‘Idol’s’ Clarkson bows in top spot

50 Cent moves 246,000 units to place second

NEW YORK — Silencing any lingering doubts about TV’s ability to fabricate a pop star, American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson rocketed to the top of the album chart this week, backed by a wave of publicity on the small screen.

“Idol” devotees snapped up more than 298,000 copies of the Texas-born singer’s debut disc, “Thankful” (RCA), according to SoundScan data. Perf marks one of the first major successes for the RCA Music Group under its topper, Clive Davis, who took over in November.

“Thankful” — which had been delayed to accommodate an “American Idol” tour with runner-up Justin Guarini over the past several months — got a big boost from endless promo spots on the second season of the show, which bowed in January on Fox.

50 Cent second

Clarkson also dashed any hopes of rap juggernaut 50 Cent logging his second No. 1 bow in as many months with the CD/DVD combo release “New Breed” (Interscope). The two-disc set, which includes tracks from his studio set “Get Rich Or Die Tryin,’ ” as well as new material and unreleased video, bowed in second place on still-healthy sales of 246,000 units.

Just a spot down are 1970s rock icons Fleetwood Mac, who logged a strong debut with “Say You Will” (Warner Bros.). Hitting the chart in third, “Say” posted first-week sales of just under 218,000 records.

Raising eyebrows was the performance of hyper-patriotic country crooner Darryl Worley. The Tennessee-born singer’s third effort “Have You Forgotten” (DreamWorks) scanned 213,000 copies, as the pro-war-themed title track shot up the country-radio rankings.

Sales up

In a strong week for sales overall, a number of top releases that were bumped from their spots in the top five nevertheless managed to boost sales week-to-week. Among them were 50 Cent’s “Get Rich,” which dropped to five from three but increased sales by 30%, and the “Now 12” compilation (Capitol), which fell to seven from four even as sales rose 34%.

In fact, all but 10 of the non-debut releases in the top 50 this week logged sales increases over their performances in the prior frame.

Party favorite Jimmy Buffett managed a Top 10 bow with his greatest-hits compilation “Meet Me In Margaritaville.” The MCA Records disc landed in ninth place, racking up more than 127,000 scans in its first session.

A bit further down the ranks were “Day I Forgot” (Columbia) from songwriter Pete Yorn at 18 with 73,000 units sold, “Now” (DreamWorks) by Jessica Andrews at 34 (42,000 copies), and a best-of collection (Mercury Nashville) from Toby Keith at 45, selling 32,000 discs.

Next week’s charts will see the debut of Madonna’s latest full-length, “American Life” (Warner Bros.). Album, which recently appeared in MP3 format on the singer’s Web site thanks to a disgruntled hacker, is a major contender for the top spot in the next sesh.

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