Ludacris, U Music top sales chart

Universal nabs five slots of chart bests

Rapper Ludacris took the top spot on the nation’s album sales chart for the week ended Sunday, guiding Universal Music into five of the top six slots as U2 held onto No. 2 and Lindsay Lohan’s “Speak” debuted at No. 4.

Ludacris’ fourth album, “The Red Light District” (Island Def Jam/Disturbing Tha Peace) sold 322,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Album sales are being driven by single “Get Back.”

U2’s “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” (Interscope) slipped by only 8,000 copies sold to 280,000, besting labelmate Eminem’s “Encore” by 7,000.

Lohan’s debut disc “Speak” (Casablanca) sold 261,000. Release is the first for the disco-era imprint revived by Tommy Mottola. Lohan, who has sung in several of her films, was signed to the label in July.

There were only four other debuts in the top 200. Mario’s “Turning Point” (J Records) came in at No. 13 on sales of 161,000; Cam’ron’s “Purple Haze” (Def Jam) sold 123,000 to land at No. 20; “American Idol” finalist Diana DeGarmo’s “Blue Skies” (RCA) selling 47,000 to take No. 52; and Capitol’s Dean Martin compilation, “Christmas with Dino,” sold 11,000, good for No. 193.

Announcement of Grammy nominations last week benefited Green Day the most: Band’s Reprise disc “American Idiot” nearly doubled in sales, shooting to No. 15 from No. 26 on sales of 147,000.

Other albums benefiting from the Grammy noms were Usher’s “Confessions,” up 31,000 to 167,000; Ray Charles’ “Genius Loves Company” (Hear Music/Concord), up 30,000 to 116,000; and Gretchen Wilson’s “Here for the Party” (Epic), also up 30,000, to 110,000. Top nomination-getter Kanye West saw his “College Dropout” (Def Jam) return to the chart, hitting No. 153 on sales of 13,000.

The slide in overall U.S. album sales continues: This week was off by 11% from the same week last year. Sales for the year now are beating 2003 by only 2%, or 605 million units.

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