Linkin Park stays No. 1 in 2nd term

Band's 'Meteora' sees 67% decline from debut week

Linkin Park remained record buyers’ destination of choice for a second consecutive week, pushing the rap-rock act’s sophomore disc, “Meteora,” into platinum territory and keeping former No. 1 50 Cent at bay in second place.

Riding a wave of radio and TV publicity, Linkin Park’s Warner Bros. release sold just under 265,000 copies in the latest session, according to data compiled by SoundScan. That’s a hefty 67% decline from its debut but still enough to push it to almost 1.1 million units.

Interscope’s hip-hop powerhouse 50 Cent actually rebounded two places to second with “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” despite a modest sales decline of 9% to 175,000 discs. Rapper switched places with Celine Dion, whose newest effort, “One Heart” (Epic), slipped to fourth as sales slumped 61%.

Detroit blues-rock duo the White Stripes powered to a sixth-place finish with their fourth disc, “Elephant.” Release, which builds on the Stripes’ boom in popularity after 2002’s “White Blood Cells,” scanned just under 126,000 copies.

I’ve got sales, babe

Just one spot lower was a new greatest-hits package from Cher (Warner Bros.). Selling 122,000 copies, it reaped the benefits of an extensive TV marketing campaign launched by Warner’s recently retooled special markets division. Singer could do even better next week after Tuesday’s NBC special documenting her farewell tour, which logged the best overall ratings in almost three years for its timeslot.

A bit further down, country crooner Chris Cagle claimed 15th with his self-titled sophomore release on Capitol Nashville, with sales of 42,000 units.

Meanwhile, U.K. pop star Robbie Williams continued his uphill struggle to break into the U.S. market, checking in at a modest 43rd place with his “Escapeology” (Virgin) on 21,000 in sales. Album bowed at No. 1 in Williams’ native country.

Hurt in Dixie

And the Dixie Chicks continued to feel the backlash from singer Natalie Maines’ comments about President Bush last month in London. Sales of their latest album, “Home,” slipped another 20% to 42,000 discs in the latest sesh.

Next week’s charts will likely have a new set of hard rockers at the top. Boston’s Godsmack is a contender to knock Linkin Park out of No. 1 with its fifth release, “Faceless” (Universal). Also on deck is new material from R&B heartthrob Ginuwine.

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