just awesome. And Mariah is showing some real staying power.”

Another IDJ act, DTP/Def Jam Crossover rookie Bobby Valentino, debuted at an impressive #3 with his self-titled album. The 2-3 finish is yet another indication that IDJ ruler L.A. Reid is really starting to assert himself just over a year into his reign.

And how about Columbia, which landed three albums in the Top 10? Amerie (Sony Urban/Columbia/CRG) bowed at #5 on 128k units, and Italian “popera” group Il Divo secured the #10 spot on 68k in its second week at retail. The label’s strong showing gives it some momentum leading up to the 5/17 release of System of a Down.

Hanging around at #4 is Rob Thomas (Atlantic), whose 140k total reflects a less-than-typical drop of 43%.

Nashville accounts for the fourth and final Top 10 debut, from Curb’s Jo Dee Messina, who finished #7 on 96k shiny hotcakes.

The market was up a touch for the week, and next week looks promising as well, with Nine Inch Nails (Interscope), Fall Out Boy (Island/IDJ) and a Star Wars soundtrack (Columbia Masterworks/CRG) that’s already generating surprising action.

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