War is over on the nation's pop album chart, and it's the beginning of a happy new year for the Beatles, who commandingly held onto the No. 1 spot with their "1" hits compilation as rival Backstreet Boys dropped to No. 9 in the week after Christmas.
Sales of "1" dropped from its pre-Christmas week peak of 1.2 million copies to 451,000 last week, but that still trounced the figure of 171,000 posted by Backstreet Boys' "Black & Blue" album, down from 724,000 a week earlier.
The "1" album has now sold more than 5 million copies since it was released in mid-November, according to SoundScan, compared to 4.3 million for "Black & Blue," which was released one week after the Beatles album.
The Backstreet Boys weren't the only teen artists to suffer a big drop on the charts last week. Britney Spears' "Oops! . . . I Did It Again" fell from No. 8 to No. 21 on the album chart. Sales of Spears' album slipped from 405,000 the week before Christmas to 110,000 last week.
Meanwhile, a pair of rap artists posted big chart gains, with OutKast's "Stankonia" hopping from No. 13 to No. 6 for sales of 221,000 last week and Xzibit's "Restless" jumping from No. 31 to No. 12 (sales were 148,000).
The hits compilation "Now That's What I Call Music, Vol. 5" continued selling briskly after Christmas and snagged the No. 2 slot on sales of 320,000. The other slots in the Top 5 are occupied by Shaggy, Limp Bizkit and Snoop Dogg.
"He Loves U Not" by female pop vocal group dream charted its third week as the nation's No. 1 single.
New and Notable
Badly Drawn Boy, "The Hour of Bewilderbeast," XL/Beggars Banquet. This debut album of sophisticated techno-age folk recently won Britain's prestigious Mercury Music Prize. It's winsomely charming yet deeply affecting. (Steve Hochman)
R.L. Burnside, "Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down," Epitaph/Fat Possum. The 73-year-old former sharecropper expands on the boogie-meets-B-boy sound of1998's "Come On In." It's a rare treat to find a blues album that actually flirts with new ideas and makes them work. (Marc Weingarten)
Johnny Cash, "American III: Solitary Man," Columbia. In the third in a series of striking albums with producer Rick Rubin, the legendary country singer draws upon his country, rock, gospel and folk roots with sometimes dark, but often uplifting results. (Robert Hilburn)
PJ Harvey, "Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea," Island. In the true heir to "To Bring You My Love," which placed her among the '90s most compelling, innovative arrivals, Harvey offers a similar fusion of her early punk-blues fury and her pop-cabaret theatricality. (Natalie Nichols)
Paul Simon, "You're the One," Warner Bros. The musical textures aren't as distinctive as the ones that ran through much of "Graceland," but the songs themselves are illuminating and mostly upbeat reflections on life and love. (R. H.)
U2, "All That You Can't Leave Behind," Interscope. The great Irish rock band returns to its classic musical stance with a collection of soulful and affecting songs that reach out with open arms and an open heart. (R.H.)