‘Angry American’ Toby Keith Tops Pop Charts
Country singer Toby Keith topped the U.S. pop charts on Wednesday with his new album featuring a controversial song celebrating the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American).”
Keith’s album, “Unleashed,” sold more than 338,000 copies its first week in stores, knocking the Dave Matthews Band and its latest album “Busted Stuff,” off the No. 1 spot, according to sales data by album-sales tracker SoundScan.
“Busted Stuff” fell to No. 4 with sales of 212,000 copies in its second week, SoundScan said. The various-artists compilation “Now 10” opened at No. 2 for the week ended July 28, with 288,000 copies sold, while hip-hop star Nelly slipped one spot to No. 3 on the charts with his sophomore album “Nellyville,” selling 271,000 copies in its fifth week.
Rapper Eminem’s third major-label LP, “The Eminem Show,” rounded out the top five in its 10th week of release, upping its cumulative sales tally to more than 4.5 million copies.
Keith, 41, obviously benefited from attention drawn by his Sept. 11-inspired single “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,” which contains such lyrics as, “You’ll be sorry that you messed with/The U.S. of A./’Cause we’ll put a boot in your a–/It’s the American way.”
The brawny Oklahoma native helped stir a ruckus over the song by accusing ABC of dumping him from the network’s Peter Jennings-hosted July Fourth music special, saying Jennings objected to the song’s strident lyrics.
ABC News officials have said the invitation for Keith to perform was dropped because the network was unable to accommodate his insistence that he open the show and be provided with a jet to whisk him to another gig that night.
One network spokeswoman also told Reuters that producers did not want to open their three-hour celebration of American music with what Keith himself described as an “angry song.”
Some have criticized the lyrics as crossing the line from patriotism to jingoism and suggested Keith stoked the controversy with ABC, a unit of the Walt Disney Co. to help promote his record.
Keith has denied seeking to cash in on a controversial song in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. He told the New York Daily News: “My Dad was a G.I. … I wanted (soldiers) to know that any American that supported this song was behind them.”
Keith faces competition on the charts next week from veteran rock star Bruce Springsteen and his album “The Rising,” also inspired in part by the Sept. 11 attacks and his first all-new studio recording with the E Street Band since 1984.
That album, released Tuesday, features “Into the Fire,” which Springsteen wrote after the hijacked plane attacks that killed more than 3,000 people in New York City, suburban Washington and Pennsylvania. It also includes “My City of Ruins,” an earlier song about down-on-its-luck Asbury Park, New Jersey, that Springsteen dedicated to New York after Sept. 11.
Keith’s previous album, “Pull My Chain,” debuted at No. 9 last September with 119,500 units sold in its first week. It has gone on to sell 1.8 million copies.
“Unleashed” marks the third country album to top the pop charts this year, following Kenny Chesney’s April release, “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problems,” and Alan Jackson’s January release, “Drive.”