The chart-topping debut was System’s second; Toxicity hit #1 in September 2002 on 220k, less than half the new album’s total—which shows how big the band has become as the decade reaches its halfway point.

YOU CAN’T BEAT THE SYSTEM

System of a Down Flexes Muscles, Seizes #1
Rock continues to dominate the upper reaches of the HITS Top 50 Albums chart, as radical rockers System of a Down blazed out of the starting blocks and gathered momentum through the weekend with their hotly anticipated fourth album, Mezmerize (Columbia), which easily wrested the #1 position on the strength of 465k units.

The chart-topping debut was System’s second; Toxicity hit #1 in September 2001 on 222k, less than half the new album’s total—which shows how big the band has become as the decade reaches its halfway point. And let’s not forget that Mezmerize is the first of two SOAD albums to be released this year. Columbia will release the sequel, Hypnotize, which the band considers Disc Two of a staggered double album, in the fall.

Country firebrand Toby Keith was a distant second, as his DreamWorks Nashville release, Honkeytonk University, tallied 271k, a number that would’ve been enough for the top spot in a typical week during this time of diminished expectations. Keith led an overall surge of country acts in the wake of last week’s Academy of Country Music Awards (of course, Kenny Chesney had a little more going for him

Also bowing in the Top 10 was Motown/Universal’s Kem, a jazz-tinged R&B crossover rookie, who came out of nowhere to nab the #5 position, moving 84k units. The latest volume of the RCA/RMG American Idol franchise, Season 4, also broke 80k and wound up at #7. The fourth and final Top 10 debut was Def Leppard’s best-of (Island/IDJ), which edged out Nothing/Interscope’s Nine Inch Nails by 4,000 units to take the #10 slot after racking up 64k.

The Mariah Carey comeback continues to pick up steam, as her Island/IDJ album The Emancipation of Mimi holds steady in both weekly sales (171k) and chart position (#3). This is a story that won’t go away.

Last week’s chart-topper, the Dave Matthews Band (RCA/RMG), stays in the Top 10 at #4, dropping 66% on 163k, as does last week’s #2 finisher, Weezer (Geffen), which slips to #9 while notching another 79k.

Guess who else is in the Top 10? That would Interscope power hitters Gwen Stefani at #6 and 50 Cent at #8.

Next week, System will battle with Audioslave and Common for #1, with debuting Gorillaz looking to surpass 100k.

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