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This one’s too close to call, but give the early odds to the dude in the hat rather than the dude with the tatts.
ONE-DAY SALES: CHESNEY ESTABLISHES A BEACHHEAD
Atypical LP From Country Star Beats the Odds, but Does It Put Him Ahead of The Game?
Industry experts didn’t expect blockbuster sales this time out from BNA country superstar Kenny Chesney, reason being his latest release, Be As You Are: Songs From a Blue Chair, is a laid-back song cycle about chillin’ on some Caribbean beach and isn’t driven by an up-front radio hit. Well, folks, once again, the experts were wrong, according to early reports from national accounts.

Coming up fast on the outside, Chesney is running neck and neck with The Game, whose G-Unit/Aftermath/Interscope bow, The Documentary, moved a whopping 611k in its first week. If the patterns hold, The Game will drop around 50%, putting him in the 300k neighborhood, which is the number we’re projecting for Chesney. This one’s too close to call, but give the early odds to the dude in the hat rather than the dude with the tatts.

The same odd couple could very well be duking it out for the top the following week as well, considering that the biggest release streeting next Tuesday (2/1) is Hip-O/UME’s Motley Crue. The venerable L.A. hair band could finish in the 100k range, but that won’t put them in the game (so to speak) with KC or TG.

Be As You Are is in the hunt for #1 despite the fact the album is a change of pace from Chesney's usual style, a personal record that doesn’t have the normal gargantuan airplay-driven single. His previous album, When the Sun Goes Down, returns to the Top 50 this week at #44.

By the way, you can thank the second-gen gangsta rapper, multiple-gunshot-wound survivor and mugger of DJs (see Rumor Mill, 1/25p) for bailing out the market this week. The Game’s 600k-plus tally brought the week’s sales within .7% of last week’s, although it fell 6.9%—or 700k—short of the same week in ’04. Nearly a month into the new year, sales are off a troubling 16% (that’s nearly 6 million units) from the same period last year.    

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